Hello again brothers, this week we will be discussing some of the differences between business professional and business casual.
Knowing when and how to dress professionally is one of the key aspects to landing the job you’ve always dreamed of.
The long-time phrase “clothes make the man” still carries plenty of weight, even with the liberation of dress code becoming more common in the workplace.
Being able to walk the line of business professional versus business casual is tricky- but with these tips and tricks, you will be able to win over your employers, turn the heads of coworkers, and be confident in yourself and your style!
Gentlemen, formal dress code is typically going to involve a dark suit. This can be black, grey, or navy blue. That being said, try to make sure that your pants and your jacket match. Your shirt should compliment your suit, but not match it.
You can never go wrong with a white shirt, but don’t be afraid to go outside of the comfort zone either. Pink shirts particularly stand out with a navy jacket and pants!
Wearing a tie is also crucial for a professional fit. That being said, it should not be overstated. Try to select a conservative tie that matches your shirt and compliments your suit. Solids and stripes are your best bet here. The tie is usually the most noticeable part of your outfit, so you should do your best to make sure the tone matches as well.
Your belt and shoes should also match but remember- never mix brown and black in the same outfit.
Ladies, formal dress can pose a few options. It can include dark pantsuits, a suit dress, or skirt suit. Colors can vary here but they should complement each other shouldn’t be too vivid. More special occasions like dinners and dances may also include a long evening dress, though this is not the best choice for an interview.
Skirts should lie at or just above the knee but remember to keep it appropriate length that is not too revealing. You can also choose between heels, flats, loafers, or Oxfords for shoes. Some minimalist jewelry can also serve as a nice compliment to your ensemble.
It is difficult to be definitive about outfit choice when there are so many options but always use your best judgement and wear what makes you feel confident when you are interacting with others.
After all, in order to look your best, you also have to feel your best!
Casual dress can get a bit more complicated. For men, business casual can include chinos and slacks, and dark socks. Shirts can include a nice button down, collared shirts, short sleeve button downs, and even sweaters.
However, it is important to note a distinction between business casual in the workplace versus an interview. In general, you should never wear jeans or a polo to an interview, even if the workplace deems this acceptable as everyday office wear.
Women can dress business casual in a multitude of different ways as well. Slacks, skirts, jackets, blouses, sweaters, and hosiery are all acceptable. Turtlenecks, dressy tops, sleeveless shirts, and casual dresses are all perfectly fine to wear as tops, while pencil-cut skirts and dress pants are great examples of bottoms. Shoes can include pumps, flats, stilettos, and open-toed heels.
Similar to men, a good mantra to live by is always dressing better for an interview, even if you do not have to dress that nice once you begin working.
So how can you best approach whether or not to dress business professional or business casual?
In general, your employer will likely have a policy already in place regarding dress in the workplace. Make sure to ask them about it during your interview if you are unsure! That being said, you should always assume to dress business professional to your interview, unless your potential employer says otherwise beforehand (including over Zoom)! After all, it is usually always better to overdress than to underdress.
While business professional may be more restrictive and less expressive than business casual, it is always better to dress professionally not only for interviews, but networking events. These are places where you are making first impressions, and you always want to bring your best self to the table.
A final note is to always be sure you are well groomed- especially when dressing business professional. Your hair is an extension of your outfit, and not properly maintaining it can detract from your professionalism, even if everything else is flawless.
Hopefully these attire tips will help you on your professional journey, brothers. Best of luck!