Business Attire

Learn the ins and outs of business casual attire

Business Attire

The definition of business attire is changing—no longer is it carved in stone that a suit and tie or business dress must be worn, but at the same time, no one wants to be the employee who strays too far from the company standard.

In truth, whether a business enforces a strict dress code or not, donning so-called business clothes is often a good idea. Business dress often gives people an innate confidence that shows in their work and in meetings and presentations. While the definition of business attire might change from business to business as well as from person to person, there are a few rules that can help you dress for success.

Business Casual vs. Business Attire

There are two basic types of business wear—business casual attire and full-on business attire. While the definition is pretty clear for the latter (suits, ties, pantyhose for women, etc.) the former can be a little harder to figure out.

The general guidelines for business casual attire may include the following, divided by gender:

  • Casual business attire for men. Men's casual attire may include khaki pants, short sleeve dress shirts, polo shirts and dressy jeans (i.e., no holes or fraying and a basic straight fit).
  • Casual business attire for women. Casual business attire for women generally includes slacks, dark denim jeans (no holes) and layered tops, including casual blouses and fitted T-shirts.

Beyond these items, casual business attire is open for interpretation. Your safest bet to ensure you don't deviate from the dress code is to ask someone in HR or simply observe other coworkers.

Interview Attire

If you're on the interview circuit, choosing what to wear can be almost as stressful as the interview itself. Often, the first impression candidates make in an interview is more memorable than what is actually in their resumes. While it's common sense to dress neatly, there are a few other tips that can help you prepare yourself and your wardrobe for the big meeting:

  • When in doubt, overdress. If you have no idea of the potential employer's dress code, it's better to skip business casual attire and move straight into business dress to leave a good impression.
  • Avoid over-accessorizing. When we're nervous, we often subconsciously start fiddling with items without even realizing it. Accessories like large bracelets or necklaces are the perfect ammunition for this habit, and can lead to distraction for both you and your interviewer.
  • Keep fragrances to a minimum. While perfume or cologne are technically not part of your attire, it's a good idea to use them sparingly during an interview. Fragrance allergies are becoming more common and wearing too much can make an hour-long interview uncomfortable.
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