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Business Casual Breakdown: A Guide to the Art of Workplace Attire

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Nowadays, it is more difficult than ever to know exactly what you are meant to wear when you are working in a professional role. The term “workplace attire” can mean anything from a business casual polo shirt with jeans to a full tailored suit and anything in between.

However, if you want to gain the respect of your peers and ensure that you put your best foot forward, it’s always wise to pay attention to the dress code that your workplace has outlined. 

If you’re not sure exactly how you should dress at work, simply look around you when you are next at the office to see what other people are wearing or speak to the HR department to find out more about what is acceptable attire and what is not. It’s important to remember that while what is acceptable for you to wear in the workplace can also change, depending on what you will be doing that day. If you are meeting a new client, for example, you might want to dress more formally to ensure you make the right impression.

On the other hand, you might be spending the day working from home, where you can generally take a more relaxed approach. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the different ways that you might choose to dress for work so that you can ensure you are always dressed to impress.

The Casual Look

Some businesses take a very informal approach to how their employees dress in an effort to create a more relaxed work environment. This can also be a great approach for professions that do not have a lot of face-to-face client interactions, such as graphic designers, web developers and software engineers. A casual dress code will typically include clothing items that you would wear outside of work, such as jeans, t-shirts, open-top shoes, sports shoes, sandals or even shorts during the warmer months of the year. 

Smart Casual

Just like the casual look outlined above, smart casual is definitely a much less formal approach to work attire. Typically, smart casual is used to describe the casual look but with a slightly more stylish twist. This look works great in flexible office spaces and provides a more informal setting. For women, this might include clothing such as dresses, a blazer, trousers, blouses, heels, scarves and jewellery. Men might opt for sports jackets, ties, khakis, polo shirts, button-down shirts, dress shoes, stylish sneakers and accessories such as belts. The goal with smart casual is to achieve a clean, professional look that shows that you care about your appearance. 

Business Casual

Business casual has become the norm for many different offices nowadays. This look combines many of the items that you would expect in a business look, such as a button-down shirt but also includes more casual pieces such as a pair of khakis. Business casual straddles the line between casual and formal, offering elements of both and is always a safe bet if you are not sure how to dress for a particular event or setting. Pencil skirts, blouses, blazers, sweaters, boots, heels and flats are all great choices for women, which can be complemented with jewellery and belts. Men will often for trousers, slacks paired with a button-down shirt or a collared polo. Ties and jackets are optional for the business casual, and good shoe choices include loafers, boots or dress shoes. 

Business Professional 

The most traditional type of business dress is the classic business professional look. Businesses that have a more strict dress code will insist on this type of attire being worn. Industries where business professional still reigns supreme include insurance, banking, finance, law or government agencies. Even if you don’t wear this type of attire day-to-day, many business people will need to dress in this manner for particular events or in more conservative settings.

Men will generally opt for a dark-coloured tailored suit with a plain tie and a button-down shirt, which should be paired with dress shoes and a belt. Women will usually wear neat dresses., slacks or skirts together with a blouse, button-down shirt or blazer. Tidy flats or heels no taller than eight centimetres are preferred, and outfits can be accessorised with belts and plain pieces of jewellery. 

Ensure That You Are Always Dressed For Success In The Workplace 

Knowing how to dress appropriately for a professional setting can be confusing; however, it’s important that you make the right choices so that you can put your best foot forward. Following the tips outlined above, you can ensure that you take the right approach to your work attire moving forward, so you always make a positive impression on your clients and colleagues. Dressing appropriately in the workplace will fill you with confidence and help you to focus on the work you need to do so you can be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be when you’re at the office.

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