How to Dress Business Casual

The majority of offices in Washington adhere to a business casual dress code, but many professionals have trouble discerning exactly what that means. We have provided some basic standards below to help you learn how to dress business casual without breaking the company dress code:

What is appropriate?

  • Dress pants
  • Blouses
  • Skirts or dresses that reach the knee, paired with stockings in the winter
  • Polo shirts
  • Button down shirts
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Khakis or slacks
  • Sweaters

What is not appropriate?

  • Jeans
  • Sneakers
  • Hats of any kind
  • Open toe shoes or sandals/flip flops
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Cargo pants
  • Athletic wear
  • Sweatpants and sweatshirts
  • Tank tops or sleeveless shirts
  • Revealing clothing
  • Tights/leggings

Many offices do have exceptions to these rules. For example, your company might adhere to a business casual dress code, but allow their employees to wear jeans on Fridays or sandals in the summer. You should definitely confirm these exceptions with HR before dressing inappropriately without knowing. Don’t assume that you’re allowed to wear jeans since you see someone else wearing them. Before starting a new position, you should ask your HR department what the appropriate dress code is, and if you work for a staffing agency, you should ask a recruiter about their dress code policies to make sure you are aware of any exceptions and rules. As a temporary employee, you should treat every assignment as an interview, since it could potentially turn into a permanent job. Dress for success and you will be sure to not only impress your employer, but also boost your own self confidence in the workplace!

WAI Staff

Whitman Associates is a professional staffing agency serving businesses and job seekers in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 1972, we’ve been dedicated to matching highly qualified candidates with a wide variety of temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent positions. We prioritize the needs of both our clients and candidates to ensure successful, lasting relationships.