My Two SenseSmall Business

When Business Casual Becomes Just Casual

I stood in front of my closet, considering the options. I could wear my usual comfortable clothes to the office and ride my bike. Option two: wear a suit or something similar with high shoes, forcing me to drive.

I had a client meeting that day. So I sighed and grabbed the suit.

When I arrived at the meeting, the client was wearing jeans. Darn.

The world of self-employment seems to have a different dress code, taking liberty with the phrase “business casual,” and making it something less than khakis or a skirt. As I meet and greet in downtown Raleigh and beyond, I see a range of clothing.

Photo by Lachlan Hardy.
Photo by Lachlan Hardy.

While I still watch many suits walk by, people heading to government jobs, the herd of hackers and other tech-focused startups generally dress for a computer lab, comfortably perched in front of computers with jeans and a T-shirt. The hipsters wear clothes suitable for bike riding.

Raleigh is not known for haute couture; we even made GQ’s 40 Worst-Dressed Cities list. But are we taking business casual and making it just “casual?”

As the summer temperature heats up, I see more women wearing skirts and sleeveless tops. While sleeveless is fine with me, I despise the look of strappy shirts in the office. Call me old-fashioned, but it feels unprofessional.

On the other hand, I once attended a meeting wearing jeans, forgetting they had requested “business casual” attire. I was later reprimanded for my choice, a reproof that still stings when I think back on it.

Whether I might include myself under the branding of “hipster” or not, I try to strike a look that is nice, but wears well on a bike. (Bike shorts are a girls’ best friend during skirt season!)

Considering how often people judge us by what we put on, I guess I’d rather be the one wearing the suit at the business meeting. Even if it means sacrificing a bike ride.

What do you think about work wear in Raleigh?