Decoding the Dress Code

“Decoding the Dress Code”

Ok – You’ve nailed the interview and you’ve landed your dream job.

You want to make a good impression, but you’re a little bit (ok a lot a bit) lost when it comes to figuring out what dress codes mean now.

Fear not!  We’re going to take a look at the different dress codes and discuss sure fire ways to make a great impression in your first week, first month, and your first year!

Business Formal

Ok, Business Formal is more or less the “black tie” of business attire.  Seen in very corporate environments, this attire will typically be reserved for high level meetings with executives or clients.  Here is what you need to know on this one:

  • Dark Full Suit
  • Neutral undershirt
  • Understated accessories, makeup, and hair
  • Hosiery if wearing something like a dress or skirt
  • Polished neutral colored dress shoes (closed toe)

Business Professional

While Business Formal will be seen more so for client meetings, Business Professional would be the typical “every day” dress code for a corporate office environment.  A full suit will still be required, but with more opportunity to include color or pattern.  For example – you may opt to wear a window pane checkered button up vs. the ultra-conservative crisp white button up.

  • Dark Full suit
  • Undershirt (can include subtle pattern or color)
  • Simple accessories
  • Hosiery if wearing something like a dress or skirt
  • Polished neutral colored dress shoes (peep toe acceptable)

Business Casual

You will see the dress code frequently in offices Today.  While a professional look is still required here, a suit is not!  You should feel comfortable wearing things like separates, but should stay away from true casual wear like jeans.

  • Khakis, dress slacks, dress, or skirt
  • Blazer (optional)
  • Long sleeved button up or blouse, sweater/cardigan (can include subtle pattern or color)
  • Closed toe, or peep toe shoes (no sneakers)

Smart Business Casual

Still in the same category of Business Casual, “Smart” Business Casual allows for you to let your creativity and personality shine through a bit more.  This will offer the opportunity to mix in a printed blazer vs. the traditional black, or maybe a printed tie!

  • Khakis, dress slacks
  • Patterned/colorful top or blazer
  • Statement accessories
  • Closed toe, or peep toes shoes (still no sneakers)

Smart Casual/Dressy Casual

This will be very similar style wise to Smart Business Casual, but allows for even MORE flexibility – and yes, that means JEANS!

  • Jeans OK (dark in color – avoid light washes, distressed denim)
  • Patterned/colorful top or blazer
  • Foot wear can vary – best to keep it to closed toe to start!

Now that we’ve broken down the dress codes, let’s talk tips and tricks.

  1. Dress like your boss.
  • When you start a new job, you want to air on the side of caution with what you wear. A great place to take your cues from would be to model what you wear after what your boss wears.
  1. Understand your department/role.
  • Are you in a client facing role? Working within the creative department? Maybe a back office accounting role? This can help shape what your daily attire should be. A Sales Executive will likely wear a suit daily or make sure to have a suit jacket handy, while an accounting professional may opt for more business casual attire.
  1. Understand the industry.
  • Certain industries will carry with them different standards. A tech startup will likely offer a much more flexible dress code than a legal office.  Do your research!
  1. No matter your dress code – be neat, clean, and tidy
  • Even if your dress code is on the more casual side, you should always make sure that your look is well thought out and put together. Iron that shirt!  Shine those shoes!  Tuck in that blouse!

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