Navigating Business Attire

Hey Style Prose readers! I know it's been a while since I've made a post, but I had to take a brief hiatus from the online world and focus on the real world. As some of you may or may not know, I recently moved to California for business school, so these past few weeks have been busy to say the least. However, I'm loving it here and definitely see myself living here for the long term. But enough about me, let's talk about what you really came here for - navigating business attire. From my undergraduate experience to now a grad student, I am definitely familiar with suits, skirts, blouses and everything in between. I've had to attend numerous events that required a certain business dress code, and it was (and still is), difficult to navigate what is appropriate to wear in business settings. I'm not an expert by any means (I don't think anybody is really), but I decided that it would be helpful to share how I personally navigate various business attires. The videos I've seen and articles I've read online often make me more confused, so for those who want a simple and short explanation of the differences among business formal, business professional and business casual, keep on reading!


Before I go into detail about the various business wear, I want to preface this entire blog post by saying, if you put on something and have any doubt or hesitation in your mind about whether or not your attire is appropriate, then do NOT wear it. It's better to be safe than sorry. The truth of the matter is, the business world is still very conservative, so it's better to stick with what you know, rather than trying something new. People are going to form their initial impression of you based on what you're wearing, so make it count! Of course your personality plays a role, but if you don't look the part, then you are already starting off on the wrong foot. First impressions matter! 

Business Formal

This is the most conservative of all of the business wear. The word 'formal' is key here. Ladies, I would not play around with flashy or statement jewelry pieces, and I would definitely stay away from open-toed shoes. Fellas, keep your tie and suit colors simple. Essentially, business formal = clean cut conservative style. You can't go wrong with a suit in this case. Typically business formal is for special occasions, not daily office wear. You are dressing to impress! 

Business Professional 

Business professional is more of your everyday, distinguished business attire. Since this type of business wear is more flexible, then you can play around with more statement pieces and colors here. I would still keep it pretty conservative, but a lil somethin' somethin' is okay.  Again, a suit is a great option, but this time you have more versatility. Ladies, feel free to wear a skirt or pant suit, and fellas,  a blazer or suit jacket with a button-down, pants and dress shoes will suffice. Business professional = daily distinguished business style. 

Business Casual 

Last but not least, is business casual, the least conservative of all the business attire. No suits required! You can show your individuality and personality here, as the environment is a lot more relaxed and comfortable. If you were hesitant to explore your favorite statement jewelry, ties and shoes in business professional, then feel free to explore them in business casual. Don't get carried away though and get this confused with overall casual wear. No jeans and t-shirts allowed! Nice blouses, button downs, slacks, pants, shoes, etc. would work. No need for a blazer or suit jacket. Business casual = comfy and relaxed business style.

I hope the next time you have to attend a business function, you'll refer to this post and be a little less stressed about what to wear. I tried to make this as gender neutral as possible so that it can apply to both men and women. Leave a comment and let me know if it was helpful. Remember that sharing is caring! If you have any additional tips please don't hesitate to share. Until next time.