Your Guide To Business Professional Attire (With Examples)

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Whether you’re attending a networking event, going to a job interview, or starting a new job, it can sometimes be confusing to decide on an appropriate outfit. Business attire ranges from casual to formal, and many organizations have different cultures around their dress code.

Business professionals are known as one of the more formal forms of work attire and are common in more traditional industries. In this article, we will define professional attire and provide several examples of professional clothing options.

Professional dress is a formal dress code common in more traditional workplaces. Sectors such as banking, accounting, government, finance, and law generally require professional attire in the workplace. Work clothing can also be appropriate for career fairs or networking events where you know the attire is more formal.

When attending an interview, unless you are aware of the strict dress requirements, you should usually go wrong on the business casual side. Usually, the most appropriate dress for an interview is a more formal step than that worn by the staff of that company. For example, if a certain company’s dress code is casual, your housekeeping clothes should be smart or casual.

Professional business attire for women

Women who follow a professional dress code should wear ironed pants, skirts or dresses, button-down shirts, or neat blouses and blazers. No matter the look, solid and neutral colors such as black, gray, and navy blue are best. Keep all accessories to a minimum, avoiding items such as large jewelry or oversized belts.

Depending on your outfit, you may also decide to wear socks, especially if you are wearing anything other than dress pants. You should also consider polished closed-toe shoes with a maximum three-inch heel and a neat, professional hairstyle. You can also take a neutral colored laptop bag or case.

Here are several tips and additional options for professional dress for women:

Skirt or pant suits

A pantsuit is a great option for a professional outfit. Choose a black or gray pantsuit or a pencil skirt and blazer. Clothing should be comfortable but with skirts falling just below the knee.

Professional business shirts

Opt for a collared button-down shirt with your pantsuit and blazer. Select a neutral color like white or blue. Button-down shirts always look professional but need to be ironed. Wrinkle-resistant fabrics are a great option for a professional office.

Professional business shoes

Whether you prefer flats, pumps, or heels, choose a shoe that has a heel less than three inches. Black patent pumps or moccasins are a durable option. Pair your shoes with a hose close to your skin tone when wearing a dress or skirt.

Professional accessories for women

Select minimal jewelry such as earrings or a simple cuff. Avoid using heavy perfumes or body sprays. Any nail polish should be nude or transparent, and you may need to cover tattoos depending on your workplace. Your belt should ideally match your suit and blend under your blazer.

Professional attire for men

Professional styles should include solid, understated colors. A good example of business attire is a dark-colored suit and tie with a light blue or white button-down shirt. Match your belt to the color of your brogues or moccasins.

Choose a conservative tie, avoiding overly bright colors or busy patterns. You can also invest in a few pairs of black socks and a neat hairstyle.

Here are several tips and additional options for professional men’s clothing:

Professional business suits

The perfect business suit is plain or pinstriped with a plain or cuffed bottom and notched lapels. When in doubt, choose a black or dark gray suit to wear all year round and a medium gray or dark blue for the summer. Avoid light-colored suits, as they are more appropriate for social events such as weddings.

Men’s professional shirts

Good shirt options include plain white or light blue to medium blue shirts. Always consider your business dress code before trying to incorporate new items that you are unsure of. Regardless of the shade, your professional shirt should feature a French or barrel cuff to which you can add minimalist cufflinks.

Ties and professional business accessories

Keep your tie simple. Plains are a great place to start, but classic and conservative patterns and stripes are also appropriate. Professional footwear includes loafers, brogues, monk straps, or classic pointed toe shoes in black, brown or burgundy.

How are business professionals different from other dress codes?

The business professional always seems polite. More formal than most other forms of business attire, it is not as appropriate as professional evening attire.

Business professional vs business casual

Unlike business casual where you can usually wear more expressive styles, business pros adhere to neutral tones, clean grooming, and attention to detail. There are plenty of items of clothing you can wear either way, such as button down shirts, dresses, skirts, pants, brogues, and moccasins.

If you’re unsure of an organization’s dress code when planning a job interview, it’s best to err on the professional side of the spectrum. Once you’ve started a job, you can get a feel for the office environment in your first week on the job and dress or dress as needed.

Business professional vs business formal

Although business affairs are orderly and formal, they are always a bit below formal affairs. The business professional is similar to the “black tie” in that women can wear evening dresses and men wear black suits with cufflinks. This dress code is rare in the daily office, but some professional businesses may require formal business events such as galas or fundraisers.

As with any dress code, pay close attention to your company’s workplace dress policies. It’s a good idea to emulate the formality of those who are in a position you would like to have someday while still maintaining your own personal style. While you should definitely follow your business dress code, it’s also important to feel confident and comfortable.

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