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Business Casual Tips

Defining Your Business Presence:
Today’s Business Attire

The Three Levels of Business Attire: Sherry Maysonave has coached executives and corporations in achieving excellence in communication and image for twenty years. Sherry is an accomplished motivational speaker and the most widely quoted expert in the U.S. regarding "empowering business attire", including business casual.

In her book, Casual Power, Sherry defines three levels of "business attire", one of which is "business casual". Sherry was the first to break down "casual attire" into different categories and provide a guide to men and women as to which of these are appropriate and empowering in business.

Business is a game
Are you familiar with the three levels of business attire that win on today’s playing field? Do you know which levels of "casual attire" are appropriate for business?

Traditional or Formal Business Attire
Traditional business attire includes business suits, dress shirts, and ties for men. It includes business-oriented suits for women, both skirted suits and tailored pantsuits. Leather shoes (closed-toe/closed heel), socks and/or hosiery are also a requirement for any outfit to qualify for traditional business attire.

Business formal is a subset of traditional business attire, yet, it has specific requirements just one step down from tuxedos, such as dark tailored suits for men and women. Business formal standards dictate that women wear skirted suits, hosiery, and closed-toe/closed heel pumps. Men should wear white shirts (French cuff styles), cuff links, silk ties, and pocket squares (silk or linen) to fully qualify for business formal attire. If you receive an invitation requesting business formal attire, dress in this standard. This level of dress is often requested for Award dinners, political events, and a variety of dressy evening business occasions that are not black-tie.

General Business Attire
The General Business attire category is a mere mini step away from the Traditional Business classification. For men, this category still demands a tie and it’s still worn with a dress shirt. However instead of a suit, this category includes a tailored sport coat worn with dress trousers.

For women, this category can look numerous ways. It includes tailored pantsuits, businesslike dresses, and coordinated dressy separates. When wearing separates, tailored jackets are required.

Business Casual
While ties are usually not required for men, high-level business casual includes suits worn with dressy sport shirts or fine-gauge knits and tailored separates, such as dress trousers, dressy collared sport shirts that do not require a tie, fine knit shirts and sweaters, as well as sport coats. Low-level business casual includes khakis, chinos, and knit golf shirts. To command respect, wear all-leather belts and shoes; sandals and sneakers do meet a true business casual standard.

For women, business casual includes pantsuits, tailored separates, such as skirts, slacks, blouses, sweaters, sweater sets, and jackets. A complete accessorized look is encouraged, including closed-toe/closed heel shoes or slingbacks to maximize the businesslike aspect.

Success Tips

Defining Your Business Presence
  Today’s Business Attire
Demystifying Business Casual
Power Colors
Pants in the Workplace
Jeans in the Workplace
Professional Demeanor
Inspiring Trust
Success FAQ's

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Also Available:
Casual Power, The definitive guidebook on how to project a positive image when dressed up or down for business.

I have a high school reunion to attend and am very confused on what to wear. The invitation stated "business dressy"...

On the whole, I agree with you that it’s better to be a bit overdressed than to be underdressed. Nonetheless, it’s always best to “dress up” within the range suggested on the invitation...

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