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Civility: Use business casual smartly

Part 2: Relaxed dress codes can help to create a more relaxed and laid-back workplace, but also can decrease productivity. For interviews, always try to look neat and clean, with no rips or tears in your clothing.

Avoid wrinkled or soiled clothing, T-shirts with logos, dirty sneakers and poor grooming. Wear polished shoes, rubber-soled leather or athletic shoes. Check to learn about the culture of the company that you are interviewing.

Inappropriate business casual


Pants: Sweatpants, leggings and exercise wear

Shirts: Shirts with writing (other than your company’s logo), T-shirts or sweatshirts, beachwear, sleeveless blouses or shirts, exercise wear, crop tops, midriffs and spaghetti straps.


Shoes: Sandals, thongs, flip-flops, open-toed shoes, athletic shoes, tennis shoes and Crocs.

Appropriate business casual for men

Sport jacket or blazer, trousers or pressed khakis; shirts with collars, tucked into pants; button-down shirts; dress shoes and matching belt; loafers are acceptable.

Dark socks that are mid-calf, conservative wristwatch and simple tie (if within your corporate culture).

Appropriate business casual for women

Casual jacket or blazer with well-pressed trousers or a skirt; jacketed tailored dress; tailored knit sweaters/sweater sets; knee-length or longer skirt/ blouse; business-like, dark-color shoes/hosiery. Avoid wearing heavy makeup or flashy or distracting jewelry. Tailored pantsuits, businesslike dresses, and coordinated dressy separates worn with or without a blazer, and conservative closed-toe shoes.


Poor grooming or hygiene, offensive perfumes and body odor, and inappropriate dress may create a situation that creates a violation of policy, in which employee may be required to go home, change, and return to work. Appearance involves civility and consideration for others. Clothing helps to define who you are, how you feel about yourself and how you feel about others. Clothing can create a powerful presence. Use it to your advantage — or to your detriment.

DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP conducts workshops, seminars and private consultations. Contact her at (626) 584-9761 or