Business Dress for Professionals

Over the past few years, there has been a drastic change in the dress standards expected for professionals. Often, because of the relaxed attitudes, however, individuals tend to under dress to the point that clients lose respect for the professional. You do not have to spend a lot of money on your appearance but there are a number of basic things that you can do to ensure that you are appearing in a professional manner:

1. Hair – Although it seems to make common sense to have clean and attractively styled hair this practice is not always observed. It is true that first impressions are lasting. Your clients, whether you like it or not, will be judging you and may not be prepared to work with someone who is not well groomed – especially if you are in the food or health professions.

2. Odour – Many times I have found it difficult to work with a professional who has bad breath or strong body odour. A shower and tooth brushing only takes a few minutes but can make all the difference in the way that you present to your clients.

3. Clothing – Clothing that has stains, holes or leaves embarrassing gaps that reveal too much of you should not be worn. If you have financial problems and cannot afford a lot of options, you might find that having one good outfit that you can launder regularly or a jacket that you can wear will solve this. When you do buy clothing, stay on one colour palette so that you can mix and match items.

4. Accessories – When you use scarves, ties or jewellery in a creative way you present yourself in an interesting way. A briefcase is much more professional than carrying an armful of loose papers.

5. Shoes – Make sure that you have shoes that are comfortable and professional looking. Loafers do not project an imagine of professionalism nor do open-toed shoes.

It does not cost a lot of money to be clean and attractive. It does, however, take planning and creativity. Perhaps you could have a friend with skills in this area go shopping with you.

It is really better to have one or two outfits that you wear over and over because they are suited for you and the office than to have a number of inappropriate choices that do not convey the image that you want others to see and enjoy.

Business Casual – 5 Tips for Professional and Casual Business Dress

Are you confused about what business casual dress really means?

It’s a merging of the formal, tailored, dark & neutral colors of business wear, with the relaxed, loose, comfortable look of casual wear. It’s not weekend wear, or sportswear. It’s somewhere in between. It combines the professionalism of business dress with the comfort of casual dress, to create a smart, polished office look that’s a step below business formal.

Here are 5 tips for looking stylish in business casual attire.

1. Dress for your industry and for your company. If you are meeting clients, in most companies it’s a good idea to have a jacket handy. A jacket instantly upgrades your look, and presents a polished, professional appearance.

2. Choose your accessories carefully. You many be wearing a sweater and pants, but make sure your shoes are shined and stylish. Carry a good quality leather briefcase or handbag. Invest in a sharp-looking watch with a leather or metal band. Wear a leather belt to tie your look together.

3. Coordinate colors. Yes, you are wearing a more casual look, so you don’t need to dress in charcoal grey or navy. However, consider that these neutral colors are a great basis for a capsule wardrobe. When you begin with 2 or 3 pairs of pants in black, navy or grey, you can add any color shirt or sweater and still look business-like. When you top it off with a jacket, you look ready for any business event.

4. Check your grooming. Make sure your hair is clean and has a style that suits you. Check that your fingernails are filed, with no jagged edges. Check for stale breath and 5-o’clock shadows. Sometimes we don’t realize that we look less than fresh at the end of the day, when we may be heading out to see clients.

5. Give yourself a once-over in the mirror before you step outside. Look for loose threads, missing buttons, and scuffed heels. All of these details play an even bigger part of the picture when you wear business casual attire.

Has Business Dress Changed?

The other day I was pondering the question as to whether professional business attire has really changed over the years.

Without a doubt the major change has been with the introduction of “business casual”. This movement started in the 1990’s with the casual dress style of high technology in the Silicon Valley. Today it has spread to most of the work force. Apparently 90% of all businesses have some form of business casual.  

But has professional business attire really changed? For men it has stayed pretty much the same. A man’s suit is still the official business dress and little has changed over the past 100 years. The changes occur in the details, the width of the lapel, cuffs or no cuffs, vest or no vest, cut of the suit, color selections and tie width. Men seem to have it easy.   A shirt, tie and suit are always correct.  

Women’s professional business attire has also remained consistent. When you think about it the components are still the same.  Always correct are the 2 piece skirt suit, pant suit, dress with jacket, and dress. Women have far more fashion choices and fads to deal with that complicate matters, and this sometimes leads to inappropriate choices in office attire. Like men’s clothing the basic components are the same, with skirt lengths fluctuating, shoulders and lapels getting wider or narrower, silhouettes changing and colors that come and go.  

The bottom line is stick to the basic components, and interpret the trends to stay current, fashionable and most of all professional.