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Business Casual Vs. Business Formal

April 22nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

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From the WSJ.

Via SavvySugar.

If you work in a corporate environment, it’s just as important to get business casual right as it is to nail traditional business dress. Maybe more important: Savvy corporate politicians know that casual days are the times when their appearance will be most closely watched.

“People actually judge more on those days because they assume they’re seeing the real person,” says Jonscott Turco, a New York psychologist and human resource-consultant.

Traditional business dress is seen as a uniform; it does for the office what uniforms do for prep schools. It simplifies decision-making and makes hierarchies easy to read. We all want to identify the upperclassmen when we step into the elevator.

When the uniform is put aside, people feel free to set aside the power signals and express their style sense. But they often fail to recognize that, just as in high school, they’re still being judged. It’s human nature to respond to visual cues. Bell-bottomed pants may be back, says Ms. Kan, but “the best dressers resist the urge to wear them, because clients balk when you show up looking like Charo.”

Creative expression aside, there are few upsides to the business-casual trend for workers. Think it saves money on expensive suits? If only. Since different offices interpret it differently, moving from company to company can mean acquiring a new business-casual wardrobe at each career stop.

Related posts:

  1. Ask Brian- Can Formal Be Too Formal?
  2. Going Topless At Business Meetings A Good Idea For Productivity?

Tags: Getting Ahead

  • Dee

    Figuring out what is or isn’t appropriate has been difficult for me since between my generation (just graduated college) and that of the bosses or older people I may be working with there are several taste differences in clothing. For example, my mother frowns on women who don’t wear pantyhose; I never wear any and I don’t really see it as inappropriate not to, nor do friends and other people around my age.

    Basically, what people my age think is fine may startle older people.

  • Patricia Robb

    Well I’m probably in your parent’s age group and I hate pantyhose and can’t wait for the good weather to arrive so I don’t have to wear them anymore. But I know what you mean. What is appropriate for one person, may not be for another. That is why it is important for your company to have an office policy on what they expect and what they will and will not accept in office wear. We may not agree on everything in it, but at least there is a standard we can go by.