10 Tips To Dressing Like A White-Collar Professional Man - Business Smart Casual Attire Guide

10 Tips To Dressing Like A White-Collar Professional Man - Business Smart Casual Attire Guide

If you work at a white-collar place of work and you are looking for a complete attire guide for Business Casual - you have come to the right place. 

A summary of what Business Smart Casual is:

  1. Business casual is a scale, from very formal work places, all the way down to company events (where jeans etc. are acceptable)
  2. Worn by most people in the white collar professional world
  3. It is still “formal” by most people’s standards
  4. You should wear a shirt, MAYBE a polo shirt if you’re good with twisting trends
  5. You should wear a sports jacket (or just a suit)
  6. You should wear dress pants or slacks, Khakis are also acceptable
  7. You should wear dress shoes still
  8. You don’t have to exactly match colors and shades, just make sure you don’t look stupid (don’t suddenly start mixing vivid colors)

1. The History of Business Casual

Business casual attire was born in the states - previously professionals would always have to wear a neck tie and a matching suit, most likely even a 3-piece suit (such as the case with Peaky Blinders) - This was the traditional sense of Business attire.

Due to the advent of “Casual Alohah day” in Hawaii, and later a “Casual Friday” workday, these fixed trends were slowly broken down, and merged into something much more comfortable and casual for most working men. 

Although, Business Professional is still sometimes needed (for example in court for a Lawyer). However in jobs around the world, generally speaking the dominant attire is now Business Casual, which is why we believe it’s so important to cover it in such a huge amount of detail in this article.

Choosing a suit can be difficult - but for Business Casual the best type of suit is an Italian cut, modern sartorial masterpiece from Kiton or Cesare Attolini. Hugo Boss (now known as Boss) also makes good suits. We answered the question "are Hugo Boss Suits good" here.


2. What is Business Casual Smart?

This article covers Business Casual for White Collar Workers - and the way to distinguish this is the fact that for men at least, a shirt is still required. The types of White-collar jobs that still require Business Casual like this are:

  • Company management
  • Accountants
  • Financial and Insurance jobs
  • Sales/Company Reps
  • Consultants
  • Start-ups
  • Lawyers (Outside of court)

What it means to be dressed in a professional way has changed - even as recently as the Covid Pandemic. Things have slowly been drifting towards more casual looks, and even though in some cases Business Professional Attire is still necessary - more and more professions and employers have been embracing Business Casual.

If we are talking about the current meaning of business casual in a specific sense (i.e in white-collar work places) - then most of the time you will be at least wearing a sports jacket and a dress shirt.  

3. Business Casual: The fundamentals

A very quick summary of the fundamental Modern Business Casual rules is as follows:

  • Choose between: A Modern Italian suit, or a sports jacket
  • Some dress pants or Italian slacks if you chose a sports jacket
  • A pressed dress shirt/In some cases a polo shirt or sweater
  • A belt that matches the rest of the outfit
  • A watch that matches the rest of the outfit
  • A professional bag

The main distinction between business professional and business casual (white collar) attire - is that with business professional it’s always recommended to wear a complete stylish suit brand in dark/neutral tones, with a white shirt, and a neutral tie. 

This is also great business casual for a restaurant. 

Business casual, on the other hand, is not limited to only wearing a matching suit, you can wear a pair of slacks with a jacket that doesn’t exactly match the dress pants - opening up many opportunities. You also don’t always have to wear a tie, and in some cases, you can wear a polo or a sweater underneath the suit/sports jacket. 

Here’s an example of something that would be considered to be business casual, but not business formal:

business casual outfit idea with brown sports jacket and blue floral shirt

As you can see, this doesn’t follow the traditional rules of Business Professional - as the colors of the suit jacket and shirt do not follow the rules properly. Also, there is no necktie, which is an essential part of a business professional outfit.

4. Business Casual trends

As always with fashion, it’s important to note important trends. As the world went into lockdown, generally speaking people became a lot more casual. Even as short time ago as a few years ago, most salesmen would wear a tie and a full suit. 

However, the “suit no tie”, and the “suit and sneakers” looks have both been exploding across Italy - and the rest of the world. 

Another interesting trend is the increasing use of sweatsuits in professional settings. This is mainly reserved for people who are rich enough to pull it off (mainly CEOs and Old Money and Billionaires) - or have enough power to do it. If you’re at the very bottom of a big company that requires business casual, and you decide to turn up in an Italian designer tracksuit, you may have some problems. 

Managers, Bosses, etc. are much more at liberty to do as they will, and this is what is leading to such a huge increase in the popularity of Kiton Tracksuits

Can men wear jeans for business casual?

The answer here, is “it depends” - if you’re talking about business casual in any normal working environment or party, then yes. You can definitely wear jeans without having any problems. If someone writes business casual on the invitation to an office party, they are expecting 99% of people to turn up dressed in a pair of classic blue Italian jeans

business casual look sweater, denim jacket with fur, jeans, and white sneakers

You should be really careful here. If you’re talking about business casual in the office, sometimes jeans aren’t really acceptable - depending on your job. If in doubt, make sure to ask. You don’t want to turn up to work committing a faux pas. It’s always best to ask if it’s not clear, or at least for the first day err on the side of caution, and then see what other people are wearing at the office.

It is acceptable if either a) it is a less formal office setting or b) you’re going to a company event and the dress code is Business Casual. 

What men should not wear for business casual?

You should steer clear of anything that is just casual - for example flip flops or sandals are definitely not considered to be business casual, and you would be committing a fashion faux pas if you wore them. Generally speaking (unless you know what you’re doing) t-shirts should also not really be worn. 

Another thing you shouldn’t wear is something ridiculously formal, such as a tuxedo, or a full double-breasted suit. This is because these are Business Formal or just Formal attire, and they fit into different dress codes.

Jeans are also only acceptable in certain situations, so make sure that you’re not breaking the rules by wearing jeans. As previously stated, you can sometimes wear jeans, but sometimes you can’t. 

Do I need a jacket for business casual?

Yes - you should wear a jacket for business casual. This depends on what you mean by the jacket, however. If you mean sports jacket (or blazer) then 80% of business casual outfits will include a sports jacket. 

On the other hand, you should also wear either a coat or a jacket during cold days and where you still want to look formal. A leather jacket or denim jacket can be acceptable in business casual situations, but if you want to be safe and not break any rules, it’s best to wear something a little more formal, such as one of these coats from Kired:

Can I wear sneakers for business casual?

This entire article may as well be me writing “it depends” - but, yet again, it does actually depend. You can definitely wear sneakers in a business casual setting - including in high-paying jobs that require a high level of formality. The key is that the rest of your outfit is formal enough to carry the sneakers over the threshold. This can be achieved by wearing something similar to this:

This photo was shown before because it’s such a great example of the thin line between something that is too casual (ie sneakers, jeans, a sweater) and something that is perfectly acceptable as business casual with sneakers. The key is to understand how to make a casual piece of clothing look formal enough to wear at the office or to meet clients. Here's our list of the best 4 designer sneaker brands in the world right now.

Can you wear a t-shirt for business casual?

A t-shirt is not generally considered to be business casual, however, it can be included in part of a business casual outfit depending on what you are wearing around it.it is becoming increasingly more popular to wear a t-shirt while wearing a suit, and this look actually something that can make you look incredibly refined, depending on whether you do it properly or not. 

Another great piece of advice is to go for a polo shirt instead, as it’s much easier to compile a great outfit that is appropriate for business casual by using a polo shirt, instead of a t-shirt.

This is a great example of a professional business casual outfit, that breaks enough rules to be considered modern, but still fits enough rules to be considered formal enough to go to a workplace party. 

5. Business casual on a budget

If you’re in need of a new wardrobe for a new job, and you have a budget, then we’re going to summarize a way to get all of the items you need to make sure you look the part, while not spending over $10,000 on an entirely new wardrobe.


Here’s how to build a business casual wardrobe on a budget, using affordable business casual clothes:

  • Get a couple of Hugo Boss (Boss) Suits
  • Get a few white work dress shirts
  • Get some designer slacks, Marco Pescarolo is a great brand for this
  • Get some Hugo Boss Sweaters
  • Get some sneakers, Premiata is a great brand for some professional business casual sneakers

Overall, you’ll end up spending just under $3000 (even less with our special discount on your first order) - which is a great wardrobe for a great price.

6. The Best Business Casual Brands

Cesare Attolini

The most important part of any (good) business casual outfit is of course the Sports Jacket. 

Our absolute favorite brand for this look is, of course, Cesare Attolini. Cesare Attolini has been making some of the best sports jackets in the world for a long time now, and as you can see from this example, they make for perfect accompaniments to any business casual look. 


This is a perfect brand to complete your Business Casual outfits with - as they also sell amazing shirts, which includes a huge variety of White Work Shirts - which means you can complete your outfit easily, just with one brand.

Cesare Attolini, of course, is particularly famous for its suits. A Cesare Attolini Suit, with a shirt, and a pair of sneakers or dress shoes, is already a complete outfit.


Kiton is another excellent brand that offers modern cut suits which show off your figure. They are perfect for experimenting with various Business Casual looks - and they no longer just make suits. They also make a range of fantastic sneakers that will go incredibly with this Business Casual style. Here is an example from Kiton Suits:

Kiton is also famous for its range of Italian designer sweaters, and if you’re looking for something a little bit different - Kiton also makes designer sweatsuits.

As previously mentioned, jeans are sometimes acceptable as a business casual look - and you’ll therefore be very pleased to know that Kiton also makes some incredible pairs of jeans as well. These jeans are exceptionally well-made, and they come in all different styles and colors. Kiton Jeans are becoming some of the most famous in the world.

Boss (Formerly known as Hugo Boss)

One of the best things about Boss or Hugo Boss is that it makes exceptional products that create trends, but also follow classic traditions. For example, their suits are very high-quality, and are much less expensive than something like kiton or Cesare Attolini, however, a Boss suit is still made from high-quality materials and will serve you very well as a modern suit that fits perfectly into the business casual niche. 

Virgin Wool Suits are some of the best you can get, as the material is a perfect 4 season suit fabric

Here is an example of a Boss Suit:



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About the Author

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This article was originally written by Piergiuseppe Castiello in Italian - it was then translated by an expert translator to bring it into the English speaking world. Piergiuseppe is the owner of Porcamo SRL - and is also the founder of IsuiT.