What exactly is Business Attire? The term is used frequently, but can mean different things depending on the setting. Unless specified as business casual, one should assume business attire refers to business professional attire. There are a few generally accepted do’s and don’t’s regarding attire in the workplace and other similar settings, which are explained below. The setting highly dictates what is and is not acceptable, and thus individual interpretation is expected.
The key to business casual is exactly what the name implies; it’s not quite business professional, but not casual either. You want to aim for attire that would be appropriate in a casual office setting. Typically, you should steer clear of denim, such as jeans, although the individual setting may allow for a dark-wash, clean cut jean to be worn. If you are unsure of the setting, air on the side of caution and go with a crisp pair of khakis, which will work in any setting described as business casual.
Some examples of what may be worn in typical business casual attire are as follows:
- Skirt, khakis, or pants
- Open-collar shirt, knit shirt or sweater (no spaghetti straps or décolleté)
- Flats, heels, or nice sandals; no flip-flops, sneakers, or unprofessional heels
- Seasonal sport coat or blazer with slacks or khakis
- Dress shirt, casual button-down shirt, open-collar or polo shirt
- Loafers or loafer-style shoes or closed-toe dress shoes
Business professional is a more clear-cut set of guidelines. Picture what comes to mind when you think of a corporate, business setting. Most people will be wearing suits, jackets, and the like. Neutral and darker colors are common, as well as simple choices when it comes to jewelry and shoes. Typically, this style of dress is what you will wear to a job interview. You can’t go wrong with a matching suit or suit-style outfit and simple, dark colored shoes. If you want to express your personality, a nice pocket square or tie, and simple necklace can accentuate your ensemble without breaking the rules of professional attire.
Some examples of what may be worn in typical business professional settings are as follows:
- Business-style dress
- Dress with a jacket
- Plain heels, typically closed-toe, or flats with closed-toe; either in simple styles and plainer colors
- Suit; typically darker tones including black and dark gray; pants or skirt (knee length) acceptable
- Button-up shirt
- Tie; pocket square optional
- Jewelry should be simple and not distracting
- Professional dress shoes and dark dress socks