Business Clothing Know-How for the International Student

The term ‘business clothing’ can have a variety of meanings in the American culture. Outside of the businesses requiring uniforms, the term ‘business clothing’ has different meanings depending on the environment you are in. Some businesses use ‘professional business attire’, some use ‘business casual’, and some even use ‘casual’. Let’s exploreâÂ?¦.

Every business environment has a ‘dress code’ that needs to be followed. This code can be found in the employee manual. If your company does not have an Employee Manual, simply ask your supervisor. Your supervisor will probably tell you what they consider proper business clothing.

The strictest (and most conservative) dress code is that of the ‘professional business attire’. Proper business attire for women would be suits, pant suits, blouses, pants, skirts, sweaters, socks, pantyhose, and shoes. For men, proper business attire would be suits, sweaters, shirts, ties, pants, socks, shoes. Picture a well-dressed business person in their dark blue suit and white shirt. This is considered ‘professional business attire’. It is considered the most rigid and nonflexible of the business clothing styles. Whenever in doubt, on your first day, dress conservatively. You can’t go wrong that way.

The step down from the ‘business attire’ approach is found in the ‘business casual’ clothing environment. The is a combination of both ‘business attire’ and casual. It usually means business slacks/pants and blouse/shirt. Women can wear culottes (half skirt, half short), golf shorts, etc. Socks and shoes are included in the outfit. ‘Business casual’ clothing does not include sweatshirts, torn t-shirts, sandals, halter tops, tube tops, etc. This business clothing style is considered in-between strict and lenient.

The most lenient business clothing style is that known as ‘casual’. Basically, this means that there is no dress code other than that involving common sense. Still, it needs to be stated in the Employee Manual. Casual business clothing can mean jeans, sweatshirts, tank tops, and t-shirts. Items not included in this category include those involving excessive skin exposure. Halter tops, short shorts, very low cut pants, flip flopsâÂ?¦are usually prohibited. Clothing that would distract your fellow workers falls under this category.

Many businesses have what is known as ‘Casual Fridays’. This means that Friday is set aside for the employees to wear what they want, within reason. The rest of the week they have either ‘professional business attire’ or ‘business casual’, as mentioned above. Many companies set aside Friday as the day when there is no interaction with the public. That is the reasoning behind the Casual Fridays. Your supervisor will give you guidelines.

Ask your fellow workers about the dress code if you are still confused. If possible, ask your supervisor. And, if that fails to give you answers. Simply look around you. How are others dressed? Follow the crowd, while maintaining your individual style. Good luck!

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