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.
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 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 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 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
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
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.
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