Business organizations have varying work cultures that determine everything from the working practices to the employees’ conduct. However, one rule is consistent across all companies: it is expected that its employees dress appropriately for work or for a specific occasion. From business professional to casual, it’s good to know your company’s dress requirements.
A company’s dress code can say a lot about the working culture there; some may be more relaxed, others are more strict. Whatever the dressing ethics may be, the key is that you are your most business professional self whenever possible.
Dressing up for Work
We have a different take on how to dress up for work in modern times. Compared to the old rules, dressing up for work now is more flexible with varying options and more room for creativity. Personal styles are being more incorporated and accepted in work dress codes. You see more people putting their own fashionable twists to their work outfits while still managing to stay within the rules.
That said, this flexibility is a double-edged sword. It is that the varying options give you multiple chances to screw up your look as well. There tends to be a lot of gray areas when it comes to what is considered acceptable for that specific dress code. This can lead to a lot of confusion on what to wear to work, which is why it’s very important to clarify with your company’s requirements.
How you dress up still depends on the type of office you go to. What is acceptable at work when it comes to dressing up? Is there a fixed dress code or is there a special day for a different dress code? Take cues from other colleagues or clarify this with the person in charge during your interview.
Your Office’s Dress Code
Here are some of the common dress codes you will see in most corporate organizations. Keep in mind that these are just the general and the most common definitions of these dress codes. The rules might vary across sources and organizations.
This is a major upgrade from your usual day-to-day business attire. Business formal clothing usually is reserved for award ceremonies and other more dressy events. Think of it as the black-tie dress code but in a business setting.
Business professional attire is a little less formal than business formal clothing but still very corporate. It’s the most common dress code for offices with a stricter, more conservative dress code. Both attires can look very similar in nature so it depends on the occasion you’re dressing up for.
Offices that have a business casual dress code tend to be a bit more relaxed but formal as well. This dress code is a lot more comfortable but still presentable for a regular work setting. It does away with some of the formal clothing elements like ties and suits to tone things down a little while still looking sharp.
If there is one thing that separates smart casual from the rest, it is that this is way more relaxed than the others. It borrows casual clothing elements like jeans and sneakers and combines them to form a smart-looking attire that is still appropriate for work.
Business Professional Essentials You Need To Own
Since the business professional dress code is one of the more common dress codes for most corporate offices, here are some essential basics you need in your closet.
While looking crisp and sleek, most offices require suits over pressed shirts and ties in the office. The rule of thumb is that the darker the suit is, the more formal it is. You can try out this Slim Fit Suit jacket and pants set from Calvin Klein, with its flattering, tailored cut that will keep you looking sharp. On those days when you’re tired of wearing black, switch things up their other options in dark tones of blue and gray.
While dark tones, solid-colored suits in different colors are recently making an emergence. They add some color and life to the otherwise dark and sleek business professional look. This is where the flexibility in modern dress codes can be seen. These three-piece suits from High-End Suits come in a variety of colors ranging from darks/neutrals for those who want to play it safe to brights for those who want to go all out.
If you want to add some patterns into your business professional attire, you can try checked or striped suits. Avoid big, flashy patterns as your aim is to look sharp and professional. This Slim Fit Plaid Blazer from Mage Male is a good consideration as it comes in work-appropriate colors and it works great for both formal and casual events.
Suits are very common essentials in the business professional dress code so it’s very crucial to wear them right. Here are some considerations to make when choosing the best suit for you.
When choosing any piece of clothing, the fabric always plays a big role. For suits that are regularly worn, go for soft and durable wool such as super 120. Anything that is higher than that may be too delicate for regular use.
Check how the shoulders fit. It should also be long enough to cover your butt and the zipper of your pants. Once worn, the sleeve cuffs should be exposed by 1/2 inch.
You can gauge the fit based on the buttons. The top button of a double-buttoned suit should just be right at or above your navel. If it is a three-buttoned suit, take reference from the middle button.
Shirts are usually plain unless your company allows printed ones as well. In terms of color, your shirt should be lighter than the suit to create a clean contrast. Alternatively, if you choose to wear a light-colored suit, balance that out with a darker shirt underneath. Wearing the same colored shirt and suit can make you look too monotone and imbalanced.
The business professional dress often requires you to at least wear a necktie. However, if your company allows you to ditch the tie, just remember to keep your shirt collar on the smaller side.
Should you need a tie, go for silk ones. We put our bets on these silk ties by WeiShang or the woven ties from Hisdern that have the texture and look of silk. Silk ties look sleek and they’re also durable, perfect for any business professional ensemble.
The color doesn’t really matter. One good tip is that ties should be darker than your dress shirt. Its width should be the same as the width of your lapel. Keep the length just reaching the waistband of your pants or touching the top of your belt buckle.
If you want to wear a patterned tie, go ahead! Once again, go for simple geometric or linear patterns. Your tie is meant to complement your business professional attire, not attract too much attention.
Leather belts are best for the business professional attire; fabric belts often come off as more casual-looking. Marino Avenue’s belts are especially high-quality, durable and even hand-washable. They come in a variety of colors, which are great for when you want to add some subtle color to your outfit
One key thing to note is that the leather belt’s color should match that of your shoes. If you’re wearing any metallic accessories like a watch or cufflinks, try to match the metal color to that of your belt buckle as well. These might be small details but when you look at the outfit as a whole, it adds some cohesiveness to the look.
The silhouette of the pants should fit well on a man’s body shape. It should be widest at the waist and narrows itself down to the ankles. It should be comfortable and look sharp whether the wearer is standing up or sitting. The hem of your pant leg should just touch the top of your shoe so it’s just long enough.
The most comfortable material for pants are either woven wool or woolen blends. Louis Raphael’s LUXE Slim Fit pants are great options because they have just enough stretch for easy movement and come in a tapered cut that is very flattering to your figure.
Ideally, the color of the pants should match your suit. However, wearing pants that are in a complementary color is okay too. Keep the color scheme neutral and harmonious so everything looks well put-together.
One thing people often overlook when choosing the right pants is the pockets. The pockets should be just of the right size and shape to carry small items.
A pair of shoes can make or break your entire business professional outfit so don’t overlook them. Leather dress shoes are of course the best way to go but if your company allows it, you can go for a pair of formal loafers or boots.
A good pair of dress shoes to try is this pair of Frasoicus classic oxfords. This wingtip style of dress shoes is great for those who want something other than a plain pair of oxfords. It adds a unique design element while still keeping in line with the professional, refined look.
The basic rule for socks is that its color should always match that of your pants, especially if you prefer to wear long socks as they are more visible. A pair of brightly colored socks are more likely to stand out, which is not ideal for a business professional outfit.
Check out these Argyle dress socks from Dockers. Their dark or neutral colors are very safe for work and pair well with most dress shoes. They also come in both plain and patterned options so you have the best of both worlds.
Business Professional Accessories
Business formal clothing is not just accessorized with cufflinks and linen pocket squares. Most of the time, looking sleek in business attire requires other accessories. Watches, for example, are a subtle accessory that is not only functional but can also be very stylish. Check out our article on the different types of watches and other styling tips.
Complete the business professional look with a good bag. Not only is your bag essential for holding all your work stuff but it can be an accessory that ties your whole work look together. Check out our article on some leather messenger bags you can consider.
This is an optional accessory for some but it can be a nice touch to your businesswear. If you have problems with your tie not staying in place, invest in a tie clip. Make sure that your tie clip is never wider than your tie. For a simple tie clip that looks classy and is durable enough for daily use, these tie bars from Roctee has tie bars are worth checking out.
Of course, this is also a key essential when it comes to looking smart in business professional attire. It’s one thing to get the attire right but if you look like a total mess, it can instantly downgrade your professionalism.
Keep your hair neat; use some hair wax or pomade to style your hair and tame any flyaways. Regarding facial hair, societal standards have shifted to allow more flexibility when it comes to growing out your beard and mustache. It would be good to check with your company’s standards first; if they require you to be clean-shaven or have minimal facial hair, stick with that.
If your company is okay with growing out facial hair, you should similarly aim to keep it neat and tidy. Trim your beard or mustache regularly and be careful to keep it free from any dirt or food remnants.
Dressing up for work can be tricky but once you have identified the dress code your office requires, it gives you a better idea of what you can or can’t wear. Even if your company doesn’t usually follow the business professional attire dress code, having these essentials in your closet will come in handy if you have to attend an important meeting/event or give a formal presentation.
It’s always good to have a few basic staples from each dress code at hand so that you will always be well dressed for any occasion. Some of these business professional essentials can even be added to more casual outfits to make them more formal if needed. Remember that dressing up for work is all about flexibility now, so don’t be afraid to mix and match your clothes and add your own twist to your work outfits!