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What to wear: Business Dress or Corporate Attire for Men and Women

Updated on February 29, 2020

When considering your business clothing, the outfit you'll wear when entering a corporate environment, you will often hear the phrase "Dress to Impress." A common saying like that can also lead to some confusion. How do you take your wardrobe from yoga pants and a tank top, or jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt, to an outfit suitable for a meeting with the executives in your office? In most situations, just putting on what you find first in your closet that is clean and unwrinkled isn't the best option. You need to present yourself in a way that shows your respect for your position as well as the individuals you will interact with while "on the clock."

The skill of dressing well is one that highly benefits teenagers and young adults just breaking into the work force. A conservative mode of dress may not be your normal behavior, however the prospect of obtaining a job that pays well goes hand in hand with being willing to portray that level of appropriate dress. The more you pay attention to "looking the part," along with being attentive to the duties of your job and being mindful of the conduct expected of you while on the job, the more likely it is that you will retain your position.

For Women

Business attire for women should be conservative, fitting and feminine. Pants are acceptable business attire for women now, though skirts were once the only acceptable form of leg clothing allowed for women in a corporate environment.

Remember, your professionalism and reliability will depend not only on your actions, but how you present yourself through your attitude and clothing choices.

Choose a blouse which covers everything up and isn't too tight or too baggy. The same rule applies for your slacks or skirt. When in doubt, dress slacks and a button-down jacket with a button-up shirt underneath is a great combination. Be sure to coordinate the color of your outfit to match.

Shoes, shoes shoes. Ladies, don't wear stilettos to an important business meeting, presentation or interview. If the heel is higher than an inch and a half, leave those shoes at home.

Makeup is a part of your outfit also, and the key is to be conservative with it. Raccoon eyes and that pomegranate lipstick you thought was awesome for the bar are not acceptable makeup choices. Keep your makeup to a minimum, use natural shades on your eyes, blush and lips. Colored lip gloss is a great option, and can also save you from embarrassing lipstick marks on your water glass or coffee cup during the big meeting.

For Men

The most important facet of proper business dress for a man is to shave. A scruffy beard is not only unprofessional, it is sloppy. Be sure you take that five o'clock shadow and shine a light on it!

It is important for everyone, man or woman, to dress sharply in corporate environments. For men, this means dress slacks, a button up shirt, and a blazer or waistcoat, and a tie. In some situations you may be able to get away with not wearing a jacket, however you should assess this possibility based on your own individual situation, environment and the audience you're dressing for.

Your cologne or aftershave should be subtle, and your hair should be clean and well-groomed. This, combined with a clean shaved face and a sharp outfit, will enhance your image and complete your ensemble.

The most important thing you should do is dress appropriately for the kind of work you are doing. Obviously, working in a factory job means you should not wear anything with fringe, dangling strings, or that is too baggy - it could get caught in machinery and cause you serious damage. If you work in a position that requires a uniform, you should adhere to that uniform policy. Hair nets for those working in the food industry in any kind of food preparation capacity, particularly if you have any length of hair.


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