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Civility: Business casual tips

September 08, 2010|By Diana Olson

Part I: The latest statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management show that 89% of U.S. companies allow workers to wear casual clothing one day a week. Forty-four percent of all U.S. businesses have adopted casual all-the-time policies, up from 36% in l998.

The Hewitt Work/Life Survey of 1,020 major U.S. companies indicates that two-thirds of employers offer casual or business casual dress, so this is definitely a casual era. In many companies, a suit may be too formal for an interview. Go online and check out the culture of the particular company with which you have an interview before deciding what to wear.

There are many variations of business casual, but it never includes sweat suits, tennis shoes, shorts, T-shirts with logos, halter tops or tank tops.

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Casual apparel is worn by entry level to high level executives in the tech industry. Clothing typically ranges from jeans and T-shirts to khakis and polo shirts. When workers realize that image affects career opportunities, more workers abide by dressier business casual rules, which include tailored jackets and khaki dress pants.

Corporations and financial institutions still dress more formally. With the current weak economy, there is a tightening of casual dress codes to a more professional image. Uniforms are worn in 9% of the companies or agencies. Khakis are a major acceptance, as are hosiery or socks. While leg wear may be fashionable, a lack of it may be detrimental to one's career.

Different states, regions, departments and agencies vary with their definition of business casual. In the initial orientation and evaluation, these dress codes need to be clearly defined by a firm's human resources department in order to avoid confusion or dilution of a company's brand.

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