Business Casual for the Office


There is a wide perspective on what is acceptable or appropriate for a business casual dress code. A dress code can not cover all contingencies.

Employees must use their own judgment in their choices of clothing to wear to work. If you experience uncertainty about acceptable, professional business causal attire for work, please ask your manager or HR staff.

The following bullets contain items that commonly considered acceptable as well as Items that are not acceptable for the office.

These lists tell you what is generally acceptable as business casual attire and what is generally not acceptable as business casual attire, but be sure to use your judgement in deciding what is appropriate for your workplace.

  • Pants, Slacks and Suit Pants: Slacks that are made of cotton or synthetic material, wool pants, flannel pants, dressy capris, and nice looking dress synthetic pants are acceptable. Slacks or pants include jeans, sweatpants, exercise pants, Bermuda shorts, short shorts, shorts, bib overalls, leggings, and any spandex or other form fitting pants such as people wear for biking are often considered unacceptable. 
  • Dresses, Skirts and Skirted Suits: Casual dresses and skirts, and skirts that are split at or below the knee are acceptable. Dress and skirt length should be at a length at which you can sit comfortably in public. Tight, short skirts that fall halfway up the thigh are inappropriate for work. Skorts, miniskirts, beach dresses, sun dresses, and spaghetti strap dresses are unacceptable in the majority of offices.
  • Shirts, Blouses, Tops and Jackets: Dress shirts, casual shirts, sweaters, tops, golf shirts, and turtlenecks are appropriate attire for work. Most sport jackets or suit jackets are also acceptable attire for the office. Tank tops; midriff tops; shirts with potentially offensive words, terms, logos, pictures, cartoons, or slogans; halter tops; tops with bare shoulders; sweatshirts; and t-shirts unless worn under another blouse, shirt, jacket, or dress are all considered unacceptable for work. 
  • Shoes and Footwear: Loafers, conservative athletic or walking shoes, clogs, sneakers, boots, flats, dress heels, and leather deck shoes are acceptable for work. Not wearing stockings is also acceptable. Flashy athletic shoes, thongs, flip flops, and slippers are not acceptable in most offices. Although, it is becoming more common for women to be allowed to wear open toed shoes in a business casual environment. Closed toe and closed heel shoes are required in most manufacturing operation areas. 
  • Makeup, Jewelery, Tattoos, Perfume, and Cologne: Should be understated, with limited visible body piercings. Some employees may be allergic to the chemicals in perfumes, colognes and make up; so wear these substances with restraint. If applicable, any visible tattoos should be in good taste and not potentially offensive. 
  • Hats and Head Covering: Although hats are not appropriate in an office setting, head covers required for religious purposes or to honor cultural tradition are allowed. 

If clothing fails to meet the dress code outlined by your manager and/or HR staff, you will most likely be asked not to wear the inappropriate item to work again or, in extreme cases, sent home to change. A verbal warning for the first offense is often common. If the dress code violations continue, progressive disciplinary action will most likely be applied.

This is a general summary to be used for information purposes only. The business casual dress code policy at your organization may differ, so please contact your manager or HR staff to answer any questions you may have.