How to Dress Business Formal in a Professional Workplace

Sample Business Formal Dress Code to Help You Develop Your Dress Code

Group of business people dressed in formal business attire.
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Sample Business Formal Professional Dress Code Policy

Your Company's objective in establishing a formal work dress code is to enable our employees to project the professional image that is in keeping with the needs of our clients and customers to trust us and have faith in our competence.

Because our industry requires the appearance of trusted business professionals and we serve clients at our office site on a daily basis, a more formal dress code is necessary for our employees. (See relevant pictures of the proper professional attire in a business formal dress environment.)

You must project the image of a trustworthy, knowledgeable business professional for the clients who seek our guidance, input, and professional services. Therefore, our formal business attire guidelines support the successful relationships we hope to maintain and enhance with our valued clients. This dress code tells you what you need to know to dress professionally in our business formal office environment.

Formal Dress Code Guidelines

In a formal business environment, the standard of dressing for men and women is a suit, a jacket, and pants or a skirt, or a dress paired with appropriate accessories.

Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, your chest, your feet, your stomach or your underwear is not appropriate for a place of business. In our work environment, clothing should be pressed and never wrinkled. Torn, dirty, or frayed clothing is unacceptable. All seams must be finished. Any clothing that has words, terms, or pictures that may be offensive to other employees and customers is unacceptable.

Dress Code for Informal Dress Down Days

Certain days can be declared dress down days, generally Fridays. On these days, business casual clothing, although never clothing potentially offensive to others, is allowed. Clothing that has the company logo is encouraged.

Sports team, university, and fashion brand names on clothing are generally acceptable. But, we discourage you from wearing clothing that is affiliated with religious, potentially controversial, or political organizations because of its divisive nature. Our business formal professional dress code must contribute to workplace harmony. Employee dress down day is not an exception to this general rule.

You might want to keep a jacket in your office for the days when a client unexpectedly appears on a dress down day, especially if the client shows up wearing a suit.

Formal Business Attire Requirements

This is an overview of appropriate formal business attire. The lists tell you what is generally accepted as formal business attire and what is generally not acceptable as formal business attire.

No dress code can cover all contingencies so employees must exert a certain amount of judgment in their choice of clothing to wear to work. If you experience an uncertainty about acceptable, professional formal business attire for work, please ask your manager or speak to your Human Resources staff.

Slacks, Pants, and Suit Pants

Slacks that are similar to Dockers and other makers of cotton or synthetic material pants, wool pants, flannel pants, pants that match a suit jacket, and nice-looking dress synthetic pants are acceptable in a business formal work environment.

Inappropriate slacks or pants include any that are too informal. This includes jeans, sweatpants, exercise pants, Bermuda shorts, short shorts, shorts, bib overalls, leggings, and any spandex or other form-fitting pants such as people wear for exercise or biking. (These are not allowed as a professional dress on dress down day either.)

Skirts, Dresses, and Skirted Suits

Dresses, skirts, skirts with jackets, dressy two-piece knit suits or sets, and skirts that are split at or below the knee are acceptable. Dress and skirt length should be at a length at which you can sit comfortably in public.

Short, tight skirts that ride halfway up the thigh are inappropriate for work. Mini-skirts, skorts, sundresses, beach dresses, and spaghetti-strap dresses are inappropriate to wear when dressing professionally for the office.

Shirts, Tops, Blouses, and Jackets

Shirts, dress shirts, sweaters, tops, and turtlenecks are acceptable attire for work if they contribute to the appearance of formal, professional dress. Most suit jackets or sports coats are also desirable professional dress for the office.

Inappropriate attire for a professional workplace includes tank tops; midriff tops; shirts with potentially offensive words, terms, logos, pictures, cartoons, or slogans; halter-tops; tops with bare shoulders or plunging necklines; golf-type shirts; sweatshirts; and t-shirts.

Shoes and Footwear

Conservative walking shoes, dress shoes, oxfords, loafers, boots, flats, dress heels, and backless shoes are acceptable for work. Not wearing stockings or socks is inappropriate. Athletic shoes, tennis shoes, thongs, flip-flops, slippers, and any casual shoe with an open toe are not acceptable in the office.

Accessories and Jewelry

Tasteful, professional ties, scarves, belts, and jewelry are encouraged. Jewelry should be worn in good taste, with limited visible body piercing.

Makeup, Perfume, and Cologne

A professional appearance is encouraged and excessive makeup is unprofessional. Remember that some employees are allergic to the chemicals in perfumes and makeup, so wear these substances with restraint.

Hats and Head Covering

Hats are not appropriate in the office. Head Covers that are required for religious purposes or to honor cultural tradition are allowed.

Consequences of Failing to Follow the Business Formal Dress Code Policy

If clothing fails to meet these standards, as determined by the employee's manager and Human Resources staff, the employee will be asked not to wear the inappropriate item to work again.

If the problem persists, the employee may be sent home to change clothes and will receive a verbal warning for the first offense. All other policies about personal time use will apply. Progressive disciplinary action will be applied if dress code violations continue.

As with any other policy, you will want to run this formal dress code by your employment law attorney before distributing the policy to your employees. You will also want to ascertain that this formal business attire is the most appropriate work dress code for your work environment.

Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.