You might not realise this, but what you wear can actually influence your career and affect your business. While many companies allow their employees to dress comfortably, there’s a need to wear something suitable when dealing with clients and potential customers. We’ve listed below the appropriate dress code for business.
Business attire for men
A business environment typically requires men to wear business suits, which consist of a jacket, trousers, shirt and tie. Suits are commonly coloured black, light or dark grey, or navy, although lighter shades like tan can also be used. These days, a sport coat can also be worn with khakis but this combination is considered more casual.
A business suit isn’t complete without a tie so don’t forget to put one on. However, avoid garish prints that aren’t appropriate at the workplace. You can also wear a sweater (e.g. vest, cardigan) with the suit, instead of a coat and maybe try out some cufflinks.
Business attire for women
In corporate settings, women should wear business suits as well. Women can wear either a pantsuit (trousers plus coordinating/matching coat) or skirt suit. A third option is wearing an appropriate dress and a coordinating/matching jacket. Women can also wear shirts, turtlenecks and sweaters as tops, as long as there are no slogans, cartoons and inappropriate prints on them.
The overall outfit should be conservative: the skirt and dress should be long enough for you to sit comfortably in public, and should not be too tight. Women should also avoid revealing clothing, and conceal body piercings and tattoos.
For men: Men should always wear leather shoes in business environments. You have the option of wearing one with laces, with straps and buckle, or slip-on loafers. Just make sure you wear appropriate socks.
For women: Women should wear closed shoes. Your heels can go as high as two inches, but do not go over it—this looks unprofessional. Choose dark-coloured shoes and always wear stockings.
Grooming and hygiene
For men: See to it that you shave any facial hair. If you’re going to maintain a moustache or beard, make sure it’s trimmed and well-groomed.
For women: Put on make-up, but not too much that it would be distracting. Manicure your nails but avoid garish nail polish.
What not to wear
Do not wear jeans, sandals, torn clothing, tank tops, shorts, tracksuits, midriff tops, rubber shoes, open-toed shoes, leggings, flip-flops, spaghetti-strap dresses, sweatpants, or anything that is deemed too informal for the workplace.
Some additional tips
Here are a few pointers on what to wear at the office:
- Stick to conservative clothing, especially if you’re not sure about the attire (e.g. you’re having lunch with a client outside the office). This shows you respect the person you’re meeting with.
- Not sure about your new office’s dress code? Ask your manager or human resources. This beats showing up for work underdressed.
- Dress a level or two higher that your position. For instance, if your company’s dress code is business casual, try wearing something nicer to show your employer that you’re taking your job seriously.
- Avoid jangling jewellery; they can be distracting to you and your colleagues. Stick to single bracelets and stud earrings.