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Business Attire — Do’s and Don’ts

Business Attire — Do’s and Don’ts


I have to admit that I never thought that writing a small business blog would lead to a post about fashion but talking with small business owners lately, I’ve realized that it is a must. What is appropriate professional attire? Do you know? You would think so but lately with jobs not necessarily being “9 to 5” more and more people are becoming concerned with their employees and how they represent themselves and their small business. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Whether you are working from home or in a fancy corner office with a view, dressing to impress comes with the territory when we are trying to get a new client or maintain a stronghold in our particular industries. Nowadays, some situations are not so cut-and-dry on what is appropriate. Just because you don’t go to an office every day and have more of a remote occupation does not mean that business attire is always out of the question for you. I like to make money in my pajamas just like everyone else but meeting up with potential clients in cargo shorts and a beanie is not the way to increase your income. Let’s looks at some oldie but goodie “laws of business fashion”:

Basic Casual is basic, every day wear. Even if you are working from home, getting dressed in “work clothing” after your morning routine has proven to increase productivity and therefore increases your business’ profits. Avoiding temptation (from television to your bed) is paramount in those situations. Here are some basic casual tips to make you look professional, even in a basic work setting.

Casual collared shirts Fitted blouses or sweaters
Dark denim Clean and crisp denim
Tasteful sneakers Elegant sandals


Office Casual can be dressier than basic casual, but still gives the comfort and relaxation to get you in and out of that cubicle throughout the day. Although it may not be appropriate for all professional settings, office casual is more likely what you expect to see on a daily basis in a nice office.

Shirts or sweaters (colors and pattern variety) Short-sleeve tops, vests
Slacks or corduroy pants Fashionable top, vest, skirt combinations
Relaxed but elegant shoes Open-toed shoes


Executive Casual is more than just business suits without faces. Depending on the line of work that you are in, it can mean different things. You want your business attire to look professional with a little bit of personality. But, keep the eye shadow neutral, ladies! Same goes for the cologne, guys. You don’t want to be “that person” in the office. So here are a few Executive Casual tips to help you dress for the job you want!

Brightly colored shirts or shirts with patterns, ties Brightly colored tops
Sports coats/ jackets Unique jewelry/accessories
Dressy slacks Fitted jacket and skirt combination
Loafers Closed-toe pumps


Traditional Professional attire is more than buttoned-up shirts and heels or a tie and shiny shoes and it usually accompanies a nice leather briefcase. While you aren’t quite yet in that $5000 suit, believe me you don’t need to be. You can still own professional attire on a budget or even if you are plotting down the cash for that great impression on your office, check out these tips for having the comfort of tradition with the power of the suit.

More brightly colored buttoned-up shirts and ties Fitted blouses and sweaters without a deep neckline
Dark or very subtle patterned suits Brightly colored, tailored suits
Dark colored oxfords Tights and closed heels


Boardroom Attire is what even the low man on the totem pole should be aiming for. While not always appropriate, or in your price range, dressing for success has been in the business mantra since the industrial revolution. The power suit has stayed in power, if you will, for decades and there is a reason everyone craves that air of slight intimidation and control. Follow these tips to help you achieve that status… or at least look the part.


Crisp white button-ups, modest ties Collared dress shirts/blouses
High quality accessories Dark/classic tailored suits
Dark three-piece suits Skirts at professional length
Black, shiny oxfords Black tights and black heels


While no one can tell you what works for you or your own professional setting, “dress for success” isn’t just a phrase because it rhymes. It matters! It matters how you represent yourself and your small business. These are not just tips for you but for your employees and standards of what your small business means to others. Lines are blurred when someone works from home or may not follow traditional office patters when it comes to fashion. The main tips I can give you when in doubt, is make sure that your look is not vulgar, but clean and crisp and tailored to your body. Now, get out there and show off your new business fashion savvy self and good luck!!

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