Cracking The Business Dress Codes
DRESS CODES OF BUSINESS
Company dress codes are not well defined and are rarely written down. They are mostly gleaned by observing: “What is there basis dress code that every office usually falls into, as one personal dress code. Follow these guidelines and you will be safe.
CORPORATE DRESS CODE
The most formal standard of dress there is, the corporate dress code means suits with shirts, usually white and ties. This the dress code of law firms and investment banks. In the past few years, the corporate dress code has eased somewhat, but it is recently coming black strong. Once again, the “suits” upstairs are wearing suits.
BUSINESS CASUAL DRESS CODE
If every day were casual Friday, this is the dress code that would apply. In the business casual world, not only is a suit not necessary, but a jacket may not even be required. But a casual dress code does not mean that you can let it all hang out. In fact, neatness may count more than ever in this environment. If you wear khakis and a white oxford shirt to work most days, make sure they’re clean and pressed. Polish your shoes and never wear sneakers to the office. Wear sweaters that fit well and not ones that are baggy, wrinkled, or have holes in them. A sense of professionalism must be maintained at all times.
THE EVOLUTION OF BUSINESS APPROPRIATE
Business has often been cast as a Darwinian struggle, and the development of business appropriate dress in the workplace is an excellent example of the phenomena. Over the past 20 year the pendulum of corporate dress has swung from one extreme to the other: Starting with the buttoned-up world of pinstripes and power ties to the worn down world of faded jeans and T-shirts. CEOs of powerful industries established both trends. In the go-go days of the Wall Street-tech bubble it became practically mandatory to dress casually to establish your credentials.
Then the bubble burst, and as the economy changed so did the dress landscape. A new dress code evolved, not from the top down but instead lead by the people on the job. Without a memo in sight, people stared to upgrade their look jacket with nice dress shirts and slacks, and even an occasional tie. There’s tacit evolutionary understanding that as the times get tougher, the smart species survives by adapting to the environment.
And so business appropriate has emerged as midpoint between business casual and corporate dress codes. Silicon Valley meets the man in the gray flannel suit, and business appropriate is the offspring.
BUSINESS APPROPRIATE AND BUSINESS APPROPRIATE CASUAL DRESS CODE
This dress code is somewhere between corporate and casual, and can, in some ways, be the most difficult to navigate. The business appropriate dress code requires that you have a secure sense of what is appropriate for your office and industry. A suit is no longer mandatory, but if you wear one perhaps you don’t put on a tie with a dress shirt. A sport jacket and trousers with a dress shirt would also be an acceptable alternative. In the business appropriate world, one can even opt to wear a nice polo shirt or sweater with a sport jacket. The idea is that you can allow yourself some comfort, but you must always look polished and professional.
The Evolution of Dress Codes
SUIT - Mandatory
SHIRT AND TIE - Mandatory
The suit and tie ensemble is a constant. A classic of American business, it has grown from a stiff authoritative structure to a more comfortable expression of business. But don’t be confused. It is still about joining the club
JACKET: WITH TEE - Mandatory
WITH SHIRT OR SWEATER - Optional
JEANS - Only okay if you’re the boss or the office is home
The days of “whatever, I’m too busy” or “too creative to bother about what I’m wearing” are over. Casual means pulled together, nothing faded or ragged. In many ways it’s difficult to pull off without appearing to be trapped at summer camp.
SHIRT - Mandatory
TIE - Optional
JACKET - Mandatory
SUIT - Preferred
Rapidly becoming the “new standard,” it is more about dressing the context of the day or occasion to tie or not to tie is the question. But there is a covert understanding that a jacket is a necessity.
Business Appropriate Casual
SHIRT OR SWEATER - Mandatory
JACKET - Not required but preferred
“Casual” under this dress code means understanding that a more relaxed look is not an excuse to look like you came into work during the weekend. A good rule of thumb is if you’re called in to see CEO you won’t need to make excuses about being casual.
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YOUR DRESS CODE
Regardless of the dress code employed by your office or industry, over time you will begin to develop your own sense of style and perhaps even some sartorial trademarks. Do you only wear ties with polka dots on them? Are you the kind of man who insists on cowboy boots with a suit? Does everyone notice your cuff links? Whatever your personal dress code is, you must, of course, still look professional. And as you climb the corporate ladder, it will become easier to express your personality through your clothes. After all, who will tell the boss he shouldn’t wear pink checked shirts?
LEARNING INDUSTRY DRESS CODES
Just as offices have dress codes, too, do industries. And even if your office does not adherer to the industry standard, when you go for an interview or meeting at another office, the best preparation is to research what that company’s policy is. Call someone in the human resources department and get a sense of what the guidelines are. In general, industry dress codes have become more relaxed, but a safe rule would be to maintain a high level of dress whenever you are uncertain. Going to a law office? Wear a suit and tie. Meeting people at an advertising agency? Business appropriate would not be inappropriate. Feeling at ease with the way you are dresses will alleviate some of the pressures that you may be feeling about the job itself.
DRESS CODE EXCEPTIONS
Even if you understand your office industry dress code perfectly, there will still be exception to the rules. For instance, you work in a corporate dress code office, but there is an off-site workshop at a local hotel and you have been told you can dress down. The smart move would be to dress business appropriate. Or perhaps you work in a business appropriate office but you are meeting clients for lunch who are business casual. Simple solution: Remove your tie. No matter what the situation is you should always be prepared to adapt your wardrobe and get down to business.
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Want to be sure to create a bad impression in whatever dress code your employer prescribes, or blow your job interview? It’s simple: Never polish your shoes, let the heels get worn and the leather cracked. If however, you would rather make a good impression or land that new job, some preventive maintenance can a long way.
Either go to pro or spend some time each weekend 15 minutes per pair polishing your shoes
1. Take a rag that’s moist and swirl good wax polish on your shoe in a circular motion. 2. Keep up this motion as the previous shine disappears and is replaced with a deeper shine. 3. Then use another rag and buff to the shine level you prefer. Buy an edge dressing, which is simply a dye to paint the leather edges. Every six months have your shoe repairman check the soles-good for shoes, good for your career.
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