Have you ever worked at a job and heard the phrase “business attire”? Have you ever wondered “What is business attire?” or “How does one meet business attire requirements?” If you have, then you are in luck.
In this guide to “what is business attire,” we take a look at the four types and provide examples of what to wear for men and women in each of those looks.
What is Business Attire?
First, “business attire” simply describes the appropriate dress code employees are required to wear when they come to work. This dress code includes clothes, shoes and accessories. Wearing the right type of business attire lets your employers, employees and customers know that you value professionalism and good visual impressions. Always dress to impress.
Different companies have different rules on appropriate business attire to reflect the culture and values that the company has. Some companies might require more formal outfits than others. For example, a lawyer is going to have a different attire than a kindergarten teacher since a lawyer handles high-level clients while a teacher deals with children.
However, some job positions at the same company might require different business attire. While a kindergarten teacher is not expected to dress as formally as a lawyer, a school’s principal might have to wear something in between the two levels, as the principal leads the teachers.
Business attire is also about knowing what is not appropriate to wear to work. If you are a kindergarten teacher, it wouldn’t be appropriate to dress like a lawyer because the outfit is too fancy and would distract people from your job. More on what not to wear can be found below.
While you might need to ask your company or another employee what their specific business attire is, let’s go ahead and look at the four types: traditional/professional/formal, smart casual, business casual and casual.
Traditional/professional/formal business attire is the most formal of the four. This business attire is mainly for conservative settings or corporate businesses with strict dress codes, such as banking, finance, government or law. Usually, traditional/professional/formal is not colorful or bright and is tailored to you specifically.
Men would be expected to wear a formal dark or neutral-colored (gray or navy) suit and tie or a sports jacket, dress pants and white or light-colored button-down shirt with a tie. Leather accessories (dress shoes, belt, briefcase, etc.) should complete the look. Watches and cologne help, too.
Women can wear a nice dress, pantsuit or skirt suit. Make sure the top is formal looking, such as a button-down shirt or blouse. Stockings or tights and closed-toed shoes, including heels and flats, are expected. Again, leather accessories and subtle yet elegant jewelry, belts, makeup and perfume will complete this look.
2. Smart Casual
Smart casual business attire is a step down from traditional/professional/formal but is still stylish and trendy. This business attire is usually a good choice for interviews, meetings or formal businesses.
For men, start with a blazer or sports jacket. Add a button-down business shirt; ties are optional. Complete the look with dress pants or khaki pants. The same accessories and dress shoes as traditional/professional/formal apply.
Women have a few more options for smart casual. A jacket, cardigan or nice sweater could work with dress pants or a skirt. Tops could include patterned blouses or turtlenecks. Nice dresses that stop at the knee are another possibility. Hose, dress shoes and the same accessories as above should apply.
3. Business Casual
Of the three, this is probably the most likely category to happen at businesses and offices. Business casual allows for more comfortable clothes but is still appropriate for interviews, meetings and normal office duties. If you are unsure whether your work is more formal or more casual, go with business casual until you figure it out.
Men can wear khakis, slacks or dress pants with collared shirts or golf/polo shirts. Jackets and sports coats with ties are optional, and sweaters or vests can work. While leather shoes and accessories can apply, they don’t need to be as formal looking as the other categories. Instead, try loafers or boots.
Women can don a dress, a nice pair of pants, like khakis, or a pencil skirt with a blouse or sweater. Blazers, cardigans and sweaters can also work. For shoes, think about flats, boots or low-heels. Accessories, including jewelry and belts, should be simple.
The most casual of the four is casual business attire, which is often found in informal offices. You can often wear casual attire outside of the office, too.
For men and women, this means casual pants or dark jeans with a T-shirt, sweater, vest or sweatshirt. Men can wear shirts with or without collars, and women can wear a blouse with a skirt. Casual shoes, like sneakers or sandals, and accessories complete the look.
Business Attire What Not to Wear
No matter which business attire you go with, there are some clothing articles you should always avoid, even with casual business attire. Never wear ripped, shredded clothes or clothes that reveal the midriff, thigh or chest area. Beachwear, including flip flops, and sweatpants should also be avoided.
Never wear sloppy, wrinkly, disheveled clothes. Don’t wear heels above four inches, and also avoid loud, gaudy jewelry. Typically, the less jewelry you wear, the better.
More than anything, make sure your clothes fit you. Clothes that are too tight or loose can not only be uncomfortable to wear but can make you look unprofessional. As mentioned before, it is important to maintain a professional image within the workplace.
Pico Cleaners and Business Attire
After you have worn your business attire, whether it was smart casual or casual, bring your outfit to Pico Cleaners. We have same–day dry cleaning so you can wear your outfit again the next day. Don’t wait – contact us today!