What Does ‘Casual’ Mean? Learn Women’s Dress Codes

Knowing what to wear for different dress codes can be difficult, and seeing ‘casual dress code’ on an invitation is especially difficult! Everyone’s idea of casual is very different, and what counts as casual can vary hugely depending on the situation. But don’t worry, there are plenty of guidelines to ensure that you end up dressed appropriately!

What is casual dress?

A casual dress code is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – the opportunity to wear your favorite comfortable clothes without looking out of place! It’s essentially theĀ opposite of a dress code, with no requirements as to what you should wear. Jeans and sneakers should be fine for most casual events. Of course, feel free to wear something a little more formal if super casual isn’t your thing, and equally you should avoid turning up in your pyjamas! Here are a few basic guidelines as to what kind of outfits might work for casual events:

  • A comfortable dress like a sundress
  • A skirt (either long or short is fine)
  • Jeans, khakis or other casual trousers
  • Shorts
  • Plain t-shirt, polo neck or turtleneck
  • Casual button-down blouse

Anything really old and worn is probably not ok – the very fact that the organizers of the event have specified a dress code suggests that you should at least be reasonably smart! Casual dress code doesn’t quite mean ‘wear whatever you like’, but it does mean that you should dress for comfort without worrying about formality or regulations. Another tip is to avoid slogan t-shirts, as they can make an outfit a little too informal.


Casual dress code for a party or special event

If you’re going to a party or other special event that specifies a casual dress code, this can be a little tricky! Clearly, you are required to dress up a little more than if you were just sat at home, but the host obviously doesn’t want the event to be too formal. A backyard BBQ might have a a casual dress code, for example, where you would be fine turning up in jeans, sneakers and a nice blouse or plain t-shirt. A sundress and comfortable shoes would also work. If you’re worried that this may be a little too informal, then a good compromise outfit is ankle boots and fitted pants or a pretty but relaxed dress.


Casual dress code for the office

If your office has a casual dress code, or perhaps casual Friday, then you should be a little more careful! You need to find the right balance between casual and professional. Don’t wear anything that you’d wear to lounge around at home – tracksuits, yoga pants and hoodies are not ok! Instead, pick an understated and comfortable dress, or wear a blouse with jeans.


Casual dress code vs. business casual

When thinking about casual dress for the office, it’s important to remember that there’s a big difference between a casual dress code and a business casual dress code! The ‘casual’ in business casual is really just to distinguish it from business formal – it still requires smart, office-appropriate clothing, just with a little more freedom in things like color. If you are asked to wear business casual, you will need to look for much more formal clothing than a casual dress code calls for. Pay close attention to which dress code you are supposed to be following!


Summer casual dress code

When you’re trying to follow a casual dress code in summer, you want to keep cool while still dressing appropriately for whatever event you are attending. Shorts are probably a good bet, whether denim or a nice flowy fabric. Loose maxi skirts are also a great comfortable way to wear casual dress in summer, as are loose trousers. If a casual dress code has been specified, you probably shouldn’t wear anything too skimpy, like a bikini top, but fairly short shorts or a skirt with a high slit should be completely fine! Each event will be different, though, so think about who will be in attendance before you decide how much skin to show.

Here are a few suggestions for dressing casually in summer:

  • Denim cut-off shorts
  • Sandals
  • Plain white, loose-fitting t-shirts and tanks
  • Flowing maxi skirts
  • Fitted or tailored shorts
  • Lightweight cardigans or jackets


Winter casual dress code

Dressing casually in winter is obviously very different from dressing casually in summer! If it’s cold out, chances are you can get away with an even more informal outfit. Feel free to layer up in your warmest and coziest sweaters, and add a big scarf. Relaxed hats like beanies are great with a casual outfit, so take the opportunity to keep your head nice and warm! Boots are the ultimate winter casual shoes, and investing in a good pair will ensure that you are well dressed all winter, whatever the event. If it’s a really cold and wet day, you may need a pair of waterproof boots and a good weatherproof coat. A casual dress code is by far the easiest to follow during the winter months, so enjoy being able to stay nice and wrapped up!