Dress Code 2022: What Is Business Casual? Here’s What to Wear as WFH Become IRL.

  • What is business casual? It may not mean the same thing it did before 2020.
  • Workers are finally returning to their offices, some for the first time.
  • With work from home (WFH) culture diminishing, workplace fashions are coming back into focus.
A group of four coworkers walking down the stairs in their office building.

Source: bbernard / Shutterstock

Despite fluctuating levels of Covid-19 cases through 2022, workers are returning to offices across different sectors. And as they prepare to go back, many employees are once again asking themselves, “What is business casual?”

Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB) recently made headlines by enacting a permanent remote work policy. Many other companies are not following suit, however, leaning toward a hybrid work model. Before the rise of the most recent Covid-19 sub-variant, companies such as Citigroup (NYSE:C), BNY Mellon (NYSE:BK) and Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google division were telling workers to prepare to return to the office.

With fully remote work winding down, many employees are pondering an important question: What is business casual? Let’s take a closer look at what the term is going to mean in 2022 and beyond.

What Is Business Casual?

For those who worked at an investment bank or law firm prior to 2022, a business formal dress code was probably the norm. In any other white-collar position, the company’s style was likely business casual.

Earlier this year, recruitment platform Indeed produced a guide to understanding the popular dress code. Entrepreneur and Content Market Strategist Whitney Headen provided the following definition of business casual: “Business casual attire is broadly defined as a code of dress that blends traditional business wear with a more relaxed style that’s still professional and appropriate for an office environment.”

To break it down further, business casual typically centers around a few main items: blouses, button-downs and polo shirts, and non-denim pants. Some offices do permit jeans, but typically darker washes without holes are preferred. Sweaters and blazers are also common for business casual styles.

Additionally, boots, loafers and oxford shoes are common business casual picks for shoes. All three footwear options work for all genders. While sneakers may sometimes be permissible in specific types of offices, anything that looks like it would be worn exclusively to the gym is typically a no for business casual. Shorts, flip-flops and all types of low-cut tops also fall under items not to wear in a business casual office.

Many clothing stores offer business casual options for shoppers. Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL), Gap (NYSE:GPS) and Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) offer a good selection of the items mentioned above. RL stock’s projected growth suggests that more Americans are buying clothes in anticipation of returning to the office.

Where It Matters

Office styles have long differed, from Wall Street to Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley. And while the future of work remains uncertain, it is clear that some companies are going to be requiring workers to return to the office, at least in a hybrid form. Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) reported that in-person attendance at its New York office had exceeded 50%, with numbers even higher at its bases in Europe.

Goldman CEO David Solomon has pushed for a return to the office. “It’s going to take some time, you know; behavior shifts take time generally, and I think over the course of the next couple years, our organization will generally come together,” he stated.

It is clear that, by and large, the financial sector will ultimately end up mostly back in the office. If Goldman is doing it, other banks will follow. Wall Street institutions such as Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) have also advocated against remote work.

On the date of publication, Samuel O’Brient did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.


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