Harvard Business Review: The New Rules of Business Casual

Group dress casually at work
Image via iStock.

One of the best advantages of remote work is much more flexibility in your clothing choices.

Even if you have to appear on camera, people probably will never even see your lower half so you could very well wear your favorite bunny slippers while working for all anyone cares.

But if you are returning to the office, you know your pajamas won’t work there, but what will?

As the Harvard Business Review recently discussed, a lot of new clothing trends have come to the workplace that can make it difficult to know what is acceptable. Here are some good methods to learn the new norms in business casual.

Learn from Others

When in doubt, see what everyone else is doing. Maybe your office used to be really formal and the expectation was everyone would wear a tie.

But since returning from remote work you might notice that trend has gone away.

You can always start out dressed up and then scale down your attire to whatever now seems common with others in the office.


Unfortunately sometimes observing others doesn’t work because nobody wants to be the first to risk looking foolish. In that case, it might be on you to experiment and learn from the reactions you get.

Maybe you have been feeling like the office is laid back enough for you to wear jeans. The only way to know for sure is try and see what people say.

Consider the Message of Nonconformity

Nonconformity can either make you look clueless or it can be a deliberate statement of your confidence. To make sure any attire deviations are perceived as the latter, make sure you are otherwise put together.

Don’t dive into experimenting headfirst by just all of a sudden showing up in a t-shirt and flipflops. Make your choices look well thought through in their boldness.

Embrace Your Authenticity

Professional attire often suppresses our individual personalities. Finding ways to add your personal touch to what you wear can make you feel more confident and energized.

Find your professional outfits that strike that balance between presenting yourself as a representative for the company while also being true to who you are.

Many workplace dress codes have changed significantly, so look for opportunities to change things up and modernize your wardrobe.

If you want some more pointers on utilizing any of these strategies, check out what the Harvard Business Review had to say.


Chicquette explains how to pick the right jeans to wear for work.


Wilmington University, the sponsor of VISTA Today — Career Corner, is a private, open-access institution that serves more than 20,000 adults, including those seeking advancement through higher education and traditional-age students who aspire to become successful global citizens.

One of the most affordable private universities in the Delaware Valley, WilmU is committed to the idea that finishing an undergraduate degree or obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree can be affordable and accessible.

The University offers over 200 accredited and career-relevant degree and certificate programs in flexible online and hybrid formats designed to accommodate adults of all ages who work full- or part-time or juggle demanding career, family, and personal schedules.

Learn more about WilmU here or register to attend one of the University’s webinars. You will find information about academic programs, flexible scheduling options, tuition, admissions, student services, athletics, and more.

Connect With Your Community

Subscribe to stay informed!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.