It’s now 2022. If you’re heading back into the office after working remotely, you may be wondering ‘Are t-shirts business casual?’
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What Is ‘Business Casual’ Anyway?
A broad definition of business casual that applies to most corporate environments is “a code of dress that blends traditional business wear with a more relaxed style that’s still professional and appropriate for an office environment.” (Whitney Headen, Indeed.com)
I remember first hearing this term back in the late 1980s when working for a major corporation. Generally, Fridays were “business casual” days, or “dress-down Fridays.”
Men didn’t have to wear suits and ties; women could leave their nicest dresses in the closet and wear khaki pants instead.
There were still some rules to follow in the office and t-shirts were still not allowed on a workday in the office. Those items of clothing were meant for off-days if you came in to work overtime, but not in the daily 8-5 time frame during the week.
What About T-shirts Worn With a Suit Jacket?
I would have to say – check with your boss. Read your company’s guidelines on appropriate or allowed attire on business casual or dress-down Fridays.
I’ve seen many professionals online wear t-shirts with suit jackets or blazers when appearing on interviews. Some wear t-shirts with their own company logo on them or a relevant saying or design. However, and obviously, you won’t see pornographic or vulgar words, phrases or images displayed on them.
Just remember, the online world is much different than your local office environment. And many of these professionals work for themselves. They have no boss to answer to since they are the boss. How they choose to dress is more of a statement of ‘this is who I am… I follow my own rules.’
Business casual to independent entrepreneurs means something completely different than a professional on Wall Street.
T-shirts for Independent Business Owners
If you’re self-employed, you may have your own definition of ‘business casual’ that will include wearing t-shirts. If you have a team of workers, you may allow them to wear t-shirts to the office.
Obviously, if they work from home, they can wear t-shirts every day and add a suit jacket or blazer to attend office meetings or Zoom calls.
Business Casual Means Something Different to Different Businesses
You have to think about the type of business you’re in or employed by when deciding on what ‘business casual’ means.
Some businesses allow jeans instead of dress pants, even during the regular work week. Others don’t. Sometimes even the department you work in will dictate what to wear on ‘dress-down’ days.
Professional businesses like accounting, lawyers, and other mainstream professional settings only allow their workers to wear business suits to the office. They may not even have a ‘dress-down’ or ‘business casual’ day at all. And if they do, they may still restrict attire to khakis and not blue jeans; polo shirts but not t-shirts.
Even churches, for example, have different ideas on what people should wear to the office. It depends on the pastors and how they feel. Our church? I’ve rarely seen even the pastors wearing suits, unless they’re officiating a wedding or conducting a funeral.
Our office workers often wear faith-based t-shirts to work in the church offices. In fact, our church gets custom t-shirts done for nearly every event we have!
This is the bottom line in answering the question ‘Are t-shirts business casual?’ It depends. It depends on the type of business, the bosses, the atmosphere and what the upper echelon determines is business casual.
What are your thoughts? What are you allowed to wear on dress-down days? Share below!