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Dress Codes Decoded: What does ‘Business Casual’ Mean?


Navigating the tricky terrain of dress codes – what to do, what not to do – is enough to confuse even the savviest gentleman. Here, our menswear editor, Anish Patel, decodes the most mystifying of them all: ‘business casual’.

How to Define It

‘Business casual’ is among the more misunderstood terms of the menswear lexicon. How do you find the middle ground of the style spectrum? My advice: approach the terms separately. While ‘casual’ indicates comfort or leisure, ‘business’ applies some breaks; it’s about being presentable but not too formal. (That said, it’s always safer to err on the smarter side of the amalgam.) To get the balance right you’ll need to invest in this dress code’s most pivotal garment: a smart jacket. The rest should fall into place easily.

Where to Wear It

You’ll come across the ‘business casual’ dress code at dinner or drinks parties (it should always be noted on invitations). It may even crop up at work social events and – on the rare occasion – weddings. If it’s not obvious, consider your surroundings and company. If you’re dining out, for example, always check ahead with the restaurant, as most will have a dress policy. If you’re entertaining at home, you might also be expected to polish up. It’s important to remember that looking presentable is a prerequisite of making a good impression, no matter where you are.

Get the Look

No ‘business casual’ wardrobe is complete without these key investments

Man and woman standing outside in jacket and coat

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