Job interviews, meetings with new clients and important presentations call for business professional attire. In some office environments, this formal attire might be the norm. Dressing conservatively and appearing well-polished can give you confidence when the next big opportunity in your career arises.
Business Basics for Men
A two-piece suit is the expected business professional attire for men, and it should meet these criteria:
- Color: Wear a dark suit in neutral colors. Black, gray, navy and brown are appropriate for the workplace.
- Pattern: The suit should be one solid color or feature subtle pinstripes.
- Shirt: Opt for a classic, button-down shirt — white, light blue and other muted tones are appropriate.
- Tie: Complete the suit with a conservative silk tie featuring a subtle pattern such as stripes. Make sure the tie is long enough that it hits at your belt.
Appropriate Accessories for Men
Complete the business professional look with well-cared-for, appropriate and practical accessories:
- Shoes: Polish your best black or brown leather dress shoes, such as oxfords, for a business professional look.
- Socks: Select dark socks — black, gray, navy or brown — that match your suit.
- Belt: Wear a black or brown leather belt that matches your shoes. Again, opt for a conservative belt, and avoid one with a large or ornate buckle.
- Jewelry: Go minimal on the jewelry, wearing only your wedding ring if you have one.
Professional Looks for Women
Business professional attire for women includes a skirt suit or pant suit in neutral tones — black, brown, gray or navy. Pants should be full length — avoid crops or capri pants — and skirts should hit at the knee.
A conservative shirt pairs well with a suit jacket. Opt for a light-colored button-down shirt or silk blouse or shell. Be sure that the shirt does not show cleavage, is not transparent or is not too tight.
Accessorizing Tips for Women
Accessories might make the outfit, but only certain accessories are appropriate for a business professional dress code:
- Shoes should be closed-toed dress flats or heels with a heel height that doesn’t exceed 2 inches.
- Wear neutral hosiery to cover your legs.
- Keep jewelry to a minimum and choose classic pieces — your wedding rings and a pair of simple, stud earrings or a pearl necklace are suitable for business formality.
- Go for a simple makeup look — choose soft, neutral hues to create a natural look. You want to look polished without appearing overdone.
References and ResourcesUniversity of Missouri St. Louis Career Services: Professional Attire
Emily Post Institute: Dressing for the Occasion
Cal Poly Career Services: Attire for Hire
Cosmopolitan: 11 Fashion Mistakes You Don't Realize You're Making at Your Internship
GQ: A 10-Step Guide to Nailing Office Style