Guide To Professional Attire (With Examples)

Business attire is the clothing you wear in professional settings. You might decide how to dress depending on the scenario, such as an interview or for a meeting or the type of industry you work in. There are varying levels of business attire, ranging from “casual” to “business formal.” Based on the setting, you can decide which kind of business attire is appropriate.

In this article, we take a closer look at the different types of business attire, examples of clothing types and the situations they’re appropriate for.

Types of Professional attire

1. Casual

Casual business attire is informal clothing worn not only in most business settings but also in many settings outside of work. You might wear casual clothing if you work in an informal office where others wear things like T-shirts, jeans and open-toed shoes. You should avoid wearing casual dress with clients and in interviews, even if the office is casual overall.Casual Attire

Examples of casual attire: Casual dress includes items like T-shirts, button-down shirts, blouses and sweaters on top. Bottoms might include jeans, khakis, linen pants, cropped pants or shorts. Casual shoes can include sneakers, loafers, low heels or sandals.

Related: Understanding a Casual Dress Code (Plus Tips and Examples)

2. Smart casual

Smart casual is another form of casual business attire with a stylish twist. You might include more trendy pieces of clothing if dressing in smart casual. This type of business attire is appropriate for more flexible offices including informal settings.

You might also choose to wear smart casual in an interview for a more informal office. This way, you fit in with their informal dress code while still maintaining a clean, professional look that communicates that you care about your appearance.Smart casual

Examples of smart casual attire: Smart casual might include items like blazers, sports jackets, ties, button-down shirts, collared shirts, dresses, sweaters, trousers, khakis, skirts, blouses, heels, flats, dress shoes, clean sneakers, jewelry, belts and scarves.

Read more: Guide to Smart Casual Attire (With Examples)

3. Business casual

Business casual is a common form of dress worn in many offices. While many classic business staples are used in business casual wear, there are casual elements included like khakis.

Business casual is appropriate for many interviews, client meetings and office settings. Because it is not very casual and also not very formal, this is usually an appropriate way to dress if you’re unsure about the setting

.Business casual

Examples of business casual attire: Examples of business casual clothing include pencil skirts, slacks, khakis, trousers, blouses, collared shirts, button-down shirts, sport coats, blazers and sweaters. Accessorize with jackets, ties, simple jewelry and belts. Shoes can include flats, lifestyle sneakers (with leather or canvas), Oxfords, loafers, mules, boots or heels.

4. Business professional

Business professional is a traditional form of attire used in more conservative settings or companies with strict dress codes. You might wear business professional in industries like finance, government or law. Business professional clothes should be well-fitted and may be tailored to fit you specifically.

Examples of business professional attire: When dressing business professional, you can wear tidy dresses, slacks, skirts, slacks, dark-colored suits and ties. Business professional tops include neat button-down shirts or blouses with a blazer. Business professional shoes include heels, loafers or flats. You can accessorize with minimal jewelry and belts.

5. Business formal

Business formal is reserved for the most formal settings such as award ceremonies, special dinners, benefits or other important evening events. Business formal is similar to “black tie,” but should be reserved to maintain professionalism.

Examples of business formal attire: Business formal includes a dark pants suit, dark suit and tie, a black suit with a light button-down shirt, skirt suit or suit dress. In some cases, a long evening dress may be appropriate. Shoe options include formal flats, heels, Oxfords or loafers. Accessorize with jewelry, belts, a tie clip, or small cuff links.

6. Gender-neutral professional dress

There are several ways of dressing for the workplace and different degrees of formality that do not adhere to a gender binary.

You can dress gender-neutral elements up or down depending on the situation for which you’re dressing. For casual dress, jeans, sweaters and shirts are all great options. For shoes, you might choose trendy sneakers, sandals or loafers.

For more formal forms of dress, you might choose slacks, trousers or neat chinos. Options for tops include sweaters, button-downs or shirts with cardigans. Shoes might include loafers, oxfords or stylish lace-up shoes.

Pantsuits are a great option for any formal setting. These can be paired with flat or slightly heeled oxfords or loafers.Gender Neutral

Read more: Guide to Gender-Neutral Attire

Business attire tips

When deciding how to dress for certain situations, there are a few things to consider:

  • If you work in an office, pay close attention to the way people dress. While the office may be casual, you might notice that people in leadership positions dress slightly more formally. You may choose to dress similarly to the people who hold the position you would like to reach.
  • If you’re going to an interview, check the company’s “About Us” page and social media profiles for clues about their culture. They might have pictures or videos about their offices where you can see how employees typically dress. If you’re still unsure, ask your recruiter or another contact what they recommend you wear to be successful in the interview.
  • If you’re going to a business meeting, ask your colleagues who may know or have met with this same person about how their offices operate and how you can appear respectful and professional during your meeting with them.
  • In any setting, avoid overly large or busy accessories, heels that are four inches or higher, and any clothing with profanity or possibly offensive imagery or phrases.
  • You might use different styles of business attire for different settings or occasions. Pay attention to the dress code, if applicable. If not, look to other people’s styles of dress or ask around if needed. Dressing appropriately can help you be seen as a professional employee who cares about your success in the role.
By Hanne Keiling
Hanne Keiling senior digital marketing leader