No matter how long you have been employed in your current position, you will know how to shape your business wardrobe around your company’s dress policy and corporate culture. But how do you dress for those professional events that occur outside of the office environment?
Here, we outline a few events that take place away from the office but still maintain a professional tone and function – as well as a few suggestions on how to dress for them.
Whether a garden party is held as a celebratory gathering for your staff, a summer networking event, or another function, business-related garden parties maintain a more professional tone. As such, you should not dress for a professional or formal garden party as you would for the neighbourhood barbeque.
- For women, a floral, patterned, or solid-colour dress at knee length is a fine choice. Avoid dresses with thin straps or exposed shoulders. To cover up, choose a summer blazer made of light material such as linen, or opt for a cardigan.
- Depending on your corporate culture or the nature of the occasion, sandals may not be entirely appropriate footwear choice. If this is the case, opt for pale closed-toed heels, or an in-between shoe: the peep toe.
- For more on professional summer attire, check out one of our previous posts, “Dressing for Success, Not for the Beach.”
Conferences are a critical place to meet other like-minded professionals, make new contacts, and share your work with your community. As such, formal business attire is a must – even if your corporate culture at the office is business-casual.
- Business formal means a suit: women can opt for either a pantsuit or a matching skirt and blazer set.
- Choose heels, but make sure that it is a shoe that fits you well and is comfortable to stand on for hours on end! In a previous blog post, we discuss some of the best shoe choices for long days, including Ron White’s All-Day Heels. This blog post also features Lisa Ferguson’s advice for choosing the perfect trade show shoe.
Formal Parties and Galas
There are several different levels of dress for formal occasions such as a gala, an evening banquet, or a state- or diplomatic event. Especially for parties held by governments or embassies, the dress code is often on the host organization’s website. This is an excellent guideline, so be sure to check if there is any information provided by the host before you choose your attire.
- A black tie or white tie (the ultimate level of formality) affair calls for a floor-length evening gown. Pair it with a shawl and a petit purse or evening bag.
- For certain black tie events, a shorter dress with a shawl or jacket works as well. Ideally, the dress should not hang above the knee.
- Black tie events may also be labeled as “black tie creative.” If this is the case, have fun with the theme! Just be sure that your attire meets the standards of formality as well as aligns with the theme.
- For more attire tips on the formal gala, see our previous post, “An Evening of Elegance: The Formal Gala.”
Traveling for Business
As we have discussed, you may find networking opportunities in the most unusual of places – and most of them rarely take place inside your office. In this case, you want to look your professional best, even when in transit between places.
- When traveling for business, maintain a minimum of a business casual dress code. Do not dress as if you are heading to a beach vacation, and do not show up at the airport in yoga pants. You never know who you may meet – and network with – en route to your destination.
- Choose a skirt or dress pants that fit you well and won’t become uncomfortable after hours of sitting. Underneath a blazer or cardigan, wear a shirt of comfortable and stretchy material – and keep an extra shirt in your bag to change into when you arrive.
- Similarly, keep a pair of comfortable yet still elegant flats in your carry-on. You do not want to be stuck in heels during unexpected delays or long walks through the airport.