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The Office Dress Code - What to Wear to Work

When going to work you want to pay close attention to your attire because how you dress can affect progression within in the company, leading to the age old question - What to wear to work?

Whether you're just entering, or you're already in the business world, it's important to know how to dress appropriately for any situation. What you wear for an interview is likely to differ from your day-to-day business attire.

We've put together a little guide to make sure you get your office desk code just right...

What is Business Dress Code?

Business dress code refers to the types of clothes employees wear to work. Depending on the workplace there are various dress codes employees should adhere to ranging from 'Smart Business Dress' (traditional and formal) to 'Smart Casual' and 'Business Casual'.


If you don't have an official business dress code you need to know what types of clothing are appropriate to wear in your workplace. Looking at what your manager and successful employees wear to work will tell you everything you need to know about what business attire you are expected to wear to work. 

What is the definition of professional attire?

Professional business attire means you are generally wearing conservative items to portray yourself in a professional manner. You want to dress to impress, but that doesn't always mean you have to turn up to work in your best suit and formal shoes. Typically this attire is what you wear to a job interview. Careers that require you to dress in professional attire on a daily basis are usually finance, accounting and businesses that have a strict dress code. 

How do you dress professionally?

Dressing professionally is crucial to being successful in an office or academic environment because your appearance reflects how professional you are. However, what is considered 'professional' varies from business to business. 

There are a few style guidelines you can follow to dress professionally. With a professional business attire women can wear a skirt or trouser suit with smart shoes and men may wear a blazer, button shirt, smart trousers, a tie and dress shoes.

What is a business casual dress code? 

It is important you are aware of dress code and understand what they mean and follow them, but when someone mentions the dress code is 'business casual' and you haven't a clue what that means. You arrive to work completely under dressed and you feel uncomfortable and hope your manager doesn't notice.


There is no general definition for what is meant by 'business casual' dress code it depends on several factors including the industry, size of the company, number of employees, the type of interaction between employees and customers, culture, climate and the average age of the workforce. 


Most companies that have a 'business casual' dress code encourage employees to have a professional business like image whilst enjoying the advantage of more casual and relaxed clothing. For men appropriate 'business casual' outfits typically include shirts (without ties) and sweaters, with cord or chino trousers and relaxed, but smart shoes. For women a combination of fashionable tops, shirts, skirts and trousers.

Business Dress Code

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Common Office Dress Code Questions for Men

What is business casual attire for a man?

Business casual for men usually means a smart pair of trousers, a collard shirt or sweater with relaxed, but elegant shoes. 

Is a polo shirt business casual?

Depending on the type of office environment you work in a polo shirt is considered as business casual attire. 

Can you wear khakis for business professional?

Khaki trousers are considered to be a more casual option meaning they aren't suitable for business professional in the office. 

Are black jeans appropriate for business casual?

You need to make sure you wear the right pair of jeans in the office, black jeans and dark wash denim are appropriate for business casual attire. 

Are turtlenecks considered business casual?

Yes, wearing a turtleneck jumper to work is a great alternative to a suit and tie softening the appearance. 

Common Office Dress Code Questions for Women

Is a dress business attire?

Conservative dresses and skirts are appropriate for business attire. 

Are sandals okay for business casual?

Depending on the environment of your office sandals may or may not be appropriate for business casual.

What heel height is most appropriate for work? 

In a conservative business environment you should wear practical heels that you are able to do your daily tasks with ease. Heels should be no higher than 3.5 inches in most workplaces.

Should I wear bright coloured clothes to work?

Brightly coloured clothes can be worn to work, but some colours should be worn in moderation. The best bright colours to wear are blue and green and colours that should be worn in moderation are orange, purple and white. 

What jewellry is appropriate for the office?

Wearing items of jewellry that aren't distracting or noisy are appropriate for the office. You want to wear as little accessories as possible usually a watch or bracelet, a ring, a pair of earrings and a necklace is a appropriate. 

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