Casual vs. Business Casual


From the mailbag:

Hey Andrew,

I am attending a BDO leadership conference next Wednesday. The recruiter specified the dress that is appropriate for the three days. She said casual for day one. Day two in the morning is business casual, and in the afternoon is casual professional.

Can you elaborate on business casual and casual professional from a public accounting perspective?

Best regards,


Note: when I see business casual and casual professional, I think the same thing. If anyone can help us out here with this term that’s new to me (casual professional), let us know in the comments!

When they say casual, be careful.

Think about it like you are going to a BBQ at your new bosses house. What would you wear?

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The trick is you actually do want to follow the dress code.

You don’t want to be in business casual or business professional if she said casual.

I always try to think classy, like a first date with your future husband/wife.

When she says business casual, I think of options like this:


And under no circumstances are hats appropriate. Just say no.

For woman, it get‘s a little trickier.

There is one rule that trumps all: air on the side of covering up over showing skin.

While some people may get offended by that, it’s true.

If your great-grandmother would have any comments, maybe you should try something else.

For casual: jeans, sandals, and peep toe shoes are generally okay.

For business casual: Flats can okay, jeans and peep toe are not

Skirts and dresses and work for any occasion but keep it classy.

For women, some casual examples may be:




For business casual:


If in doubt, change.

During the recruiting process it is especially important to air on the side of caution.

Keep it classy and keep it conservative.

You are interviewing for an accounting job, not to be part of Taylor Swifts entourage.

When in doubt, ask another business savvy friend. Someone who has been to these types of events before!