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Levels of dress code depend on the appropriateness for the profession, occasion and location.
So you’ve been invited to an event and the dress code states Business Casual or Smart Casual but how can casual be used in the same sentence as business or smart when the attributes of each appear to be quite different?
With so much information available on the internet and media sites it feels a little overwhelming I find that it also helps to go back to basics.
to understand the elements of any outfit in terms of design, fabric, and colour choice as well as how you will accessorise your outfit because this has an influence on the overall impact. So in order to inform those elemental choices you first need to consider:
To help get a clearer perspective we can go back to basics and take a look at the original levels of dress code which actually has just four categories because this will help us to see where the descriptive wording has changed over time but the elements of the dress code category have remained the same.
Let’s take a look at the attributes of each of the two dress code style categories we are concerned with today, the business casual and smart casual, and what that means in terms of outfit planning because this will help us to understand what we need to know to make the best outfit choices.
Business suggests formality, transactions, meetings, being sharp. In terms of clothing this would be a matching tailored skirt suit for women and a tailored suit with a shirt and tie for men, completely formal.
It is the tailoring and structure of the suit especially the jacket that gives an air of authority. As does the colour – darker colours are more formal and the fabric used.
Smart suggests neat and tidy, elegant, intelligent, sophisticated. In terms of clothing this would be mix and match jacket and skirts or trousers for women, equally mix and match jacket and trousers for men, semi formal.
Casual suggests informal, relaxed, temporary, leisurely, sporty. In terms of clothing this would mean completely unstructured, leisure wear, weekend wear, including jeans and t shirts, completely informal.
The Business part of Business Casual means that we need to have a tailored jacket.
Make-up and grooming must be
The Casual element of the Business Casual dress code means that the jacket can be softly tailored and does not have to match the skirt or trousers.
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.
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.
Business Casual, also known as semi-formal business dress. 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. Complete your outfits with attention to detail.
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.
Smart Casual for Women
also known as informal business dress
Co-ordinated outfits that are neat and tidy
Appropriate for industry appropriate dressing such as administrative personnel, customer service teams, financial services and health care environments.
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 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 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.
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