The way people dress for work has changed a lot in recent years, especially since the pandemic.
While there used to be stricter dress codes, only few companies (or industries) today have recommended dress code guidelines that require formal business attire. Most offices stick to a business casual policy. In this case, a simple blouse and nice slacks or skirt are perfectly adequate. However, there are still some offices that follow a strict dress code, mandating traditional business attire.
📝 Note: It is important to note that there are varying levels of business attire. In this article, we will go over all of them and also give you examples of the different styles.
💡 Tip: If you know the company’s recommended style and dress accordingly, you can easily make a great impression at your next job interview! It will most likely also make you more confident going into the interview.
What are the 3 types of business attire?
For starters, let’s take a look at the various types of business attire:
What is business formal attire?
🤵♀️ Dress to impress.
The most formal settings, such as important client meetings, exclusive dinners, or other significant nighttime events like award ceremonies, call for business formal attire. This type of dress usually includes a dark pants suit, a dark suit with a tie, a black suit with a white button-down shirt, a skirt or a suit dress.
📝 Note: Dark tones and neutral colors work best; bright colors should not be worn.
When it comes to shoes, you can choose between flats, heels, oxfords or loafer shoes with clean lines. Adorn yourself with jewelry, belts, a tie clip or small cufflinks.
What is business casual attire?
A casual business attire is suitable for many office environments.
Business casual is a great interim option between formal and casual business dress. Women’s clothing is mainly made up of a mix of skirts, slacks, and blouses. Peep-toe shoes or sandals are frequently accepted as well.
📝 Note: Since this style of dress is not very casual, but not very formal either, it is usually a good choice if you are not sure how to dress. For example, khaki pants or dress pants along with dress shoes and a dress shirt always make a good business casual outfit.
Great options for a business casual outfit also include pencil skirts, slacks, collared shirts, button-down shirts, and blazers. You can choose between closed-toe shoes, flats, sneakers, oxfords, loafers, boots or heels as well.
What is business professional attire?
We already have “business formal” and “business casual”, now what does a business professional dress code mean?
This kind of business attire is actually a wardrobe used in companies with strict dress codes or generally more conservative environments. Especially in industries such as finance, government, or law, you may have to wear business professional clothes.
If you have to stick to these clothes in your office, you can opt for dresses, slacks, skirts, pants, dark suits and ties. Tops include button-down shirts or blouses with blazers. Your best footwear options are heels, loafers or flats.
📝 Note: You can find more examples of professional business attire below!
How to dress business professional for an interview and in all professional settings
Now let’s look at what you can wear if jeans and plain shirts are out of the question with your employer, but you don’t need to dress too business formal either.
📝 Note: We have included three sections, one with examples for women, one for men and one for anyone who wants to choose their clothes in a gender-neutral way.
Business professional attire – female dress style
- A business suit is always a good idea if you want to stick to more formal attire.
- If you like, you can also wear a professional dress and oxford blouses are perfect as well.
- It’s best to opt for closed-toe shoes with modest heels.
- Any accessories, like jewelry, should not be too flashy.
Business professional attire – male dress style
- It’s best to wear dark-colored or neutral suits and simple ties.
- Pair them with pastel, white or cream button-down shirts.
- You certainly won’t go wrong with leather shoes like oxfords or loafers.
Business professional attire – gender-neutral dress style
- For more formal occasions, you can choose trousers or neat chinos.
- Tops you may wear include sweaters, button-down shirts or cardigan shirts.
- Shoes that always look good are loafers, oxfords or dressy lace-up shoes.
Business professional attire – conclusion & tips
Are you ready to dress for success?
To conclude this article, we would like to give you some important tips to keep in mind when the dress code is more business professional than business casual (or even casual attire).
- Casual Fridays
Although some workplaces might treat Friday as “business casual”, you shouldn’t get carried away and put on your flip-flops. You may certainly go without the suit or the jacket, but wearing jeans or a t-shirt would most likely be frowned upon in your office.
- Various styles within the company
If you work in a large corporation, you may find that there are different styles of clothing worn by the staff. Therefore, especially if you are new to the company (for example, as an entry-level employee), you should be dressing similarly to the people who hold a comparable position to you.
- Better to be overdressed than underdressed for an interview
Before you go to a job interview, you can check the company’s “About us” page or social media profiles for clues about the company culture and dress style. If you are still not sure, it is always better to wear something more formal.
- Formal wardrobe for business meetings
For meetings with clients, you should definitely also rather dress “too” professional and not too casual. If this is your very first business meeting, it is best to follow the clothing choices of others or ask if necessary. Dressing appropriately can help you be perceived as a professional employee and strengthen the company’s image to the outside world.
- Be yourself
Although your clothing is important and undoubtedly one of the first things to make a good impression, there is much more to a person than their outfit. Let’s say you apply to a company that requires you to wear a suit and tie every day, but you really dislike dressing up in professional business attire. In this case, you should consider whether this company is right for you.
Business professional attire – FAQ
Choose a business suit if possible, but you can also wear a blazer or nice khaki pants. Sweaters with a shirt and tie are also an option. A combination of skirt and blouse is perfect as well.
Consider business professional as the top end of office attire. This frequently implies a suit or dress pants along with a blazer.
It is best to wear elegant, dark pants. A knee-length skirt can also be a good fit. You can additionally choose a well-fitted blouse or button-down shirt. As for shoes, you can go with flat shoes or small heels with closed toes.