Over the years, business attire has changed significantly. Because of the sudden change in business dress code it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between what's acceptable and what's unacceptable. Business wear in the traditional sense is stringent. Traditional business attire, for men, purely consists of wearing a dress suit. This includes wearing a matching coat and slacks, a long sleeved dress shirt, a necktie, and dress shoes. Traditional business attire for women is comprised of a blouse layered by a suit jacket with a coordinating skirt or slacks, and a pair of pumps. Bright colors are generally discouraged for both men and women in the workplace.
During the close of the 20th Century, the corporate world introduced a new fashion trend called "Business Casual". Many corporations decided to adopt the "Business Casual" dress code in an effort to create a more relaxed environment. Companies that follow the "Business Casual" or "Smart Casual" dress code require men to wear a shirt with a collar, cotton slacks, and a pair of loafers. Jeans and gym shoes are rarely acceptable. However, some companies have accepted an even more lenient dress code on Fridays sometimes known as "Casual Friday". This dress code varies dramatically from company to company.
Adopting a casual dress code into the workplace does create a more relaxed environment; however it can potentially introduce problems. Attaching the term "casual" to any dress code can be confusing. Most people dress casual when they are going to a park, to the grocery store, or to visit a friend. Most individuals don't dress in business attire when engaging in the previously mentioned activities. So, how can the terms "business attire" and "casual attire" coexist?
It is important to understand that dressing casual is not synonymous to "business casual" attire. In order to make the transition smoother for employees, many companies offer their staff a polo style shirt with the company logo on it as a corporate gift. They are expected to wear these personalized corporate shirts with khaki pants or dark colored slacks along with a pair of loafers. Company-specific uniforms help to eliminate dress code abuse and to help alleviate sexual harassment violations related to inappropriate attire.
All companies should provide a set of dress code guidelines. Many problems will arise in the workplace. Dress code should not be one of these problems. Business casual attire was simply adopted to obtain a relaxed environment in the office, while maintaining professionalism within the company.