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Breaking Down the Categories of Business Attire

Professional dress codes can be tricky. You have to find the perfect balance between comfortable, stylish and appropriate. It’s also difficult when you’re interviewing and trying to find an outfit that will not make your interviewer give you weird looks. 

 

In this article, I’m going to break down what three dress codes mean and what outfits you could wear under those categories. 

 

Casual 

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A casual dress code means that you’re allowed to wear comfortable and informal clothes to work. This is the most relaxed out of the three. Casual dress is more of a modern thing with lots of startups and “millennial” companies adopting this style of dress code. Now, just because it’s casual doesn’t mean you can dress sloppy. Sweatpants, pajamas, and workout clothes aren’t supposed to be worn under this dress code, but again, every employer is different. Casual items would be things like jeans, t-shirts, sweaters and leggings. 

 

Under this search on Pinterest, there’s a few outfits that seem popular. Jeans and a t-shirt seem most common. People are making them professional by adding a stylish blazer or overcoat. Sneakers like Vans or Nike Air Force One’s are what people are wearing for footwear. Another outfit option is wearing a colored chino pant with a t-shirt or casual top. Loafers or mules are popular under this tag too. 

 

Business Casual 

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Business casual combines elements of casual style and professional attire. There’s no clear definition but I’d say it’s wearing more comfortable professional clothes. When I go to interviews, I usually dress in this style since it’s professional but not too professional. Types of clothing that would fit under this code would be button down tops, khaki/chino pants (or something similar) and blouses. Jeans and t-shirts are a big no-no for this dress code. This is also where skirts and dresses can be worn. 

 

After doing a Pinterest search, there are several patterns I’m seeing. I see lots of outfits with pencil skirts, sheath dresses and slacks. I’m also not seeing a blazer as much as I did for the casual dress code. Wearing a pair of slacks or paperbag pants with a solid blouse is a popular outfit choice. You could also wear a blouse that has some ruffled or bell sleeves. As for skirts, a pencil skirt that’s knee length with a blouse tucked in seems like a good option. Dresses with sleeves are good too but most pins have them either plain or with a blazer. 

 

Business Professional

This is the most proper of the dress codes. Business professional is a dress code where outfits are based around a blazer and professional bottoms. I’d say that a blazer or suit of some sort is necessary for this kind of dress code. 

 

In Pinterest, this search has a lot of the same outfits. Blazers and suits are popular outfit options. Button up tops are a good option to go under your suit. If you decide to wear a skirt, a pencil skirt is what shows up the most under the search. For dresses, most outfits have a sheath dress that has thick straps or sleeves. For both the skirt and dress the length is past the knees. For shoes, most pins show heels of some sort. 

 

There you go collegiettes, a helpful guide to professional dress codes and some outfit ideas. Search these dress codes on Pinterest if you want more ideas! 

Hannah Nelson is a senior at Penn State University, double majoring in Print/Digital Journalism and History. She enjoys Marvel movies, anything Harry Potter, books, quoting Vines and watching Tik Toks. In her free time, she is probably watching Try Guys videos on YouTube. She is passionate about mental health, women's rights and the Black Lives Matter movement.
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