Five Ways to Dress the Part of a Business Professional

Joe Weinlick
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For business professionals, attire is a crucial element. Your colleagues and contacts will automatically draw conclusions about you based on your appearance and business professional attire. By paying attention to the way you dress, you can send the right message and make it easier for colleagues to take you seriously.

As you are choosing clothing, the best place to start is your company's business professional dress code. Usually, it will be located in the company manual. The dress code will tell you what the company deems acceptable; it can help you learn about whether or not you should wear jeans to work, cover up visible tattoos, or take out body piercings, for example. For questions that are not covered in the manual, seek the opinion of an HR professional or a mentor within the company. 

The most important part of dressing like a professional is the state of your clothing. Whether you work in a creative setting or a traditional corporate office, your business professional attire should always be neat. Iron or steam your clothing to ensure it is wrinkle free. Avoid wearing anything with holes, frayed edges, or faded areas. Even in a casual office, your clothes should be pressed and in good condition.

When it comes to dressing like a business professional, modesty is key. Women should avoid showing off too much cleavage or too much leg, and men should avoid wearing clothing that is too tight. By wearing business professional attire that doesn't draw undue attention to your body, you can keep the focus on your work. The exception is the fashion industry—where professionals can get away with more dramatic outfits.

Many offices offer employees a break from traditional business professional attire with casual Friday. Avoid the temptation to go overly casual on these days—do not take it as an invitation to break out your weekend apparel. Instead, observe the way your superiors dress on casual days and follow their lead. CNN advises that you stay away from flip-flops, which are too unprofessional for any office. As with any other day, choose clothing that is clean, wrinkle free, and modest.

To avoid looking like a clone of everyone else in the office, put your own spin on business professional dress. Add a funky necklace to spice up a classic suit, or wear a brightly colored shirt. InStyle magazine suggests emulating fashion icon Victoria Beckham by pairing a simple sweater with a fashion-forward skirt. Male professionals might accessorize with a classic watch or a patterned bow tie. The items you choose to accessorize your business professional attire should add pops of color and style without taking away from your overall professional appearance.

Gathering a collection of appropriate business professional attire takes time and money, but the returns are valuable. The way you dress can help you give excellent first impressions and assist in creating a positive image in the office.



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