“You will wear a jacket, shirt and tie. If you don’t have one, buy one. If you can’t afford one, borrow one from your old man. If you don’t have an old man, then find a drunk, trade with him…”**
“Remember the Titans” is one of my favorite movies. When thinking of this next post and what I would use as an example or lead-in, for some reason, this scene kept coming back into my head.
While the movie is mostly about a football team that fights prejudice, racial segregation, and the odds, there is something else that I think this clip captures. Coach seems harsh in this clip, but he’s really trying to get his team to think about how they represent themselves and how they are to conduct themselves. He is trying to tell the boys that their appearance matters, and I think we can learn from that.
I spelled out some guidelines in the last post and I will at the end of this one, but what I really want to highlight here is this: how you dress and how you take care of yourself conveys an image.
We mentioned it in the first post, but I want to emphasize this as well: You do not have to have a lot of money, you do not have to be in a certain position, and you do not have to already be in the workforce in order to place a priority in how you portray yourself. Dressing in a way that is appropriate for your job (or future job) is just one way to do that.
With that, here are a few guidelines for both men and women on business formal dress and business casual dress.
Business Formal Wear
Wear a suit: If your job requires you to dress in business formal clothing, usually a suit is appropriate. This includes women wearing a suit set, with either a pair of slacks or a matching skirt. However, you may be able to get by without a suit jacket or blazer depending on the season and what your office allows.
Choose a simple shirt: A button up, solid-colored shirt and tie is a must for men, and a silk tie is best. For women, a simple patterned or solid colored button up or tailored blouse is best. Women may also wear a dress in a neutral shade that is tailored well and that is not strapless or sleeveless. Any neutral shade of slacks or skirt is acceptable.
Wear comfortable dress shoes: Choose closed-toed dress shoes, and refrain from extreme height in heels, platform shoes, and patterns. Gentlemen can choose any dress shoe that matches without a pattern.
Business Casual Choices
When your office or workplace allows for business casual wear, there are more allowances. For example, men can wear khakis, corduroys, subtle pinstripes, navy blue, and black pants. Gentlemen, you may also wear polo shirts, solid button ups, and button up shirts with a subtle pattern. Sports jackets and khakis are a great option as well.
For ladies, polos, button ups with subtle patterns, dresses, and dress pants are great options. Flip flops and tennis shoes are still not a good way to go–shoes like these are still too casual for the office. While a day at the beach or outside seems enjoyable, shoes for those occasions are not good options.
As I mentioned in the previous post, extremely tight clothing or clothing that is revealing is neither business formal nor business casual wear. Remember, we want people to respect us for what we can provide to them through our jobs, and we do not want them to be concentrating on our clothing.
The Timeless Base Layer
Avid hikers build a layer under their clothing to protect them and to add some benefits of weather breaking. It is kind of like a foundation for a house. Once they put a base layer of protection, they can add or subtract as many pieces as they would like depending on their needs and the weather.
In many ways, timeless guidelines like the above are the base layer to building a closet full of work-appropriate clothing.
There are many possibilities with the guidelines that are laid out here. Fashion trends change, but guidelines can also put a foundation in place so that there isn’t a question about what is appropriate when trends do change.
And remember, above all else, conduct yourself in a way that represents yourself well, at least so you won’t have Coach yelling at you to do just that.
**I do not condone trading a drunk for his clothing. It could get dangerous trading with strangers. I have better ideas on how to get clothing on a dime that fits the business attire in the next post.**
This is the third in a series of posts by senior Business Administration major Madalyn Bozdech. In addition to dressing well for Business Dress Wednesday, she likes to hike.