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Work attire: a guide to formal dressing for professionals

Published: Sunday 6th September 2020

Today we see so many kinds of workplace dress codes and attires that becoming overwhelmed is just one label away. Between knowing what to wear and what not to wear lies a boundary that could make you look like an absolute professional or completely sloppy. Sure, dressing up neatly and looking sharp in business attire gives you an extra edge of confidence to get work done like a boss, but it could become a hindrance when it causes more confusion than utility. If we look at the world’s most successful business owners such as the later Steve Jobs, you’ll notice how he preferred to wear the same attire every day to save time on decision making. While his dedication to his cause was impressive, we don’t condone you to have such a dry taste in lifestyle. So, here is our blog to help you discern what’s appropriate to wear and what’s not at a workplace.

We’ll help you simplify business attire codes and sort out outfits for each of them, thus saving you time and unnecessary rumination. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

What to wear

  • Business formal: for boardroom meetings and executive meetings

Men: Men can wear a neutral coloured tailored two or three button business suits teamed up with a white formal shirt and black or brown oxford shoes. Choose ties and accessories (cufflinks and tiepins) that are neutral in colour.

Women: A well-tailored pantsuit or skirt-suit teamed with a collared button-up formal shirt in neutral tones along with closed toe heels or formal shoes. For accessories, women can choose delicate and modest looking pieces. 

  • Business professional: traditional outfits for everyday office attire

Men: A one or two button suit in modest colours paired up with a formal shirt. There is room to bring in light coloured pants along with a formal shirt and tie if a jacket isn’t necessary for your job description. Feel free to bring in patterned yet classy ties instead.

Women: You can pick a suit with a formal shirt or a skirt with a formal blouse in non-flashy colours. Stick to heels or business shoes, but you can experiment with larger pieces of jewellery. 

  • Casual: Let your casual be not too casual on Fridays! If the HR policy permits jeans and t-shorts, both men and women can opt to wear them. Pairing up jeans with casual shirts, blouses or tops is what goes best. Try to avoid wearing sports shoes or sneakers and opt for classy footwear instead. 
  • No dress code: Since this can be one of the most confusing parts of the dressing policy yet the best, think of dressing up for a posh lunch at a restaurant. Stick to trousers, casual shirts, straight fit jeans (men), and well-fitting blouses or sweaters (women). In short, even if there is no dress code, keep in mind to have a classy, laid back yet efficient attire that would not inconvenience you during work hours.

Bonus tip: Well-groomed nails and hair are mandatory irrespective of your gender. Carry a sweater if you are susceptible to feeling cold.

What not to wear

  • Distressed or ripped jeans.
  • Leggings with short tops, miniskirts and club or party outfits.
  • Long and untied hair in men.
  • Long acrylic nails and nail art.
  • Translucent shirts and tops without using innerwear, for both men and women.
  • Graphic t-shirts with objectionable quotations.
  • Overly flashy jewellery.
  • Neon colours.
  • Brightly coloured and printed socks.
  • Formal men’s shoes without socks.
  • Flip flop footwear.

In conclusion, we’d like to say that comfort is the biggest factor when it comes to dressing for any occasion, including workplaces. If you wear religious attires that mark your belief, the HR policies are changing globally to accommodate human sentiment in the form of attire, personal tattoos that do not carry offensive symbolism towards others. It is important that you look like your part of the job, but also maintain your authenticity; it is directly proportional to the confidence you carry yourself with. Our career guides and jobseeker blogs are aimed to bring more information towards creating better professionals; please give them a read and share to help others too!

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