In this post, we're answering the question, "what is a business attire?" and breaking down all the reasons why men should dress for success.

As a style expert, I've seen the many wonders power dressing can do for your career. I've even written a piece about it on sites like The Odyssey Online and Men's Venture. Consider this article a crash course about formal business attire and the many ways to wear it.

So what is a business attire? Let's begin.


What is a Business Attire?

Business attire refers to the set of clothes men wear in a corporate setting. Generally, the standard dress code calls for a button-up collared shirt, slacks, tie, and dress shoes. However, its variation may depend on the type of business you work in, the role you play in your company, or the dress code you follow at work.


There is a handful of business attire. There's the traditional business formal attire, the less formal business professional attire, the business casual attire, and the smart casual attire.

Here are the four types of business attire: 

Business Formal Attire

Wearing formal business attire is the epitome of power dressing. The look should always be neat, crisp, and perfectly matched. The ideal fit includes a dark-colored business suit, a solid light-colored or white dress shirt with sleeves, a black tie, and dark dress socks.

Business Professional Attire

On the other hand, professional business attire calls for a less formal but still polished ensemble. It consists of a blazer or suit jacket, button-down shirt, suit pants, a tie, dark socks, and dress shoes.

Business Casual Attire

Compared to its more sophisticated counterparts, wearing business casual attire does not require a suit and tie. However, it's also not as lax as your laidback T-shirt and jeans. Your options include a polo shirt, collared shirt, slacks or khaki pants, and dress shoes.

Smart Casual Attire

Smart casual attire is often laid back but never sloppy. It allows for more stylish pieces but is still workplace appropriate. Examples of acceptable clothing pieces include well-tailored jeans, khaki pants, button-down shirts, sweaters, flannel shirts, leather shoes, boots, or a loafer.

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Where to Use

Black tie parties, partner meetings, award ceremonies, and other dressy events require formal business attire. This ensemble is also a favorite among top-level managers in the banking, finance, accounting, and legal industries.

If you're going on an interview or working in a corporate setting, the rule of thumb is that you should always be in professional business attire.

Meanwhile, business casual and smart casual are more suitable for offices with an informal or unconventional work setting. People who work in the creative industry would often have this kind of wardrobe.

Why Should Men Dress For Success

I've always believed that looking good equals feeling good. It may sound cliche, but you are what you wear. If you dress for success, you will keep in your mind that you will succeed, and everything else will follow.

Here are 4 reasons why men should dress for success:

1. It Makes You Think Big

Do you have an important presentation coming up? According to a Social Psychological and Personality Science paper, power dressing turns you into a big thinker at work. At work, wearing formal business attire gives you not only feelings of power but also increases your abstract thinking associated with creativity and long-term strategizing.

2. Sometimes, People Judge the Book by Its Cover

Have you ever bought something from a store just because the packaging looks good? Well, the same goes for dressing up. In a workplace, the first impression counts. How you dress for work is your personal branding. The visual aesthetic you present to others is important, so make sure to dress the part.

3. It Helps You Close More Deals

Power dressing literally helps with success, especially if you're trying to close a business deal. In an experiment conducted by Yale, participants were asked to join a mock negotiation that involved buying and selling. Those who wore suits were able to close more profitable deals than those who dressed poorly.

4. It Keeps You Productive

According to psychology professor Dr. Karen Pine, showing up for work in a suit and tie helps you be more productive than when you're casually wearing a t-shirt and jeans. The psychology behind this is that people adopt certain characteristics in their choice of clothes. So if you're having a full day, ditch the sweats for the suits.

Power dressing is not all business. It's fun too! And if it helps, it works with the ladies too.

How To Choose The Perfect Formal Dress That Will Suit You

If it's your first time shopping for a business suit or formal attire.

Here are 3 important factors you need to consider when choosing the perfect formal dress for business:

1. Know Your Body Type

The key to a perfect suit is fit, which is why knowing how to dress for your body type is important.

You have a triangular body type if your waist and hips are larger than your chest and shoulder. I recommend wearing a single-breasted suit with roped shoulders and a trouser with wide, straight legs to enhance your shoulders and create a more streamlined silhouette.

On the other hand, if your chest and shoulders are wider than your hips and waist, you have an inverted triangle body type. Wearing a slim-fitting single-breasted suit jacket with softer shoulders and notch lapels will minimize your torso's harsh, sharp lines and accentuate your natural body shape.

If you're a plus-size and your midsection is particularly larger than your shoulders and waist, you have an oval body type. Wearing a dark-colored single-breasted suit jacket with a narrow pinstripe will make you look taller and more proportioned.

If you have broad shoulders and slightly narrow hips and waist, you have an athletic or trapezoid. In this case, a slim-fitting suit that follows your natural V-shape will look great on you.

Lastly, if your shoulders are proportional to your hips and waist, you have a rectangular body shape. Stick with a structured single-breasted jacket that nips in at the waist and widens at the shoulders and pleated pants that are wider in the hips and thighs.

2. Understand Proportions

Choosing a suit tailored just right for your measurements is also important.

For one, your suit's shoulder pad must never go past your actual shoulder. Second, your navel should always be above the top button of a two-button jacket or the middle button of a three-button jacket. Third, the sleeves should end where the bottom of your thumbs meets your wrist. Lastly, ensure your pants are snug around your waist, and the hem falls just about your shoes.

3. Wear the Right Colors

The color of your suit should match your skin tone. If you have dark skin, the colors black, gray, blue, burgundy, and forest green are your options. If you have olive skin, your colors are navy blue, khaki, white, black, and gray. If you're fair-skinned, pastels and browns are your best bet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are more things you need to know about what counts and what doesn't as business attire.

Are jeans considered business attire?

If your company's dress code policy requires you to wear business casual or smart casual attire, it's perfectly acceptable to wear jeans. I suggest sticking to straight and slim cuts and avoiding distressed jeans.

Can you wear business attire for interviews?

First impressions matter during job interviews. If you want to get the job, aside from nailing the interview questions, you got to look the part. As I said, wearing business professional or business casual attire for interviews is always a good idea.

Are suits and ties supposed to be worn on formal occasions only?

Normally, a suit and tie are best worn on formal occasions. However, not all formal invitations would require you to wear a suit and tie.

Can you wear your business attire on dates?

Unless you're dining in a high-end, fancy restaurant, you don't have to wear business attire. A date should always be a fun experience, so wear something you're comfortable with. Just make sure you're still dressing to impress.

More Interesting Articles to Explore

We have more articles to help you achieve the physical look of a strong and successful man.

  1. Need a new look? Try these hairstyles for men the next time you get a haircut.
  2. Need a style upgrade? These 7 style tricks that make you attractive will do the trick.
  3. Did you know that growing a beard makes you look more attractive? Match your face shape with these beard styles and give them a try.


At some point in every man's life, they'll wonder, "what is a business attire?"

Luckily, you already know what formal business attire is, how to wear it, and why it's important to dress for success. The next time someone asks, "what is a business attire?" make sure to tell them about this article.

Power dressing is not all business. It's fun too! And if it helps, it works with the ladies too.