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Professional Business Attire


Dressing for work can be one of the easiest and most important things you can do to improve yourself in the workplace. First impressions have a lasting effect and dressing in professional business attire can impact how others think of you. Once a perception is made, it can be difficult to alter.


Deciding on how to dress for work depends on where you work and with whom you’ll be working. Many companies have their own ‘formal’ uniform set in place (for example, if you are working in the front of the house dealing with sales or customer service). While this is not your own set of clothes, you should still come to work with your uniform pressed and neat looking. If you do not have a set uniform and are dealing with the same clientele, it is up to you to represent yourself and the company you work for. While working in the back of house may allow you to have a bit more leeway with the work attire, you should always remember that you are representing both the company and yourself.

Business Casual Attire and Dress Code

Other companies require business casual attire.

Business casual attire for men can include dress slacks including chinos-type pants, button-down shirts, polo-style shirts, sweaters, and loafers or shoes that lace.

Business casual attire for women include dress pants or skirts, sweaters, blouses, polo/knit shirts, and conservative footwear.

Extremes of any style, including dress, jewelry, hairstyle, and make-up are not recommended. There are also items that may not be allowed to be worn by employees in the office such as hats, shorts, beach sandals, flip flops, clothing with vulgar or obscene messages and/or images, provocative attire, and torn or ripped clothing. Unless you are working the runway, extremes in fashion will not be appreciated in a work environment; save them for after work when they will get the attention they deserve.

Women also should not wear clothing that is too revealing; this can play against you when trying to be taken seriously.

Professional Business Attire and Company Culture

The culture in offices does vary though, so bear this in mind when deciding how to dress.

There is always the opportunity to speak to the office manager to find out exactly what is or is not allowed. Also, remember that human resources is there for a reason. Take a look through your HR policies to see if your jeans should be traded for a suit or if casual wear is ever acceptable. In some workplaces, there might not be a formal dress code. All this information should be there in your HR Policy manual.

Professional Business Attire in Management

For an upper management position, business casual attire may be allowed in some instances. However, most managerial positions will wear suit attire.

Neutral colors are usually best: blue, black, gray, white, etc. A good rule of thumb when getting the best look in suit attire is to always have your shirt tucked in as it makes for a cleaner look. Also, make sure the clothes you are wearing fit your body type properly. Baggy is never a good look.

Accessories and Tattoos

Companies can also vary in their tolerance of piercings and tattoos. Try to hide these when on an interview. This is always a safer approach when trying to get your foot in the door. Once you are hired, you can take a look to see what the office atmosphere is like and if you are still unsure, speak to management or human resources. If you have a piercing someplace that is visible, make the best of it but there is a chance there could be some hiring discrimination as a result.

Final Thoughts on Dressing for Work

Although dressing for work may seem easy, always bear in mind where you work and what is appropriate. While you may not be working with people on the ‘front line’, it is still absolutely paramount to wear smart clothing. This will get you in the frame of mind to work, which is incredibly important and can lead to success.

Human resources can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on your style and your job’s policies, but it will never fail you when knowing what is appropriate for your job. Keeping extremes to a minimum is generally the way to go. In the world of fashion, clothing is considered wearable art but in the world of business, it is best to keep a clean and professional look.

Resources & Relevant Links

How to Dress for Work [Yeah! That Look]