5 essential accessories for the perfect business casual attire

A person using a laptop at home.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

People’s interpretations of business casual have changed in recent years, and being invited to an event with a ‘business casual’ dress code after two years of intermittent lockdowns can be a daunting thought.

Make the best impression with these five accessories, and with little effort, you will have nailed the ultimate business casual look.

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 1. Belt 

Unless you’re wearing suspenders or are lucky enough to have found a pair of trousers with built-in adjustment, or you have spent a lot of money on tailored options, you’re likely to be needing some sort of a belt.

Belts are particularly useful as an accessory for any attire, particularly because you can choose one to express any number of styles and formalities. A simple tool, the humble belt will also accentuate your outfit while neatly tying it together.

A typical formal belt will be simple, often made up of a single band of monotone leather and a smart buckle. To transform your look into business casual, maintain the simplicity while playing with texture. Try adding some details, for example a brogue belt, or go for a woven leather to add some visual excitement.

Depending on how formal your setting is - this can usually be determined by your company or where you are - consider other materials. Going for a fabric belt puts an emphasis on the ‘casual’, but keep an element of ‘business’ by maintaining a simple, clean design. No need to play with wacky colors, here.

In terms of the buckle, the smaller and simpler it is the more formal it will appear. Avoid unnecessary distractions by keeping this part minimal.

An accessory that’s likely to be tightened and loosened multiple times a day, a belt is subject to a certain degree of wear and tear. Invest in high-quality materials to avoid any discoloration or other unwanted damage.

2. Socks

Whether we’re looking to build a slick, formal look or are lounging around the house on the weekend, chances are we wear socks most days. While they prevent our feet from rubbing on the insides of our shoes and help to minimize odors, they are also useful accessories for expressing a person. 

Business casual attire can be quite simple and monotonous, but injecting a pop of color into our socks could be the perfect way to end the week.

In a formal look, a pair of socks will usually tie together with another element of our dress, whether that’s the color of our trousers, the color of our shoes, or anything in between. Show your playful side with a funky pair of socks, but be sure to stick within the business casual guidelines. 

Nothing outlandish here - instead, go for a two-tone look that plays with the colors of the rest of your wardrobe. A more reserved person may want to opt for something that complements their clothes, while an outgoing individual may want to find a color that directly contrasts with a piece of clothing. 

Business casual is not the opportunity to don that pair of novelty socks you got for Christmas.

3.  Watch 

Watches have long been a go-to accessory to round together a formal look, but their uses aren’t limited just here. A versatile wardrobe may consist of a handful of watches with uses applicable to any number of situations, and a business casual watch is certainly a good investment. 

As with other accessories on this list, the best watches will employ a neat and clean design. Avoid watches with an overly large face, a chunky bezel, or too much flair. This is likely to clash with the rest of your business casual attire.

It’s a smart idea to match similar items to cut down on excessive color and materials: a watch naturally pairs with a belt thanks to its similar design and intended nature. Keep things consistent with a watch strap that’s the same color as your belt, for example. 

If you’re an avid user of a smartwatch, there’s nothing to stop you from buying additional bands and straps that can be drawn on for different occasions. Remember, if you’re able to customize your smartwatch’s face, this could help reduce clutter. What’s more, you can match its color to the color of your band: a simple touch that few will notice, but will collectively draw the overall look of your outfit together.

4.  Jewelry 

Another accessory that can subtly pull together everything into a neat look is the jewelry that you pick. A recurring theme in business casual attire, a clean design speaks a thousand words.

If you like to add rings, pair the color of the metal with any other metal you may be using in your look. This could range from the buckle on your belt to the color of your watch. Don’t forget that rings will draw attention to your hands, which could be particularly useful in a business presentation. Consider playing with levels, either by stacking multiple rings or adding another dimension with embellishments.

Earrings should be more conservative or you run the risk of leaving the business out of business casual. Ear studs are a great choice. If you prefer pendant types or loop shapes, smaller is better. Express yourself with colors here; it’s a smart idea to match an earring’s color to other colors used in your dress.

If you enjoy wearing a necklace, avoid extravagant designs in favor of something that could be equally at home in the office.

With so many subcategories of jewelry, the phrase ‘less is more’ certainly rings true.

5.  Briefcase 

Because a business casual format will typically involve some element of work, a good briefcase or portfolio should not be overlooked. Pick the right briefcase and it immediately becomes a timeless accessory that gives you an air of sophistication. 

Most workers are unlikely to have multiple briefcases, so picking a smart design that can be paired with any dress code is a great starting point. Make sure it has the right amount of space to store what you need in your particular job role, whether that’s a laptop, a bunch of notebooks, and even your lunch and a drink. 

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!