Think of business professional as the top end of office wear. For men, that means a suit, 0perhaps with pinstripes, and a tie. Dress pants and a sport coat or blazer also would work. For women, business professional can mean a suit, but there is more leeway, and a dress and blouse without a blazer is acceptable.
Business Professional Attire: What It Is And Examples
Business professional — what does that even mean and how are you going to figure out what to wear? Don’t worry, we’ll cover everything you need to know about business professional, business casual, and other work-wear terms.
Dressing appropriately for a job interview or the job itself is really important. This is your chance to make that first impression and show them how well you fit with the company culture. You put a lot of work into getting the interview or the job and you don’t want to ruin it by not caring about your appearance.
Sure, we can argue back and forth about your appearance not having anything to do with how you do the job. That may be true, but the effort you take to look nice speaks volumes. That’s what employers are going to notice. That and how well you can gauge what’s appropriate in their work environment.
Guide To Business Attire (With Examples)
Business attire is the clothing you wear in professional settings. You might decide how to dress depending on the type of office you work in, for an interview or for a meeting. There are varying levels of business attire ranging from “casual” to “business formal.” Based on the setting, you can decide which kind of business attire is appropriate. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of business attire, examples of clothing types and the situations they’re appropriate for.
Casual business attire is informal clothing worn not only in most business settings but also in many settings outside of work. You might wear casual clothing if you work in an informal office where others wear things like T-shirts, jeans and open-toed shoes. You should avoid wearing casual dress with clients and in interviews, even if the office is casual overall.
Examples of casual attire
Casual dress includes items like T-shirts, button-down shirts, blouses and sweaters on top. Bottoms might include jeans, khakis, linen pants, cropped pants or shorts. Casual shoes can include sneakers, loafers, low heels or sandals.
2. Smart casual
Smart casual is another form of casual business attire with a stylish twist. You might include more trendy pieces of clothing if dressing in smart casual. This type of business attire is appropriate for more flexible offices including informal settings. You might also choose to wear smart casual in an interview for a more informal office. This way, you fit in with their informal dress code while still maintaining a clean, professional look that communicates that you care about your appearance.
Examples of smart casual attire
Smart casual might include items like blazers, sports jackets, ties, button-down shirts, collared shirts, dresses, sweaters, trousers, khakis, skirts, blouses, heels, flats, dress shoes, clean sneakers, jewelry, belts and scarves.
3. Business casual
Business casual is a common form of dress worn in many offices. While many classic business staples are used in business casual wear, there are casual elements included like khakis. Business casual is appropriate for many interviews, client meetings and office settings. Because it is not very casual and also not very formal, this is usually an appropriate way to dress if you’re unsure about the setting.
Business casual for women includes pencil skirts, blouses, button-down shirts, trousers, khakis, blazers and sweaters. They can accessorize with simple jewelry and belts. Shoes can include flats, loafers, mules, boots or heels.
Business casual for men includes trousers, slacks, khakis, button-downs, polos, or sport coats. Jackets and ties are optional but can be used to accessorize. Business casual shoes include loafers, lifestyle sneakers (with leather or canvas), oxfords or boots.
Examples of business casual attire
Examples of business casual clothing include pencil skirts, slacks, khakis, trousers, blouses, collared shirts, button-down shirts, sport coats, blazers and sweaters. Accessorize with jackets, ties, simple jewelry and belts. Shoes can include flats, lifestyle sneakers (with leather or canvas), Oxfords, loafers, mules, boots or heels.
4. Business professional
Business professional is a traditional form of attire used in more conservative settings or companies with strict dress codes. You might wear business professional in industries like accounting, banking, finance, government or law. Business professional clothes should be well-fitted and may be tailored to fit you specifically.
Business professional for women typically means tidy dresses, skirts or slacks. Tops should include neat button-down shirts or blouses with a blazer. Business professional shoes include classic heels no higher than three inches, loafers or tidy flats. Women can accessorize with minimal jewelry and belts.
Business professional for men typically refers to a dark-colored (gray, navy) suit and tie. The tie should be simple, avoiding bright colors or busy patterns. Men should wear a button-down shirt (preferably white or light-blue) and belt. Pair with a professional, closed-toed shoe like an oxford or loafer.
Business attire tips
If you work in an office, pay close attention to the way people dress. While the office may be casual, you might notice that people in leadership positions dress slightly more formally. You may choose to dress similarly to the people who hold the position you would like to reach.
If you’re going to an interview, check the company’s “About Us” page and social media profiles for clues about their culture. They might have pictures or videos about their offices where you can see how employees typically dress. If you’re still unsure, ask your recruiter or another contact what they recommend you wear to be successful in the interview.
If you’re going to a business meeting, ask your colleagues who may know or have met with this same person about how their offices operate and how you can appear respectful and professional during your meeting with them.
You might use different styles of business attire for different settings or occasions. Pay attention to the dress code, if applicable. If not, look to other people’s styles of dress or ask around if needed. Dressing appropriately can help you be seen as a professional employee who cares about your success in the role.
How Does Business Casual Attire Differ from Business Professional Attire?
Some offices might treat Friday as “business casual,” but don’t get too excited and slip on your flip-flops. You can certainly ditch the suit or the jacket, and ladies could wear a brighter top, for example, but jeans or a t-shirt would still be a no-no in most companies.
For women, a dress or tailored separates with a blouse and a cardigan are fine. If wearing a knee-length skirt, nylons or tights are not necessary, particularly in the summer, but you can wear them if you prefer. Again, dark colors are best for jackets and separates, matched with professional shoes, and a shirt or blouse should be a light color and neatly tucked in. Accessories, jewelry, and makeup should not be distracting in business casual wear contexts.
In contrast, an office might habitually dress down and allow jeans—a print shop or tech company, for example. Here, jeans that are not ripped and a top that is clean and relatively fresh are acceptable. A pair of khaki pants would probably be even better worn with a solid color polo shirt or even a button-down shirt. Sweaters are fine.
Guidelines for Business Professional Attire
Expert Tip: If your job requires business professional attire, this is one other thing that you must budget for and plan. Consider using a tailor, and have a favorite retailer so that you can shop quickly and regularly once you know your sizing. Update your wardrobe periodically so that you don’t end up looking shabby, and dry clean suits and other items. Most importantly, don’t ruin a good look by ignoring important details like your hygiene, hair, and nails.
Business professional attire is very much still a thing. It will add to your day-to-day planning and budgeting, but the results will be confidence, better productivity, and a sense of belonging to your team.