Some companies have a company dress code, while others don’t have set rules but the office culture sets the tone for a certain type of dress. Companies that request business dress, or business casual as it’s also called, are doing so to provide a professional image for other employees and clients. Remember, don’t dress for the job you have now, dress for the job you are aiming for. If you want that big raise or promotion, you’ve got to exude professionalism. Dressing for business will tell your employer that you take your job and position seriously.
What to Wear
For men, business dress at the very least means slacks, a tucked-in collared shirt and a tie. If you work in settings where you interact with clients such as a lawyer’s office, bank or real estate firm you may want to add a suit jacket. For women, business dress at the very least includes slacks and a blouse or a suit or skirt suit, if it’s a setting where you interact with clients. For the blouse, stay away from materials such as cotton, which can come across as more casual than silk or knit fabrics.
Rule to Live By
If your outfit works on the beach, the gym or while doing yard work, chances are it isn’t appropriate for the office. The rule of thumb is that if the clothing can be worn after work to a nice dinner or to a professional meeting such as one with your accountant, child’s school principal or an interview for a job, then it is probably considered business dress.
Don’t Even Think About it
Anything that reveals too much is considered inappropriate for business wear. Take this rule into account when deciding if an item is considered business dress or not. Flip flops show too much of your feet, low-cut tops reveal too much cleavage, halter tops reveal too much of your back and shorts and mini skirts reveal too much of your legs. All these items should never be considered business dress. For men, never wear tank tops or baseball caps. Both items come off as extremely casual; save them for weekend wear.
Keep it Wrinkle-Free
Even if you have the perfect business dress outfit, it needs to be crisp and clean. Showing up with a wrinkled blouse could be worse than showing up in sandals. Invest in a fabric steamer, which can be purchased for around $30, to steam your clothing. Steaming clothing prevents scorching the garment from the direct heat of an iron. If you tend to run late or be short on time in the mornings, steam the garments the night before, or steam multiple garments for the week on a Sunday. Hang the items in your closet so that they will not touch any other items of clothing. This will ensure the pieces stay wrinkle-free until you’re ready to wear them.
Some companies offer a more casual dress environment on Fridays. If this is the case, it is imperative that your clothing is still business-appropriate. If you choose to wear jeans on this day, wear dark denim. Light denim tends to look faded and old, while dark denim with a tucked-in collared shirt or simple blouse can still look polished and put together. Just because the title “casual Friday” has the term casual in it, that doesn’t mean you should opt for clothing you’d lounge around the house in. Your work is still a professional environment. Leave the graphic t-shirts with your favorite sports team logo at home. You don’t want to offend any other employees in the office. If an item is ripped or stained, don’t even think about wearing it to the office.