Professional business dress doesn’t define your competence as an employee, but fairly or unfairly it does go a long way towards influencing the impression your boss, co-workers and customers have or make about your capabilities and professionalism.

Dependant on the workplace, business dress codes can vary greatly from formal to traditional, business casual to casual.  Employees who want to fit in at their workplace usually conform to the business dress that is expected of them and which is quite often dictated by a written dress code. Observing what your boss and or colleagues are wearing should give you some idea of the business dress expected at your place of work.

Asking what the dress code is (and applying this) will hopefully help you to make a good first impression when you arrive to start work.

A study carried out by former UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian found that first impressions are usually formed in approximately 7 seconds.  55% comes from nonverbal cues.  Hence more than half of a first impression is potentially based on how you look (your business dress) and body language.

The general rule of thumb for business dress is that;

Formal business dress consists of a full matching suit, the darker the more formal, for both men and women (skirt or trousers).  Men should wear a buttoned up collared shirt that should be white, beige or light blue.  Ties can be more colourful.  If a three piece suit is worn the vest or waistcoat colour and material should match that of the suit.

Traditional business dress usually consists of skirt or trouser suits for women with business blouses or tops.  For men this may include a non-matching suit, a matching suit or simply smart trousers with collared shirt and tie combination.  There is more leniency in traditional business dress and brighter colours and/or patterned dress shirts are acceptable.

Business casual still means business like but the emphasis is more informal.  You should still look neat and professional, not sloppy.  Khakis or solid colour trousers, knee length skirts, polo shirts, sweaters, sweater sets. 

Casual for both men and women could be casual trousers, skirts, jeans, tops, sweaters, sweat shirts, athletic shoes.

Know your workplace and find the right business dress for you.

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