Dress for the Destination: Business Casual Office

Making an Impression at a Business Casual Office

Ready to get dressed for Day 1, but not Week 1 of your new job? Not a surprise, because very few guys dress Business Casual before they join the team. But it's time to step up because first impressions matter. Poorly-fitting or inappropriate dress shirts put you at a disadvantage vs. your better-dressed peers. Here's the good news: you're about to learn how to look you belong in a Business Casual office. You can  decide to match the team dress code or show them that you “think different.” Either way, you’ll be choosing the outcome vs. running the risk an unpleasant surprise. 

Here's a perspective on a business casual office rated the Best Place to Work on Glassdoor in 2017: Bain & Company, as well as the overall marketplace. We analyzed the candid office photos from Glassdoor to give you an insider's perspective.

Solids plus Checks in patterns

Business Casual Shirt Patterns

Most guys at Bain wear solid-color shirts, with checks the most popular pattern. This is close to the mix we see in the marketplace, with slightly fewer stripes and plaids. (BTW, our Market index includes over 80,000 dress shirts from 17 top The Wardrobe Essentialist)

Take-away: solid colors are the staples of this office, while checks are just fine as well. Plaids will put you on the casual end of the spectrum.

Business Casual Office photo
Photos courtesy of Glassdoor

Blue is the most popular “white collar” color.

Business Casual shirt colors

Color choices at Bain & Co match the market mix very closely. Pink is a bit more popular than average and purple a bit less, potentially reflecting the firm's Boston roots.

Business casual office photo
Photos courtesy of Glassdoor

Mainly Spread Collars

Point collar photo
On The West Wing, President Josiah Bartlet wore point collars
Spread collar photo
In House of Cards, President Garret Walker wore spread collars
Business Casual shirt collars

About ⅔ of collars at Bain & Co are spread, the same as the marketplace, with the balance button down. The marketplace still has a fair number of holdouts who stick with the point collars that President Bartlett wore on the West Wing. A small number go for bolder cutaway collars.

Still dreading shopping for your first week? Join 90% of men in America! Most men grit their teeth and go to a store, where they waste hours getting an "okay" solution. Walking back to the parking lot, they wonder if they're walking past something even better, but they just don't have the energy to go on.

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Mark Hill

My name is Mark, and I’m the Founder & CEO of The Wardrobe Essentialist. I've spent my career in business and business casual offices, initially at Bain & Co in Boston and San Francisco, and then as a Business Unit General Manager at global Fortune 500 companies.

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