Casual Business Dress Defined

Casual work dress has been identified by a number of terms, such as "dressing down," "business casual," and "Casual Day" dress. In a national U.S. study, Tootelian (2003) found that substantial uncertainty exists about what business casual means. The definition presented here is gleaned from a number of sources and can be offered only as a general and imprecise guideline.

Delineation of what is formal business dress is necessary to define categories of casual business dress. The sidebar contains a description of the standard for formal business dress at the turn of the twenty-first century. Women's formal business dress remains more varied than men's (Ogle and Damhorst 1999).

For men and women, "business casual" dress tends to include a reinterpretation of at least one formal power cue into a more casual ensemble (Rucker, Anderson, and Kangas 1999). A jacket (often a blazer or sports jacket) may be worn with more casual khaki pants and shirt, or a tie is worn without a jacket. Sweaters are permissible with a skirt or pants. Shoes are often more casual and comfortable. A great amount of variety is present, but includes more limits than does "casual dress."

Some offices allow highly casual dress, including jeans and shorts. Permissible styles vary greatly across firms, geographic areas, and occupations (Ogle and Damhorst 1999) and age and gender of workers (Tootelian 2003).

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