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From Button Downs to Blazers, What Does Dressing “Business Casual” Really Mean?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Business casual. It’s hard to figure out what that even means because you can interpret it in so many different ways!  You have your formal “business casual” and your casual “business casual.” So, I think it’s good to consider what some staple pieces of actual business casual are!

1. Blazer

Photo Credit: Express and Edgy Culture

The blazer is a staple, and it’s a signature piece to bet on whenever an interviewer says “business casual.” You can add this to anything you’re wearing in order to look just a little more formal, regardless of where you are going. A blazer is an incredible long-term investment that I strongly suggest.

2. Dress Pants

Photo Credit: FMagazine

If you’re looking for something that is a little bit more than casual and a little bit less than formal, a pair of dress pants is the way to go. You can use a range of colors to make it a little more casual to a muted scheme for a more formal look. It’s a must-have and here’s a tip: get them tailored! It’ll look more form-fitting and less like you’re drowning in cloth.

3. Black Heels

Photo Credit: DHgate

A MUST-HAVE! Whether you’re trying to go business casual or business formal, you will always need a pair of black heels. These heels are exactly what you want in your closet, and you can pull it out whenever you want to dress up your outfit a little more for that perfect business casual look.

4. Blouses, not T-SHIRTS

Photo Credit: Fooding and Buyush.co

If you got nothing else from my article, understand that t-shirts are not blouses. When thinking of business casual, remember “I need to wear a blouse, not a t-shirt.” That is such a valuable lesson for whenever you are dressing up, and it’s something you’re always going to have to remember until it becomes instinct.

5. Stylish Purse

Photo Credit: Business Insider

To be honest, one of my favorite elements of business casual is that your purse can be bright and bold, but still give off that business casual look. This is one of your only statement pieces, so make sure it is a good one.

6. Dark Jeans

Photo Credit: Pinterest

An excellent way to sneak out of wearing business pants and not look too casual is a good pair of dark jeans. Another great investment because you shouldn’t buy a pair of dark jeans that are evidently “jeans.” Make sure they fit a business casual aesthetic before you buy them.

7. Accessories

Photo Credit: Pinterest and Boccai

This is the only, and I mean, the ONLY way to dress up your outfit and make it more personalized when dressing business casual. A nice watch, a thin necklace, some stud earrings, or a simple bracelet can go such a long way in dressing up a typical business casual look.

Now you are equipped with the basics. These are standard items that can apply to any business casual outfit you have to wear. With interview season right around the corner, you want to look your absolute best and be the girl boss you were born to be.


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I'm Kirthana Iyer, and I go by Kir as well! I am super fascinated by investigative reporting but I also have a soft spot for a simple listicle. At Boston University, I am a Journalism major with a concentration in International Relations. Since high school, I have had a passion for writing whether it be an argumentative essay or an article on the next Senior class event, so I wanted to find a way to do that in college. HerCampus provides me with that outlet. I am able to write about issues that an everyday teen deals with to pieces about our current political climate. 
Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.