Did you know that more than half of all workplaces have a specific dress code? All of these dress codes sound so similar too – casual, business casual, business professional… what’s really the difference?
Many people choose to play it safe and wear simple clothes that couldn’t possibly violate the work dress code policy. But wearing these simple, non-offensive clothes doesn’t leave much space for self-expression.
Read on if you’re looking for ways to satisfy your office dress code while still showing your personal style and following the latest fashion trends for men. In this article, we’ll be going over the most common dress codes, as well as how to nail them with unique, sensible style.
An Overview of Dress Codes
A business casual dress code features attire that walks the line between office settings and casual settings. It’s the most common dress code for interviews and client meetings. Business casual is a safe bet when you’re not sure about the dress code for a specific situation.
For men, business casual usually features slacks or khakis paired with a button-down or a polo. Jackets and ties are optional. For shoes, business casual favors loafers, lifestyle sneakers, or boots.
When it comes to what is considered business professional dress code, choose clothes that are a step or two above business casual. This dress code is used in more customer-facing, upscale companies like accounting, law, or government.
A business professional dress code means wearing a suit and tie, generally in a dark color scheme. It’s suggested that you avoid bright or busy suit patterns.
Under the suit, pair a button-down shirt with a tie and belt. For shoes, opt for a closed-toed shoe like a loafer or an oxford.
Very rarely will you have to wear business formal. Business formal is generally only used for ceremonies or other important special events. This style is very similar to a black-tie dress code.
Business formal features a black suit and tie, with a light button-down. Accessories are minimal.
1. Stock up on Basics
The best way to start your closet is to stock up on a few versatile basics. If you have a good selection of essentials, you can build your outfits with very little effort.
Even if your dress code is business casual, pick up a jacket or two. A suit jacket is important for client meetings, interviews, or special events.
Consider getting a classic navy blazer, a grey tweed blazer, and a cotton or linen blazer. Having each of these three blazers will keep you covered for every temperature and occasion.
The most important part of your outfit is your shirt. Get a wide array of neutral-toned shirts. Opt for button-downs in white, black, grey, or other colors that appeal to you! Simple patterns are okay, but try not to go too bold.
A good selection of trousers is also a basic requirement. If you’ve picked some bold shirts, scale it back on the trousers to maintain versatility. Grey, beige, and black are perfect options that match everything.
In business casual workplaces, jeans can be appropriate. However, opt for professional denim. Pick a mid or dark wash with no rips, fading, or bleach, and definitely no skinny jeans.
2. Experiment With Accent Colors
In every dress code, while the base of the outfit is formal and neutral, there are plenty of opportunities to find accent pieces.
Try to have only one or two accent pieces in each outfit. For example, with a simple black pair of pants and a white shirt, you can pick a funky tie pattern that draws some focus without making the outfit too bold. You can also use a colorful shirt if you have a neutral coat and pants.
Don’t forget a pocket square is a great place to pick a fun accent pattern or color!
3. Express Yourself With Textures
Sticking within a neutral color palette, you can give your wardrobe a pop of texture instead of color! This can be accomplished with silks, linen, or knitwear.
A silk coat or shirt can give a bit of class to a simple outfit, while knitwear walks the line between professional and casual. A knit vest or sweater over a button-down follows the acceptable dress code for work while giving a bit of character to the outfit.
You can also experiment with knitted tie fashion, a great way to express yourself while remaining appropriate for the office. You can dress them up or dress them down, and always remain professional.
4. The Perfect Fit
When it comes to dressing appropriately, the fit is key. Ill-fitting shirts and suits are all too common, so don’t be afraid to visit a tailor to make some small adjustments.
Your jacket should fit perfectly. It should be square and snug on your shoulder and finish just below the butt. Your sleeves should end a few centimeters above the shirt sleeves.
If budget is a concern, rather than getting an expensive coat, opt for a simple blazer that fits pretty well, and spend a few extra bucks getting it tailored to perfection. The perfect fit makes a piece look more expensive and professional.
For shirts, start by getting the proper fit in the shoulders. You should be able to fit two fingers in your collar, and your sleeve should end right at the thumb joint.
Although cropped trousers are a current trend, pick only one or two of this style. Instead, opt for a regular length that will remain functional for all seasons and outfits.
After constructing your outfit, play around with a few accessories. Less is more, so make sure not to go overboard, but a watch, tie pin, or pocket square is a great way to tie the outfit together.
When it comes to shoes and belts, you almost always want to pick natural tones, and never pair black with brown. Stay within the same color schemes. Loafers and oxfords are always a safe choice, but with business casual offices you can pick a lifestyle sneaker.
Nail Your Work Dress Code Policy Today!
Hopefully, this article will have given you a sense of how to build a professional wardrobe that’s unique and meets your work dress code policy. It’s all about combining basics with accent pieces!
As with any skill, business dressing takes a bit of practice, but over time you’ll develop your own personal office style.
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