Dress for success –
Stylish outfits to avoid wardrobe malfunctions in the office
Respectable clothing helps to indicate interest, a serious attitude to business and an appreciation for business partners and colleagues. The choice of clothing also influences personal attitudes. A study conducted in the USA in 2007 found that employees feel more competent and productive in a conventional suit. However, they feel friendlier when they come to the office in informal attire.
Clothing not only serves the practical purpose of protecting us from the cold and sun, but has also long been a means of non-verbal communication. It provides an indication of status and group membership and marks special milestones in life. The same applies for our professional lives. It is important to always consider the signals you wish to send out with an outfit.
Generally speaking, if you are unsure about what to wear, it is always best to opt for a smarter outfit. If an employee dresses down for a meeting with a customer, they will always find themselves worse off than an employee who arrives at the meeting in smart attire. Absolute no-nos in the office and during business meetings include open shoes and revealing outfits. Miniskirts, low-cut tops, sandals, flip-flips and shorts are therefore also unacceptable in the office during the summer. One further tip for women: be sure to wear tights – even in warmer weather.
Different occasions call for different attire. EINS C outlines the three most important dress codes:
1. Business formal
For men, this means a two or three-piece suit in black or anthracite, a classic shirt and smooth leather shoes with a matching belt. Pinstripe suits, colourful ties and striped shirts are acceptable, too. Never wear more than two different patterns at once though. A white shirt is always a sure bet, though pastel colours are also okay. The same applies for women: wear a dark suit with a skirt or trousers and blouse and shoes with a heel no higher than 6 cm. NB: skirts should be at least knee length!
2. Business casual
The name says it all: Dress a little more casually, but do not forget that you are still in a business environment. Men can opt for a coloured button-down shirt for business brunches or relaxed receptions. Polo shirts, fine-knit pullovers and linen trousers are also acceptable. Pair with loafers or slip-on shoes. There is no need to wear a tie. Women can opt for a smart blouse, skirt or cotton trousers, pullover and pumps, as desired. However, be sure to avoid patterns that are overly flamboyant!
Smart casual attire is meant here. This means pressed cloth trousers, a polo shirt and a jacket. An open shirt (never more than two buttons undone!) and a pullover are also ok. In more relaxed settings, dark jeans are acceptable, too. Women can opt for polo shirts, blouses, skirts and dresses, as desired.