Corporate Style: Decoding Business Attire
Everyone in business wants to look the part. But sometimes that can be easier said than done. Finding a balance between looking professional yet modern and approachable can be a struggle. What exactly constitutes ‘business casual’, for instance? Luckily there is expert guidance available to help guide business owners and executives through the various minefields.
First impressions count
Like it or not, people do pick up on non-verbal cues and judge one another based on appearance. This is why career advisers tell clients to dress for the job they want – not the job they currently have. Clothes make a strong visual statement about how you see yourself. Comfort may aid productivity, but there is a risk that you might come across as insufficiently professional if you take informal dressing too far and show up for a meeting in track pants. Remember – you need to come across as trustworthy and confident.
Dressing appropriately is also a way of showing respect for the situation and the people around you. It may make sense to tweak your outfit depending on the business circumstances you find yourself in, for instance. Another tip is to avoid extremes; you want people to remember what you said rather than what you were wearing. Women should certainly avoid overtly sexy clothing, for instance.
Sartorial challenges in the modern workplace
Different industries have particular – often unspoken – requirements. For instance, the founder of a creative or tech industry may feel comfortable wearing something quite directional, whereas a more traditional corporate owner may want to play it safe in a suit, button-down shirt, and tie.
Office-appropriate attire has changed quite a bit over recent years. Formal business suits are no longer required in many workplaces, but this can leave people feeling confused about to wear instead with many men wondering what constitutes business casual. As a general rule, acceptable casual office attire for men would be chinos, a blazer and a shirt without a tie. What is expected is less clearly defined for women but, as a general rule, trousers or a knee-length skirt with a blouse works well –as can a suitable dress.
There is often a more relaxed attitude to work dressing when the temperatures rise, but this is another area where rules vary.
Maintaining your personal style
No one wants to follow rules rigidly and lose all sense of their own identity. The key is finding a style that works for you and promotes your ‘brand’. You need to feel comfortable in what you are wearing rather than that you are faking a look that you think is appropriate.
A single statement piece – perhaps something like a pair of thick-framed glasses – can get you noticed and remembered. For you, it may be a certain color palate or a knotted scarf. It’s worth playing around with your style and seeing how people react to different looks. It’s all about standing out for the right reasons. The key is to do your homework, experiment and enjoy putting your own personal look together.