June 6, 2022 Last updated June 6th, 2022 2,409 Reads share

Work Wear: Understanding the 4 Types of Dress Codes

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When you work in the business world, you need to ensure that you always put your best foot forward. Whether you are meeting with clients, investors, business partners, suppliers or any other entity associated with your company, it’s crucial that you make the right impression from the outset. Studies have shown that you have just seven seconds before a first impression is formed and once it has been made, it is a much tougher job to change someone’s mind. To ensure that you make the best impression possible when you are doing business, it’s vital that you present yourself well and dress for success. 

How you dress for work can say a lot about who you are and what you are all about. Dressing appropriately for work can help to build trust in your abilities and allow you to gain credibility with clients, investors, partners and colleagues alike. There are many ways that you can dress in the office environment and different companies will typically have different dress codes in place for their employees to adhere to. However, many working professionals struggle to understand the differences between these dress codes, which, sometimes, can be very subtle. Understanding the four main types of dress codes in the world of business is a great place to start and will help you to dress for success moving forward. 

Let’s take a look at the four types of dress codes that are most common in the office environment in the current business landscape. 

​Casual Dress code

Many modern businesses allow for a more casual dress code nowadays. If you are lucky enough to be working in an office with a casual dress code, the key is to avoid allowing your clothing to become too casual. Work colleagues often make judgements about those they work with based on what they wear and c​_an even internally determine how capable you are based on how you present yourself. Casual work clothing should be pressed, neat and should be appropriate for the environment for you. For men collared work polos are a great choice and can be paired with a pair of casual slacks. Ladies may opt for a nice-fitting top with a skirt or slacks of more casual fabrics such as cotton, over open-toed shoes. 

Business Casual 

For many businesses nowadays, business casual is a common choice. With this approach, employees can add a little personality to their work outfits while maintaining a professional image. Typically this dress code allows for more color in the clothing team members wear, encouraging self-expression and individuality amongst your team. However, “business casual” can mean different things from one company to the next, so it’s important that you are clear about what the guidelines are in your organization. Men can typically wear a colored, button-up shirt with or without a tie. Sweaters can be worn over your shirt and dressy slacks are the best choice. For women, a colored shirt or blouse with a separate skirt or jacket, rather than a full suit is a suitable option and can be worn over flats, loafers or pumps. 

Business Professional 

Moving into something a little more formal, “business professional” attire is typically much neater, more conservative and is not as flexible when it comes to the inclusion of colors or patterns. With this type of dress code, the aim is to present a professional image, adding a touch of personality through high-end accessories. “Business casual” for men might include a one or two-button suit that could be checked or striped. Conservative ties should be worn and the look can be completed with accessories such as high-end watches or cuff-links. For women, a suit or skirt and jacket combo with a shirt, in conservative colours like navy, black or brown is always a good choice. 

Business Formal 

Finally, business formal is the top-level of professional attire and is most typically associated with those in the legal and financial fields. Anyone who regularly meets with executives or other people in high-level positions should consider opting for a business formal dress code. Dressing in this manner helps to build trust and credibility in the skills you have in your field and ensures you always make the right impression. When it comes to men’s business formal options, a tailored suit in a solid color such as grey, navy or black is always a popular option and should be paired with high-quality conservative ties and crisp white button-up shirts. Women may choose a conservative color tailored pantsuit with a white blouse or shirt over closed-toe heels.


Make Sure That You Dress For Success Moving Forward

If you want to put your best foot forward in the world of business and make the right impression on your clients, you need to dress the part. Following the tips above, you can ensure that you are always dressed for success moving forward so you will be able to continue to move your career in the right direction as time goes on. 


Nitika Singh

Nitika Singh

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