Business Professional Dress Code: How to Strike the Perfect Balance

Business Professional Dress Code Model with Burgundy Blazer and blue striped shirt

We’ve covered the two extremes of business wear, casual and formal, already. While these are poles apart from one another, the business professional dress code / style sits nicely in the middle. It’s got enough set rules to keep it looking somewhat uniform, but there’s just enough room for expression in between.

Given that business professional is one of the most common dress codes in the modern working world, it’s worth looking at how you can build your ideal look and help you stand out, while still fitting with the office crowd.

Here, we’ll take you through a number of options to consider ahead of purchasing your next business professional outfit.

What’s the Difference between the Business Professional Dress Code & Business Formal?

Essentially, business professional dress means a suit and tie. However, it’s much less strict than business formal, as you have greater freedom to mix and match your suit separates, and the colour options are a good deal more relaxed.

Your jacket and trouser colours don’t always have to match, you can express yourself more with your shirt choice, and there’s some extra leeway in your selection of ties. Indeed, in many offices around the world, the necktie is becoming a less frequent feature of business professional attire.

As we’ve said before, it’s always a good idea to study your working environment and make an effort to mirror it in your own way. If ties aren’t too common in your office, you won’t need one. If people are sporting more colourful, expressive suits, you can feel free to do the same. However, if people dress more conservatively, it’d serve you well to do something similar.

The Business Professional Suit, Jacket & Separates

A classic, slim or regular fit suit in a dark grey and navy is always a classic, timeless choice here. We also like bolded colours like burgundy and these work well with cooler shades of trousers. However, modern business professional dress codes do usually allow for subtle pinstripes and lighter shades of blue, grey and even darker greens. We’d recommend steering clear of black, as it can be a little too formal and funereal (unless of course it’s nicely pinstriped).

A two-piece suit would be more appropriate than a three-piece, as it’s just a little more relaxed and comfortable. As for the question of double or single breasted, the former is also a more appropriate choice unless you really want to stand out.

Combining different trousers, shirts, and jackets is normally acceptable in modern business professional environments these days. This is good news, as it’ll allow you much more freedom to rotate your wardrobe from day to day. However, when combining suit separates like these, it’s still sensible to keep your choices refined.

A navy blazer with charcoal trousers, along with a white, light blue or pink shirt makes a smart way of combining your separates. So too does a combo of grey blazer and black trousers, or indeed a mix of dark brown blazer, navy trousers, with  a white or blue shirt.

The Business Professional Shirt

Whether or not you’re wearing a suit jacket or blazer, it’s your shirt that underpins and sets off the whole outfit.

With the business professional dress code, you’ve got a good deal more room for manoeuvre with your shirt. The most popular and reliable options are good old fashioned white or blue in a light to medium shade.

Having said that, modern offices are now awash with navy, pink and lilac. As for striped shirts, feel free. A smart, thinly striped blue and white shirt is always a great option, and pairs beautifully with a navy or midnight blue suit. 

When it comes to cufflinks, it’s worth bearing in mind that these are for very formal dress codes, so it’s best to steer clear while dressing for a business professional environment.

Completing the Business Professional Look: The Right Shoes

Black, brown, or burgundy leather dress shoes are the go-to for perfecting your business professional attire. Oxfords are very formal, but the more relaxed nature of the rest of your outfit will make up for that, so feel free to lace them up. A few other great options are brogues, Venetian loafers, derbies or indeed a smart pair of buckled monk straps. However, the style of your shoes is less important than the condition they’re in, so always keep them spick and span, allowing to gently elevate the rest of your outfit.

By now, looking great with the business professional dress code should seem much easier to achieve. Check out our related articles and guides below, and stop by the Nickson Online Store when you’re ready to purchase your next business shirt.

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