Last week my husband and I were in New York. We were going to an incredible restaurant called “Del Frisco’s”. This is a nice restaurant – white table clothes, great wines and a’la carte menu. I wasn’t sure what the proper attire for this restaurant would be. Yes, I know, I am an image coach and I should know these things, right? But, what is proper attire in Dayton or California may not be acceptable in New York.
I called the restaurant and they said business casual. When I heard my husband repeat it over the phone, I said, “Jeans”? I said this because the difference between business casual, casual and weekend wear seem to be an issue everywhere. My husband asked, “Jeans?” They immediately said, “Of course. A lot of people wear jeans in our establishment.” I quickly realized that business casual in New York can mean jeans with a jacket, as I saw much of when I was there.
It seems there is always a question: What is the difference between casual and business casual for the workplace. In the Midwest, if someone said business casual to me, I would immediately tell someone that khakis were appropriate with a shirt and no tie, or simply a shirt, jacket and khakis. Women, well, we have a lot more options.
In California, you wouldn’t dress the same for business as you would in the Midwest or New York. If someone said formal business attire in New York, you will probably find yourself walking into a sea of black suits. Formal business attire in the Midwest may be a suit, but could be beige or neutral with some color mixed in. Formal business attire in California – well, that’s another story. It is extremely casual on the West Coast, so I would probably have to make that phone call before I showed up for an interview or meeting. And remember, there is no shame in calling and asking. Rule of thumb; Err on the side of formality and you will always be dressed properly.
Here are some guidelines for casual, business casual and formal business attire. And I lean hard on the word “guideline.” Proper business attire will vary depending on the business or your profession. Proper business attire for an engineer may not be the same proper business attire for an attorney. There is a protocol (rule) to everything, and this is a guideline for Business Attire — erring on the side of formality.
There is so much more that goes into proper dress. Dressing for business internationally is an article all its own. Accessories, makeup and hair are also another article. There just isn’t enough room in one article for everything. This may not be the answer for everyone, but it’s a place to start. Let the comments begin. Enjoy!
BUSINESS ATTIRE GUIDELINES:
CASUAL FOR MEN: Open-collar shirt without a necktie or dress polo shirt with jacket – cotton trousers (khakis) with golf shirt – slip-on leather shoes (e.g., loafers) – jeans, sneakers and sporting attire, only if allowed by your dress code.
CASUAL FOR WOMEN: Simple skirt, casual slacks, or khakis – pumps, low heels, or flats – sandals (only as appropriate) – blouse, knit top, or sweater, jeans, sneakers and sporting attire, only if allowed by your dress code.
BUSINESS CASUAL FOR MEN: Sport coat with open-collar dress shirt or turtleneck – slacks with open-collar dress shirt – no necktie – slacks or cotton trousers such as khakis – dress shoes or loafers.
BUSINESS CASUAL FOR WOMEN: Blouse, knit top, or sweater set – slacks or simple skirt – conservative dress – coordinating jacket (optional) – pumps, low heels, or flats – hose with skirts/dresses.
FORMAL BUSINESS ATTIRE FOR MEN: Dark business suit – sport coat and slacks – crisply laundered shirt – necktie – dark socks – dark shoes.
FORMAL BUSINESS ATTIRE FOR WOMEN: Jacket with matching skirt or slacks – jacket with coordinating skirt or slacks – conservative accessories – conservative jewelry – closed-toe-shoes – hose with skirts/dresses.