Professional Dress Codes

Businessman dressed professionally in a suit

The most formal work enviroments require professional dress codes. Not only should you follow your company's dress code policy, but there are several things to avoid when dressing professionally as well.

About Professional Dress Codes

The most formal of all office dress codes is a professional dress code. While many companies are turning to a more relaxed, casual work environment, there are many who still enforce a professional dress code. Depending on your particular employer and field, a professional policy may still exist. Take cues from your boss or other co-workers if you are unsure of the dress code at your place of employment. If you see everyone in suits and ties, then you know that you will be in a professional setting and to dress accordingly.

A professional dress code demands professional attire. To dress professionally, be conservative and keep in mind a few simple things:

  • Always wear a suit and tie.
  • Wear a white or solid colored dress shirt.
  • Conservative shoes in black or brown are a must. A matching belt is also important.
  • Wear dark socks with your shoes. Be sure that your shoes are clean and polished.
  • Keep a well-groomed appearance from head to toe.

The Suit

The basic piece of a professional wardrobe is your suit. A dress code that is professional requires a conservative suit. Preferred suit colors are:

  • Black
  • Navy
  • Grey

Try to avoid anything too flashy or extreme. Pinstripes are fine as long as they are tasteful and look professional. This type of business environment is not usually the place to try out the latest trends.

Dress Shirts

A good dress shirt is a must to go with your suit. A long-sleeve dress shirt is more professional than short sleeve. Keep your dress shirt basic. You can never go wrong with a crisp white shirt. Solid colors such as tan or blue are also acceptable as well as pale pinstripes. Avoid anything bright or bold. A tie is a must with your dress shirt. Choose one that complements your suit and shirt.

What to Avoid

There are several things to avoid when dressing professionally. These include:

  • Short sleeve shirts
  • T-Shirts
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Sneakers
  • Hats
  • Anything wrinkled, dirty or torn


There are many corporate work environments that enforce a professional dress code. Each employer has their own policies and will have different requirements when it comes to dress codes. Some careers in professional settings include:

  • Finance
  • Legal
  • Banking
  • Sales

It is also best to dress in a professional manner for interviews or business meetings. Remember that it's important to make a good first impression and the image you project will often be one that employers or clients will not forget. Clothes can say a lot about a person and if you dress professionally and have a polished look at a meeting or interview, it can indicate that you take the job seriously and understand the industry.

Where to Shop

Professional attire can be found in major department and men's specialty stores. In addition, there are endless options available online such as:

When shopping for a work wardrobe, be sure that your suit fits you properly. A well-fitted suit makes you look polished and professional. If you need alterations, go to a reputable tailor to get a custom fit. Often times, the store will offer alterations at the time of purchase.

Other Considerations

Not only does a professional dress environment require clothes that are conservative and business oriented, but it also requires additional grooming to be aware of. Some other things to consider:

  • Limit the amount of jewelry you wear. Most professional dress codes accept a ring and watch, but discourage earrings and flashy jewelry.
  • If possible, keep tattoos covered under your clothing.
  • Always keep your hair neat and tidy.
  • Be clean cut and well groomed.
  • Avoid overusing cologne or body sprays.

Most importantly, when dressing professionally, think of your whole look and be aware of any requirements that your employer may have regarding dress attire. Each company's dress code is different and it is always best to be aware of your particular company's policy.

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Professional Dress Codes