Powerful Appearance - Creating a Professional Image
Business Appropriate

What is BUSINESS Appropriate?

After about ten years of business casual dress codes in the workplace, companies and their employees are recognizing the benefits of Business Casual as well as the value of traditional business dress. From the boardroom to the break-room, business people everywhere are seeking an improvement in employee appearance.

The theory was that executives would appear more open and approachable.  Camaraderie among the ranks would increase when employees on all levels began to dress similarly.

In any business situation, it is essential to establish trust, credibility and open communication, as soon as possible.  When meeting for the first time, people observe how others are dressed and, in a matter of seconds, either are reassured or become doubtful.

Rather, we want people to listen to what we say, while looking us straight in the eyes.

Choosing a Style

There are four levels of business attire to consider when choosing your wardrobe: Traditional Business, Business Appropriate, Mainstream Business Casual and Baseline Casual:

  • Traditional Business
    Traditional Business suits, with the jacket and bottom pieces matching in both fabric and color. Navy blue and charcoal gray are considered the credibility colors for a business environment. Collars for both men and women should be of the stand-up variety, and shoes should be made of black or dark-colored high-sheen leather, with thin leather soles.

  • Business Appropriate
    Business Appropriate always means a jacket, sport coat or a blazer with dress slacks for men, skirt or dress slacks for women.  Unlike traditional business suits, the jacket and bottom pieces do not have to match. A mock turtleneck or crew neck sweater is appropriate for both men and women at this level, as are thin-soled shoes.  Shoes with wider heels and thicker soles appear more casual.

  • Mainstream Business Casual
    The Mainstream Business Casual style is a safe, less-structured, middle-of-the-road interpretation of day-to-day business dress.  At this level, jackets and blazers are optional.  However, we need to be sure our arms are covered with a cardigan, pullover sweater, or long sleeve shirt.  There are several choices in slacks: Dockers, khakis or black- or cream-colored denim.  Blue jeans are too informal at this level.

  • Baseline Casual
    Baseline Casual is the most relaxed business casual choice and is acceptable only in certain business situations.  In more formal offices, we should consider this only for "clean out the files" day, off-site retreats, taking clients to a ball game, or similar activities.  We must refrain from wearing our play clothes to work and always avoid the lumberjack, boating, yachting or ski-resort looks.

  • This look has only two pieces (top with a skirt or slacks), yet must still look good in the office.  By choosing long sleeves - we are "armed" for business, and should leave short sleeves or sleeveless tops for the weekend.

  • Jeans are great for climbing a mountain, but are a questionable choice for climbing the corporate ladder.

  • Some companies allow tennis shoes to be worn at this level.  We must be sure they are clean. And, if we think of our tennis shoes/sneakers as all-purpose shoes, then they probably are worn out, and it is time to invest in a new pair.

Important at Any Level

Our clothes must always be clean, pressed and in good repair.  Proper fit is the key to any look we choose.  Our clothes need to be roomy enough to fit us comfortably, yet trim enough to avoid looking sloppy.  Pants with belt-loops should be worn with a belt.  If the belt-buckle is silver or gold, then we should try to wear coordinating silver- or gold-toned jewelry.  Clean, styled hair always makes the best impression.

For a list of "To be avoided" business casual catastrophes, send an e-mail request.

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