Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Guide to Deciphering Business Attire

Most of the topics for my blog posts are inspired by real life occurrences from public relations courses to internships to personal experiences and this week’s post is no different. Earlier this week I was catching up with a fellow PRowler and the topic of PRSSA’s upcoming national conference came up. I was excited to share the news that the conference’s opening social was a black tie event. But what exactly does that mean- floor length gowns, cocktail dresses, actual suits and literal black ties? It got me thinking, we throw around terms like “business professional,” “business casual,” or even “black tie” but it’s not always easy to know what is appropriate for each. To help others (and myself!), I put together this easy guide to dressing for each situation.
  • Business casual. For business casual, the general rule of thumb is to avoid anything as casual as flip-flops, jeans and t-shirts. It allows you to dress less formally than traditional work wear but shouldn't affect your credibility in the workplace.
  • Business professional/business formal. Dress to impress. This is a step up from your typical work attire that calls for a more conservative look with either a suit, pencil skirt, or blazer.
  • Casual Friday. This is tricky, you can dress casually but not too casual. It’s generally acceptable to dress up a pair of jeans but definitely leave the tee at home.
  • Black tie. Chances are there will be very few events you will attend which require black tie attire. But if you DO happen to be invited to a gala or formal event (like PRSSA National Conference social) the dress code is traditional tuxedos for men and cocktail or long dresses for women. Think senior prom attire.

(Source: InStyle)

But remember, how you dress often depends on the culture of the office and many provide dress code policies to ensure employees are properly dressed. If you’re ever in doubt regarding what is and is not appropriate, simply look to see what the consensus is with your coworkers. If the rest of your office is in Prada, chances are that "lumpy blue sweater" not be appropriate.

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