THE term “business casual” is adopted by many large corporations in the City as a description of their dress code. Yet the “business” bit of the term often gets forgotten. So how do we keep our professionalism but still feel casual and comfortable? For men, the golden rule is to always wear a collar whether it’s on a jacket or shirt, and to wear trousers, not jeans. Wear leather shoes, not canvas or trainers, and as long as they’re not suede, they should be shined daily, with your belt the same colour. Keep all your garments clean, well-pressed, and in mint condition: no frayed collars, cuffs or trouser hems.
For women, the scope for letting standards slip is even greater. A few guidelines though: even on the hottest day of the year, you should have sleeves. Short sleeves are fine; it’s the underarm that looks unsightly. Don’t reveal too much flesh – skirts and dresses shouldn’t be too short (at most one and a half inches above the knee), and tops should never be revealing or tight. Wear proper shoes (no open toes) and never forget tights. Jewellery should be small and professional – keep your big hoops and dangly earrings for the weekend. And only a light application of make-up – smoky eyes and a red glossy pout is best left at home. Take a long look in the mirror before work on Monday morning, and ask yourself, do I look professional for the job I’m doing, or indeed the job I’d like to be doing? It’s always better to be too smart than underdressed. Sara Hollamby is a business image consultant at WorkingVoices.com; email firstname.lastname@example.org