Ahh, business casual dress. Don’t you love dressing more comfortably at work? Well, be careful. Business casual dress may diminish your chances for success. As Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, quipped, I love the business casual look for the way it combines unattractive with unprofessional while diminishing neither.
Have you noticed that in some offices, business casual leads to mass confusion? You may be overjoyed when your office institutes casual Fridays, or perhaps you wear casual clothes every day. But you, or others in your office, may not be sure what this means. Some staff members look as if they should be somewhere else – perhaps out jogging or curled up on the couch. Some clothes are just a bit too casual for work.
Remember that at work you want people to focus on your professional skills, not your body. If you wear anything extreme – very short, tight, low-cut or revealing, or that looks like sportswear or beachwear, people may notice your clothes rather than your work. A good business casual rule to remember is that business casual is a notch or two below what you would wear to work on days without business casual.
7 Tips to project a professional image with business casual dress
1. Neatness counts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to look good. You can look sharp by always wearing clean, pressed, tailored clothing.
2. Quality counts. Instead of buying several trendy outfits, invest in one good quality jacket or suit. Update your accessories, and change your blouse, shirt or tie. You’ll save money in the long run because it will cost less per wear.
3. Accessories make or break the outfit. Choose good quality accessories, such as a briefcase or purse. Shabby accessories can ruin an outfit.
4. Grooming takes on a new dimension when wearing casual clothing. Business casual doesn’t mean you can forget to shave or bathe. Sloppy or grungy are not business casual looks.
5. Have an emergency outfit in your office. Keep a jacket (and tie, for men) available for an unexpected meeting with your boss or a client.
6. Dress for your clients. Remember that you represent your company. You are not dressing for yourself. That’s for the weekend. You are dressing to inspire confidence in your clients and in your company.
7. When in doubt, dress up. It shows respect to wear a suit to a meeting with a new client, or for a job interview.