How to Dress in Business Formal Work Attire

The images featured below are great options for a formal business environment, in which the standard dress code for everyone is a suit, a jacket, and pants or a dress skirt. Wearing clean and pressed attire is just as important in maintaining a business formal image.

Also, keep in mind that maintaining a professional image in a formal business environment always includes dressing appropriately for the workplace—revealing too much is unacceptable, as modesty is key.

Your accessories, which range from your jewelry to your perfume to your notebook or briefcase, must also fit a formal business environment and should be worn or carried in good taste. Maintaining a professional image is important when fulfilling the requirements of any dress code, but is especially important when the attire is business formal.

The images below give you a good idea of what a formal dress code looks like and can even offer inspiration for your own business formal clothing choices.

For men, a neat and pressed business suit with a tie is a great option. Perfectly meeting the standards of a business formal dress code, a business suit also projects a professional image that maintains the trust of both co-workers and clients.

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Women's Business Suit

Business woman dressed for a formal work environment is waiting with a computer.
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A business suit is a great option for women, too. Women have the versatility of choosing either a pair of dress slacks or a skirt, with a business suit jacket. As long as your slacks are formal dress pants and look professional, they are acceptable.

You should avoid informal-type pants such as jeans, sweat pants, leggings, spandex, or shorts. If you choose a skirt, it should have a comfortable fit that looks attractive without being too revealing. It's always safe to choose a skirt that hits the knee.

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Men's Business Suit

Formally dressed businessman using mobile phone on a sidewalk.
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This suit looks sharp and projects a professional image that also looks great in the office. 

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Matching as a Team

Four mixed race colleagues model business formal attire
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A team of professionally, formally dressed co-workers certainly does look sharp. Wearing attire that fulfills a company's business formal dress code is necessary for employees because it projects the image of a trustworthy, knowledgeable business person who is ready to serve their clients successfully.

When a company is offering great services and employs hard-working and able people, it's important that their competence is reflected in their dress, as well.

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Business Suit Options

Formally dressed business people show the range of options in formal business attire.
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There are a variety of business suit options for men. Business suits don't necessarily have to be black to look professional. You can express your style in choosing lighter colors, or a unique colored tie, for example, and still look appropriate for a formal business environment.

However, it is important to remember that your clothes should not attract more attention than the work you're doing. That said, it's still possible to express freedom and your personality in your formal business attire and still look sharp. This is a great example of a business suit that isn't your basic black suit​ but is still an appropriate, professional choice.

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Dressing for a Formal Work Environment

Businesswoman in boardroom with colleagues all dressed in business formal clothing.
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Here is a group of co-workers who are still projecting a formal business appearance while employing the use of different colors. Their clothes are perfectly appropriate for a business formal work environment, and still attractive and nice-looking.

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Formal Dress for Women

Smiling businesswoman using laptop in park wearing formal business attire.
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Business formal dress for women can also include a nice, appropriate skirt and an equally formal blouse. When choosing a skirt, make sure that you can sit comfortably in public. Mini skirts, for example, or skirts that are short and tight are inappropriate for the office.

Blouses such as dress shirts, sweaters, button-down tops, and turtlenecks are acceptable as long as they look formal and professional. Casual shirts, such as T-shirts or tank tops, should be avoided. Also, blouses that are too low-cut or reveal your shoulders or back are not suitable for a work environment.

Women should also be mindful of their perfume. Overpowering perfume is not welcome in an office environment. Makeup should look more natural than attention-grabbing. Tasteful accessories, such as jewelry, scarves, or belts, are encouraged as long as they aren't over-the-top and still look professional.

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Looking Like a Team

Hispanic businesspeople dressed in a range of business formal attire options are in a conference room.
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Here is another example of options for a formal business workplace. These people show the range of styles that still comply with a business formal dress code, and they look like a competent, professionally dressed team.

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Building a Wardrobe

Business formal attired office workers having a coffee break.
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A wardrobe that fulfills formal business standards is helpful in ensuring business success. After all, a business person who offers clients and customers a professional service needs to be dressed professionally as well.

A company that needs to project the image of trusted, competent individuals needs its employees to be well-dressed in formal attire. With a professional, formal business ​dress code, everyone will benefit.

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Women Have More Options

Three formally dressed minority managers exhibit professional formal business attire.MichaelDeLeon
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The two men and the woman in this image are wearing formal business attire. Women have more options than men. She is wearing either a skirted suit or a formal pantsuit. Options for formal business attire require suits and ties and dress shoes and belts. 

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Business team wearing business formal work attire and smiling.
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These employees are wearing formal business attire in the office. You can see the variations that are available with the employees still portraying the look of business formal in the workplace.

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Wrapping it Up

A multicultural group of business people wear business formal attire for work.
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This image provides another example of professionally dressed employees who work in an environment that requires formal business attire. While many workplaces now offer employees an environment that allows the wearing of business casual attire, more formal environments still require business formal dress.

These generally are found in industries that must project a formal, trustworthy, yet approachable demeanor. Above all, employees in these workplaces must project the aura of integrity and professionalism. Such industries include banking, investments, some health care providers, and businesses that interact with customers.