We’ve all been there—not quite sure what to wear for a job interview, first day at a new job, a wedding, a seminar… you name it. There are so many different types of dress, it can be confusing. There’s casual wear, white tie, black tie, business professional, business casual, semi-formal, formal, dressy casual… you get the idea. The list goes on and on, and it may seem like they all mean the same thing with only slight differences.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the two most common dress codes you’ll find in the workplace: business casual and business professional.
As the name suggests, this dress code is a little more relaxed. When an employer or event asks you wear business casual, basically, they want you to look put-together and professional, while also comfortable.
For women, acceptable business casual attire includes: nice pants (such as khakis) or a nice skirt with a sweater or a dress shirt, or a casual dress.
For men business casual includes: slacks or khakis, paired with a blazer or nice coat, a dress or polo shirt, an optional tie, and loafers.
For both men and women, jeans, tee shirts, sneakers, and flip flops are never appropriate. The goal is to look like you’re at work, not at the gym or the beach.
If your employer asks you to dress business professional, they almost certainly will expect you to wear some sort of a suit.
Ladies, this could be a nice pant suit, skirt suit, or dress with a nice jacket or blazer.
This is a little more straightforward for men. Wear a suit, preferably with a solid-colored dress shirt, and a tie.
Whichever dress code you need to abide by, always try to look your best. You want to dress to impress. It’s the little details that get noticed, for better or worse. If you look neat, hygienic, and well put together, the people you interact with will, in turn, assume your work is just as put together and organized.
On the flip side, if you appear disheveled, people will probably think you aren’t very professional and may not be the best fit for the job.
Appearances matter, the way you carry yourself matters, and your ability to follow instructions matters. Keep up with your company’s expectations, and always check the dress code for events. When in doubt, dress nicer than you think necessary. It’s almost always better to be overdressed than underdressed.