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A few AWESOME govies got together last night and started talking about this topic.  We learned that business casual means very different things, depending on where you work, geographic location, etc.  So....I'm asking you...what is your definition of business casual?  Got any photos that you would like to post?

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This is a great topic!

I generally agre with the outlines for women listed here: a decent dress, slacks or skirt with a nice top- doesn't have to be a blouse. What I don't understand is the Flip-Flop issue.

Some flip-flops are obviously casual- they have a foam sole and plastic straps. Or, they cost $1 at Old Navy, for instance.

Some flip-flops are dressy- they have wooden or regular soles, patent leather/leather straps, or are be-jeweled in some way. My thoughts are that a dressy flip-flop is equivalent to a dressy summer shoe of any other open-toe variet. How are they any different from a strappy sandal? Or is the argument that all sandals are unprofessional? Is the cut-off made between strappy shoes with or without heels? Personally, I would not feel at all uncomfortable wearing dressy flip-flops in a meeting with the Division Director or Regional Administrator. I typically wear them with nice slacks or skirts, so the entire ensemble is business casual.

Another point I'd like to discuss is the suit-style shorts for women. What do people think of those? On the manequins they look great. I've actually seen one woman wear them to the office, and she looked very professional- they are knee length and made out of suiting material, so they look very nice. Paired with a nice top and decent shoes, it looks very nice. I am still a little too uncomfortable to take the plunge though. My reasoning being that a man wearing dockers slacks to the office is fine, but I would find it odd if he wore dockers shorts. Thoughts?

I have no issue with bermuda shorts. To me they kinda of tie into capris....i'm short, my capris always hit me mid calf, but for taller women they're barely below the knee.

 

Don't see much difference between bermuda shorts or a pencil skirt...in fact I'd rather see bermuda shorts than a mini skirt in most cases :)

Agreed.  I don't do shorts or 3/4 length pants to the office.  If I'm too hot, I just go with a skirt. 

 

The Sandal issue...I agree as well.  Some sandals (eh hem...Michael Kors) will cost you a lot more than a pair of good old pumps.  Not that price is the issue, but as you mentioned they are nice leather sandals that are dressy.  Since moving to DC, I am all about foot comfort.  If I can't wear flip flops then I pack the pumps in a bag and use the flops to do the walking.  I can usually be spotted in downtown DC pausing to put my pumps on before entering a building, and pausing to put the flops back on when exiting.

 

The only rule that I have, if you're going to wear flops...you must have a professional pedicure in a neutral color.

Bare shoulders don't bug me because I see plenty of nice expensive office dresses that are sleeveless. I judge it more with how  much shoulder....are they spaghetti straps or inch wide? Spaghetti straps should be covered in the office.

 

I laughed a couple of weeks ago when the governor was talking about a dress code and one of the things on the list was no open toed shoes....and I though 'well, most of our female exec staff wear peep toe mules so this won't go over well' (didnt' pass which is fine with me)

 

but yes, there are the 'at the beach' $1 flip flops that I wonder how folks can wear without tearing their feet up, and then there are even nice expensive birks or ornamented flip flops(what i grew upcalling toe sandals) or leather sandals, that are just as dressy as those pumps that are so popular....and a heck of a lot better for your feet than cramming them into dress shoes.

Business Casual is for those of you that work in an office, the higher the GS number the better the clothes.  At our installation, our engineers wear khaki's and polos with Sperry Docksider shoes or LL Bean shoes.  The older ones tuck their polos in, the younger engineers leave them out.  (personal opinion, but if you have a few pounds around the middle, it looks awful to tuck in a polo, you look silly).  Where I work, I am blessed to wear jeans and a casual pull over shirt, not a t shirt.  I also wear steel toe shoes because I make trips in and out of the garage bays.  I work in the office section and we are on "load shedding" (surprised to learn other fed government workplaces are not), so it's never ice box cold in the office due to the a/c.  And when the bay doors are open on both ends there is always a nice cross breeze.  (the bays are not a/c'd).  We are mixed office/industrial, GS's and WG's and I love it and no more than 4 women work here, even better, less drama.  Our supervisor wears jeans and polo's.  We work together, get our work done and have good morale.  So casual Friday for us, is everyday.  No peep toe or open toe shoes allowed in the garage bays, stay behind the yellow line and black railing.  Besides, there is nothing like getting lithium grease from a starter on your best acrylic sweater. :o(   No pearls and high heels here. 

In my experience, both men and women create drama in the workplace.   
Interesting topic.  I'm a contractor and work off-site from our Federal customer.  In my office "clothed" appears to be the only requirement (I know there are standards, which they keep to in the front office, but we in the trenches don't typically bother).  When we go to the client site, our number one rule is "dress at least as good or better than the customer."  The customer is pretty darn casual but we always go with jackets, the guys add ties.  The interesting thing I find is that at 44 with gray hair and being overweight, is that some of the boss types have felt it appropriate to suggested that short hair for women is "more professional", linen pant suits are not professional, and that to never wear skirts is weird.  It plays into the ageist, sizeist, and sexist stereotypes that many offices fall into.  I've always sworn that if I ever do business on my own that I'd hire the facially tattooed first because they are obviously thinking outside many boxes!  Some people go out of their way to tread on the lines of the etiquette in every work place.  Collared shirt required, ok, this Hawaiian shirt has a collar!  I can wear a corporate T, but not one with another logo... ok, plain T.  The fundamental struggle is that many of us like to show our personality through our clothing and falling lock-step into a uniform is boring.  For others, it is comforting to know you blend in and don't stand out.  Me, I work in a field where "bunny slipper" work is most common - but I end up wearing suits 1/2 the time, so on days I don't get to work at home and don't have to be at the custome site, I go with a simple blouse and slacks.  If it was allowed, I'd live in jeans and a T.  The way I code or write isn't going to be affected by how I dress... except in the negative.  (oh, and 2 people on the row behind me use heaters all year round and I have a fan going often... remember folks, I can only take off so many layers before it gets REAL ugly!).

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