Business Casual vs. Business Professional

In a professional career, how an individual dresses is one of the most important aspects of either thriving in the work place or unfortunately failing. Appearance is one of the first things a prospective employer will notice. Lack of personal hygiene and ill-fitting clothes are two of the worst offenses in my book. So whether you are a runway diva, a Gentleman’s Quarterly model or just a person looking for some help in the fashion department, this is the article for you. Here are 3 tips to help you dress for success and create a thriving professional career.

  1. Dress for the Occasion

When finding the perfect outfit for the day, think about the activities you will be doing throughout the day ahead of you. If you are going on an interview it would be appropriate for women to wear a skirt-suit or a pantsuit paired with closed toe heels or flats, depending on your shoe of choice, and in many cases wear hosiery. For a man going on an interview it is appropriate to wear a suit and tie with color coordinated dress shoes. Also, be sure to iron or steam your outfit to get out any wrinkles or creases. Wrinkles in your outfit will have a messy look and will leave the prospective employer with a subpar first impression of you. No one wants to go into an interview underdressed. When in doubt, always overdress if you are unsure as to what to wear. As I like to say go big or go home.

  1. Business Casual

The biggest issue in the business casual debate is the question asking, “Is it acceptable to wear jeans in the work place?” Personally, I love wearing jeans. You can dress a pair of dark jeans up with a button down blouse and pointy toe pumps for women. For men a pair of jeans with a collared shirt and a pair of leather loafers is a great route to take when looking for a business casual outfit. I have found that it is most appropriate to decide whether a business casual outfit is the way to go depending on the day at work you will have. So relating back to the previous tip, always dress for the occasion. For instance, a business casual outfit is not the way to dress when you have an interview, but that is all dependent on the type of job and what company you are interviewing with. My advice would be to do research on the employer before you go into the interview and plan your outfit in accordance with their dress policy.

  1. Workplace Appropriateness

Some of the worst fashion crimes I have seen in the workplace are the inappropriateness of clothing and the grooming habits of both men and women. For women hemlines should be knee length or longer. Miniskirts are inappropriate and give the impression that you are not serious about the interview or your job in general. Low-cut tops are a huge turn off to employers. Perfume should be applied very lightly, if at all. A good soap and antiperspirant will allow the interviewer to remember you, not your scent. For men, facial hair should be neatly trimmed. Hair should be neat and conservative, not touching the collar of your shirt. Heavy cologne should be avoided. Soap and antiperspirant will allow the interviewer to remember you, not your scent. Nails should be clean and manicured. For both men and women, make sure your clothes fit you well. In the end it does not matter what size you have to buy, just as long the article of clothing fits you appropriately. If you ever find yourself asking the question, ”Can I?” the best bet it is to say no and find something else to wear.

No matter what occasion, whether you are going to the grocery store or going on the most important job interview of your life it is important to always dress your best and to always remember that a great first impression will always be a lasting impression.


Cassidy Graham is a junior Public Relations major and Digital Design major pursuing a minor in Marketing. She is a member of the Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter. Cassidy has a passion for writing and fashion and hopes to pursue a career in both someday.

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