Suave Committee Attire
A guide to dressing professionally.
Colors their impact and the impression they create
Color has a definite psychological and emotional impact on us. Being aware of the emotional impact that the colors you have selected to wear will have on others is an important consideration and can affect the people with whom you are meeting.
Within colors, there are warm and cool tones. Warm tones are lighter than cool tones, which makes them appear larger than cool colors.
Dark colors minimize size and make a person appear smaller. Wearing a dark skirt with matching hose and shoes can make a short woman appear taller. Navy and black are true "power" colors. Black is the color of sophistication and power. Only women can wear all black during the day. On a man, all black is best reserved for a black-tie affair. Gray is the color of teamwork, agreement, and passivity. In a darker charcoal shade, gray is a true power color. In a lighter shade, it becomes more relaxed. Gray is a good choice for people in sales, banking, or finance.
The primary colors are yellow, red, and blue.
Red is the most active and energetic color. It is the color of the initiator. No wonder red foulard ties are considered "power" ties. For women, red is an excellent choice for jackets, blouses, and dresses. It is usually too strong in a suit. For men, red is an excellent and powerful accent color.
Yellow should always be paired with a business power color such as navy, gray, or black. Light yellow can be a good shirt color for men and can also work well in ties. Women should avoid solid yellow suits, however.
Blue is probably the universal favorite color, worn well by men and women. Literally everyone looks good in blue. For this reason, it is a frequent color choice. Navy blue is a true power color. Medium-tone blue becomes friendlier. Light blue is a weak color. Both men and women should reserve navy pinstripes for the most powerful look. Men should not use blue for accessories. Women should use navy for shoes and purses, but not for a briefcase.
Green - Men should not wear light green for business. As a background color in a patterned tie, green is acceptable. Women should wear bright green in small doses as it has a less serious impact on people. Lighter shades of green can look cheap. Darker shades are generally acceptable.
Pink, either in a deep shade or softer shades of rose, is an excellent choice for women's blouses, dresses, or scarves. Men can wear pink in small doses; say in a solid, pinpoint, oxford cloth shirt. Pink shirts should be reserved for less conservative or creative businesses.
Brown is a color men may want to avoid. It is sometimes associated with old men. However, it is acceptable for a woman to wear various shades of brown.
Orange - Men can wear shades of orange and peach as background colors in a tie or pocket-handkerchief. Women can wear these colors, provided they complement their skin tone, in blouses and dresses so long as they are paired with powerful colors such as navy, gray, and on occasion, black. Light peach looks youthful.
Violet - Men should limit their use of purple to patterned ties. Women can select suits, dresses, or blouses in shades of mauve, violet, periwinkle, or purple.
White is a summer color and should only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Men should wear white shoes only for leisurewear. Under no circumstances should white be used for belts or purses. Women can wear white suits during the day in the summer, but men should reserve them for after 6 p.m. in the summer. White, however, is the power color for men's shirts.
Winter white and ecru can be worn year-round and are often more flattering to the wearer than stark white, which can make one look too pale or sallow.
Burgundy is especially elegant and powerful when teamed with gray. Men will find that burgundy ties offer the richest look with gray, navy, and tan suits.
Tan or khaki is the best color for rainwear, especially for men. It can be worn by men in summer suits, which are more casual in appearance, but should not be part of a starter wardrobe.
Using colors to emphasize your hair and eyes, to flatter your skin and figure, and to achieve a desired psychological effect will make the creation of your business and casual wardrobe a positive experience.
Business Dress For Women
Suits make the ultimate power statement; however, dresses are acceptable business attire. For a more polished look, add a jacket over the dress.
Jewel tones of ruby, teal, fuchsia, jade, sapphire, and purple are appropriate colors for business clothes as long as they are used in quality fabrics and are classically styled.
All clothing must be clean and pressed.
Shorter fingernails with clear or understated polish are a good business look.
Less makeup and lighter fragrances are most appropriate for business.
Be comfortable with what you are wearing, especially if you are interviewing, starting a new job, or attending an important meeting. The last thing you want to do is tug on or fuss with your clothes or accessories.
Observe the corporate environment where you will be working. Start with the basics – a suit, preferably in navy or black. Add separates such as skirts, a two-piece or shirtwaist dress, and some basic jackets that coordinate with the skirts and can be worn over the dresses.
Keep your eyes open and look at what successful women in the organization are wearing.
Choose leather heels at least 1 to 1 ½ inches high in darker colors such as black, taupe, navy, or burgundy. Don't wear shoes that reveal too much of your foot, such as strappy sandals. Discard shoes that look run-down.
Always wear hosiery. Avoid opaque hose. Sheer hose (in a taupe shade) are always the best choice.
Avoid mini skirts and skirts with leg-revealing slits.
Buy quality, not quantity. If you have to, start out with only one good suit, dress, pair of heels, handbag, coat, and briefcase. You can always add to your wardrobe.
Do wear jewelry that is appropriate to the workplace. Avoid wearing too much jewelry and pieces that clang together, such as many loud bangle bracelets.
Dress for the level for which you aspire – dress for where you are headed, not the level where you start.
Business Dress For Men
Appearance can be everything, especially when making that important first impression. Men should remember that the more conservative look will always serve them best in the business world. Clothing for work should always be purchased before buying the clothes for nighttime and weekend wear. Build a basic business wardrobe.
Good clothing costs money. Don't waste money on clothing that is not versatile, is trendy, or is of such poor quality it will not be long lasting. Always buy clothing which will complement your existing wardrobe or which will start a new outfit. Don't buy that tie you think is attractive if you have nothing to wear with it. Basic outfits that can be varied with shirts and ties will be good value. Take note of what people who look good are wearing. Mail order catalogs for men's clothing companies can be very helpful in your developing an understanding of what is good business wear.
Suits are the basis for nearly any wardrobe. A suit should certainly be worn to the job interview. A medium gray is a good color choice for a first suit, navy for a second. Basics of good suits for business include the following considerations:
Single breasted, two-button suits with a single center vent are best. A man wearing a double-breasted jacket needs to be thin and tall and always needs to keep his jacket buttoned. Fabrics of wool and polyester in at least a 55% to 45% ratio offer good value. This fabric, while not as luxurious as all wool, provides an excellent all-year weight and resists wrinkling very well. Never buy all polyester clothing. Suits should be plain in pattern, but may have a soft stripe or muted plaid. The more of a pattern a suit has, the more casual it appears. A striped navy suit is perhaps the most formal. Lapels should be 3 to 3 1/2 inches wide. Brass buttons belong only on a blazer. Sport Coats -
If the work environment allows for sport coats, make your first acquisition a navy blue blazer in a lighter weight material. Pants of medium dark gray or darker tan go well with this jacket. A navy blazer can be dressed up with a white shirt and conservative tie or made more casual with other combinations. A camel colored sport coat or blazer would make a good second sport coat.
Sport coats that are patterned and multicolored can make the selection of appropriate shirts and ties difficult. Also, the greater the pattern of any piece of clothing, the more it is remembered by your fellow workers. You won't feel comfortable in wearing outfits with strong patterns or colors frequently. As in all clothing, the more pattern and color you wear, the more casual you appear.
Shirts should be all cotton or a blend of cotton and polyester. Cotton should predominate in blends. All-cotton shirts are most comfortable and look better longer, but they should always be sent to a professional laundry. Shirts of a cotton blend still require touch up with spray starch and an iron. Be careful not to keep shirts of a blend too long, as they get very tired looking.
Buy plain-colored shirts. Because stripes are less versatile, wait to purchase those shirts until your wardrobe is quite extensive. White is basic and the most formal. After purchasing several white shirts, add a few light blue and perhaps a light yellow one or two to your collection. Plain-colored shirts with a pattern woven into the material should be avoided.
Always wear a white crew-necked tee shirt to make your dress shirt look its best. Replace broken or missing buttons immediately. Make sure your shirts are larger rather than smaller in fit.
Ties should be of 100% silk fabric. These ties give and keep the best knot. Spray new ties with a fabric protector. Discard spotted ties right away as they cannot be cleaned effectively. Steam, never iron, wrinkles from ties. The width of ties should be 3 to 3 1/2 inches, the same as your jacket lapels or narrower. As in other clothing, the more color and pattern, the more casual the tie is. Select two or three ties at the time you buy your suits. This will allow for a good match.
Don't wear plain ties with plain shirts and suits. Burgundy and red are good colors. Small repeating patterns offer good versatility.
The length of your tied tie should reach to the middle of your belt buckle. This length is extremely important. NO shirt should show between the tip of the tie and your trousers.
Above all, your shoes must be clean and polished, including their sole edges. Black and cordovan are the safest colors for shoes.
A four- or five-eyelet tie shoe with a plain toe is very safe. Wingtips are acceptable as are tasseled loafers. Any shoe that resembles a boat shoe or moccasin, has rawhide laces, has a fabric component, or is designed not to shine is inappropriate for business.
Belts. Belts should be the same width as belt loops. A simple buckle is best for business. Buy a new belt when your old one is stretched or scuffed. (They can often be touched up with shoe polish.) A black belt will go with most outfits. A cordovan color belt makes an attractive second belt. For business, belts should always be leather. Never wear a belt with braces.
Suspenders are generally worn with pleated trousers and are attached to the trousers by buttons sewn inside the waistband. Pleated trousers are fine if the pleats are not reversed. The trousers should break at the shoe. Trousers that are too short are inappropriate.
Socks should be wool or a wool blend and always be darker than your shoes and trousers. Over-the-calf socks are a must! Helpful hint - only buy black socks. Black socks will go with all your outfits.
Clean fingernails are a must. Hair can reach to your collar but cannot be shaggy. Brushcuts and spike haircuts are out if you wish to be taken seriously. Beards and mustaches are very risky to the appearance of anyone in business.
Appropriate Business Casual Dress
It seems like some of this may be appropriate for the last committee session, however, delegates should avoid being underdressed. If in doubt, wear a coat and tie; you can always remove the tie to make it more casual.
Some companies allow business casual dress days. This is NOT a day to wear jeans and your favorite sweatshirt. In many cases, casual dress day (also referred to as "dress down day") means that men may choose not to wear a tie and women may choose to wear slacks and a blazer rather than the traditional skirt suit. Use the list below as a guideline. Be sure to check with company policy before wearing casual clothing to work. Always err on the side of being over dressed.
- Dress Slacks
- Pressed button down oxford shirts
- Pressed blouses
- Tucked in shirts and blouses
- Polished loafers
- Closed toed shoes
- Denim (!)
- Sweatpants or Sweatshirts
- Tank tops or spaghetti straps
- Jeans - any color
- Open toed shoes or sandals