What Do Different Business Dress Codes Mean?

What Do Different Business Dress Codes Mean?

14 August 2017

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If you’re about to start a new job, one element that may leave you feeling a little nervous is the dress code. Business formal, business professional … What does it all mean? Tie or no tie; heels or no heels? The way we dress can have a huge impact on how others see us and on our productivity.

It’s key that you always dress appropriately for both a job interview and the actual job itself. But, if you’re unsure, it can be a bit of a minefield.

Take a look through our handy guide to business wear to help you dress to impress.

Business Formal

For Men:

  • A tailored suit in a solid, neutral colour like black, grey, or navy.
  • Ties and other accessories should be both modest in colour and style.
  • White, collared button-up shirts.
  • Shoes should be closed-toe oxfords in brown or black, not loafers.

For Women:

  • A well-cut trouser or skirt suit in a conservative neutral colour, such as black, navy, or brown.
  • White button-ups with a collar.
  • Closed-toe heels in a neutral colour such as taupe, black, grey, or brown.
  • Tights, preferably in a dark colour.
  • Conservative accessories.
  • Skirts never more than two finger-widths above the knees.

Business Professional

For Men:

  • Suit colors should still be conservative, but you have more leeway with pattern – a conservative stripe or check, for instance.
  • Conservative ties, but feel free to introduce colors and patterns. For example, you can feel free to wear a blue-striped, professional tie, but no novelty ties.
  • Shirts should be collared button-ups, but can be colored, as long as the color is fairly conservative.
  • Shoes should be conservatively coloured or polished loafers in black or brown.

For Women:

  • A suit or skirt, top, and jacket in a conservative neutral color, such as black, brown, or navy.
  • Collared button-up shirts that may be any solid colour.
  • Dark or nude-coloured hosiery.
  • Closed-toe pumps in a neutral color such as black or brown.
  • Larger, more noticeable jewelry – as long as it’s not distracting.
  • Skirts never more than two finger-widths above the knees.

Business Casual

For Men:

  • Can wear colored, collared button-ups in any colour. Conservative patterns such as checks or stripes are acceptable too, worn with or without a tie.
  • Ties should still be conservative in pattern. 
  • Jumpers worn over collared shirt.
  • Dressy trousers, such as black dress trousers or khakis in the summer.
  • More casual accessories.
  • Shoes can be oxfords, loafers, or another comfortable yet dressy choice, in brown or black.

For Women:

  • Business separates, rather than a full suit – a skirt worn with a cardigan or jacket, for example.
  • Coloured shirts and blouses. Choose solid colors, or muted patterns like stripes or checks, and avoid low-cut shirts or bright patterns.
  • Larger jewelry, such as a statement necklace or large cuff-style watch. Scarves may also be appropriate.
  • Shoes may be comfortable flats and loafers, as well as pumps, but should remain closed-toe. Can be any colour, although black, brown, red, navy, and grey are among the most appropriate.

Casual

For Men:

  • Casual trousers. If jeans are permitted, dark-wash, straight-cut only.
  • Collared polos or crew-neck jumpers. The majority of colors and patterns are okay.
  • Casual accessories, such as brightly colored watches.
  • Shoes that are clean. Trainers are usually acceptable, as are loafers.

For Women:

  • Nicely fitted tops and blouses.
  • Trousers or skirts in more casual fabrics, such as cotton. If denim is permitted, dark-wash only.
  • Skirts should remain at knee-length.
  • Open-toed shoes are permitted. Avoid casual shoes such as trainers or flip-flops.
  • Casual accessories, such as scarves. Larger rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces are fine, and may be of any quality.

If you would like to take the next step in your career, we recruit across a number of markets in Scotland. Click here to meet our teams and get in touch. 

 

 

 

 

Written By Mary Palmer

Comments

Interesting article and I would agree on many of the categories..... However, it's 2017 for heaven's sake! Why is it only acceptable for women to wear skirts to be 'smart' or 'professional'?? The inequality in this article based on gender is disgraceful. If the professional HR and Recruitment Agencies aren't fighting the corner of equality with employers who are frankly stuck in the 1970's, then what hope do we ever have of living in a society here our daughters are regarded as equal to our sons?
Posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 22:11 by Lynn
I agree with previous comment. These kind of gender specific guidelines really have no place in any workplace. It's ironic that heels are noted as the most formal of the categories, perhaps a unconscious recognition of how many women wouldn't chose to wear heels everyday cause they are so impractical. 'Nicely fitted' is just plain patronising and why would men be allowed to wear trainers but not women when following Casual attire? I'm very glad that my organisation has progressed well beyond guidelines such as this.
Posted on Monday, August 21, 2017 14:03 by Alix
Whilst this is an interesting topic with mostly informative answers, I am stunned at the gender differences described including the requirement for women to wear heels. Perhaps the American descriptors of "pumps" are a give away that these definitions do not originate in the UK and therefore do not reflect our equality law. The author also does not take into consideration the recent media outcry about what businesses can dictate that women wear, and heels were definitely out of favour. I'm disappointed that an HR firm such as this would lower their standards in such a casual way.
Posted on Monday, August 21, 2017 00:05 by Lorraine

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