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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.


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