Dress codes deciphered
By Laura Morsch
Editor's Note: CNN.com has a business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
It's your first day at your new job. Your new boss told you the dress code at your new company is "your standard business casual." That sounded simple enough at the time, but now, as you stand wearily in front of your closet, you're at a complete loss.
You don't think you should wear a suit, but are khakis appropriate? Do you need to wear a button-down shirt and tie? How about a polo shirt?
Whether you're just starting out in the working world, starting a new job or simply moving to another department or position, figuring out a new dress code can be a real gamble. Business casual... executive casual... mainstream casual... What's the difference?
Fortunately, Susan Bixler, CEO of the Professional Image, Inc., and Nancy Nix-Rice in their book, "The New Professional Image" (Adams Media), break down the different levels of dress codes for men and women.
Baseline casual is the norm in super-casual offices. It's also standard wear for employees in more buttoned up workplaces on days when they'll be cleaning their offices, taking a client to a baseball game or attending the company picnic.
Mainstream casual is another word for your standard biz-casual attire. Bixler writes that most managers and staff wear this type of clothing because it's comfortable, but it has a down-to-business attitude.
Executive casual is the logical look for business owners and senior management -- basically formal business clothing with a relaxed attitude. Executive casual is the very dressiest of casual clothing, complete with luxurious fabrics and elegant tailoring. In some conservative fields, it's the only standard for those who have a lot of contact with clients.
Traditional business wear can be summed up (generally) in three words: suit and tie. Despite the popularity of business casual, the traditional business wardrobe is still very much alive, and most businesspeople occasionally need to dress in this traditional attire.
Boardroom attire screams "I made it" to the outside world. Boardroom attire is made of the most luxurious fabrics, the best fit and the most exceptional accessories. It's standard for CEOs, and adopted by many second-level executives who hope to "dress for the job they want."
Laura Morsch is a writer for CareerBuilder.com.
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