Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear it?

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Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear it?

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:32 pm

Hopefully you've all read the previous post in this series, on why it's so important to dress and act like a professional adult when you're staffing high school tournaments. But, there's a big gap between a t-shirt and sweatpants and white tie and tails, and a lot of people have trouble knowing what to wear on that spectrum.

I'll put a disclaimer here that this and the following sections mostly discusses men's clothing. This is because more quizbowlers are male, and because I'm more personally familiar with men's sizing, style, and standards. I'd love to hear from anyone who feels qualified to discuss women's professional casual dress.

What is dressing appropriately "business casual" for hosting or moderating at a high school quizbowl tournament?
ANSWER:
  • A shirt, with a collar and at least three buttons
  • Pants that do not have cargo pockets, have belt loops, aren't ripped or clearly frayed, and aren't pajama or sweatpants*
  • Shoes that are black or brown, preferably made of leather, and not designed for wearing while running or exercising
  • A belt, inside the belt loops, made of leather, that is either brown or black, and, most importantly, the same color as the shoes
This is also the standard in many offices** these days and a good idea for attending events that are vaguely nice, like a more formal party or play, but do not have defined dress codes.

*It's even better if they're not jeans.
**Although you normally shouldn't dress like this for an interview for most jobs; interview candidates are almost always expected to have a tie and jacket as well.
Last edited by Steeve Ho You Fat on Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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How to find clothes that fit

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:42 pm

While almost everyone owns these items, many of them don't fit. Regardless of style, color, pattern, or anything else, fit is the #1 most important thing to get right on any article of clothing you buy. A Brooks Brothers* shirt that's two sizes too large looks far worse than a department store shirt that fits well. A tailor (you don't have a tailor? Get a tailor. Seriously, it's a good investment.) can take in or let out the hem of your pants a little bit, but the cost and difficulty of getting your shirts tailored means that it's normally a better bet to just buy shirts that fit in the first place.**

Sizing guidelines:
  • Shirt: Your shirt has four axes that need to fit: the neck, the midsection, the shoulders, and the sleeves.
    • Neck: When you button the top button, you should be able to stick two or three fingers between your neck and the collar comfortably. Less, the collar will chafe, more, and it will flop around loosely. If you ask at any department store like JC Penny's or Macy's, they will measure this for free for you.
    • Midsection: When you tuck the shirt in, it shouldn't be quite form-fitting (unless you and your body type can pull this off), but it definitely shouldn't billow or muffin-top around the belt/waistline. Typically, shirts labeled as "fitted", "slim fit", or "contemporary fit" will fit skinnier guys, while shirts labeled as
      "classic fit" or "relaxed fit" may be more appropriate for larger guys. You can often get the right shoulder fit as well by modulating this.***
    • Shoulders: The seam where the sleeves connect to the main part of the shirt should rest right on the edge of your shoulders when you're standing up with your arms at your side. This normally will be OK as long as you have the right neck size, unless you're particularly broad- or narrow-shouldered. If your neck size is right and the shoulders aren't working, you can try adjusting the midsection fit, although if that doesn't help you might need to consider a different brand, since they're all cut differently. The shoulders absolutely should not be tight and constricting across the shoulderblades or back, but the seam absolute shouldn't go down your arms, either.
    • Sleeves: When your arms are straight out in front of you, the end of the cuffs should cover all of your arms and reach the end of your wrist - I prefer them to end around where your thumb bone starts to separate from the rest of the hand, but there's about a half inch of wiggle room on either side here. Under no circumstances should the sleeves even approach the webbing where the thumb meets the hand, and under no circumstances can they fail to reach the wrist. This is another measurement any department store employee can help take for you.****
  • Pants:
    • Waist: Your pants should sit comfortably on your waistline, although where exactly you want them to sit is up to you - I prefer my pants to sit fairly low on my waist, just above the butt, although some people, especially older men and Taylor Swift, prefer higher-wasted pants. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, as long as they're right for what you like and don't stretch when you button them or have baggy extra fabric when you put a belt on.
      • Speaking of the belt, a quick note about this: your belt size is typically 1-2 inches larger than the waist size on your pants. If you find the best fit for you is a 32-inch waist pants, you'll probably do well with a size 34 belt. It never hurts to try it on to make sure though - the main requirement is that the best hole for the buckle should be neither the first nor the last hole in the belt.
    • Length: The hem of the pants should reach the top of the shoes in front, and not reach the floor in the back. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest things for a tailor to adjust for just a few dollars - in fact, many higher-end stores sell pants unhemmed because they assume you'll go to a tailor to get it set right! If you don't want to do this, though, just make sure that when you stand up, the pants neither end above the shoelaces or drag on the ground, and make sure you can sit, walk, and squat comfortably in them.
*Here, and anywhere else I mention a brand or company, is not an endorsement for a specific brand or product.
**Tailors can work wonders on jackets/blazers, but since you basically never need to wear these to a quizbowl tournament I won't go in to them here; if you want advice on getting one to wear to a job interview, PM me.
***Protip: when you're at the store shopping for shirts, wear the kind of pants you'll wear with the shirts. They can look very different in the dressing room when you tuck them into decent slacks versus when you tuck them into sweatpants.
****Polo shirts are typically short-sleeved, and that's fine. Please
don't wear a short-sleeved dress shirt, though, and ESPECIALLY do not
wear a short-sleeved shirt of any type with a tie.
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Introduction to fashion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:49 pm

Now, if you've gotten proper clothes, and found some that fit you well, but you want to go just a little bit farther, I'll offer some advice on basic fashion tips. I don't claim to be a fashion expert here, by any means, but here are a few basic tips for dress. Remember, the most important thing is to always feel good about what you're wearing, and there's quite a lot of room for experimentation. These are some pointers for people, like me, who just want to look like competent adults without worrying about looking like a fool or bizarrely out of place. These tips go in approximately descending order from things you can't do to my personal preferences, with the first four being especially common and obvious mistakes I've seen at a lot of quizbowl events.
  1. Never, ever, ever button the top button of a shirt if you aren't wearing a tie. Never do this. Ever. Lots of quizbowl people get this wrong and it hurts me (also, it hurts them - buttoned collars are way less comfortable!).
  2. Your belt and shoes absolutely must be the same color. If you wear black shoes, you must wear a black belt. If you wear brown shoes, you must wear a brown belt. Again, this is not something where there's room for debate - buy one of those reversible belts if you have to, but don't get it wrong.
  3. You can wear a black belt and shoes with any kind of pants (slacks, khakis, jeans, etc), but you cannot wear a brown belt and shoes with black pants.
  4. Do not wear an untucked shirt with a tie. Sometimes (rarely) it's OK to wear an untucked open collar shirt, but when in doubt, tuck it in.
  5. I highly recommend you get most of your shirts with button cuffs (sometimes called barrel cuffs). French cuffs which require cuff links are a lot harder to get right, and can send some extremely formal, even ostentatious, messages which you probably don't want to send unless you know what you're doing.
  6. Your tie width should correlate with your width. On skinnier guys, a longer, narrower tie can help accentuate their skinniness, while on bigger guys a skinny tie would vanish and a wide tie is more appropriate.
  7. This is just me, but I'm not a huge fan of the tie on shirt look without something else on top - I'd recommend throwing on a vest or sweater (or suit jacket/blazer if you want to be really formal) to improve the look.

Please let me know if you have any questions - I'm happy to help if you're trying to look like you belong at something more formal, like a job interview, as well. Hopefully this series will prove to be a useful resource to help people be more professional at tournaments, and be useful in broader life as well.
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Re: How to find clothes that fit

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:55 pm

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:[Y]ou don't have a tailor? Get a tailor. Seriously, it's a good investment.
Let's all withdraw money from our trust funds and hire a tailor! Mayhaps a hatter as well!

There's good advice in here, but let's remember that income brackets differ. Some places don't even have tailors.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:58 pm

You can get your pants hemmed for as low as $5 some places. You don't need to be an economist to know that a $20 pair of pants and a $5 tailoring job is a better deal than a $50 pair of pants. The entire point of the post is to show that, with just a little effort and thought, you can dress yourself without having to get custom made clothes or shopping at expensive high-end stores.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:03 pm

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:You can get your pants hemmed for as low as $5 some places. You don't need to be an economist to know that a $20 pair of pants and a $5 tailoring job is a better deal than a $50 pair of pants. The entire point of the post is to show that, with just a little effort and thought, you can dress yourself without having to get custom made clothes or shopping at expensive high-end stores.
More info on budgetary shopping would be helpful, I think. Sorry if I was overly crappy in my post.

A recommendation, a thought, and a question:

If you are on a budget, Kohl's is far from the worst route to go. Their stuff is practically always on sale, they offer Kohl's Cash almost constantly, and

If you're staffing a tournament, I think you'll be fine with tennis shoes. They're commonly worn by medical professionals, who spend lots of time on their feet. If you're deciding between comfortable tennis shoes and uncomfortable dress shoes, I'd go with the tennis shoes.

Joe, and others, what are you opinions on the professionalism of patterned belts that have grown in popularity over the past few years? I see those with certain populations of my classmates. My reaction isn't inherently a positive one, but maybe I'm too old.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:17 pm

I think the principle Joe is getting at is that while it may take thousands of dollars to buy fancy bespoke clothes, that's not the standard you need to meet for moderating a quiz bowl tournament. Looking professional at a tournament is pretty cheap, and getting your clothes adjusted when needed is not the same thing as buying made-to-measure clothes. If you have the clothes to go to a white-collar job -- even for one day -- you almost certainly have the clothes to look professional at a tournament, modulo some adjustments.

EDIT: I personally agree with Fred that wearing tennis shoes is much less of a problem than, say, sweatpants, mostly because people won't notice them unless you're at a distance. And if you're going to be running around a lot, it might be prudent.
Last edited by Muriel Axon on Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Ike » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:20 pm

This is almost comical.

While I generally agree with the sentiment of "hey guys, let's stop dressing like slobs," expecting anyone to follow all these guidelines is silly. Your tournament will not be perceived any less unprofessional if 3 of your readers have pants that have cargo pockets, or the last minute volunteer reader you brought in because McX flaked, happens to be wearing tennis shoes. If someone does blow a gasket, well, they're just going to be very sad in all walks of life.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Cheynem » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:28 pm

I don't think this is comical; it's pretty good advice. I don't follow all of Joe's style tips, but I also look pretty professional at most tournaments I go to. It helps that I'm naturally dashing and charming, but not everyone has that.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Everything in the Whole Wide World » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:30 pm

The bottom line here is "make sure you look considerably better dressed than the students"/"make sure you look dressed to be an authority figure". This doesn't take men dressed in tuxedos and women dressed in designer dresses to do. Use common sense, don't dress like you would for day-to-day activity.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:32 pm

Ike wrote:This is almost comical.

While I generally agree with the sentiment of "hey guys, let's stop dressing like slobs," expecting anyone to follow all these guidelines is silly. Your tournament will not be perceived any less unprofessional if 3 of your readers have pants that have cargo pockets, or the last minute volunteer reader you brought in because McX flaked, happens to be wearing tennis shoes. If someone does blow a gasket, well, they're just going to be very sad in all walks of life.
Ike, you're comically wrong about this. The idea isn't to prevent people from "blowing a gasket", its about setting the tone for making quizbowl a serious activity.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:37 pm

Cheynem wrote:I don't think this is comical; it's pretty good advice. I don't follow all of Joe's style tips, but I also look pretty professional at most tournaments I go to. It helps that I'm naturally dashing and charming, but not everyone has that.
It's also good life advice, as well. Many careers require professional dress, and this is really good stuff.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:05 pm

I recommend H&M for getting a decent business-casual look quickly and cheaply. Really affordable shirts and chinos--the shirts I'd recommend to quizbowlers are the $15 solid-color button-ups. They're a more tailored fit, so they won't be insanely baggy, and they're wrinkle-resistant, so as long as you hang-dry them and take good care of them, you'll often (but not always!!!) be able to get away without ironing.

HOWEVER: you're almost always safer ironing regardless. Nothing turns quizgoofus into quizgallant faster than an ironed shirt.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:09 pm

Also I wholeheartedly agree about dress shoes not being mandatory, but try to make sure the shoes you are wearing look decent--in quizbowl, as in the rest of life, leave the beat-up white athletic shoes at home.
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Re: How to find clothes that fit

Post by Susan » Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:14 pm

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:A tailor (you don't have a tailor? Get a tailor. Seriously, it's a good investment.) can take in or let out the hem of your pants a little bit
I don't know a ton of people who "have a tailor," but finding a dry cleaner that does alterations/repairs (or a storefront/mall tailoring business) can both help you make your new clothes fit better and save you money in the long run by taking care of minor clothing repairs.
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Re: How to find clothes that fit

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:29 pm

Susan wrote:
Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:A tailor (you don't have a tailor? Get a tailor. Seriously, it's a good investment.) can take in or let out the hem of your pants a little bit
I don't know a ton of people who "have a tailor," but finding a dry cleaner that does alterations/repairs (or a storefront/mall tailoring business) can both help you make your new clothes fit better and save you money in the long run by taking care of minor clothing repairs.
Or just straight up learning how to sew.
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Re: How to find clothes that fit

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:35 pm

Stefan HSQBRankovich wrote:
Susan wrote:
Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:A tailor (you don't have a tailor? Get a tailor. Seriously, it's a good investment.) can take in or let out the hem of your pants a little bit
I don't know a ton of people who "have a tailor," but finding a dry cleaner that does alterations/repairs (or a storefront/mall tailoring business) can both help you make your new clothes fit better and save you money in the long run by taking care of minor clothing repairs.
Or just straight up learning how to sew.
Haha, the premise of this thread is that quizbowlers need remedial lessons in dressing themselves--I'd save "performing your own alterations" for a much later teaching moment.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Tue Nov 10, 2015 10:45 pm

Yeah, so, all I meant by "having a tailor" was finding a tailor nearby at a dry cleaner or something who would do a good job for a reasonable price and who you can trust to not ruin your clothes. Sorry I presumed to phrase that a little bit casually/flippantly, especially when, as Shan said, the entire point of the post was to offer ways to get clothes that make you look decent for reasonable prices. I think that even if you are on a budget, by trying on a few things at different stores (including secondhand stores! As long as they don't smell like smoke or are torn, there's no dishonor in wearing something you got a great deal on at Goodwill), you can look a lot better than you can by just going to the first place you see and picking something random. Like Kohl's, Marshall's is another fine store for people on a budget - some of the stuff they have is suspect, but, again, as long as you try it on before you buy it, you can get good prices. I think H&M is a little step up price-wise, I think of them as more on the JC Penney level, but I also own multiple things bought there (and Rob is certainly correct that a little ironing can really sharpen yourself up).

I'm personally not a fan of patterned belts, but they're certainly not the silliest thing I've seen people wear while staffing a quizbowl tournament.

I certainly don't recommend tennis shoes, but especially at tournaments when you're sitting behind a desk all day it's certainly a low priority. As with everything else, there's certainly a difference between ratty old tennis shoes and reasonably decent-looking ones too.
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Re: How to find clothes that fit

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:00 pm

Auks Ran Ova wrote:
Stefan HSQBRankovich wrote:
Susan wrote:
Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:A tailor (you don't have a tailor? Get a tailor. Seriously, it's a good investment.) can take in or let out the hem of your pants a little bit
I don't know a ton of people who "have a tailor," but finding a dry cleaner that does alterations/repairs (or a storefront/mall tailoring business) can both help you make your new clothes fit better and save you money in the long run by taking care of minor clothing repairs.
Or just straight up learning how to sew.
Haha, the premise of this thread is that quizbowlers need remedial lessons in dressing themselves--I'd save "performing your own alterations" for a much later teaching moment.
man, sewing buttons ain't no big deal
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:01 pm

$15 wrinkle-resistant button-ups! In inoffensive solid colors that look fine on anyone! It's easy mode for the sartorially-challenged quizbowler. Sizes do tend to run comparatively small, though, so beware.

Also, a patterned belt is much better than the common quizbowl alternative, "I don't own a belt". Any belt, as long as it's not brown on black, is better than no belt.
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Re: How to find clothes that fit

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:03 pm

Stefan HSQBRankovich wrote:
Auks Ran Ova wrote:
Stefan HSQBRankovich wrote:
Susan wrote:
Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:A tailor (you don't have a tailor? Get a tailor. Seriously, it's a good investment.) can take in or let out the hem of your pants a little bit
I don't know a ton of people who "have a tailor," but finding a dry cleaner that does alterations/repairs (or a storefront/mall tailoring business) can both help you make your new clothes fit better and save you money in the long run by taking care of minor clothing repairs.
Or just straight up learning how to sew.
Haha, the premise of this thread is that quizbowlers need remedial lessons in dressing themselves--I'd save "performing your own alterations" for a much later teaching moment.
man, sewing buttons ain't no big deal
Oh, yeah, that should be within the realm of possibility.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:11 pm

Some gender-neutral advice on shoes, though I'm told by many that most men's dress shoes are comfortable: test-drive your nicer shoes before wearing them to a tournament. You don't want the first time you've worn them all day to be at a tournament if they turn out to be not as comfy as they seem - any of you who spotted me running barefoot around the 2012 NSC know I learned this the hard way.

I would also say there's nothing wrong with clean, decent-looking sneakers, especially if they are commonly worn by teachers in your area (like medical personnel, good teachers are on their feet a lot, and plenty of them in this area wear sneakers for that reason).

I will also say that I finally had the money to buy a good pair of boots at DSW (an excellent source of nice shoes for discount prices), and so far they seem like they may be life-changing, so I admittedly might stop wearing sneakers to tournaments when it isn't raining.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:18 pm

Can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet, but most quizbowlers don't need, and shouldn't ever wear, pleated pants. Larger people and Olympic squat champions at want to consider them, though, as they do offer a roomier fit.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by dtaylor4 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:23 pm

Also, do not forget a decent undershirt. Especially in classrooms where there are a lot of people in a small space, it can get hot pretty quickly, and the last thing you want is for others to see sweat stains in your armpits. Anti-perspirant will only go so far.

Even if a decent button-down is too much, solid polo shirts are more than adequate, easy on the budget, and go well with jeans/khakis.

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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by theMoMA » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:03 am

Here is some men's clothing advice from someone whose sartorial choices have been consistently praised by R. Hentzel.

Shoes: Let's start at the bottom. Clarks Originals are nice and go well with jeans or business-casual pants. They're a good option if you want something that you can wear around casually that's still acceptably mature-looking in most quizbowl settings. My siblings/mom would ridicule me right now if they saw me linking to Sierra Trading Post, which my dad has a longstanding obsession with, but STP has great deals on Clarks. I have three pairs of these (slip-ons and two Oxford-style ones) that I wear basically every day, and they're super comfortable. Basically, the reason I like these is that they're relatively inexpensive and are great for everyday wear in addition to settings where non-tennis shoes are required.

Pants: I'm going to offer slightly different advice. Dockers or pleated khakis are what men in exurban Chilis bars tuck their company-logo golf shirts into. Get a couple actually nice pairs of solid (i.e. no ridiculous acid washes), darker-colored (but not black) jeans (don't just go to Old Navy) that fit (have someone, possibly even your mom, help you figure this out) and wear them everywhere. If you're an adult in the working world and thus have acceptable dress slacks, which describes Joe in my experience, feel free to wear those. But if you buy some cheap Kohl's khakis for quizbowl-only wear, you'll look like the aforementioned exurban dweeb, or like you're very excited to play "Low Rider" in front of your family with the rest of the 10th grade band, depending on how old you look. That's why I suggest nice jeans: you can get real-world wear out of them in addition to looking spiffy when you show up to quizbowl.

Belt: get a brown leather one and don't wear black shoes. Your dad might even have some old ones from back when he was as skinny as you are now.

Up top: there are a couple ways to go. Undershirt + tucked-in dress shirt is fine. An even easier option is to buy a couple blazers/sport coats that fit and wear one over a t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt of your choice. No annoying collar, no need to tuck, instant ability to be completely casual, and you still look way more professional than all those annoying high schoolers! H&M should have some nice options that won't break the bank (under $100). A nice sweater is also a good look unless it's super hot out, and (at least in my opinion) is more comfortable/casual than a collared shirt.

Hat: no.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Coelacanth » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:20 am

dtaylor4 wrote:Also, do not forget a decent undershirt. Especially in classrooms where there are a lot of people in a small space, it can get hot pretty quickly, and the last thing you want is for others to see sweat stains in your armpits. Anti-perspirant will only go so far.

Even if a decent button-down is too much, solid polo shirts are more than adequate, easy on the budget, and go well with jeans/khakis.
These two pieces of advice, while both valid, are contradictory. It is NEVER appropriate to wear an undershirt under a polo. That's a socks-with-sandals level fashion faux pas.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:31 am

Andrew's advice is generally good, if a little more advanced than this thread is aiming for: if you can already discern what type of t-shirt looks good under a blazer (or what type of blazer looks good on you, for that matter), you probably don't need this kind of help. I certainly agree that you should avoid buying cheap, terrible khakis that don't fit or look good*, but if you're really starting from zero and are just trying to achieve acceptable semi-formality on the few occasions in your life that call for it, it's probably best to pick up some decent slacks** first. By all means, use this as a springboard to dress better, including getting some nice jeans--but that's a separate topic.

I do take issue with this:
theMoMA wrote:Belt: get a brown leather one and don't wear black shoes.
It's presented like an obvious thing to avoid, but it's really not--there's nothing wrong with wearing black shoes, and if you already have black dress shoes you don't need to go buy new ones. As long as your belt and shoes match, and don't egregiously clash with the rest of what you're wearing, you're fine.

*Avoid especially light-colored khakis or chinos until you know what you're doing.
*Here's some good advice: start with dark colors. Black and dark gray (or navy, if you're on the East Coast) are the standard suit colors for a reason--they look good on most people and can be combined with basically anything. It's not hard to find some decent slacks in those colors to start out, and that should be your first business-casual pants goal.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:35 am

Coelacanth wrote:
dtaylor4 wrote:Also, do not forget a decent undershirt. Especially in classrooms where there are a lot of people in a small space, it can get hot pretty quickly, and the last thing you want is for others to see sweat stains in your armpits. Anti-perspirant will only go so far.

Even if a decent button-down is too much, solid polo shirts are more than adequate, easy on the budget, and go well with jeans/khakis.
These two pieces of advice, while both valid, are contradictory. It is NEVER appropriate to wear an undershirt under a polo. That's a socks-with-sandals level fashion faux pas.
I'M A DOUBLE-POSTING MACHINE. Brian is mostly correct here--the key is that you shouldn't wear a visible undershirt under a polo. V-neck undershirts were invented for situations like this (and open-collar dress shirts, too).

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the advice, just remember: the correct fit is more important than the correct style, and should be your primary concern. No one expects you to be the trendiest person around, but you should definitely try to find clothes that fit your body. The positive effects, both in how you appear to others and in how you feel about yourself, are immeasurable!
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:40 am

Oh man, here's another thing I'm surprised hasn't come up yet: don't wear white socks!! I'm not going to come to your house and take them away from you but you should avoid wearing them while dressing up, even this much. The common rule of thumb is to get socks that match your pants, but even just wearing black socks instead of white is a step up.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Cheynem » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:42 am

For the MAIN purposes of this thread, which is dressing at quizbowl tournaments, I would say that this isn't something that needs to be overthought. We can debate color of shoes and what brands to buy and what blazer to wear when, but if you're even considering or thinking about these things, you're probably just fine for 99% of tournaments (I'm not necessarily talking about real life here). There is a huge difference in someone even just wearing a polo and bland khakis and somebody who is wearing a t-shirt with jorts or god forbid pajamas.

I don't wear white socks because it makes doing laundry easier. Most of my socks are blue.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:49 am

This is the best thread ever.
The Laughing Cavalier wrote:Some gender-neutral advice on shoes, though I'm told by many that most men's dress shoes are comfortable: test-drive your nicer shoes before wearing them to a tournament. You don't want the first time you've worn them all day to be at a tournament if they turn out to be not as comfy as they seem - any of you who spotted me running barefoot around the 2012 NSC know I learned this the hard way.
[...]
I will also say that I finally had the money to buy a good pair of boots at DSW (an excellent source of nice shoes for discount prices), and so far they seem like they may be life-changing, so I admittedly might stop wearing sneakers to tournaments when it isn't raining.
I usually spend the week before an event making sure the backs of my shoes aren't stiff, since I don't wear my nice shoes that often. My Naturalizer boots also make for a comfy alternative to flats, especially if it's cold.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by theMoMA » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:51 am

I should clarify that my advice concerns the procurement of minimally acceptable attire (that also doubles as clothing you might enjoy wearing outside of more formal situations). So when I say "buy a brown belt and don't wear black shoes," I mean that this is likely the easiest course of action if you own neither acceptable shoes nor acceptable belts. Brown shoes and belts are much more versatile than black ones, if you ask me; they go well with anything except black clothing, which most people don't typically wear casually. Obviously, feel free to adjust accordingly around whatever acceptable items you do own.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Ndg » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:56 am

Cheynem wrote: There is a huge difference in someone even just wearing a polo and bland khakis and somebody who is wearing a t-shirt with jorts or god forbid pajamas.
Agreed. I'd be perfectly happy to see people achieve this sort of baseline (speaking as someone who is fond of both polos and bland khakis!).
theMoMA wrote:Hat: no.
Emphasizing this so no one misses it. If you're staffing a tournament (or playing, for that matter, but that's another discussion), wearing a hat is the easiest way to tell people you're not taking things seriously.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:59 am

Ndg wrote:
theMoMA wrote:Hat: no.
Emphasizing this so no one misses it. If you're staffing a tournament (or playing, for that matter, but that's another discussion), wearing a hat is the easiest way to tell people you're not taking things seriously.
This is true. What's even more true is that if you think you have a hat that DOES make you look like you're taking things seriously, you are wrong. It is not 1942.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Ike » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:13 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
Ike wrote:This is almost comical.

While I generally agree with the sentiment of "hey guys, let's stop dressing like slobs," expecting anyone to follow all these guidelines is silly. Your tournament will not be perceived any less unprofessional if 3 of your readers have pants that have cargo pockets, or the last minute volunteer reader you brought in because McX flaked, happens to be wearing tennis shoes. If someone does blow a gasket, well, they're just going to be very sad in all walks of life.
Ike, you're comically wrong about this. The idea isn't to prevent people from "blowing a gasket", its about setting the tone for making quizbowl a serious activity.
Buddy, I didn't say anything about that. As I said earlier, I agree with the general principle that quizbowlers should be better dressed, especially for high school activity. At national tournaments, I think it's important to follow business casual.

What I'm saying is that this thread is comical in that everyone is offering advice down to every minutiae, instead of saying something like "Oxford shirt + belt + khaki pants + dress shoes (if you can)." Most of the people with dress issues reading this thread are going to feel lost. My advice to them is to shower before the tournament because chances are they aren't even doing that*. (Definitely happened at the last tournament I staffed!) Furthermore, I'm not convinced whether or not the readers you have at your tournaments are wearing tennis shoes or dress shoes really matters in the sense that "if you do these, quizbowl will become a serious activity."

I'll also add that for the record, mandating a dress code for the players is something I would be against. Players / schools should be allowed to wear whatever makes them feel comfortable, provided it's not offensive and within reason.

*Especially since, most high school tournaments they staff, they're doing it at last minute's notice.
Last edited by Ike on Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Bloodwych » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:20 am

Ike wrote: My advice to them is to shower before the tournament because chances are they aren't even doing that.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:55 am

I think the main problem with Ike's attitude is that it presupposes a lot of hopelessness in terms of what you can get people to do. If you're not arranging staff for tournaments well in advance, that's also a problem that should be fixed, not just an excuse not to do anything about this other issue (also, there's no reason even people coming in at the last minute shouldn't be expected to, at the very least, shower and wear something clean). It's not that unreasonable to say "hey, for this event, you're playing the role of An Adult, so try to look a bit like one". I think the rest of the more specific posts in this thread are also offered in that general spirit--if you're going to have to look like an adult, you might as well commit to it, and it's really not that much effort to get started on a path that will serve you well in other elements of life too. If you're going to dress better, you might as well dress well, rather than just adequately, basically.

However, I also agree wholeheartedly with this:
Ike wrote:I'll also add that for the record, mandating a dress code for the players is something I would be against. Players / schools should be allowed to wear whatever makes them feel comfortable, provided it's not offensive and within reason.
One of my favorite things about quizbowl is that it's a very come-as-you-are activity. Just as I think staffers* should look reasonably put-together in their role as, essentially, quizbowl professionals, I think players should be allowed wide latitude to just be themselves.

*I'm also fine with some situational flexibility. National tournaments at any level are as serious-business as quizbowl gets, so requiring all staffers to abide by some sort of dress code isn't at all unreasonable or onerous. At regular high school tournaments I think at the bare minimum the TD should be sure to dress professionally and that staffers can universally benefit from doing so as well--it really does ease interactions with coaches and parents, because you appear to be a fellow adult and a peer rather than just another student over whom they're used to exercising authority. At college tournaments, you don't see as much of that; staffers are mostly dealing with their own peers and so, while you still shouldn't look like a mess since you are out in public, the need to deal with clashes of authority is less and the practical benefit of specifically dressing professionally is somewhat decreased.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Wed Nov 11, 2015 2:38 am

What about quizbowl-related t-shirts? NAQT allows previous event shirts at their national championships. I like the idea of wearing organizational shirts at larger tournaments, especially at checkin related activities of national tournaments; people can easily differentiate randos and people helping out with the tournament.
Steeve Ho You Fat wrote: [*]Do not wear an untucked shirt...
Or... just this in general.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Nov 11, 2015 2:43 am

The Last 21 Stanley Cup Winners wrote:What about quizbowl-related t-shirts? NAQT allows previous event shirts at their national championships. I like the idea of wearing organizational shirts at larger tournaments, especially at checkin related activities of national tournaments; people can easily differentiate randos and people helping out with the tournament.
Steeve Ho You Fat wrote: [*]Do not wear an untucked shirt...
Or... just this in general.
I think that's fine, if it's allowed. General caveats about "wearing clothes that fit always looks better than wearing clothes that don't" still apply, though. Definitely don't tuck in your t-shirts, though.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by alexdz » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:14 am

As someone who has taught (in K-12, informally and at college), and staffed dozens of quizbowl tournaments, I can say that the most important considerations (for me*) to appear professional and well-put-together in these kinds of environments have been:

* - I identify as male and wear clothing that generally corresponds with that identity.

(1) Pants: A comfortable pair of khakis, chinos or nice jeans (no rips, no acid wash). You don't want anything too tight or too baggy. If you're TD, go for khakis or dressy-ish pants. If you're staffing, a nice pair of jeans might work OK, if you have a nice enough shirt...

(2) Shirt: Most basic requirement is that it has a collar. (For a winter tournament, if you own a nice sweater, you can probably wear it with some nice pants.) Avoid distracting patterns/images. Make sure it is long enough to cover your body in a normal (not overly extended) stretch position or when leaning over.

(3) Shoes: If it isn't mucked up, ripped, torn or sandals, it's probably fine as long as it matches the rest of your outfit. Especially if you will be moving a lot (running scoresheets around, etc.), err on the side of comfort.

Overall, I'd get a vibe for what coaches are wearing to your tournaments and meet at least that standard of dress. If polos and jeans seem to be the norm, you're likely fine to wear that. If your coaches generally wear nicer pants or shirts, approximate that style. You want to appear at least as competent and confident as the other professional adults at the event.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:17 am

alexdz wrote:You want to appear at least as competent and confident as the other professional adults at the event.
This is really the most important takeaway here.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Cody » Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:32 am

I wholeheartedly agree with this long-overdue thread; hero == Joe Nutter. Business casual is the absolute minimum for a tournament director; staffers have a teensy more leeway at non-national tournaments.

re: what is appropriate for staffing a tournament
my architecture firm's employee manual wrote:Business casual attire for men includes casual collared shirts, golf shirts, turtlenecks, and sweaters. Men's shirttails must be neatly tucked in unless the shirt is clearly designed to be worn otherwise. Appropriate business casual slacks for men include "Dockers" styles, khakis, twills, and corduroys. Socks are required for men. Business casual attire for women includes dresses, skirts, slacks, blouses, knit tops, and sweaters. Men and women may wear neat and tailored jeans on Fridays and other special occasions determined by senior management.
If your pants have belt loops, you should be wearing a belt. If your pants don't have belt loops, you aren't wearing them.

Tops not mentioned in this thread that I've worn as business casual: mock turtlenecks, real turtlenecks, both of the previous with a matching sweater or cardigan, just a nice sweater w/ an undershirt*

*your undershirt should not be visible unless you know what you're doing**
**you don't know what you're doing

re: shopping:
Men: know your neck, sleeve, waist, and inseam measurements. This makes shopping a whole lot easier and less time consuming.

Kohl's. As mentioned, Kohl's is awesome: shop the clearance racks. You will find suit separates, nice sweaters, decent button-ups, and nice turtlenecks (have I mentioned turtlenecks are awesome?). Out-of-season clearance sales can be very generous.

Amazon. Amazon has fashion deals all the time. Once you know your fit and the various fits of clothes, you can score some sweet swag on the cheap.

re: shoes:
Sneakers are totally fine as long as they are (a) not white and (b) look decent. Black sneakers, especially, can go fine with a dressy outfit.

But, the best way to pull off a dressy outfit is to invest in some quality shoes. Perhaps I'm an exception, but I often notice people's footwear when it's out of place.

re: matching:
Do not come to a tournament in 5 different bright colors that all clash. Make generous use of neutrals.

Match your socks with your pants. Match your shoes with your pants. Match your belt with your shoes. Don't combine brown and black. This chart is a suitable reference.


also, all of the above is meant to be broken once you know what you're doing.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:38 am

I had been considering posting about general professional dress at quizbowl tournaments for a while, but the specific thing that made me post this thread and offer very specific guidelines was a tournament I staffed recently. The staffers had clearly been told to dress reasonably, and most did, but I saw one person wearing a dress shirt with shoulder seams that sat well down his arms and sleeves that went many inches past his wrist and even past his fingers. Another person staffing that tournament was wearing a white dress shirt with khaki pants with cargo pockets, no belt, and scuffed up gym shoes. Now I don't want to mock these people or anything, they should certainly be commended for trying to wear decent clothes instead of giving up and wearing a t-shirt, but the fact is they didn't look very professional, and if I were a coach dealing with them I would have started off with a negative opinion of their competence. Ike, and anyone else who feels this guide is excessive: it's intended for people who are trying to look decent, but have never learned how. "Wear a dress shirt" doesn't tell people that when they buy a dress shirt, even a cheap one at a secondhand or department store, they should still try it on and keep in mind a couple of places to check if it fits before they buy it. Incidentally, I'm not a big fan of shopping online unless you already own/have tried on something by that brand, because a lot of brands are cut differently and your size may be an inch different between brands.

I certainly agree with the consensus that player dress codes would be silly and explicitly have targeted my recommendations towards high school tournament staffers. I certainly encourage players and people staffing college tournaments to look decent, because nobody wants to see anybody in pajama pants or clothes that don't fit, but there's no need to look a certain professional way when you aren't staffing a high school tournament.

It's very silly to both assume that your staffers are being recruited at the last minute (you shouldn't have let teams register if you weren't confident in advance you'd have enough staff!) and that just because people agree to help at the last minute you can't place basic expectations on them.
Last edited by Steeve Ho You Fat on Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:22 pm

Ike wrote: My advice to them is to shower before the tournament because chances are they aren't even doing that.
Related: After a sweaty trip to Dallas (or, y'know, anywhere), make sure to air out your suitcase!
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:30 pm

Ike wrote: My advice to them is to shower before the tournament because chances are they aren't even doing that.
Shower, shave (unless you're a member of the Khalsa), cut your nails, roll on some deodorant. This really shouldn't be too difficult.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:22 am

This is true. What's even more true is that if you think you have a hat that DOES make you look like you're taking things seriously, you are wrong. It is not 1942.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:19 am

Overall, I think Joe errs a bit on the side of conservatism in dress, but he is 100% right when he says that people will judge you based on the way you dress, and that you will be treated with more respect by adults if you dress neatly and professionally. It's very analogous to how people will likewise judge you for grammar.

Let me put in a plug for Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and A.J. Wright, stores that sell discount clothing. They sell things that for whatever reason weren't sold at more expensive stores like Nordstrom, and you can find great deals on quality stuff. The caveat is that they don't have a predictable inventory: one week they might have a dozen awesome suits for sale, the next week the suit rack might have like one suit in your size. But I have gotten amazing deals there on multiple occasions. If you live near one I urge you to visit it every few weeks to see what they have.
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Nov 12, 2015 6:13 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:
This is true. What's even more true is that if you think you have a hat that DOES make you look like you're taking things seriously, you are wrong. It is not 1942.
i hate you rob carson
Your hat is totally fine, since you bought it in 1942. Who says being old doesn't have its perks?
Rob Carson
University of Minnesota '11, MCTC '??
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Member, PACE
Writer and Editor, NAQT

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ValenciaQBowl
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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:49 pm

Damn skippy: got it at the Goodman's Habadashery in Hoboken after laying two bits down on the St. Looey Browns.

But seriously PS--ain't nothing wrong with wearing a hat if you're otherwise well dressed, no matter what some twenty-somethings in Minnesota say on the information superhighway.
Chris Borglum
Valencia College Grand Poobah

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Re: Just what is "business casual" dress, and how do I wear

Post by theMoMA » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:11 pm

My comment above was a throwaway joke, although common sense should prevail if you're trying to wear a fedora or similar and you're under the age of 60. I would never presume to deny Borglum, Bruce Arthur, Joel Gluskin, etc. their signature lids.
Andrew Hart
Minnesota alum

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