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Business Casual: The Most Common and Most Misunderstood Dress Code

Business Casual, in my opinion, is the most common dress code and is pretty standard in many office environments.  But, I also believe that many people are confused about what Business Casual actually means.  Some hear the word “casual” and equate it with comfortable and dressed down.   Don’t make that mistake, business casual is a distinct category of business attire and is actually not casual at all.  It is a more relaxed version of business professional dress but it still models closely the tailored and professional look that is expected in business and office settings.

For students Business Casual dress is appropriate to wear to Career Fairs, information sessions, networking events with employers, interviews for leadership positions and jobs on campus, and award ceremonies.

Business Casual attire is where my love for the pencil skirt plays out.  A pencil skirt and peep toe shoes is probably my favorite thing to wear to work.  I feel polished and professional and able to conquer the world in this combination.  A pencil skirt can be paired with a blouse, a cardigan or a blazer, so it is very versatile and a staple in any woman’s wardrobe.


So, what does Business Casual look like?




  1. This is the classic pencil skirt, sweater and black pumps. This look is a timeless staple for career women.
  2. A tailored, sheath dress is classy looking and can easily have a jacket or blazer added to model the look of a suit. Open-toed shoes are acceptable for business casual.
  3. Tailored, solid colored pants with blouses, shirts and blazers are appropriate for business casual.
  4. A wrap dress is another classic wardrobe essential and it flatters most every figure.

For Women:

  • Pants (creased and tailored, solid colors are best)
  • Skirts (length that lands at or above the knee)
  • Tailored dress Tailored shirts, blouses, knits, sweaters and cardigans
  • Blazers and jackets
  • Both closed toed and open toed heels are appropriate, boots, booties and flats (some sandals)
  • Jewelry and accessories (such as belts, scarves, watches) should be classic and conservative Hose are not required but the weather should be considered (walking around campus in Blacksburg in February with a skirt and no hose might make someone question your judgment and good sense)
  • A structured bag or a small purse coupled with a business bag


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