Knowing how to navigate the dress code fine print of corporate events can indeed be a source of stress. Whilst still set firmly in a professional environment, the often-elevated mood of such occasions can make it difficult to strike a balance between your regular workplace wardrobe and something perhaps more casual. Interacting with colleagues in a social setting is unknown territory for many and can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will explain just how to appropriately style yourself for your workplace event, allowing you to convey both personality and professionalism.

Event attire explained

Before planning your attire, it is important to consider what type of event you are going to be attending, and what choice of clothing is therefore going to be appropriate. Take a close look at the invitation and ask yourself several questions; where is the event set? Are there going to be industry experts present? What time of day is it going to take place? Generally, there are three accepted styles when it comes to corporate occasions that vary in levels of formality.

Business casual

The least formal in the tripartite of clothing choices, but still retaining a hint of professionalism, business casual permits men to wear a blazer with a front-buttoned shirt (or a polo) with a smart pair of slacks. Women are invited to wear a casual blouse, or a knee length skirt. This style is best suited to more relaxed and casual corporate occasions, such as outdoor drinks or when you need to move around on the dancefloor.

Business attire

Business attire is appropriate for more professionally focused events, such as trade shows or when an industry expert is delivering a lecture. Whilst still in a casual corporate setting, for these occasions your choice of clothing should be upscaled, meaning that smart and sophisticated men’s business suits (with or without a tie) are an appropriate style to consider, as well as longer dresses with closed-toe shoes being an acceptable alternative for women.

Black tie

This corporate event style is typically specified on the event invitation. As the most formal of the three clothing options, black tie typically enjoins men to wear a sharp, well-fitting tuxedo, complete with bowtie, and women to wear long length formal evening gowns or dresses. In other words, for black tie events, it is important to look as sophisticated and professional as possible.

The importance of the correct attire

As stated above, it is important that you understand the nature of whatever corporate event you have been invited to attend. By doing this, you will be able to select an appropriate outfit that reflects the overall mood of your business occasion so that you can impress both your colleagues and management. As our clothing choices often directly correspond with our success at work, the same notion applies to professional events held outside of the workplace, so it is crucial that you don’t keep it too casual, and vice versa. Whichever event attire you choose to wear, it is important that it not only reflects your personality, but your professionalism.