Each time we leave the house, we costume ourselves for the role we’re playing. We’re our own personal designer when it comes to what we wear. For recreation, we choose a type of activewear, based on color, fit and style. Social outings give us license to kick it up a few notches—the sky’s the limit when it comes to sparkle and accessories. So what about the office or workplace? Our choice of dress can be limited based on company policy and office decorum. Sometimes this can be daunting as we consider the difference between: business formal, business professional, business casual and finally, just plain old casual.
A general breakdown for dressing professionally.
•It’s hard to go wrong with a well-cut pantsuit or skirt suit over a solid-colored, button-up shirt. This easily meets the standard for business formal, especially in a neutral color, such as black, gray or navy. Conservative is the name of the game in style and length of skirt. The same rule applies to accessories and shoe choice.
•The great thing about a suit is that it can quickly go from formal to business professional by removing the jacket. A button-up shirt with a collar pairs nicely with the pant or skirt bottom and still maintains a polished business look. Add a conservative accessory or two and you’re ready for the day.
•Rather than a traditional suit, think more along the lines of separates, for business casual. Colored cardigans, patterned blouses, slacks and even khakis are generally the standard in a more relaxed office setting. Tailored dresses are a fun option as well. It’s important to remember that business casual can have different meanings based on the culture of the business.
•Although casual dress implies less of a traditional approach, it’s still important to maintain a neat and appropriate appearance. Remember, coworkers and employers will make assumptions based on how you dress. So don’t go too casual. Sexual harassment claims have been known to use improper dress as an argument when dealing with sexual misconduct at work. It’s best to play it safe by keeping your dress ‘office appropriate.’ Dark wash denim, cotton pants and skirts, suitable tops and blouses are usually the norm for casual dress in the business world. Add a scarf, some bold jewelry and sandals and you’re set for a fun day at work.
Many crucial skills are required for competing in today’s business world. Dressing appropriately is one of them. Don’t be afraid to ask Human Resources if you’re uncertain as to how to dress for the office. If all else fails, dress like you would for a job interview until you know otherwise.