“Business Professional” attire usually follows the most straightforward guidelines, almost always meaning a suit made up of a skirt and blazer, or pants and blazer. Some offices may request or prefer skirt suits, which may be considered more professional. These skirts should be around or below the knee. Regardless of skirt or pant, suits should be in muted colors—such as tan, black, or grey—with very little pattern. Dresses should also be in subdued colors, and have no revealing neckline or short sleeves.
The guidelines for “Business Casual” are more muddled, and the general attire often varies depending on the office space. However, generally business casual wardrobes are more colorful, allowing more opportunities to wear mixed blazers or cardigans with skirts and slacks. Business casual does not mean jeans, t-shirts, sandals, or sneakers. Shoes should normally consist of low, closed-toed heels or flats, as with business professional wear.
In regards to accessories, hair and nails should be kept short and neat, with makeup and jewelry light and classy. Avoid heavy perfume and excessive bows or colorful garnishes.
Keep in mind that “casual” and “professional” are relative terms. In one office, the environment for business professional might mean a pant or skirt suit, while in another office it might mean formal skirts or dresses, or mixed suits and blazers. In a new job, it can be wise to begin by dressing more conservatively while observing the attire of those working around you, in order to get a better feel for the company’s expectations. All the same, it is always better to be dressed slightly more formally than less formally.
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