Business Casual: A Double-Standard?

The Business Casual dress code…what does it bring to mind for you? Most offices outside of law and finance have adopted this fairly ambiguous set of non-rules for their employees. But the variation on how business casual is implemented both within and between companies can be maddening.  Dress too formally, and you might be considered out of touch. Dress with too much pizazz, and you might be considered as trying too hard. Dress too casually, and you might be taken as sloppy, or without seriousness.

Here’s how I interpret business casual: Polished but not a suit; a top but not a t-shirt nor a tank top; skirts, pants or dresses (shoulders covered); jeans in a dark wash; shoes can be flat, but not sandals or sneakers.

Oh, did I mention that this is how business casual is most often interpreted for women? Because for many men, business casual seems to mean this:

T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, aka “The Zuckerberg.”

business casual for menIt seems to me that “business casual” for men has morphed into straight-up “casual.” I just can’t wrap my head around wearing jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt in a workplace setting, ever.

Here’s a lady version of the above outfit:business casual for women

  1. Mango Botonata chiffon blouse, Gap skinny boot jeans
  2. Zara studded blazer, Devora Libin crystal branch necklace, Tahari Rosalee suede boot

Note the blouse-not-tee; the boot-not-sneaker, and the jacket to tie it all together. I wonder if this is the result of internal or external pressure on women. Do women take even casual looks up a notch because they can, or because they have to? What do you think?