The phrase “business professional dress” or “Western business professional” is one of those things that so incredibly subjective that it pretty much means nothing. That being said, here are some rules that we tend to follow when we hear this.
Before we get into this, a little note. We are big feminists. Wear whatever you want in life if it makes you feel good. That being said, there are certain things that are/aren’t appropriate in certain situations, as deemed so by society (not us). People will also 100% judge you for what you wear, as much as we wish they wouldn’t. This is sadly the world we live in. This is just us telling you (with a lot of love) what we tend to see on the circuit as far as dress code goes.
A few general rules for everyone in Western business dress:
- Take out the tacking stitch in your jacket. For the love of everything, please do this. It is Carol’s number one pet peeve. This is a tacking stitch if you are confused. (Source)
- Tuck in your shirt unless debate is so heated that you’re sweaty and need to cool down.
- Please wear socks if your shoes warrant them.
- No sneakers.
- No T-shirts.
- No jeans (unless its Sunday business casual, but that’s a whole other topic).
A few general rules for the ladies in Western business dress:
- Knee-length (or at least almost knee-length) skirts or dresses.
- Slacks that aren’t aggressively tight like leggings.
- A generally modest shirt that isn’t too low-cut.
- No spaghetti strap shirts without a jacket over them.
- Optional blazer.
- No t-shirts.
- Closed-toe shoes – This is a huge point of contention between the three of us. We love a good, classy, strappy sandal with a sensible heel, and Kyla loves her peep-toe shoes. But for some reason closed-toe shoes are the norm.
- Heels of a sensible height with no aggressive platforms.
- No fishnets (you’d think we wouldn’t have to say this but we’ve seen some stuff).
A few general rules for the gentlemen in Western business dress:
- A good suit is a good thing and you should have one.
- Tuck in your shirt.
- Wear either suspenders or a belt. Not both.
- Undershirts help with sweat.
- Match your shoes with your belt.
- Probably learn how to tie a tie.
- If you’re wearing a tie, make sure it’s not too long or too short. (Source)
With these guidelines, you should easily be able to stay within the reasonable bounds of committee appropriate dress. Being appropriate doesn’t mean you can’t still look fly as hell. Maybe we will do a follow up article on our favorite conference outfits… food for thought. Regardless, if you have any really good conference looks, DM them to us @mun01podcast on Insta for a potential feature!
As always, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments, or concerns!