These 4 Levels of Professional Dress Code Can Save You!

Professional Dress Code

The strong influence of workplace attire makes understanding the professional dress code a crucial tool for navigating your career and business life. Regardless of whether you are dressing for professional photos, a zoom call, or an actual meeting, it’s important to understand the four main classifications of professional workplace attire: business formal, business professional, business casual, and casual. 

When understood and applied properly, a professional dress code can help you create long-lasting impressions, highlight your level of professionalism, allow you to establish reputation and rapport, enhance your credibility, help you command respect, install productivity, and boost your confidence. 

In this post, we will look at each professional dress code category to help you understand which one is right for your unique goals, setting, audience, circumstance, and of course, your business! The bottom line: if you’re not sure what to wear in a given professional setting, these professional dress codes can save you!

1. Business Formal

When assessing a business’s formal environment, it’s important to consider the standards of the environment. Are you going to a fancy dinner, awards ceremony, or conference? Are you meeting with high-ranking officials, important celebrities, or executives? If so, a good rule of thumb is to consider the highest level of professional attire: business formal. Opt for conservative and well-tailored clothing to make an impact of credibility, intelligence, and confidence.

Give These Outfits a Spin:

  • Traditional suits and pantsuits
  • Ties and modest accessories
  • Neutral colors
  • Knee-length skirts
  • Minimal accessories


2. Business Professional

A business professional dress code is a step down from business formal. For example, if you’re speaking at a conference, leading a meeting or a large group, making important decisions, or working with client relations then the business professional is a good go-to. The goal is simply to create a well-tailored and put-together look for slightly more formal events. 

Try These On For Size:

  • Button-up and collared shirts
  • Explore more patterns and colors
  • Pants and Medium length skirts
  • Neutral colors and closed-toe shoes


3. Business Casual

If you don’t have to be in contact with customers or clients on a regular basis, but you still work with employees and other regular co-workers, business casual will combine elements of business professional and casual dress codes. 

Stick With the Basics:

  • Dress pants, khakis, and skirts
  • Button up shirts, cardigans, and jackets
  • Vests, sweaters, and ties
  • Outfit enhancing accessories 
  • Go bold on patterns and colors 


4. Casual

A casual dress code, also known as smart casual, is a great option for entrepreneurs in a more easy and outgoing atmosphere. However, it’s important to remain comfortable and not disheveled, even if you’re working from home. This means that jeans, sweats, mini skirts, and sneakers are a no-go! It’s important to still maintain a level of professionalism here and use casual dress as an opportunity to incorporate more fun and freedom into your style.

Get Your Casual On:

  • Skirts and dresses
  • Casual pants and slacks
  • Sweaters and cardigans 
  • Fun and trendy patterns and colors
  • Casual accessories like scarves and large jewelry
  • Open toe shoes


Ask: What’s My Professional Dress Code Type?

Remember, a great way to understand what is appropriate for your business dress code is to pay attention to the types of employees, clients, partners, or managers that you work with. It’s important to dress according to the workplace culture that you want to develop, or are already a part of. Moreover, attire is a representation of your professionalism regardless of your industry. If you run a more low-key business like a fitness gym or cafe you may dress very differently than if you’re meeting with a food vendor or client, or if you’re in an office environment altogether. Regardless, it’s always a good rule of thumb to model the values that are important to you, your audience, your environment, and of course, your circumstances!

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