What is Business Casual?

What is Business Casual?

What is business casual, and how do you dress for this particular style? This can be complicated because the definition of this term can vary.

Various employers instill a dress code defining their staff’s appearance. But irrespective of the differences from one workplace to the next, an unspoken “business casual” code often applies in most office settings.

Business casual is a type of dress that entails putting on traditional business clothing with some casual tweaks. In most offices, this dress code means no t-shirts, jeans, or short skirts for women.

This phrase refers to avoiding wearing certain casual clothing items that the office has specified. What to wear and not wear varies based on style, gender, and societal preferences.

In this post, you will understand the answer to the question, “What is business casual?” and what to consider when wearing when dress according to this style.

We’ll also tackle the reasons firms require this dress code in Canada and the difference between business casual and business professional.

What is business casual for men?

This section will discuss what business casual is for men and how it could help them dress appropriately. While every office differs, there are some general rules regarding what is considered appropriate for this dress code for men. Here are some suggestions for men:


Men should be consistent with a selection of long-sleeved button-downs and collared shirts. These clothes are appropriate for most offices in Canada. Although it is debatable, not using ties with shirts gives it a more relaxed appearance than the tie-combo.

Moreover, you could pick short-sleeved polos or button-down clothing. This is recommended during the warmer weather in Canada. However, ensure you check what others wear and talk with HR. This will clarify things and ensure you aren’t against office dressing ethics.

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Blazers and jackets

Although not compulsory, wearing a well-designed jacket or blazer can make you look professional. Blazers are a good option for those going to business meetings or presentations.

When considering wearing blazers or jackets, stick to those with plain colours. You should consider grey, blue, and black. Having a go-to blazer for occasions such as job interviews is ideal.


Most banks and trusted insurance companies in Canada allow their staff to wear sweaters. You could wear a chunky knit sweater during the winter. Still, generally, a fine-knit sweater with a button-down is permitted. A more classic look for men is a sweater that leaves the collar visible.

Nice pants or slacks

Some Canadian offices permit workers to wear jeans, but it’s advisable to wear slacks or chino pants. This will ensure there are no complaints with the designs and that your dress meets office standards. Chinos or khakis are versatile for all office functions and go well with casual shirts.

Depending on how adventurous your workplace is, stick with neutral-coloured pants. Colours such as grey, tan, black, and dark tones are recommended. Don’t wear bright-coloured bottoms (purple, green, or pink). Ensure all dressings are paired with a belt in neutral tones.


What comes to mind when understanding what business casual is in many offices in Canada is knowing which footwear to wear.

Dress shoes and loafers are an ideal choice for most clothing. Try to minimize wearing sandals and sneakers, or avoid wearing them entirely. With shoes, there are no rules with colour, but keep them clean and professional.

Also, always get your business casual shoes from reputable stores in Canada. Ensure you check their rates and shipping times before buying anything online. Men are advised to wear a button-down shirt, chinos, and a loafer to play it safe. This simple business casual dress will turn heads in your office.

What is business casual for women?

To understand what business casual is for women, you must know that it varies based on several factors. Women’s clothing related to this dress code can depend on location, workplace style, and line of work. But a standard version of the style in women’s clothing could incorporate a collection of the following:


Women in Canada wear tailored or wide-leg pants, making them look professional. These collections include suits, chinos, and pants. These are the appropriate clothes that many Canadian offices permit for their staff. When some offices in Canada permit jeans, almost all workplaces permit pants.

 To avoid misunderstandings, check your office dress code policies. While printed chinos or pants are allowed in some offices, it is not recommended. Plain pants are more acceptable in many offices across Canadian provinces.

To-the-knee skirts and dresses

This type of business casual attire for women is appealing in most offices in Canada. Have it in the back of your mind that the length and tightness of these skirts will vary based on the office. While some are comfortable in extremely tight skirts, many frown upon them.

 Talk to the human resources department in your office to know what is accepted. It’s recommended to avoid too-slim or tight dresses when in a working setting. For colour, business-casual women don’t have many restrictions.


This is standard business casual apparel for both men and women in Canada. Blazers are corporate attire that is acceptable in many offices. This type of clothing helps keep a rotation of blue, grey, and other colours in your wardrobe. While bright-coloured blazers can be appealing, ensure they are correctly paired with another dressing accessory for a better appearance.

Blouse and business-downs

How and which style of blouse and button-down clothes are allowed as business casual depends on individual office codes. However, keep them fitted, flowing, and neatly ironed. If these blouses come with brand logos, ensure they are minimal and not flashy.


You could choose flats, closed-toe heels, or loafers for women to wear as business casual. The type of shoe worn depends on the staff; however, ensure you make a safe choice. Some offices in Canada frown at women wearing trainers and sandals; therefore, go for other alternatives.

The business casual options for shoes are endless for women. You can choose Banana Republic, Nike, Ann Taylor, and Mango. And you could get a free credit report on staples offered by Mango online. Most women can play it safe with a simple blouse-pants combo.

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4 reasons offices adopt a business casual policy

Aside from answering, “What is business casual?”, it’s also essential to understand why many businesses in Canada have this dress code policy. Here are some reasons:

Reduce the staff clothing budget

It’s no secret that corporate clothing in Canada can be expensive, particularly when buying from high-end stores. Since employees don’t wear the same clothes daily, having many business and professional clothes can put a hole in the purse.

Aside from the cost of the clothes, you will also need to add cleaning bills. A flexible dressing policy with business casual garments is an ideal way to reduce clothing expenses, as casual clothes cost less.

Boost staff morale

When staff feel good and comfortable, they will work better. Having a positive company culture is vital for the firm’s success. With a strict dress code policy for staff, many will feel undervalued and unappreciated. Many businesses in Canada want better staff retention, which is why they have a flexible policy when it comes to business attire.

More productivity

Putting on business attire can be physically exhausting and sometimes comfortable. Most professional business clothing isn’t designed for comfort. When their itchy suit jackets are limiting them, workers should concentrate more on their jobs.

Encourages creativity

Many people want to be able to express themselves without being caged by company policy. When the flexible business casual dressing is encouraged, it allows staff to be expressive and promotes individuality. However, most offices in Canada will limit how creative an employee can get to avoid loose dressings.

Tips to consider when dressing in business casual clothing

Although what guides this dress code across offices differs, here are some tips that will guide you when selecting appropriate clothing for this style:

Looking polished

When thinking of dressing in business casual attire, always look professional. Ensure that you look polished and that none of your clothes have any imperfections.

There should be no missing buttons, dirt, or thorny parts. When talking about looking polished, ensure your clothes are properly ironed and you look clean. If your attire includes jeans, avoid wearing jeans with holes or shreds.

Create a capsule wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is a group of traditional pieces that pair together. The versatility of this wardrobe allows you to look great with just a few items.

The various clothes could be paired with loafers, trainers, leather shoes, and a belt. You will dress more creatively and appropriately with a fully stocked business casual wardrobe.

Do away with baggy clothes

Although wearing too-tight clothing isn’t ideal for workplaces, you should never wear something sloppy or unkempt.

Being smart when dressing is the goal of business casual clothing; therefore, baggy dressings aren’t ideal. If you are putting on blazers or khaki pants, they must be tailored and fit the body.

Choose a muted colour palette

Using overly bold patterns or colours is not advisable for many business casual pairings. You should stick with muted or neutral colours suited for a professional working environment.

Consider your calendar

Suppose you are meeting with important customers or conducting business. In that case, you need to choose a conservative business casual dress. Respecting your clients and not being too formal or professional when going to business events is necessary.

What should I avoid wearing as business casual attire?

While many Canadian companies have flexible business casual clothing policies, most still restrict what to wear. You need to avoid breaking any business casual dress code at many offices. Here are some clothes to avoid in a traditional business office:

  • Ripped Jeans
  • Flip flop
  • Torn shoes
  • and clothes with offensive images

Ladies should avoid wearing things that indicate they aren’t respectful or cheap. It’s essential to avoid wearing strappy sandals, ripped jeans, or pants with images. Also, spaghetti straps, leggings, hooded sweatshirts, and crop tops should be avoided.

Where can you purchase business casual outfits at good rates?

While there are many professional stores where you can purchase business casual wear, choosing the ones with affordable rates is recommended. There are affordable online Canadian stores like:

  • Macy’s
  • Bestbuy
  • Amazon
  • Old Navy
  • Anne Taylor

These stores have high-quality clothes you can wear. Discounts and loyalty programs are also offered to their customers at these stores. Choosing the best Canadian clothing stores is ideal if you are seeking simple but casual attire to wear to your office.

Final thoughts

This guide has discussed what business casual means and what attire is appropriate for various offices. We have also discussed the difference between what is business casual and professional business attire.

There are different kinds of outfits for men and women that must be adhered to when selecting clothing for this dress code. And it’s important to always shop with a reliable Canadian retail store for your business casual garments.

Speaking to your HR department may help with any queries you have when determining what is allowed and what not according to your office’s dress code.

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FAQs about what is business casual

What qualifies as business casual?

Business casual means a dress code that involves wearing classic business clothes. This encompasses a few casual, which makes them fashionable. An excellent example is wearing chinos with a polo shirt. No ties are necessary when considering accessories for this dress code.

Can I wear jeans for business casual?

Generally, jeans are acceptable for this dress code, except in certain situations. However, they should be neat, not torn, not fading, and in excellent condition.

What is the difference between business casual and casual?

Casual dress comprises as less formal clothing than business casual attire. While employees are allowed to wear relaxed, informal attire, it should not be what is on the streets. While some offices in Canada allow jeans, they don't allow sweatpants.


August 26, 2023
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