What is Business Attire? : It's So You!

What is Business Attire?

by Mary Sheehan Warren on 06/27/13

There are few things as controversial as a company dress code: Reduced benefits, lengthened workdays, perhaps in-office Facebook restrictions.

See Helpful Links at bottom.

In fact, the words "sequestration," "furlough" or even "reduction in work force" have nothing on the word "panty hose." See for yourself. Casually drop into a conversation among staff the sentence "hosiery is required in the office," and see the smoke come from the ears of your listeners. Watch the whites of their eyes redden up with the dilation of blood vessels. I once saw a guy shake his head and leave the room as if he was scared to see what might happen to me.

I know. It isn't a pretty sight. But I'll stick my neck out here and wager that some violations of the Code are at least as frightening.

So, we at ISYFashion laboratories have researched The Code and have found that there really are three levels of dress for any establishment. Let's examine the highest: "Executive Business Attire."

Executive Business Attire is what a company (or a person) adopts to communicate the values of serious business: Cleanliness, reliability, attention to detail, high quality, credibility, expertise, and concern for others. It is recommended by business consultants to industries which deal with a lot of money (banking, investment, law), concern themselves with the highest level of customer service (hotel, convention centers, etc.) or are protecting the polished image of a brand (corporate office, sales, real estate). It is absolutely mandatory for face to face time with clients.

Executive Business Attire for Men

  • A suit (dark neutral) and tie (not a "suit-like" ensemble)
  • White or blue dress shirt coordinated with the suit
  • Appropriate tie (nothing loud or "out there")
  • Polished dress shoe or "wing tips" in a dark neutral chosen to coordinate with the suit
  • Socks in a dark neutral chosen to coordinate with the suit and sitting high enough on the calf so that no part of bare leg is seen while sitting.
  • Clean shaven or bearded; not in between
  • Clean hair either cut short or pulled back
  • Minimal cologne
  • Watch and one ring on each hand; No jingly stuff; no earrings
  • All tats covered
  • Fingernails cut short

Executive Business Attire for Women

  • A skirt (to the knee) suit (a pant suit is considered less "formal" but is acceptable in most - not all - establishments, as ISYFashion believes it should be)
  • A dress blouse when needed under the jacket (some suit jackets can stand alone in women's suiting) with a no-cleavage neckline
  • Small scarf or necklace (draped along neckline of the top and not spilling over the lapel)
  • Flesh-tone pantyhose (There! I said it.)
  • Closed-toe pumps with no more than a three inch heel.
  • One ring per hand
  • A watch and, if desired, one "conservative" bracelet on either wrist.
  • Clean hair arranged for business (no big hair or teased craziness)
  • "Conservative earrings" (meaning no larger than the lobe of the ear)
  • Minimal perfume
  • Makeup completed tastefully
  • Fingernails cut short or longer, polished in a single, traditional color with no embellishment
    See, that wasn't so rough. When you put the whole look together, it's easy to see why the hosiery part is necessary. Now, let's move on to the next level, the one below it: Business Attire. Business consultants actually recommend this for the "let your hair down" days for all of the above industries (i.e. not meeting with clients or meeting them in resort or social venues) and these same companies can choose to adopt this for the support staff. This level of dress can work as "executive" level for industries related to some branches of technology, medicine, education, advertising, and art.

Business Attire for Men

  • Suits or Suit-like ensembles such as khakis and blazers
  • Dress shirts in any color to coordinate with ensemble
  • Appropriate tie or bow tie (nothing loud or "out there")
  • Dress shoes or Loafers (not Docksiders or Sperry's or anything made of canvas)
  • Socks in a neutral chosen to coordinate with the suit and sitting high enough on the calf so that no part of bare leg is seen while sitting.
  • Clean shaven or bearded; not in between
  • Clean hair either cut short or pulled back
  • Minimal cologne
  • Watch and one ring per hand; No jingly stuff; no earrings
  • All tats covered
  • Fingernails cut short

  Business Attire for Women

  • A skirt or pant suit or suit-like ensemble
  • A dress blouse and skirt (to the knees, or slightly above or slightly below)or trousers
  • A sweater-set with either a crew or v neckline
  • A dress blouse with at least short sleeves and a no-cleavage neckline
  • A sheath dress (defined as sleeveless) with coordinated structured sweater or jacket; a "day dress" with at least short sleeves and a coordinated structured sweater or jacket; hem is to the knees or slightly above or below
  • Scarf or necklace
  • Flesh-tone panty hose or opaque tights
  • Closed or "peep toe" pumps (defined as no more than three toes "peeping" through the opening), and no more than a three inch heel
  • One ring per hand
  • A watch and and/or tasteful bracelets
  • Clean hair arranged for business (no big hair or teased craziness)
  • "Conservative earrings" (meaning no larger than the lobe of the ear)
  • Minimal perfume
  • Makeup completed tastefully
  • Fingernails cut short or longer, polished in a single, traditional color with no embellishment

    (I would style this model in a cool color.)       (Change shoes on this one.)
    (Thanks to Emirate Makeup Blog.)

So now comes the part when every free spirit or creative type can breathe a sigh of relief: Business Casual Dress. Just remember that all the values described for Business Executive Dress still apply: Cleanliness, reliability, attention to detail, high quality, credibility, expertise, and concern for others. None of that gets dropped; it just changes its tone and allows for a bit of creativity and approachability.

Business Casual dressing is what I think my dad was going for when he dressed for his job as a government engineer. That was during the 60s and 70s, so it seems there is a long standing tradition for this. However, at no time (except maybe briefly through a purple haze in the mid 70s) did viable businesses ever say to themselves, "Gee. I think we should adopt a yoga theme for our company dress code" (or homelessness or biker culture or prostitution). Yes, you might personally find your muse among Hell's Angels or Dancing with the Stars, but it's not the best thing for your company's work climate or your own career. So, let's dive into the Business Casual Code of Dress:

Business Casual for Men

  • Khakis, trousers, dark denim trousers with no embellishment or holes
  • Shirts that are not t shirts, sleeveless, athletic in nature or stamped with a logo other than the company's
  • Sweaters, vests, cardigans, button-up novelty shirts (no chest hair or white undershirt peeking over top)
  • No tie necessary
  • Dress shoes or Loafers; no sneakers, sandals, or crocs
  • Socks not necessary for some types of loafers; Socks should be in a neutral chosen to coordinate with the suit and sitting high enough on the calf so that no part of bare leg is seen while sitting.
  • Purposeful facial hair (This is where the "shadow" look can appear, only this will go out of style at some point and our future workforce will wonder why we were so sloppy)
  • Clean hair with a style
  • Minimal cologne
  • Tasteful jewelry
  • Fingernails cut short

Business Casual for Women

  • Khakis, trousers, dark denim trousers with no embellishment or holes
  • Shirts that are not t shirts, sleeveless, athletic in nature or stamped with a logo other than the company's
  • Skirts which do not expose the upper thigh; No denim skirts or dresses
  • Dresses which do not expose the full back or cleavage; a coordinated cover (sweater or jacket) for a sleeveless dress
  • Hosiery is not necessary, but if a bit of leg makeup is, apply it
  • Loafers, ballet flats, indoor "fashion" boots, closed or "peep toe" (defined as no more than three toes "peeping" through the opening) and no more than a four inch heel. Opened toe shoes are acceptable as long as they are not thong or "flip flop" or beach sandals and you are getting regular pedicures. Please.
  • And no Crocs
  • Tasteful but not distracting jewelry.
  • Clean and styled hair
  • Minimal perfume
  • Makeup completed tastefully
  • Fingernails maintained; no chipping of polish; no glitter or bejeweling

 

 

Anything less than business casual is known as "personal casual." You don't wear it to work because work means business; It's a time that's bigger than you. Your own time is personal and that's when you get to really express yourself.

So, we made it though this piece with minimal ear smoke and only a bit of blood vessel dilation. And yes, in case you are wondering, a Code is only as good as its consensus. Other sources for helpful advice (or verification) are listed below.

As always, Happy Hunting!

http://www.forbes.com/2006/04/11/office-dress-codes-cx_sr_0411officedress.html

www.artofmanliness.com

www.dappered.com

To purchase:

http://www.belk.com/AST/Main/Belk_Primary/Women/Shop/Suits.jsp

 

 

Comments (1)

1. Provocative Manners said on 6/27/13 - 02:31PM
Great quote in the beginning. Agree with your recommendations!


Leave a comment



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