Demystifying Dress Codes in the Workplace

Today, we’ll be diving into another aspect of the personal brand of not just you but your company as well. 

The dress code. Some companies have a very defined dress code, while others do not (a pandemic will do that to you). But as companies are asking employees more and more to step into the office, it’s time we discuss the different types of dress codes, what’s appropriate, and what’s an absolute do or do not do. 

Smart Casual: A Balance of Comfort and Style 

My tech people love their work attire because it screams smart casual. It is where style and comfort meet in the workplace. If your company is very refined in dress code, this style may be reserved for just Fridays! (or virtual calls)

  • Definition: Smart casual is essentially a polished look. It’s a step above casual wear but not as formal as business casual. 
  • Elements: Slim-fitting jeans, chinos, or slacks. Usually paired with a knit sweater, a polo, or a button-down shirt. Footwear is usually clean sneakers (typically all white) or loafers. 
  • Do’s: Opt for neutral colors to make the look work and to keep it polished! Adding accessories like a watch and belt can pull it together further. 
  • Don’ts: Graphic tees may not be the way to do it, and absolutely no flip-flops. 

Business Casual: Striking a Balance

Business casual is what employees usually opt for when going into the office. 

  • Definition: Business casual is the perfect medium. It’s the middle ground between smart casual outfits and business professional attire.
  • Elements: A dress shirt with dress pants or khakis. Dresses and skirts are acceptable in business attire. Usually, a blazer is a great addition. Colors shouldn’t be too bold, but do not be afraid to experiment and mix colors. 
  • Do’s: Preferable skirts and dresses that strike right on or above your knee (longer is acceptable, like abayas). Closed-toe shoes are necessary. 
  • Don’ts: Stay away from overly casual attire like t-shirts or sneakers. 

Business Professional: The Epitome of Formality

Business professional is you bringing your best suit forward. 

  • Definition: Business professional is the most formal attire for the workplace. Be buttoned up. 
  • Elements: A tailored suit (for both men and women), dress shirt, tie (for men), and closed-toe dress shoes. Accessories should be minimal and sophisticated.
  • Do’s: Neutral colors are essential. Black, white, navy, and brown are the colors to stick to. 
  • Don’ts: No heels over 4 inches of height. Avoid loud prints, casual footwear, and excessive jewelry.

Understanding and adhering to these dress codes is about looking the part and showing respect for the workplace and its culture. Dressing appropriately will help you feel confident, make a positive impression, and navigate various professional situations effectively. No matter the dress code, don’t forget to add your own flare to it. Do not dim your own light for someone else; if you feel you need to do that or accommodate too much, you may be in the wrong place. So, whether it’s a Smart Casual, Business Casual, or Business Professional day, you’ll be prepared to dress for success. Remember, your attire is a crucial aspect of your personal brand, and it’s worth putting thought and effort into creating a professional image. It’s your personal brand, and that’s the part that should shine the brightest.