Business casual is a wonderful idea for people who want to feel relaxed in the workplace. No more spending the day in a stuffy suit. Now you can dress to feel good.
But wait. If you think business casual means that anything goes, think again. It’s easy to go down the slippery slope from business casual to business casualty.
What’s the answer to looking professional while wearing business casual? Most companies opt for a list of do’s and don’ts. But understanding your industry goes a long way in helping you project a businesslike image when you wear business casual clothing.
Here are three key questions to help you put your wardrobe together:
1. What is the dress code for my industry?
Every industry has a dress code. In conservative industries, such as finance or insurance, you might wear a suit every day, and dress down only on casual Fridays if you are not meeting clients.
In creative industries, such as advertising or design, you should keep up with the new styles, and have a bit of an edge. But you have to tailor the runway trends to a work environment, and choose clothes that suit your body type, coloring and personality.
If you work in a high-tech firm, such as a software design company, the look is very casual. But you still have to look neat and clean. Grungy is not a business casual look.
2. What is my company’s dress culture?
Every company has its corporate culture. Some corporations institute a casual dress code without fully embracing it, and executives may be expected to dress up even if casual dress is allowed. If the CEO wears a suit every day, take your cue from the top and dress more formally. You’ll set yourself apart by projecting professional presence.
3. Who do I interact with?
If you represent your company to clients, tailor your look according to these questions:
a. What are your clients wearing?
b. How do they expect you to look?
c. What will make them most comfortable?
d. What will make them feel respected?
If you don’t have contact with the public, you have more freedom in what you wear. However, you should still take your cues from your superiors.