- What is business professional attire for men?
- Business Casual vs. Business-Professional Dress Code
- Business Professional Attire Men
- Which Colors to Wear for Business Professional for Men
- How to Match Clothes for Business Professional for Men
- Things to Avoid with Business Professional Attire
- What Does Business Professional Mean?
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Professional Business Attire for Men
- The History of Business Professional Attire for Men
What is business professional attire for men?
Every guy should have at least one business professional attire in their wardrobe! And it would essentially include a suit, dress shirt, tie, belt, and a pair of shoes— that’s it! Super simple.
Those 5 clothing articles make up the foundation of a solid business professional attire for men. However, the gist for business professional is that you absolutely need a suit! Adding accessories like a classy watch and an appropriate cuff link is good for a bit of personality but they are optional.
In this article, we’ll give you a run down on what to look out for in your first set of business professional attire.
Business Casual vs. Business-Professional Dress Code
Knowing what to wear at work all depends on what has been required by your workplace. You’ll need to be able to tell the difference between “Business Casual” and “Business Professional”.
The terms “business casual” and “business-professional dress code” are often used interchangeably, but there is a clear-cut difference between the two.
Business casual is a more relaxed form of business attire hence the term “casual”, while a business professional is more formal.
- A polo shirt or collared shirt with khaki pants or chinos.
- A blazer or sports coat is optional.
- Dress shoes or loafers; no sneakers or sandals.
- Optional accessories include a tie, belt, and watch.
Business-Professional Dress Code:
- A suit or dress pants with a dress shirt and matching tie.
- Dress shoes— no sneakers or sandals.
- Optional accessories include a cufflinks and watch. Belts are mandatory.
While both attires are similar in terms of not wearing any jeans, sneakers, or sandals— the difference lies in having to wear a suit!
Another thing to note is that business casual has a lot more options for pants to use than business professional.
Business Professional Attire Men
Business professional attire for men is usually worn in job interviews, client meetings, high-profile assemblies, and some industries. Below are some jobs and careers that require business professional attire:
- Bank firms
- Accounting firms
- Real Estate Agents
- Broadcasting/News Anchors
- Principals and other Education Professionals
You can tell from the list of careers that require a business professional attire that “suiting up” is meant to convey some level of authority, wisdom, intelligence, power, and a level of seriousness that jeans and sneakers can’t project.
Basically, business professional attire for men is formal.
A business professional attire requires a suit, dress shirt, tie, a pair of dress shoes, a belt, and socks. Accessories are optional however it does add plenty of personality to your look.
Below is a rundown on what and how to appropriately choose and wear in a business professional setting.
Business Professional Suits
A suit is a set of outfits made from the same cloth or material and in matching design or style. They can come in different styles according to fit, cut, design, weight, and color.
Suits can come in four different styles: Skinny Fits closest to the body with a narrow-cut chest for the jacket. The pants are low rise and extra slim throughout the hips, thighs, and legs.
Slim Cut close to the shoulders, chest, and waist. The pants sit slightly below the waist and are slim-fit through your hips and thighs, or can have straight or narrow leg opening.
Modern This style is a balance between the skinny and classic fit. The pants sit at your waist and trim fitted through your hips and thighs with a slightly tapered leg opening.
Classic This style is regularly fitted through your shoulders, chest, and waist. The pants sit at your waist and with a relaxed fit through your hips and thighs. Commonly has straight-cut leg openings.
When purchasing your first suit off-the-rack, a modern fit will be good.
Aside from style, one basic but major thing about suits is that they can come with either a vest or not. A vest or waistcoat is the difference between a two-piece suit and a three-piece suit.
Two types of suits
- Two-piece: A suit which consists of a jacket and trousers or dress pants.
- Three-piece: A suit chiefly including a waistcoat or vest underneath the jacket.
Two-piece suits are typically worn in an office and three-piece suits are for more formal occasions like weddings or funerals. However, that doesn’t stop your boss from wearing a designer three-piece suit to work every day for the rest of the year, doesn’t it?
In this case, we will focus on the two-piece suit and what to look for on your first set.
There’s something about a tailored suit that just makes a man look like he means business. Maybe it’s the sharp lines and fitted silhouette, or maybe it’s the confidence that comes with knowing you look your best.
Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that a well-tailored suit can make a man look and feel his best. Of course, not all men are created equal, which is why it’s important to find a tailor who can create a suit that is specifically tailored to your individual body type.
With a little help from a skilled tailor, you can create a suit that will make you look and feel like a million bucks— even if you only paid a few hundred for it. You’ll get a suit that fits your specific arm length, legs, waistline, shoulder length, torso, and perfect cuts for your jacket and pants!
Single vs Double-Breasted
Suit jackets come either single or double-breasted. Choosing either is a matter of personal preference, however, a double-breasted suit can look extra formal than a single one.
Difference between single-breasted and double-breasted suits.
- 1 to 3 buttons
- Commonly has 2 buttons
- Can be both formal and casual
- 4 to 6 buttons
- Commonly has 6 buttons
- Always formal
For business professional attire, a single-breast suit with 2 buttons is more than enough.
Suit Jacket Buttons While on the topic of suit jackets, there’s what is called the Button Closure Rule. A single-breasted suit can have 1 up to 3 buttons.
For a single-button jacket, it must always be fastened or closed. For two-button jackets, the top button is fastened, while the lower one is never closed.
For a three-button jacket, the top button can be optionally fastened, while the middle button is fastened, and the lower button is never closed!
These rules apply when you are standing up.
When sitting down, all buttons must be unfastened regardless of the number! This is because a fastened bottom button will spoil the silhouette of your suit. Additionally, most suits are cut to be worn with the last button undone.
In the case of business professional attire, a single-breasted two-buttoned suit is a classic go-to for any professional. This design works well in just about every shape and size.
The material of your suit can depend on factors such as the temperature of your office and the climate. It can also fall on abstract things like how sophisticated you want to look, things like budget, or how your body adapts to certain fabrics.
When choosing the right fabric for your business professional suit, go for common classics like:
- No break pants are more suitable for those who are short or slim. However, since no breaks are more modern, it may be too casual for conservative office settings. Hence, must be avoided.
- Quarter breaks work well for most men and are traditionally the best length for office wear. They also fit well with tapered legs and a slim-cut suit.
- Half breaks work well with pants in a straight-leg cut or once with slim tapers. They are most flattering on larger men but are also suitable for older, more conservative business people.
- A full break looks best on taller or larger men. It’s also recommended for business professional attire.
Business Professional Shirts
A shirt for business professional attire constitutes a timeless collared shirt with a collar that frames your tie nicely when buttoned all the way up. When worn, your shirt’s sleeve cuffs should slightly be longer than your jacket’s sleeves.
Pairing shirts with a suit largely falls on the type of collar they have. There are two major types of collared shirts.
Button-Up vs Button Down
A button-up shirt is the archetype of every other dress shirt. It has buttons that button up the front. While a button-down shirt has buttons on its collar points. Button downs are not often used along with suits but it is not uncommon.
For business professional attire, a pastel blue or white button-up shirt is enough.
What you should be warier of is the type of collar it has. Your face shape, tie, and suit lapel play a part in what type of shirt you will wear.
Below the types of dress shirt collars.
- Straight Collar
- Windsor Spread Collar
- Tab Collar Collar
- Cutaway Spread Club Collar
- English Spread
- Eyelet Collar
- Varsity Spread
We’ll discuss the two most important collar spreads you need to know when purchasing your first set of dress shirts for business professional attire. Straight Collar Also known as the point collar, these are universally used along with suits. It is a flexible style that can be worn with or without a tie. It’s also appropriate for many occasions, both casual and formal.
A straight-collar dress shirt in white or ivory is a staple in men’s wardrobes. While a second shirt in a pastel blue is also a great alternative for business professional attire.
Spread collar shirts are also typically used along with suits. Spread collars call for properly knotted ties as the collars are shorter, exposing, and more spread out as opposed to straight or point collars.
What’s good about spread collars earning a place in your wardrobe is they are also versatile. They can be worn along with suits or with casual jackets. They also pair better with bow ties than point collars do.
A spread collar shirt in solid pastel colors or minimal prints is always a good addition to your business professional attire clothes.
How to Pick the Correct Shirt Color to Match Your Business Professional Suit
Picking the right shirt color to match your suit is simple. You want to make sure the colors complement each other. You don’t want to end up looking like a walking Easter egg!
Consider the fabric of your shirt. A lighter fabric will show off darker colors better than a thicker fabric. Additionally, you want to make sure the shirt fits well. Even the most stylish shirt won’t look good if it’s too big or too small.
Now that you know the basics, let’s get into some specific classic color combos that always look sharp.
- Pair a navy suit with a light blue shirt.
- Pair a black suit with a white shirt.
Business Professional Ties
A tie helps change your overall suit attire! For example, a red tie paired with a navy suit and white shirt will convey a different vibe compared to a black tie using the same pair of navy suit and white shirt.
So when choosing a set for your suit, pick versatile solid colors like:
- Red or Maroon
A set of black, navy, and maroon ties will be enough for more than a week’s business professional attire pairings.
How to pick the right color to match your tie with your shirt
When it comes to matching your tie with your shirt, there are a few things you need to take into account.
- Consider the occasion. If you’re dressing up for a wedding or a job interview, you’ll want to go with a more subdued color palette.
- On the other hand, if you’re just headed to the office or out to dinner with friends, you can afford to be a little more adventurous.
- Think about the message you’re trying to send. Are you looking to appear professional and confident? Or are you aiming for something more fun and laid-back?
Once you’ve considered the occasion and the message you want to convey, it’s time to start picking out colors. If you’re stuck, a safe bet is to match your tie with your suit.
- Start with the basics: Maroon, Black, and Navy are always safe bets when wearing your standard white and light blue shirts. From there, you can experiment with different shades and tones.
- Think about the message you want to send: professional, approachable, fun-loving? The color of your shirt and tie should reflect that.
- Pay attention to the details: pattern, texture, and contrast all play a role in creating the right look.
More tips how to wear a tie for business professional: -First, the tie should complement the shirt collar. Make sure the tie complements the shirt collar. The two most common collars are point and spread collars. Point collars are best paired with skinny ties, while spread collars look best with wider ties.
- Second, make sure the tie is the right size. The tie should be proportionate to the shirt collar and your body size. If you are tall, opt for a longer tie. If you are on the shorter side, go for a shorter tie.
- Third, choose a tie that matches the rest of your outfit. If you are wearing a suit, choose a tie that is similar in color to your suit. Try monochromatic pairings like a navy suit with a light blue tie, instead of a navy tie. If you are wearing a dress shirt, pick a tie that contrasts with the shirt.
To add a bit of sparkle (nothing flashy), you can wear a Tie Bar or Lapel Pin can really take your look to the next level.
Your first set of ties must be versatile so opt for minimal patterns and solid colors.
Business Professional Shoes
There are three types of shoes that are commonplace in a business professional setting: Oxfords, Derby shoes, and Loafers. Getting either one of these already completes your business professional attire look.
Avoid styles that are too flashy or trendy. Stick with classic styles in neutral colors that will complement your business attire: Black and brown are your choices.
Another important consideration is comfort. You’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet, so make sure your shoes are comfortable enough to wear all day. Look for shoes with good arch support and cushioning to prevent foot pain.
Finally, make sure your shoes are well-crafted and polished. Avoid scuffed or damaged shoes, as they will give the impression that you don’t take your appearance seriously.
By following these simple tips, you can be sure your business professional shoes are always up to par.
In business professional settings, Oxfords in either plain or whole-cut styles fit within the dress code. Black oxford shoes are quintessential. However, brown and tan are also great colors to choose from for your wardrobe.
Derby shoes are commonly known for their unique open-lacing system. Meaning the eyelets are found on top of the vamp rather than under. This makes the strips look like loose flaps, and not sewn down like they are on Oxfords.
They are in materials such as suede and leather. If opting for derby shoes, a good pair of brown leather ones is great.
Loafers started life as casual shoes. However, they’ve gained a reputation over the years as classic formal wear. They’re easily worn as you just slip them on or off.
For a business professional setting, pairing a pair of black leather loafers with a slight heel with a suit follows the dress code.
Things to know about shoes for business professional attire: When it comes to wearing your dress shoes, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Make sure they’re well-polished — this will help them look their best and give you a more polished overall appearance.
- Consider the height of your shoes - business professional looks typically call for lower heels, so avoid anything too chunky or high.
- Pay attention to the details like the stitching and hardware like the eyelets - opt for something simpler and more understated to keep your look refined.
- Shoes need to match belt color - for a uniform look, your shoes and belt always match colors.
Dress Socks for business professional attire
Keep it simple! You have two fundamental color options: black and dark navy. Get them in at over-the-calf/executive length and you’re good to go!
Belts for business professional attire
Simply match your shoe color with your belt!
Black shoes? Then a black belt! Brown shoes— brown belt. No need to complicate things. Just make sure your belt and shoes complement the color of your suit. For example, a navy suit would pair well with a pair of brown shoes and belt.
Watches for business professional attire
In the professional world, Hamilton Powell, the CEO and founder of Crown & Caliber, said that “a watch is the greatest icebreaker there is”.
So whether before presenting during a meeting or having a coffee break, referring to a watch could be a great way to keep the interaction casual and less awkward! From this, you can probably guess that a good, classic timepiece is what you should wear.
A silver or gold watch with leather and metal are good straps to have for business professional attire. You may opt to match your leather strap color along with your shirt, or your belt and shoes!
Business Professional Attire Accessoires
There aren’t many big pieces of accessories you can wear for business professional attire. But when you do, they make a big impact towards making you look from classy to flashy! So here we’ll discuss the basics of accessorizing your business professional look.
The most common accessories for Business Professional Attire:
- Pocket squares
- Lapel pins
- Tie pins
Below are two general tips to help you match accessories for your professional outfit:
Choose colors that complement your clothing. If you’re wearing a suit, consider adding a pop of color with your tie or pocket square.
**Be sure to pay attention to the details.ÜÜ Quality materials and craftsmanship will make your accessories look more expensive and add an element of sophistication to your outfit.
Cufflinks, Lapel Pins, Tie Pins for Business Professional Attire
If you want to make a strong impression in the boardroom, paying attention to the details of your outfit is important. And that includes your cufflinks, lapel pins, and tie pins.
Not all these three suit accessories pair well for a business professional look. Below are tips when choosing the right set for your first suit.
- Opt for simple, classic styles. When it comes to cuff links and suit pins, less is usually more. Stick with simple designs that are clean and elegant. Avoid anything too flashy or ornate.
- Choose conservative colors. For a business setting, you’ll want to stick with conservative colors like silver, gold, or black. Bright colors and patterns can be too distracting and may not send the right message in a professional setting.
- Avoid novelty designs. Cufflinks with humorous or whimsical designs might be fun for a night out with friends, but they’re not appropriate for a business setting. Save the novelty cufflinks for casual occasions.
- Stick to traditional materials Metal cuff links are always a safe bet for a business setting. You can also find cufflinks made from other materials like wood, glass, or even stone. But avoid anything too flashy or over-the-top. Also, did you know? Gold cufflinks are only for mafia bosses!
Pocket Squares for Business Professional Attire
One way to wear a pocket square for business professional attire is by folding it into a pocket square. A simple triangular pocket square is all you need to begin with.
How to fold a pocket square:
- This can be done by folding the handkerchief in half, then folding it in half again.
- Once you have a small square, fold the top corner down to the bottom corner, making a triangle.
- Then, fold the triangle in half, so that you have a smaller triangle.
- Finally, fold the triangle in half again and tuck it into your suit pocket.
The color choice for a pocket square should be a simple, clean white one. However, if you’d like to match colors, coordinate your pocket squares with the color of your shirt.
Which Colors to Wear for Business Professional for Men
Navy suits are your first choice next to black suits! You can also go for tan, grey, and brown suits. However, these three colors must be picked in the shade that matches your skin tone.
Here we’ll be pairing these 5 basic suit colors with matching shirts, belts, and shoes. Take it as your basic color combination guide for suits!
10 Suit Color Combinations for Business Professional Attire
- Navy blue suit, light blue shirt, and blue tie with dark brown leather belt and shoes
- Black suit, white shirt, and blue tie with black leather belt and shoes
- Navy suit, white shirt, and a brown tie with black leather belt and shoes
- Black suit, ivory shirt, and a dark green patterned tie with black belt and shoes
- Navy blue suit, light red shirt, and red tie with black belt and shoes
- Grey suit, white shirt, and blue tie with black leather belt and shoes
- Grey suit, pastel pink shirt, and burgundy tie with black leather belt and shoes
- Light grey suit, white shirt, and navy tie with dark brown leather belt and shoes
- Brown suit, light blue shirt and navy tie with black belt and shoes
- Tan suit, white shirt, and brown tie with dark brown leather belt and shoes
How to Match Clothes for Business Professional for Men
There are basic rules for matching your business professional attire. We’ll reiterate the ones mentioned throughout this article here in this section.
- Suit Your suit typically comes in a jacket and pants pair of the same color. Black jacket? Black pants. Simple!
- Shirt Shirts and ties must never be the same color. However, they can match the color of your pocket square.
- Belt Your belt and shoes must have matching colors.
- Shoes Maintain well-polished shoes that are free of scuffs and match them to your belt’s color.
- Tie A tie is your centerpiece. Choose a color that compliments the suit and works with the shirt.
Things to Avoid with Business Professional Attire
Suit styles generally come in four categories: Skinny, Slim, Modern, and Classic. You’d want to go for a fit that’s both comfortable and stylish— a Slim fit or a Modern fit. A suit that matches the environment you are wearing it to. If you can get these suit styles tailored, then you already have the best suit you can ever own!
Suit doesn’t fit well
For business professional attire, your suit must be comfortable to wear while sitting down for hours at a time in the office. They should also allow you to move freely when you are standing up and presenting.
Avoid skinny fit suits that are too tight around your shoulders, thighs, and legs. Cramping yourself in such a suit in the office can make you look unprofessional and downright funny.
A suit that fits well doesn’t fold or crumple around the waist when you button it up. The shoulders and sleeves should also stay neat and don’t rumple or pitch when you move around. And the pants shouldn’t expose your legs or sock line when sitting down!
Suit that are too fashionable
Suits that look too fashionable like a skinny fit in silk material can look too flashy for the office.
However, other fits are also in jeopardy if you purchase sets that are hard to match, like patterned suits and bold colors like stripes or polka dots and bright solid colors like red or green! You’re trying to look professional here— not a mafia boss!
Shoes that are not business professional
A good pair of black and brown leather shoes are all you need. Avoid sneakers in leather material because they will never pass for business professional attire!
What Does Business Professional Mean?
The term business professional can be applied to a wide variety of occupations, including executives, managers, salespeople, marketing professionals, human resources specialists, and financial analysts.
In general, business professionals are those who work in an office environment and who interact with high-profile clients or customers on a regular basis. While the term is most commonly used to describe white-collar workers, it can also be used to describe blue-collar workers who possess the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in a business setting.
Business professional entails a level of seriousness that only a suit and tie can project, hence the need for business professional attire.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Professional Business Attire for Men
When it comes to wearing suits for business professional attire. Aside from getting a good cut or fit, you must also pay attention to the length of the sleeves and pants.
We’ll discuss briefly the suit and its different cuts so you know what to look out for followed by the do’s and don’ts.
Regardless of the fit or style, a suit jacket must be long enough to cover your pants zipper and butt, but not hide them.
Pants: The Break
Suit trousers come in different styles, cuts, and lengths. Here we’ll focus on the break or how the end of your trouser falls on your legs and how they look relative to your shoes.
The idea is that the longer your pants are, the more break there will be. And the wider your pants legs are, the less of a break there is.
- No Break A No Break is a modern trend. The pant hem stops just above the top of your shoes and slightly exposes your socks when standing up. This cut will have no folds on your pant hem as it doesn’t make contact with your shoes. Overall, it projects a slick and clean facade. It also leans more towards casual than formal.
- Quarter Break A Quarter Break will have the pant hem hanging just above your shoes. In this case, your socks are no longer exposed when standing up however will still be noticeable when you walk or move. This break produces no pant folds— just a slight crease.
- Half Break A Half Break or Medium Break is more conservative and a go-to cut if you are not quite sure which to get. A half break will have visible creases around your ankle when worn and covers the top of your dress shoe.
- Full Break A full break will have your pant hem sitting at the top of your dress shoe and around your ankle. Meaning it will have folds and an excess of your pants rests on your shoe when standing up.
The don’ts for business professional attire
Too Tight or Too Short outfits
When it comes to suits, avoid jackets that wrinkle, fold, or crumple around your shoulders and waist area when fully buttoned. It must look relaxed and should rest on your torso creating a clean facade no matter how you move.
Your pants must preferably have a quarter or half break as they are most acceptable in a business professional setting. The taper on your legs must make you look taller, not cramped.
Messy, scuffed shoes are definitely not recommended for business professional attire. Make sure your dress shoes are always polished and neat.
In modern office settings, short-sleeved shirts are acceptable. But in traditional business professional attire, short sleeves are a no go! Pairing short-sleeved shirts with formal suits can make your jacket sleeves look hanging.
The cuffs of your shirt should slightly be seen underneath the jacket. Hence, avoid short-sleeved shirts for business professional attire.
If you are in warmer environments, opt for long-sleeved shirts made from cool or breathable material and in a lighter weight.
The Do’s for business professional attire
There are a lot of do’s but what you really want is to get a tailored suit!
Get a Tailor Involved
Sure you could find a suitable suit off-the-rack and that will do you good for your first set of business professional attire. However, custom and bespoke suits are highly recommended when you have the budget.
A master tailor can create a suit that best fits all of your unique body size, length, and type!
The History of Business Professional Attire for Men
It wasn’t always dress shirts and trousers for men in the business world. In fact, the history of business professional attire for men is a bit more interesting than that.
The early days of business professional attire were actually quite casual. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, it was not uncommon for men to show up to work in a simple shirt and tie. This was the era of the “Gentleman’s Agreement,” after all, and business whether formal or informal was conducted primarily in face-to-face meetings.
As the 20th century progressed, though, things began to change. The rise of the modern corporation led to a more formal work environment, and men began to dress accordingly. The three-piece suit became the standard business attire for men, and it would remain so for the next few decades.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that business professional attire began to change again. This was the era of the “Mad Men,” and the style of the times was much more casual. Men began to ditch the suits in favor of more comfortable clothing, such as sports coats and slacks. Corduroy pants and printed shirts started invading offices! This trend would continue into the 1970s when leisure suits were all the rage.
The 1980s brought a return to formality in business professional attire. However, there was a new wrinkle: power dressing. Women were increasingly joining the workforce, and they wanted to make sure they were taken seriously. As a result, they began to dress more like their male counterparts, in suits and ties! This rekindled a trend for wearing suits again in the office.
The 1990s brought yet another change to business professional attire. This was the era of “casual Fridays,” when men (and women) could dress down for work. Khakis and button-down shirts became the norm, and suits were reserved for special occasions. Hence, the birth of business casual attire.
Today, business professional attire is still thriving more than ever before. Just with a sprinkle of color theory intertwined to keep things popping!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an example of a business professional attire?
A suit, with a long-sleeved dress shirt and tie, and a matching belt and dress shoes.
Does a business professional attire require a collared shirt?
Are jeans considered business professional?
No. Jeans are never business professional.
What is the difference between business casual and business professional attire?
Business professional attire requires a suit, business casual doesn’t.
Does business professional require a jacket?
What should men wear to an office job?
Depending on the dress code, men can wear smart casual, business casual, or business professional.
What color shirts are business professional?
White, Ivory, Navy, Pastel Blue.
Why do businessmen wear suits?
Much of the reasons fall on the history of office wear, where formal office settings required their workers to dress accordingly. Now, businessmen wear suits as a form of power play and as a display of position or authority.
What is good business attire for a corporate party?
Depending on the dress code, however business professional (suits) is always a safe bet.
What is the contribution of professional attire on someone's credibility in business settings?
A suit can convey many different things like power, respect, and authority. Wearing professional attire can increase your credibility by showing how you take your career or profession seriously.
Is business professional always a suit?
What is a smart business attire male?
Smart business is more casual than business casual. Here you can wear jeans and sneakers as long as they are neat and presentable.
How can I look like a businessman?
Wear a suit.