Dressing for Success in Business

One of the first things students learn upon entering the workplace is their companies’ dress codes. This may differ depending on where you work or when attending a company event outside of your normal workday.

Current students will also encounter these dress codes for events in the Trulaske College of Business. This may include events for Business Career Services, the Professional EDGE and acting as a student representative at an alumni or networking event. Follow the guidelines below for the gender you identify with on how to dress at these events and in a future workplace.

Note: If wearing a sleeveless blouse or dress, please also wear a layering piece in-line with the attire group.

Business formal may be the clothing worn to a professional banquet or social event. Students required to wear business formal may be acting as a student representative of a Trulaske organization at an alumni or networking event. This may also be referred to as “business cocktail,” and includes:

Men: A pressed suit and tie (including suit jacket and pressed or ironed shirt); dress shoes with socks.

Women: Dress, dressy pantsuit/skirtsuit or dress pants and pressed blouse. Hemlines should hit at or below the knee. Necklines should be conservative. Jewelry and shoes may be more embellished.

All: If you are a member of the Armed Forces, you may choose to wear your appropriate dress uniform.

Business professional wear for men should include suit and tie (this includes a suit jacket). For women, business professional wear should include pantsuit or skirtsuit (this includes a suit jacket). Dress shoes are necessary for both men and women.

Business professional wear may be considered “traditional” business wear or “smart” business wear. This includes:

Men: A suit and tie (including a suit jacket), dress shoes with socks.

Women: Pantsuit or skirtsuit (including a suit jacket) dress shoes or heels. Necklines should be conservative.

All: Keep jewelry and other accessories to a minimum.

Business casual wear has fewer set “rules” than business professional. In general, business casual for women includes casual pants or skirts as well as tailored shirts and knits. For men, business casual includes casual pants with polo-style shirt, dress or other style collared shirt with optional tie. Denim jeans/pants, shorts and sportswear are NOT appropriate for business casual.

Business casual wear has fewer set “rules” than business formal or business professional. This includes:

Men: Casual pants, khakis or dress pants with tailored shirts, polos, dress shirt and tie or sweaters/cardigans. Dress shoes or clean, casual shoes (not athletic shoes).

Women: Casual pants, khakis, skirts (at or below knee-length) or dress pants with tailored shirts or blouses, polos, dress shirts or sweaters/cardigans. Dresses (at or below knee-length). Dress shoes or clean, casual shoes (not athletic shoes).

Casual wear is every day wear, as you would wear to class. Jeans, sportswear, T-shirts, flip flops and tennis shoes are all acceptable.

Casual wear is usually the least restrictive attire one might encounter in the workplace. Keep in mind that you represent Trulaske and the University of Missouri and want to make a good impression, so dress for a future employer – they may be a guest in Cornell Hall. For students, this includes:

Men: Jeans (in good condition), khakis, shirts with or without collars, sweaters or sweatshirts, Sneakers or casual shoes.

Women: Jeans (in good condition), khakis, skirts, or capris/cropped pants, shirts with or without collars, sweaters or sweatshirts. Skirts should be of appropriate length. Sneakers or casual shoes.

All: Khaki shorts may be worn as casual wear in warmer weather or shorts may be worn if part of a uniform. Avoid athletic wear.

*Note: Athletic wear, including gym shorts, tank tops (without layering piece) or yoga pants, i.e. “gym clothes,” is not considered appropriate casual wear for the office. Please see the “athletic” section below for when these items are appropriate.

Athletic wear is not recommended for the workplace, unless needed for a specific event, e.g.

  • A company retreat where recreation is part of the agenda
  • A company athletic game or competition (such as a softball game or field day)
  • Participating in an outdoor or fitness event (such as visiting Camp Trulaske)

If ever in doubt, just ask!