When it comes to dressing professionally, most people have general ideas of what attire is appropriate and what is not.
Although more than 70 percent of American companies are converting to a business casual dress code, many employees are still puzzled about what business casual means.
According to MonsterTrak.com, business casual is “dressing professionally, looking relaxed and pulled together.” But, many people are confused about this style because different companies have different dress policies.
Doris Corbett, director of internships and career development for the School of Business and Industry, said, “Business casual dress depends on the culture of the organization. Students need to do their homework on what is appropriate for the workplace.”
The purpose of business casual is to trade the formal suits for a more relaxed style.
The business casual trend began in the 1990s in many of California’s Silicon Valley technology companies, where young entrepreneurs refused to wear suits to work because of the scorching summer heat.
Companies adopted the casual Friday policy as a result. The trend caught on so rapidly that soon, many companies had no choice but to allow casual Fridays in order to compete for prospective employees.
Although many companies have deemed business casual to be acceptable work attire, some said it leads to decreased productivity and poor job performance.
Jeffery Magee, a consulting research psychologist for MonsterTrak, said, “Employees become too relaxed, which leads to poor performance. And there is a decrease in polite, mannerly behavior.”
On the other hand, some companies who have adopted the business casual dress code have no complaints.
Grendy Henry, FAMU alumna and learning and development training consultant at Affiliated Computer Service, said business casual dress has increased her employees’ morale at her workplace.
“Business casual dress gives a professional tone and sets an example for new employees,” Henry said.
Many FAMU students had positive feedback concerning business casual in the work place.
“Business casual dress is something that should be enforced in the workplace. Wearing business casual clothes allows you to be more relaxed at your job,” said Shaquena Bryant, 21, a junior criminal justice student from Miami.
Forrest Jenkins, 18, a freshman business student from Houston, said, “Business casual is a way for workers to express their personal and professional style.”
Business casual dress can be easily confusing, so people should consult with their employer about their dress code. Many companies have handouts detailing what they consider appropriate business casual for their company.
In the end, whether workers are dressed in business casual or a business suit, appearance matters at most companies. A sloppy appearance that does not comply with dress code could put an end to a career.