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Levels of dress depend on the appropriateness for the profession, occasion and location.
So who really cares what you wear these days anyway?
Isn’t everything more relaxed since we’ve all been working from home and Covid.
Aren’t dress codes, suits and ties a thing of the past?
Well evidently not or there would not be so much concern and confusion about what to wear to any given event when there is the merest hint at a dress code stipulation. Google is asked every day by thousands upon thousands of people about what is meant by Smart Casual and or Business Casual dress codes. Plus there is such a thing as enclothed cognition which proves that what you wear actually has an impact on your psychology, the way you work, your performance and credibility and the impact you have on others.
First of all understand who you are, how you like to express yourself, what type of clothing you are comfortable in. There is such an abundance of choice in terms of fabrics and finishes that you will be able to dress according to any protocol within your own true comfort zone whilst projecting the most appropriate image for you and your company or organisation.
Second understand the nature of your industry. From creative environments to boardroom executives the level of authority and approachability will differ. The higher the level of structure and tailoring to the garment, the higher the quality of the fabric, and the deeper the colours the higher the authority. As you move down to semi tailored jackets with no lapel, cardigans, mix and match suits, patterns, prints and more natural, lighter or brighter colours you have less authority. Wearing neutrals that enhance your eyes, hair and skin tone like caramel, camel, beige, will help you look more approachable.
Third think of how to make a cohesive look with your outfit. That it harmonises with your colouring, balances your proportions and expresses your personality. The latter can be done by adding the right discreet accessories, this is still work and bold, flamboyant accessories whilst expressing your personality will detract from anything you are trying to say and will become the only thing you are actually remembered for.
Seeing the Business Casual (semi-formal) and Smart Casual (informal) levels of dress in context with the other two levels helps to illustrate what the differences are. Of course the permutations of actual clothing and accessories are infinite. These guidelines will go a long way to help you on your journey.
The fabrics, colours and styles that you choose should tell a story. Unlike high fashion fads and trends business wear should tell a consistent, coherent, and congruent story for each level of dress and should be harmonious with your own inherent qualities, so we see the real you not just your outfits. Classic, elegant and traditional are the style archetypes that tell a similar story and can be easily adapted for that high power air of authority, efficient and professionalism. Romantic, alluring, dramatic high fashion avant grade will not work in the high powered business environment. Though you might be able to adapt with very careful consideration and attention to detail.
As you move to more casual outfits it can become a little easier to express other styles but with careful consideration to the overall impact. More creative environments will, no doubt suit the casual smart attire. Also more suitable for in office desk work, not client facing, casual social meetings or informal meetings with colleagues.
So let’s take a closer look at the differences between Business Casual and Smart Casual
also known as semi-formal business dress
Complete outfits with attention to detail
This look is more casual than a fully tailored matching suit. Involves impeccable grooming and pivots around a jacket so that a polished professional look is maintained at all times.
Colours will be from the deep to medium range in your personal colour palette.
Appropriate when a visiting a client with a relaxed dress code; for customer facing meetings and events when you want to appear professional and efficient.
Makeup and hair should be flawless.
also known as informal business dress
Co-ordinated outfits that are neat and tidy
This look does not need a formal jacket. Garments need to be of a good quality. Whilst relaxed it is important that the overall look is very professional.
Colours can include some of the lighter shades with one or two carefully chosen accent colours.
Appropriate for industry appropriate dressing such as administrative personnel, customer service teams, financial services and health care environments.
Makeup and hair should be well groomed.
Business-casual pivots around a tailored jacket which informs the colour scheme for the whole ensemble, with or without a tie. Socks and shoes should co-ordinate – the rule is to follow the colour of the trouser for selecting the appropriate colour of socks. Very smart beautifully finished T-shirts can be worn under the jacket. This is a look for when the gentleman wants to appear more approachable and friendly such as politicians, formal group training (if a suit is not required), when the dress code is relaxed but you still need that air of authority.
Smart-Casual whilst not centred around a jacket should still have a collar or lapel finish to the neckline. Small to medium patterns or stripes on shirts and smart knitwear may be worn. Good for working in the office not client facing, informal meetings with colleagues, working from home depending on the amount of remote integration and the level of online meetings.
The terminology from talking about levels of business attire to the overuse of the word casual might have made things a little confusing to interpret correctly. The bottom line is your image has the power to influence and impact on those around as well as on your own mood, performance and credibility. What is the level below which you do not want your image to fall? Adapt your attire to business casual or smart casual within the above guidelines and you will always look good, feel great and have the right visual impact.
The choice of colours is important to understand and should be selected from you own personal colour palette. So that you project an authentic, credible, charismatic image unleashing the power and beauty of the real you.
If you’d like to learn more about how to select the right colours take a look at our range of services which include a personal colour analysis as part of the programme.
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I’m on a mission to help people just like you discover the power and beauty of your own authentic style, personal brand and complete image. So that you can truly thrive in every aspect of your life.
Training with two of the world's Master trainers both in the UK and USA, as a Personal Stylist, Image Consultant and Soft Skills Trainer, you can rest assured that you're in good hands. There's nothing I love more than that aha moment when my client's discover how to align their inner essence and expertise with their outer expression in their style and image.
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