Business suits

Workplace Wednesday: Office Dress Code

Posted Tanys Coughlan Workplace Wednesdays

Workplace Wednesday: Office Dress Code

It’s Workplace Wednesday and a good time to talk about the office dress code.

It used to be that if you worked in an office you wore a suit (and a tie for men). Nowadays the dress code varies depending on the office culture and the industry you are working in. For example a banker wear shorts in the summer is a definite no-no but it is quite accepted to wear shorts as a courier. Then there are also the titles of the types of dress and it varies by the sex of course too.

Here’s a good brief description of the types of dress for business:

“Business formal

Business formal (also known as “business dress”) is typically seen in the interview process and in more formal organizations, such as those in the financial services sector. Business formal is always characterized by a suit. So if you’re not wearing a suit, you’re not formal enough!

Business formal for men

• Do a collar test to determine the right fit: one finger in the collar is the right size
• Colour can be fun and age appropriate
• Shoes always have laces
• Pant leg should hit the front of the shoe and the top of the back of the heel
• The lapel, tie and collar should be in sync: thinner tie, thinner lapel, short collar

Business formal for women

• Pant suit or skirt suit
• If you can afford it, buy the skirt and the pants at the same time for more variety in your wardrobe
• Jewellery and accessories should be minimal and classic
• Always wear a modest heel: no more than 3 inches
• If you can’t walk in heels, wear a kitten heel

Business casual

Business casual is the most common dress code across all industries in Canada today. Erin says she thinks it’s also the most challenging because it has the word “casual” in it, and it can be easy to dress too casual. Business casual means dressing a step down from business formal while still maintaining a professional look every day.
Some of the business formal items you’ve integrated into your wardrobe for job interviews or client meetings can also do double duty as business casual by pairing them with different pieces and accessories.

Business casual for men

• Always means a trouser
• Slip on shoe
• Still a collar involved
• Can remove the tie and jacket and replace it with a sweater or cardigan

Business casual for women

• It can be a skirt, pants or a dress – or a combination
• Don’t be afraid to wear colour – it’s age appropriate and can still be professional
• Wear heels or flats


Casual dress codes are becoming more common in industries such as marketing, advertising and technology. It is often defined by the ability to wear denim to the office while still looking professional. We have a pretty casual dress code here at TalentEgg and we call it “looking put together”.

Casual dress for women

• Darker hued jeans always convey the image of dressiness
• Nice jacket, underpinning and flats

Casual dress for men

• A more casual button-up shirt, a light jacket and dark jeans”

If we now look at what to include in a dress code policy you should consider the following factors: (

• “Your dress code should remain gender neutral, and not get into specific types of clothing that would differentiate between genders
• When drafting your dress code policy consider different cultures in the workplace
• Your dress code policy should include input from employees and be approved by the board of directors
• Explain the dress code in your orientation to new hires, and if you are changing the dress code ensure that all employees are aware of the changes”

What do you dress in to go to the office?

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Tanys is a Certified Human Resources professional with 20 years experience in the Home Healthcare Field including 5 years of management experience. She has over 10 years experience as an adult trainer/facilitator and a proven ability to work with staff, management and other stakeholders to sustain and improve key performance indicators. Tanys works diligently with businesses to increase their productivity by putting the human in human resources.

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