How to understand dress codes depends on many factors. Country, region, culture, and industry affiliation all play a big role. What is expected in Japan does not necessarily apply in London. You dress differently in an advertising agency than in a bank. Throughout Europe, business looks have been subdivided into “Business Wear”, “Business Casual“, “Smart Casual” and simply “Casual”. Of course, there are many shades, smooth transitions and also gray areas.
And that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to choose the right clothes for the office.
When we meet new people, we pay little attention to what they say to make a first impression. We devote most of our attention to appearances. That’s why the outfit is particularly important for job interviews. In addition to the right manners, correct clothing is also required on the job to climb the career ladder. If you bring out the best in your outfits, employers, recruiters, and even customers are more likely to take notice of you.
Because the right clothing plays such an important role on the job, we have created this business etiquette guide for you.
Even if the occasion always determines what is allowed and what is not, the following overarching style recommendations can be made for men.
For classic business wear, there is a clear rule of thumb: the higher the position within a hierarchy, the darker the colors worn. By the way, it is the same with festive occasions. The more solemn the event, the darker and colder the colors.
The classic business outfit for men consists of suit with tie.
At high temperatures, attention should be paid to the quality of the fabric. Finally, no one needs to sweat in a suit made of high quality virgin wool. Pay attention to the correct leg length of the suit pants. This is optimal when the hem of the pants is about 0.5 to 1.0 cm above the top of the shoe heel when standing up. The socks should be long enough to avoid looking down the leg – even when seated!
No-go’s for business wear
Please keep your hands off large-patterned jackets, tennis socks, expired shoes, colorful comic-style stockings and too much jewelry – please wear no more than one ring, one men’s watch and one tie pin.
Business casual look for men
For more informal occasions such as a business brunch or casual reception, as well as business trips, business meetings without an official appointment, casual company meetings outside the office, possibly a dinner with the boss and on the so-called Casual Friday it is more casual than in everyday life, but not too casual.
Total casual look is not appropriate here either. After all, it is still a meeting in a business context. For men, therefore, it is more appropriate to wear (single) colored shirts, preferably with button-down collars instead of shark collars, and sometimes polo shirts or fine knitted sweaters with flannel or linen trousers for a change. Always pay attention to discreet, restrained colors. The tie can stay in the closet.
Men can also wear loafers or loafers on their feet – this is not a break in style with the business casual look.
Business casual is the dress code variant with the least leeway of all casual outfits. The good thing is that this business look for men also offers the smallest potential for putting a foot in it, due to the restrictions on creative possibilities!
No-go’s for the business casual look
“No jeans, no tie” is the motto for men here. The jeans remain in the cupboard, on tie can be renounced – likewise on striking patterns and colors.
You should know these shirt collar styles
Smart casual look
Smart casual loosens up the business casual dress code, but is still to be seen as a business outfit!!!
This look requires special sensitivity: It is on the border between elegant and casual. The challenge lies in appearing attractive and serious without being over- or underdressed It’s a matter of demonstrating good intuition in order to be appropriately dressed.
Occasions for the smart casual business look include casual business dinners, company parties, and possibly private, less formal appointments. Consider this look best as a casual business outfit and wear a day suit accordingly, but leave the tie off.
No-go’s for smart casual
This is where opinions differ. It is clear that sneakers, hiking boots, open-toed shoes, moccasins and biker boots are out of the question. Instead of a shirt, however, high-quality, discreet T-shirts or polo shirts are perfectly acceptable in some companies. If in doubt, ask if you are unsure about your outfit, this is the only way to avoid textile “misunderstandings”.
Casual look for men
Casual in English means as much as: free, comfortable. It is clearly the loosest and therefore the most difficult style among the casual, professional looks. Because where almost everything is allowed, there are also the most opportunities to go wrong. In small, family-run businesses as well as in creative professions, casual is often the normal everyday office look. Especially the latter is hardly surprising, since creativity likes to break with norms and conventions.
That’s why, to a certain extent, it’s even expected here that clothing represents an emphatically eye-catching component of appearance. Some think tanks, for example, like to go for an intellectual all-in-black look – with a black T-shirt or cashmere turtleneck, depending on the season, and then wear sneakers to give a young, dynamic impression.
Everyone else should internalize that this pure casual look represents elegant, upscale casual wear. This does not mean: hole jeans and tennis sock welcome! Rather, men wear, for example, cloth trousers with a jacket and polo shirt. The tie can gladly stay in the closet.
In southern countries like Italy or France, men often ditch the jacket and wear a classy sweater over their shoulders instead. The motto “No brown in town”, which is otherwise common in the business sector, does not apply here. Accordingly, brown shoes or corduroy suits are perfectly compatible with this dress code. Depending on the company, jeans and T-shirts are also allowed for the casual look, as are khakis, polo shirts and blazers.
Tip: It is best to always orientate yourself on your superior and!
No-go’s for the casual look
Don’t wear obviously old, scuffed clothing or dirty shoes. Other don’ts include sandals, sneakers, biker boots, beach wear and shorts, depending on the industry. Especially with the casual look for professional life you should always orientate yourself on colleagues and superiors.