Many companies have instituted a business casual dress code, and invitations to business functions often suggest that guests should wear this type of clothing. The term is somewhat nebulous, however, and sometimes leads to widespread confusion. It is clearly different than business formal, which suggests a tailored suit and tie, but should not be confused with casual wear, such as jeans and t-shirts, either. A general rule of thumb is that the individual should be neatly dressed, well put together, and professional looking. People who are ever unclear on a company's dress code should ask to see the exact wording of the guidelines or talk to a supervisor about acceptable office wear.
For both men and women, clothing should have a good fit. It should not be too tight or loose, and should not reveal cleavage, stomachs, lower backs, buttocks, or bare ankles. Minor tailoring may be needed to ensure a smooth fit for business casual clothing, but is well worth it to keep the dresser looking professional. In addition, garments should be pressed and in good condition, meaning that they have no fading, holes, or dangling threads, and are also wrinkle-free.
Slacks such as khakis are usually acceptable, as are pants made from cotton, microfiber, and summer weight wool. Jeans and knits should be avoided. For women, all skirts should fall, at a minimum, to the knee, and they should not reveal the thighs when sitting. Small slits to facilitate walking comfortably in long skirts are acceptable, but should not be designed to reveal the leg. In all cases, undergarments such as slips, undershirts, brassieres, and underwear should not be visible.
Tops, such as button-down cottons and collared polo shirts, are acceptable for both genders, while women may also wear sweaters. T-shirts and apparel with logos are usually not considered appropriate for the office, unless the shirt is branded with the company name. Tank tops and cut-off shirts should be avoided, and short sleeved shirts should only be worn in warm weather or more casual office environments. A sport coat in subdued colors can be used for a slightly more dressy look.
Accessories, including discreet jewelry are permitted, and women can certainly wear scarves, hose if they are wearing shorter skirts, and understated makeup. Many men and women prefer to wear ties with business casual attire, as the tie can always be removed if it seems too formal for the situation. If a belt is worn, it should be made from leather, and shoes should also be made from leather, with a low heel for women. Patterns and prints should be subdued if they are worn at all; subtle stripes are acceptable, while vibrant tropical patterns are not.