What is Office Fashion Etiquette?


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What is Office Fashion Etiquette?  Always a tricky one this; and what would now appear to have quite blurred lines in terms of what’s acceptable and what’s not in dress codes.

There’s no doubting the fact that globally, unless you work in professional services (banking and legal sectors for example) dress codes have become more relaxed, but just how relaxed is actually acceptable?

The thing is; first impressions count and these are largely based on what we can see. Within 3 seconds someone decides whether they like the look of you and want to engage in conversation with you etc. Clothes and image communicate messages. Every item we wear is an expression of who we are and what we do. Are you memorable for the right reasons? That old saying “dress for the job you want and not the job you’ve got”, is actually very meaningful.

So always ask yourself, is your image congruent with your message?

So what is office fashion etiquette?

Well firstly, it largely depends on the industry you work in.

I offer you 4 categories:

  1. Formal business
  2. Business casual
  3. Smart casual
  4. Casual

Any industry which has a direct link to finance is likely to be more business formal.

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For the gents:

  • Dark business suits (black, navy, grey)
  • White or pastel coloured shirts
  • Plain or foulard ties
  • Black leather goods

For the ladies:

  • Dark business suits (darker authority colours such as black, navy, grey, burgundy, plum, dark purple etc)
  • Jacket/trousers or Jacket/skirt.
  • Structured dress and jacket
  • Heeled court shoes
  • Non-distracting jewellery

More creative industries will likely favour a more business casual approach.    Business casual introduces the concept of ‘separates’, less matchy matchy and more interesting use colour, texture and print.

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For the gents:

  • Plain or patterned blazer (herringbone, dog tooth, tweed)
  • Chinos, dark coloured smart jeans
  • Fashion shirts – darker coloured or patterned shirt which could be worn with or without a tie.

For the Ladies:

  • Structured dress + jacket
  • Suits which could be split (non-matching jacket and trousers).
  • More fashion accessories – jewellery, scarves, coloured tights, shoes

Authentic Leadership is about ensuring you look the part, dress for who you are, your audience and your product or service.

If you are ever in doubt, most companies have a dress code policy.

A few points to ponder:

  • Aim for professional and not fashionable (unless you work in the fashion or media industries)
  • Jackets are more formal than cardigans
  • Ladies – always wear makeup
  • Avoid visual distractions e.g. noisy bracelets, visible underwear, too much flesh!
  • No exposed toes (sandals) in business
  • Don’t let poor grooming sabotage your impact
    • Ensure your hair is clean, and tidy.
    • Nails are manicured
    • Shoes are polished

Finally the communication zone (your cameo area) sets the tone of your message.   Your hair, face, neck and shoulders all fall into this zone. Set a positive statement in this communication zone and it will retain the interest of your audience.   It’s better to be looked at, than overlooked!

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(image credit : The Bespoke Club)

The Bespoke Club is the new Accessible Luxury tailoring home for both men & ladies.

The Bespoke Club first flagship store is now open at Suntec City Mall, Singapore (Mall entrance between Tower 1 & 2).  Please call +65 6734 4167 / 6734 4629 for an appointment.

You can learn more about The Bespoke Club HERE


About Author

I live in Singapore and I am an advocate of living a healthy lifestyle through exercise; eating right; keeping a positive and youthful outlook of life; and, to live vicariously while you can. When I am not working, I am catching up on the latest news and entertainment gossip. I firmly believes that empowerment is possible for anyone, as long as they believe in themselves and the people around them.

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