You’ve done the hard part. You’ve found a job, impressed through the interview process and accepted an offer. Now you just need to make a great impression on your co-workers.
A big aspect of your first impression will be how you dress. But if you’ve been told that your office is “business casual,” you might not know what is expected of you. What percentage of business casual is “business” and what percentage is “casual?” What should you wear on the first day of your new job?
You can get ideas from celebrity appearances on talk shows including The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. These are business casual events, because while the environment is meant to feel like a living room, the celebrities are usually there for business reasons — to promote a new movie, record or initiative.
In this piece, I’ll break down nine classic looks that define business casual for men so you can feel confident and comfortable.
Sweater, trousers and sneakers
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When Will Smith appeared on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, he wore a light-colored sweater with matching socks, trousers and clean, white sneakers. This is a simple business casual look, and you probably already have all or most of these things in your closet. The solid-color sneakers are a nice touch, especially if you are on your feet most of the day. However, you might want to wait to wear these sorts of shoes until you have seen your colleagues wear them, and avoid wearing over-the-top or highly patterned running shoes.
Shirt, tie, sweater … and jeans?
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When Austin Powers and Shrek star Mike Myers appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he wore a V-neck sweater with an untucked white dress shirt and a colorful tie up top. This sort of color scheme is representative of business casual. The tie is playful and fun but not overly flashy. The shirt and sweater are more staid. Myers chose to leave his shirt untucked, making the look more casual than otherwise.
He’s also wearing jeans with black loafers. Many people will say that jeans aren’t and shouldn’t be considered business casual. I’d recommend you wait to see what your co-workers are wearing before you wear them yourself.
Suit with sneakers and loose tie
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Hamilton writer Lin-Manuel Miranda wore a suit on Jimmy Kimmel Live, which might make you think this is a fully business look. He even has a pocket square and a tie. However, there are two aspects to this outfit that make it business casual. The first is that Miranda chose to wear his tie loosely around his neck, similar to how Myers wore his under his sweater. It implies informality, and it’s not how Miranda would wear the same tie on the red carpet.
Second, Miranda is rocking white tennis shoes, similar to Will Smith. You wouldn’t see someone in business attire with that look.
Blazer over a V-neck T-shirt
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Avengers star Mark Ruffalo wore a V-neck T-shirt with black pants and brown lace-up shoes when he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel. The blazer and dark, simple color scheme punches this up and makes it more professional.
If you’re going to wear this look, make sure you don’t take the blazer off — if you do, you’re really just wearing a T-shirt. That’s definitely more casual.
Also, try to at least wear a nice T-shirt under the blazer. A wrinkled dress shirt isn’t ideal, but a wrinkled white T-shirt looks like you slept in it the night before.