Recommendations for business attire

A speaker’s external appearance should match that of the audience. It shouldn’t be hard to anticipate how your audience is likely to be dressed and decide on your own style to suit that of the listeners and the type of presentation.

As far as the color palette is concerned, speakers at events should choose neutral colors that suit them. Here are, however, some specific recommendations.

Most people see the color white as a sign of honesty. Moreover, this color is neutral and practically no one sees it in a negative light. However, in order to avoid looking too pretentious, it should be “diluted” with a color detail, such as a tie or kerchief.

A navy blue suit engenders trust among business people. It’s the hallmark of a polished and presentable look.

Flashy, irritating colors (e.g. bright reds or oranges) should be avoided. Some find them off-putting, while some listeners would be distracted from what you have to say. Your goal is for people to remember what you said, not how you were dressed.

Oftentimes event invites indicate a dress code. If that’s the case, it must be strictly adhered to. Let’s take a look at the most popular dress styles at events:

Smart Casual

This style combines day-to-day and business clothing, including both the lightness of casual and the structure of professionalism. What’s taken from the business side of things includes fine seams, thick fabric, and stylish buttons. A confident look can be achieved through designs including casual style elements or textured weaves.


A formal, but not overly official style. For men, a classic dark suit is recommended, with the lowest jacket button always left unfastened and the starched shirtsleeve cuffs extending about an inch past the waistcoat’s. Socks should be several shades darker than slacks. For women there are special cocktail gowns that are perfect for this dress code.

Smart Business

Here, business suits are practically mandatory – but they do not necessarily have to be in official colors like black and gray. Bright color accents in the form of ties and accessories are allowed for both men and women.

Business Best

This style of clothing is often encountered at official receptions, and it requires discipline and class-consciousness. In the case of men, a dark suit and white shirt with cufflinks and black shoes is recommended. For women, lighter-toned suits and low pumps are permissible.

Black Tie

This style of attire is for when the event is not only important, but celebratory, relaying a refined, elegant, and distinguished atmosphere. Men will need a tuxedo and a black bow tie. Natural leather shoes must be classic, such as Oxford or Derby. For women, long floor-length evening gowns and high-heeled shoes are required.

For men

A businesslike image is best achieved through single-color suits, such as dark gray, dark blue, black. Tie colors should be of a similar tone: e.g., gray and pearl, navy and red, or deep maroon. These color combinations will not distract or irritate your partners, and your appearance with highlight your respect toward them. It is well known that a bright tie with an ornate pattern exerts a certain emotional pressure in conversation.

In official situations, the suit jacket must be fastened. This applies to negotiations as well as conferences. Whether entering a meeting room, sitting among a presidium or giving a report, the buttons should be done up. The same goes for when entering a theatre auditorium or restaurant. The only button left undone always is the lowest one. When reclining or sitting down to eat, the buttons can be unfastened.

The etiquette of all types of business events requires white shirts. In all other cases, the color of the shirt must coordinate well with that of the suit. The best length for a tie is down to the waist of the slacks, and the knot should be neat and tidy.

For shoes, black or dark brown Oxfords with low or high ankles go well with formal suit colors. Black shoes can be worn with suits of any color. During the day, especially in the summer, lighter suits are preferred, while in the evening and in the winter, darker tones are best. Light-toned shoes should be worn with a lighter suit.

Hats should match the rest of the clothing in color and style. Felt hats are worn with a good wool coat, while leather, fabric and fine-weave hats combine well with mackintoshes and more casual coats.

Gloves, scarves and handkerchiefs should coordinate with the rest of the outfit in terms of color and pattern. Pens, pencils, combs and other items should not be left sticking up out of outer breast pockets.

In the business world, lacking a belt is considered a sign of bad character. Belts can be black or brown. Buckles, like the other elements of the suit, must be conservative. Each businessperson must have a wristwatch: on the left wrist for right-handed, and on the right for left-handed people. Athletic watches (except for classic models) and watches that are too bright in color should also not be worn.

For women

It’s fair to apply the same principles toward women as well: color elements of make-up, dresses and accessories must complement each other, with the clothes cut in a way that suits the body type, although, without a doubt, women’s fashion is more disposed to variety than men’s.

A businesswoman leading negotiations with business partners, colleagues and leaders in their structure, as well as representatives of the Company, should wear attire that is functional and elegant. Dresses with deep cuts and mini-skirts are not recommended. The clothing should not distract from serious conversation. It shouldn’t include flashy colors or copious glittery thread. The basis for business attire in women is the suit dress or skirt suit. Pant suits and knitwear are not for all occasions. Accessories are an important element. Fewer, high-quality items, from prestigious brands, will make the greatest impact.