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Business Professional vs Business Casual 101 for Men

Tips for Men on How to Dress for the Occasion

When preparing for an interview, it is important to know the environment in which you could possibly be working. Whether it is a business casual position or a corporate setting, you need to put some thought into what you are going to wear. According to a survey of 2,000 employers, statistics show that 33% of interviewers know whether or not they will hire someone within the first 90 seconds of meeting them. Knowing the difference between business attire and business casual can be quite tricky; here are some tips on what to wear for each interview that will guarantee you are dressed for success.

- Research the company’s culture. The internet is your friend. Check out their website or social media to see if they have videos of their staff and what they were wearing. If you are interviewing for a corporate position such as a banker or human resources manager, dressing in business professional attire is definitely the way to go. However, if your interview is for a tech start-up company or construction position, feel free to wear business casual.

- Interview Etiquette. When preparing for any interview, ensure your clothes are pressed and free of wrinkles, rips, and stains, your teeth are brushed and odor-free, and you are wearing little to no cologne. Also, your hair should be neatly maintained and your facial hair should be trimmed and clean. Carrying a portfolio or briefcase with your resume, pens, and a notepad is always a good idea; it shows you are well prepared and organized.

Business attire. When you know you need to wear business attire to your interview, picking the right colors and combination can be overwhelming. The best thing to do is stick to the basics. For men, navy blue is the safest color to wear followed by grey then black. A suit is an absolute must, as well as a tie. Suits with a pattern such as pinpoint or needle head is acceptable, but if you are not sure on how to pull it off, solid colors are highly recommended. Both two-piece and three-piece suits are acceptable to wear. Avoid wearing chinos with a blazer. Your pants or trousers should be neatly pressed and matching your suit jacket. White or light blue solid color long-sleeve dress shirts is the best option. You can also wear striped shirts, as long as it is tasteful. Bright colored shirts or loud patterns are not recommended and are too distracting. Your necktie is where you can express yourself and add some contrast to your suit. If you are wearing a solid colored suit, red, blue, and burgundy printed or striped silk ties are more favorable; however, you can try out other colors such as purple and green. If you are in a striped suit, try wearing a solid knit tie to add some uniqueness and style to your attire. Feel free to add simple cuff links and a clean and neatly folded handkerchief matching your tie as accessories. Most likely your socks will show when sitting down, so avoid wearing any old socks. Dark colored dress socks that match your suit or tie are your best bet. To complete the look, freshly polished dress shoes, free of wrinkles and cracks, are the way to go. Black is the most common color shoe to wear but you can spice it up by wearing a dark brown as well.

Business casual attire. Figuring out what to wear when the dress code is business casual can be complicated. Business casual can mean so many different things that vary per company. However, here’s some foolproof advice that works for any company that requires a more casual approach. First bit of advice: do not wear a suit. Dress slacks, chinos, or khakis will be more than suffice and it’s recommended to have a professional appearance without being over-the-top. Long sleeve button down shirts are still the preferred option but the colors are more flexible. Avoid wearing extravagant colors that are distracting. Polo and knit shirts with collars are also acceptable, as long as they are worn under a cardigan or sweater. Short sleeves, round and V-necks, and graphic t-shirts are not acceptable. The key is to still be professional but more comfortable. Although a tie is not required when attending a business casual interview, a belt is. Your shirt must be tucked in and a dark colored leather belt is essential to appear neat. Your belt should match the color of your polished leather dress shoes. Dress socks are still required and visible when sitting down so be mindful of their color and appearance. Remember, quality is everything.

Smart casual attire. Business professional and business casual attire can be tricky to decipher. If you are unsure of what type of interview you will be attending and the internet is not giving you the answer, feel free to wear a mix of both styles. A solid sports jacket with slacks, patterned button down shirt and solid color tie with dressy socks and polished dress shoes will help get you in the door.

When in doubt, remember your attire is important but it’s your personality that will steal the show. So get dressed, put on a smile, and use your first ninety seconds to make a long lasting impression.

Know a female who needs help figuring out what to wear, check out our article Business Professional vs Business Casual 101 for Women.

Written by Sheena Roman.

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