What exactly is business casual?

Business casual- a pretty straight forward concept right? Sure, until you show up to an event thinking you are dressed business casual and realize your perception is VERY different from everyone else.


We have all been there. Business casual is about as specific as “Wear something dressy but not too dressy.” According to Google, business casual is, “relating to or denoting a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear, but is still intended to give a professional and businesslike impression.”

What? Are you scratching your head??? Me too.

Below are a few quick tips on how to conquer the ambiguous “business casual” moniker:

1. My mother always says, “Better over-dressed than under-dressed.” Now, don’t show up wearing a ballgown or anything, but if you had the choice to talk about finance with either this guy:

Or this guy:

Who would you pick??? (All childhood biases aside)

2. Fit is key.

Your overall look should be “tailored” as in, the clothes should truly fit your body. Don’t worry about what size they are, just think about how they fit and how they feel. Clothes should never be too baggy, too long, or too tight. If you’re constantly having to adjust your clothing, it’s probably not the best choice.

Here are some great examples of two fun business casual outfits that truly fit the model.

pantsredcardi wrapdress

3. Black dress pants.
Black dress pants are always a safe bet. Add a nice tailored shirt like a button-up or a sweater to keep it business-like without being formal interviewing attire.

4. Go with comfortable and confident.
Lastly, choose what you what makes you feel good. Even the perfect business casual outfit will not work if you do not feel confident in it.

If you still need help deciding what to wear to a particular career event, don’t hesitate to stop by the Office of Career Management for additional tips!


Emoticons do have a place in the workplace?

Something that struck me as odd was how heavily emoticons are used at work! We have an instant messenger program that everyone gets that you can use to message anyone within DP DHL (like AIM). I wasn’t really sure how much I would use it, as I had never instant messaged someone professionally (teachers, professors, etc). It’s pretty common place though, even when I communicate with my managers, all of whom are only one cubicle row away. One of my managers let me call into a meeting he had with the team from an ongoing project from his old position (I’ll speak more about that in a later post) and he used it to explain things to me without disturbing the conference call. And yes, people use emoticons all the time! I personally don’t use them when I chat with friends online or through text, but my managers and coworkers use them quite often. The accounting department here happens to be predominantly women so I think that has something to do with it. But I remember being told over and over again never to use them with people from work/school (teachers of course, not students).

I think that this partly speaks to the more casual atmosphere of Exel’s office. It’s still business casual and people aren’t doing crazy things like riding bikes around. But at the same time, everyone isn’t just out to beat one another and leave their coworker in the dust. Someone that I met had just gotten a manager position at Exel and came from another company that I won’t name, that she said was very cut throat; people were looking to beat you at everything and she said it just wasn’t a good working environment.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll be sending interview thank you letters with smiley faces any time soon. But I might start working them in here and there at work since they’re used so frequently by everyone else. 🙂