Examples of Corporate Dress Code (Plus Corporate Scenarios)
Updated 18 December 2022
A corporate dress code specifies the clothing you may wear in a professional setting. Depending on the type of corporate office you work in, this code may refer to a business casual outfit or a formal tailored suit. If it's your first time in a corporate position, you might like to know more about what attire is appropriate in an office environment. In this article, we discuss the different examples of corporate dress code, highlight outfits for various situations and provide useful tips to help you choose appropriate clothing for a corporate position.
Examples of corporate dress code
If you're just starting out in your first corporate position, it may help to consider some examples of corporate dress code. Depending on your position and the culture of your workplace, the dress code for corporate positions can be casual or highly formal. Here are some common types of corporate dress codes, with specific examples of what you might wear:
Business casual is a common dress code for employees who work in offices. It's more formal than smart casual or a weekend outfit but doesn't typically require you to wear a full suit. It may be an appropriate dress code for an interview, daily office work or client meetings. A business dress code might include items such as dress trousers, sweaters, cardigans, blouses, blazers, button-down shirts, chinos and pencil skirts. It's typical to wear a closed-in shoe such as dress shoes, boots, flats or loafers. You might accessorise your outfit with a tie, belt or simple jewellery.
Read more: How to Dress Business Casual for Women
A business professional dress code is typical of more conservative business settings. Industries such as accounting, banking, finance, government and law may require you to wear a business professional outfit. This dress code often includes more tailored and coordinated garments, in dark or pastel colours. For men, this might be a two-piece suit with a long-sleeved shirt, tie, dark socks and dress shoes. For women, it may be a blazer, suit pants, a long-sleeved blouse and low, closed-toe heels. Employers often specify business attire to convey sophistication, so ensure that your hair is neat and that you're well-presented.
While you're unlikely to wear business formal as part of your daily routine, your employer may require it for special corporate events. You may wear business formal to an award ceremony, work presentation, special dinner or other significant function. Business formal typically requires tailored two-piece suits for men and a pantsuit or skirt suit for women. In some contexts, a long evening dress may be appropriate.
You might accessorise with jewellery, a bow tie, cuff links or a belt. As the definition of business formal varies, it may be beneficial to check with your human resources (HR) department or colleagues if you're unsure.
Example outfits for specific situations
Here are some examples of what you might wear in a range of professional situations:
Interviewee for a corporate position
As you're not yet an employee, it may be appropriate to wear less formal attire to your interview. Focus on presenting yourself primarily as neat and professional, as this may reflect on your behaviour as a future employee. While you might show your personality and characteristics through your interview answers, choose an outfit that's restrained. Something with bright colours and prints may distract your interviewer and make you appear unprofessional.
Consider fabrics in block colours and muted tones, such as grey, black, navy blue or cream. One clothing option might be grey or black chinos, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater and suede shoes with laces. A second clothing ensemble might be a knee-length pencil skirt, long-sleeved blouse, cardigan and flats.
Related: What to Wear to a Job Interview
Accounting firm employee
If you're an employee in a large accounting firm, your corporate dress code may be more formal. Depending on the company, they may want to present an image of competence and sophistication. A corporate dress code can show clients your professionalism and ability to achieve results.
If an accounting firm specifies a business professional dress code, consider tailored, two-piece outfits. One option could include a two-piece suit, long-sleeved shirt, conservative tie, brogues and dark socks. Another option may be a skirt suit with stockings, slingback heels and subtle accessories, such as a brooch, necklace or bracelet.
Depending on their position and level of responsibility, a government employee may dress in business attire. As they're not typically trying to impress clients, their dress code might be less formal than an accountant's. For example, they may dress in business casual, rather than business professional.
Ministerial office staff may adhere to a neat, but not overly formal dress code. Their outfit could comprise chinos, a long-sleeved shirt, a blazer and lace-up shoes or brogues. A second outfit could be three-quarter length suit pants, a short-sleeved blouse, a light cardigan and Oxford shoes.
Corporate award night
If you're preparing an outfit for a corporate event, you might wear something more elaborate than your daily office dress code. Before deciding, you could ask your HR team or colleagues what dress code the organisers expect. For example, a sit-down award night or dinner may require a different outfit to a conference.
For an award ceremony, it may be appropriate to choose an outfit that shows your personal taste, while still being formal. One option could be a fitted, full-length evening dress with a complementary jacket, kitten heels and an accessory such as a purse or necklace. A second option might be a navy blue or black tuxedo, white shirt, coloured bow tie and brogues with dark socks.
Corporate attire tips
You might consider the following tips when deciding how to dress for a corporate role:
Research the company
Before you start work in a corporate office, it may help to research the company. You might find clues about a company's dress code and workplace culture on their website or through their social media profile. These resources may have photographs or videos that show you how the company's employees typically dress. If you're still unsure, consider contacting the recruiter or manager to ask them what's appropriate to wear.
Related: What Is Corporate Culture?
Pay attention to what your colleagues wear
On your first day, pay attention to what your colleagues are wearing. The dress code may differ within the organisation, so take notice of what others in your own office are wearing. While those in leadership roles may adhere to a formal dress code, it may be acceptable for you to wear casual business clothes.
Adjust your dress code for different situations
It may be necessary to adjust your dress code for different professional situations. If you're attending a conference or business meeting, consider asking your colleagues what the typical dress code is. For example, you might impress a key client by wearing formal clothing, such as a tailored suit.
Adorn your outfit with simple accessories
While jewellery and other accessories are often acceptable, ensure they're subtle and inoffensive. Choose items that enhance your outfit but aren't distracting for clients or colleagues. This might be a simple wristwatch or a subtle necklace on a thin chain. If you're wearing heels, make sure they're not too high or impractical.
Wear tailored clothes
To show your professionalism, ensure your clothes fit well. Before you purchase a suit or individual garment, try it on so that you can get an idea of how it fits. Clothes that are baggy or too small may suggest a lack of effort or attention to detail.
Ensure your clothing is respectful
To dress respectfully, you might consider the length of your hemlines, the cut of your neckline or the type of fabric. Consider what is appropriate in your particular workplace and adjust your dress code accordingly. For example, you may avoid flimsy fabrics or skirts with a hem above the knee.
Related: Guide to Smart Casual Attire
Show attention to detail
Attention to detail is often a desirable quality in an employee. You may emphasise this skill by wearing clothes that are clean and free of wrinkles or holes. To ensure your outfit looks professional, you might iron it the night before and hang it on a coat hanger to prevent creasing.
Wear closed shoes
Corporate offices often prefer shoes with closed toes. For instance, it may be inappropriate to wear sandals, slip-on shoes or heels with open toes. While this may not be a requirement of all corporate offices, if you're unsure, wear a shoe that's closed and well-fitted, such as a loafer, ballet flat or dress shoe.
Explore more articles
- 11 Signs Your Boss Wants You to Leave (Plus Reaction Tips)
- 10 Tips for Understanding What to Do If You Lose Your Job
- How to Build and Maintain a Working Relationship
- Advice and 14 Tips for Your First Day at Work
- A Guide to Business Attire for Men (With Tips)
- How To Start Building Rapport With Your New Colleagues
- What Is a Background Check? What Employers Look for and How to Prepare
- Writing a Resignation Letter When Unhappy with Management
- How Old Do You Have To Be to Work? (With Age Requirements)
- Writing a New Employee Introduction Email (With Examples)
- Learning How to Code: The Beginner's Guide to Coding
- What Is a Founder? (Plus Duties, Processes and Skills)