What does a formal dress look like?

Freelancer & Founder

How often have you thought about what to wear with the "business casual" dress code on the invitation to a company event or congress? Or have you pondered what is meant by "festive evening wear" when you were invited to the evening? Have you ever started a broadcast among colleagues and departmental assistants because of this? Wouldn't it have been nice if the person inviting me had made it clear?

The experts Anke Quittschau and Christina Tabernig from the training institute correct! bring light into the darkness of the dress codes. You have created an overview of the most important dress codes in business life with the do's and don'ts:

Day Informal / Business Attire / Tenue de Ville

occasion: Business trip

tip: It's about a business day that is spent outside of your own business premises and / or with external partners / customers. A dark suit (usually dark gray, anthracite or dark blue) with a shirt, tie and simple shoes is expected.

That is not how it works: Jeans or other casual clothing.

Business (highly official)

Occasions: daily business at high management levels, business events

tip: A (three-piece) dark suit with vest, shirt, tie and smooth leather shoes is expected. Simple cufflinks are welcome accessories, the suit should be dark gray, anthracite or dark blue and may have a pinstripe. At an evening event, the suit can also be black. Classic elegance is expected here.

That is not how it works: Light suits, turtlenecks, no tie, button-down shirt.

  1. Stylish business clothes ...
    ... is a fine art. Read our suggestions to avoid the biggest blunders.
  2. The high-quality jacket
    You can recognize a high-quality business jacket by the fact that it has a pocket for a business card on the bottom left. In addition, the more expensive jacket has four instead of three buttons on the sleeves.
  3. The jacket fits right ...
    ... when the collar of the jacket wraps around the neck below the shirt collar so that the shirt collar protrudes about one and a half centimeters. There must be no creases under the collar, otherwise the jacket will look too tight or too wide.
  4. Shirt-sleeved?
    The sleeve of the jacket is one and a half centimeters shorter than the shirt sleeve and extends to the bone of the wrist.
  5. Appear serious
    The correct suit for the job is a dark shade.
  6. The detail makes the difference
    A shark collar looks much more chic than the good old Kent collar.
  7. Simply impossible ...
    ... are button-down shirts on management floors or at business events.
  8. Details, part 2
    A tie is a statement. So tie them neatly with the top button of the shirt closed.
  9. Checkered or Striped?
    If you prefer patterned shirts, opt for an inconspicuous design or classic stripes for the tie.
  10. From head to toe
    Nothing ruins your outfit faster than a stylish or neglected shoe. You are always right with the classics (oxfords and brogues).
  11. Color combinations
    You don't wear brown belts or brown shoes with black suits. At least not as a German. Italians also get this station wagon chic.
  12. Less is more.
    Always choose a plain shirt with a pinstripe suit.
  13. Another no-go ...
    .... are naked man's calves! This is only possible with sports! Make sure that the socks do not show any skin even when the legs are rolled over. Play it safe with knee socks.
  14. A man is a man ...
    ... jewelry is therefore still not accepted in the business environment. Men should limit themselves to a maximum of one or two rings and a wristwatch.
  15. Sometimes casual is also possible
    At business lunches or for a drink after work, the tie can sometimes be missing.
  16. Fell for it?
    Business casual as a dress code suggests a casual look, but only within the appropriate framework: Jeans are absolutely taboo, as are shorts or open shoes.
  17. For advanced
    Business casual, part 2: Polo shirts, colored shirts and / or fine knitted sweaters in combination with cotton or corduroy trousers are stylish.

Business (official)

Occasions: daily business in middle and higher management levels, business events

tip: A two- or three-piece, dark suit with shirt, tie and smooth leather shoes is expected. In addition to the usual dark colors, the suit can also be gray, brown or cognac-colored. However, you should coordinate the color of your shoes and belt, especially with brown suits. Pinstripes, colored ties and shirts in pastel shades with fine stripes or lattice checks are allowed. Pay attention to a subtle combination, otherwise the look will quickly appear overloaded.

The rule is: Never wear more than two designs at the same time.

That is not how it works: Sweaters, unbuttoned shirts, button-down shirt, no tie, neglected shoes, light-colored socks.

Semi formal

Occasions: Everyday business with contact to the executive suite, business trip

tip: This dress code sounds more casual than it is, as it contains a mixture of the above-mentioned classic outfits. The expected degree of elegance should not be underestimated: during the day the man definitely wears a dark suit, shirt and tie.

That is not how it works: After work look with a loosened tie, rolled up sleeves and a jacket thrown over the shoulder. Semi-formal or "semi-formal" does not mean "half" -formal!

Business casual

Occasions: Events after the office, casual business events, internal meetings without a boardroom

Professional tip: Business Casual should not be confused with Casual or Casual Friday. The definition for this dress code is: suit with shirt without tie. A combination of jacket and trousers without a tie would also be possible. Button-down shirts instead of business shirts are possible here.

gaffe: no jeans, boat shoes or clothes that are too colorful. The word "business" still indicates the framework in which you are.

Casual

Occasions: Brunch, sightseeing as part of a business trip, internal meeting outside the office

tip: This dress code suggests a casual look, but only within the appropriate framework: Jeans, shorts and open shoes are absolutely taboo. Polo shirts, colored shirts and / or fine knitted sweaters in combination with cotton or corduroy trousers are stylish.

That is not how it works: Sportswear is not desired. Save your shorts for a beach vacation.

  1. Thanks God it's Friday!
    On Friday, too, you should stick to the principle: What is worn in the office should also look like the office. So if it has to be a pair of jeans, then one without holes, please.
  2. The behavior experts ...
    ... Christina Tabernig (left) and Anke Quittschau from Korrekt! give a little style guide for Casual Friday.
  3. It doesn't always have to be a blazer ...
    ... with a trouser suit or costume. Blouse with solid-colored, dark jeans (preferably in a regular cut with straight legs, slim jeans look too sexy) or trousers are sufficient. A thin cardigan can also be worn with a blouse.
  4. Women and shoes ...
    Always a wide field! Loafers or ballerinas are fine on Fridays, unless there is an important appointment with the customer or boss.
  5. Always classic
    The style remains classic, women should avoid bare skin and deep necklines even on Fridays.
  6. Tie, no thanks
    Men can do without the tie on Friday. However, wear a button-down shirt so that the collar doesn't look askew from the jacket.
  7. Warning, no-go!
    T-shirts and outdoor clothing are a no-go. A shirt collar is mandatory in a business environment.
  8. Design leeway
    Casual suits made of linen or cotton are possible.
  9. Welcome to the weekend!
    Do not wear sneakers or flip flops. Both belong in the free time.
  10. Even more clothing tips ...
    ... for men can be found here:
  11. How does a woman manage the balancing act between serious and fashionable?
    What skirt length can business women wear? What insights are allowed in business life? This article gives answers to these questions:
  12. A good polo shirt ...
    ... with chinos, however, is possible.

Come as you are (smart casual)

Occasions: Business lunch or a drink after work

tip: This dress code actually means what it sounds like: Come as you are (after office hours), leave your suit on and take off your tie, there is no need to change. However, if you come straight from home, you shouldn't fall into the trap and turn up in jeans. A correct (business) look is expected, so shirt and flannel trousers are the basics.

That is not how it works: Casual wear such as jeans and a T-shirt.

More on clothing, etiquette and manners: