Business conservative dress may also be described as “corporate attire” or “business professional.” It is the type of attire that should be worn by job seekers at interviews or at client meetings, according to the University of Northern Iowa Business website. In some offices, business conservative dress may even be the standard for everyday wear.
Business conservative dress for women includes a two-piece pant/skirt suit in a dark, neutral color such as navy, dark gray, brown or black. Skirts should come to the knee and cover your thighs completely when you sit. Skirts with high slits, ruffles or billowy fabric are not appropriate. Pants should be tailored but not tight.
Patterns such as pin stripes or subtle plaids are acceptable. Women can add color and variety to their wardrobe with their choice of blouse, but blouses should be modest with no cleavage or spaghetti straps. Never wear a blouse that would be revealing if you were forced to remove your jacket.
Close-toed, low-heeled pumps are both professional and practical for the office environment. Choose good-quality leather shoes that fit properly and will not have you limping or kicking off your shoes by the end of the work day. Keep accessories small and simple including hosiery, jewelry and purses.
Men should wear a matching two-piece suit with a tie in a conservative business environment. Dark gray and navy are safe color choices, but black is sometimes considered too formal. Choose high-quality wool or wool-blend suits in solid colors or subtle patterns that appear solid from a distance. Have your suit tailored professionally for the proper fit.
Avoid ties with bold patterns, seasonal designs, sports themes or characters. Choose silk ties in a variety of colors and simple patterns such as stripes or small geometric designs.
Men should wear long-sleeved shirts in white or light colors. Solid or conservatively striped shirts are appropriate. Wear mid-calf socks that won’t show skin when you’re sitting and good-quality leather shoes. Either slip-on or lace-up shoes are acceptable. Both shoes and socks should be in dark, solid colors. If you wear a belt it should match your shoes. Keep jewelry and other accessories to a minimum, such as a nice watch.
Both men and women should be neatly groomed in a conservative business environment. Clothing should be pressed and clean without missing buttons or obvious mending and shoes should be polished and in good repair.
Use perfume or cologne sparingly, if at all. Keep hair and nails neat. The standard for men’s facial hair varies from office to office. Assume you should maintain a clean-cut appearance until you learn otherwise.
Women should not have long or garishly painted finger nails and cosmetics should be applied minimally with a natural look.
A slim padfolio or small briefcase is recommended for both men and women, but only if they are necessary.
References and ResourcesVirginia Tech: Interview Appearance and Attire
University of Northern Iowa: Corporate Attire Defined