Business dress standards have evolved incredibly since a suit and tie were the norm. In our office, you’ll see a variety, from formal suits to tshirt and jeans, depending on the job type.
In my experience, the standard greatly depends on three things:
- Industry type
- Client interaction/type of client
- Personal preference
If you are a graphic designer, you’re considered artsy and therefore allowed to dress weird or casual. In fact, I had an advertising professor who went as far as to say if we were going into an advertising agency, especially if we were applying for a creative job, the business suit is the death of you. However, if you’re an accountant, anything short of a suit is considered highly unprofessional. The questions come up somewhere in between a graphic designer and an accoutant.
Client Interaction/Type of Client
In my experience, the amount of time you spend in front of a client will directly affect how formal your business attire will be, as in the graphics guy probably doesn’t have a lot of direct face-time with the client, whereas Client Services might be meeting the client for lunch. However, still another caviat is the type of client, i.e. is it a Surf Shop or a Fortune 100 company? It’s appropriate to dress to fit with those you’re serving; it makes them feel more at ease with you.
Regardless of all of the above, most companies these days are a little more relaxed about what you wear. Generally speaking, as you’d be comfortable wearing the outfit for lunch with your grandmother, you’re in the clear.
If nothing else, play follow the leader. Does your boss wear pantsuits while the rest of the office wears jeans? I would lean into pantsuits, (and vice versa as applicable). And think of attire as an opportunity to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Dress up, or down, depending on the position.
Does your company have an unusually flexible or strict dress code?