What does business casual mean for women?

What to Avoid

This shopper could very well be on a lunch break from her business casual workplace judging by her demure cardigan, pressed khakis and kitten heels.
This shopper could very well be on a lunch break from her business casual workplace judging by her demure cardigan, pressed khakis and kitten heels.
Thinkstock/Siri Stafford

In the official dress code for a San Diego business called Five Points Capital, visible thong underwear is banned [source: Armour]. This seems to indicate that at least one woman has, at least one time, shown her G-string at work.

Granted, it was probably an accidental result of the low-rise jean trend, but that brings us to a good point: If your low-rise jeans reveal thong underwear when you sit down, either don't wear those jeans to work or wear a very long top. An exposed bottom can make some people uncomfortable and other people drool, neither of which is ideal in a workplace.

Some other business-casual no-nos besides exposed undergarments include:

  • Short shorts
  • Mini skirts
  • Skirts with high slits
  • Halter tops
  • Strapless tops
  • Anything skin-tight
  • Anything see-through
  • Anything midriff-baring
  • Torn jeans
  • Flip-flops
  • Worn sneakers
  • Exposed cleavage
  • Old T-shirts or ones with offensive images or giant logos
  • Baseball caps
  • Spandex

If there's a question in your mind about whether a look is "business casual," ask yourself a few questions:

  • Would I wear this to meet my boyfriend's mother for the first time?
  • Would I wear this clubbing?
  • Would I wear this to sleep?
  • Would I wear this to do yard work?
  • Would I wear this to a costume party?

If the answers are yes, followed by four no's, there's a pretty good chance the outfit is "business casual." When in doubt, it's a good idea to err on the side of caution.

Or, just ask human resources, your boss or your supervisor for a copy of the dress code or, if there's nothing official, at least advice on what's expected. A girl's gotta eat, and fashion is a silly reason to get fired.

For more information on business casual and related topics, look over the links below.

Related Articles


  • Armour, Stephanie. "'Business casual' causes confusion." USA Today. July 10, 2007.http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2007-07-09-business-casual-attire_N.htm
  • Business casual attire. Virginia Tech Career Services.http://www.career.vt.edu/Jobsearc/BusCasual.htm
  • Chensvald, Christian M. "Five Rules of Style for the Business-Casual Workplace." BNET.http://www.bnet.com/2403-13068_23-212795.html
  • Lorenz, Kate. "Business Casual Tips for Summer." CareerBuilder.http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-707-The-Workplace-Business-Casual-Tips-for-Summer/?ArticleID=707&cbRecursionCnt=1&cbsid=98a7b696a8df4e18a8c658a6ad5ed686-324371914-ww-6&ns_siteid=ns_us_g_business_casual
  • Student Perspective: What Exactly is "Business Casual"? University of Oregon Career Center.http://career.uoregon.edu/blog/students/2009/03/student-perspective-what-exactly-business-casual