Business formal/professional or business casual?

Business Formal/Professional and Business Casual are frequently used terms that set the standard for attire at events. While the terms share commonalities, there are some distinct differences that are very important.

Business Formal or Business Professional is commonly known as a full suit set for both men and women.

It tends towards more conservative and colours such as navy or black are appropriate. Both men and women should wear a clean, pressed, button down shirt with a collar. The shirt must be worn tucked in. Hosiery is a must for women, a tie and belt are required for men, and a jacket and closed-toed shoes are required for both.

Clothing fit is extremely important. If you are unsure about fit, ask a friend or family member to take a look. You don't want your suit to be too snug or too loose. Minor adjustments such as adjusting sleeve length or taking in the back seam can yield impressive results. Most shopping malls have at least one tailor shop, and many dry cleaners offer alteration services as well. Ask for a cost estimate, and be prepared to try your outfit on, including shoes. If the cost is within your budget you may just find yourself with a perfectly tailored suit!

Business formal

Business Casual is a classic, clean cut, and put together look where a full suit is not required.

Business casual is attire that is appropriate even for a chance meeting with the CEO, or your boss.1 For women it means clothing such as slacks or a skirt, a blouse or shirt with a collar and closed-toe shoes. For men, business casual usually means slacks or khakis (chino-style pants), with a polo shirt, or a button down shirt with a tie but no jacket. Some sweaters are also appropriate for both men and women.

It’s also helpful to consider what business casual is NOT.

It is not clothing you would wear to a club or for athletic purposes; anything that is revealing, tight, see-through, or spandex is off-limits, as are baseball hats, flip-flops, jeans, and hooded sweatshirts. Don’t let the word casual mislead you. You still need to look professional.

Business casual

1 Virginia Tech (

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