Becoming Professional: A Blog

Dress Codes?

Posted on: November 13, 2009

*1 day late. sorry!

The first problem some people have with interviews is the same one teenage girls have every morning.

What to wear?

There are, in general, 3 levels of dress: Casual, Business Casual, and Business Professional. Here’s what they look like:


casual clothes

Me in a casual outfit

According to the Miriam-Webster Online Dictionary, casual means “feeling or showing little concern…lacking a high degree of interest or devotion…done without serious intent or commitment…informal, natural…designed for informal use <casual clothing>.” The last, of course, is the only specific reference to clothes, and there are other definitions. This is English. It’s never nice and clean when you get it out of a dictionary, is it?

Still, do you want those definitions to describe you? Probably at a bar, probably not at a job interview. So what not to wear: jeans, fashion clothes (one exception and you’ll get it later). Basically, if it’s something you’d wear to the bar, don’t wear it to the office, even if it makes you look fantastic.

Business Casual

biz cas clothes

Me in a Biz Cas outfit

This one’s very confusing. There’s no definition. So I’m going to reach for the Walt Disney Company’s Disney Look, which, in my humble opinion, epitomizes business cas.

Women have more choices than men. We get to wear pants or skirts. Yay for us. Business casual basically means that jackets are optional. Your top

can be fashionable, but it should have sleeves. Disney doesn’t allow sleeveless unless you wear a jacket over i

t, and I can see why. Skirts and dresses should be at most three inches above the knee. Be careful about the slits at the back of skirts and dresses too. You don’t really want them longer than 5 inches above the middle of the knee. Could look wrong. And pants should be cover your ankle, so unfortanely no clam diggers. Shucks. And don’t wear denim anything. Double Shucks.

biz cas jewelry

Biz Cas Jewelry

As for accessories, try to keep them modest. Disney allows two necklaces, two bracelets, and rings, but earrings have to be simple, one per ear, and smaller than a quarter. Personally, I love big jewelry. Give me big earings and long necklaces, please. Still, being modest is good. Conservative, better. Use your judgement, but when in doubt, downsize. Fingernails should be kept well groomed and in traditional colors. Bright green is awesome, but it doesn’t fit in with most business scenarios. Shoes should be closed toed or closed healed, or a normal pump or flat. Your tennies might be comfy but they probably wont work.

Men have it easier in someways. I’ll skip Disney’s facial hair guidelines. Gentlemen, just try to be well-groomed. You should wear slacks and tuck in your shirts, excepting some sweaters. Button-ups are a constant, but you don’t need the tie. I’ve seen men wear polos, but I’d recommend against them unless you are comfortable in the environment. They are a bit informal for Bis. Cas. As for male jewelry, it’s generally advisable not to wear a necklace. No Bling. Sorry. Keep everything else modest, just like the ladies. And try to stear clear away from earings. They fall under Bling. This is one time it’s nice to be a girl. Yay!

Business Professional

biz professional suit

Me in a professional suit

biz professional dress

Me in a professional dress

This one is really, really easy: Wear a Jacket. It’s an automatic upgrade. Works best when the jacket matches the pants, but we’ll go with it. Gentlemen, add a tie. Ladies, have fun with your shirt. If you’re going to wear a jacket, throw on a cute tank in a fun color. No one will even know it’s a classic clubbing shirt, and if you go out for drinks afterward, you don’t need to change (don’t ask me how I know). If you have a really businessy dress, like the one in my second picture, you can get away with that, too. It’s looks like a suit.

And here’s a secret you don’t often hear. Dress up. If they say it’s an informal informational session, wear Biz Cas. If they say that Biz Cas. is the minimum, wear Professional. If they say Professional, wear your best. This shows whoever you’re meeting that you take them very seriously and respect them. That they’re worth your effort to look good.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret behind the dress code. Let me know your experiences and what you think. Makes my research easier for the next post.


3 Responses to "Dress Codes?"

Writing style:
what about
Possibly at a bar, probably not at a job interview
instead of
Probably at a bar, probably not at a job interview
otherwise there are just too many probabilities

Is businessy a word?

As Barney says, Suit Up!

[…] this inner who-you-are to others. That’s the 60 Second Commercial, what you’re wearing, your behavior on Linked In and other social networking sites… The list of things that affect […]

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I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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