In the increasingly casual business climate of the United States, dressing appropriately for the workplace is sometimes puzzling. Some employers, simply do not address the topic, leaving employees to make their own rules. Other employers have rather fuzzy guidelines that use terms such as “business casual,” which allow employees to dress significantly more casually than their employers intended.
If you’ve ever walked into a business meeting and felt too formally dressed or too informally dressed, this four-part series from Elevated Image is for you.
In our opinion, there are four levels of business dress: Business Formal, Elegant-Casual, Basic Business Casual, Casual Work. Each level has implications for women and men.
Let’s start with Level One, Business Formal.
Law, banking, finance, politics, insurance
Managers, executive level, C-Level, business owners, university heads
Formal dinners and lunches
Photo shoots for the company
As the name implies, Business Formal is the most dignified of all of the levels of dress. For a woman, Business Formal means wearing a skirted suit or a dress/jacket combination as these are considered to be more formal than a pants suit. Either of these choices should be combined with impeccable grooming, refined accessories and fabrics, and solids or small-scale prints, patterns, or stripes.
Business Formal for a man means wearing a well-fitting suit and a white shirt with starched collar and cuffs. A two- or three- button suit is an excellent choice because this cut visually lengthens, slenderizes, and streamlines a man’s upper torso. When wearing a suit jacket, a man should leave the lowest button open. For a two-button suit, this means you will close only the top button. On a three-button suit, you will close the top two buttons. The exception to this recommendation is that if the roll of the lapel is low, you should close only the middle button.
You should be well-groomed. Your tie should be silk or very high quality polyester, and your other accessories, such as your watch or cufflinks, should also be refined.
One final piece of advice for men and women: don’t forget your shoes! Make sure they are well-heeled and polished!
Look for our next post “Business Dress, Level Two:Elegant Casual/Semi-Formal”