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Business Dress and Dining Etiquette

Business Attire Reference Guide

Why a Dress Code

  • Dress Speak: A phrase used to express how clothing and the way it is tailored and worn translates into a personal statement
  • Image and impressions are instantaneous and long lasting
  • At a function, you can always dress down but you can’t dress up
  • Conservative is safe
  • Forty Percent (40%) of all employment rejections are based on personal presentation (dress, mannerisms, posture, grooming)
  • Perceptions (right or wrong) affect:
    1. Professionalism
    2. Sophistication level
    3. Intelligence
    4. Credibility

Business (Interview) Dress – Men

  • Jacket (2 or 3 button) – sleeve should end at middle of wrist bone
  • Suit trousers – cuffs or no cuffs are acceptable
  • Colors – Dark navy, gray, brown, gray
  • Sport Coat – basic navy blue blazer
  • Dress slacks – gray or tan (taupe); should break just above the shoe
  • Shirt (White or light blue); should reach the base of hand; 3/8 inch longer than jacket
  • Belts – color should match shoes
  • Tie – conservative; length should reach bottom of belt
  • Shoes – Black or cordovan; polished; tie shoes. Fred Astaire said, “If you want to know if a fellow is well dressed, look down.”

Business (Interview) Dress – Women

  • Suit – matching skirt and jacket; black, blue, or dark gray
  • Jacket sleeves – ½ inch below wrist
  • Blouse – neutral color; conservative neckline; no sleeveless
  • Shoes – pumps with 1 ½ inch heels; color that compliments suit
  • Earrings – Small; no hoop and/or dangling earrings

Business Casual – Men

  • Trousers – dress, khakis, Dockers, corduroys, wool flannel, linen
  • Shirt – long sleeved solid color (white, light blue, striped) or polo shirt (where appropriate) with collar
  • Shoes – loafers or oxfords
  • Socks – should coordinate with trouser color
  • Facial hair – well groomed
  • Earrings – unacceptable

Business Casual – Women

  • Casual slacks or skirt – solid color and not form fitting
  • Blouses or sweater sets – cotton, silk, or blend
  • Shoes – no high heels; should be closed toe; flats are appropriate
  • Colors may be brighter during warmer seasons (don’t look like an Easter egg)

Other Considerations

  • Perfume and cologne – use sparingly
  • Accessories – simple and to a minimum
  • Rule of thumb –
    1. If it wrinkles or clings, wrap your food in it
    2. When in doubt, leave it out

Unacceptable Attire

  • Jean or denim trousers or shorts
  • Form fitting pants
  • T shirts
  • Hats/caps
  • Workout attire
  • Midriff-bearing clothes
  • Shirts with logos
  • Strapless or tank tops
  • Hiking boots, athletic shoes, sandals

Business Dining Etiquette Guide

Place settings:

Above dinner plate:
Dessert spoon and cake fork
Above and left of dinner plate:
Bread and butter plate
Above and right of dinner plate:
Any drinking glasses
Left side of dinner plate (outside in)- forks:
Right side of dinner plate (outside in):
Soup spoon
Beverage spoon
Salad knife
Dinner knife

Begin eating once everyone is served.



School of Business

Business Building, Room 114
The College of New Jersey
P.O. Box 7718
2000 Pennington Rd.
Ewing, NJ 08628