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Guide To Gender Neutral Attire

By Indeed Editorial Team

March 8, 2021

There are many gender-neutral clothing options available for all forms of business attire, from casual to formal. While it’s important to observe your company’s dress code, you don’t have to sacrifice individuality to find clothing that makes you feel comfortable and professional. In this article, we discuss what gender-neutral attire is and offer tips and examples for any type of business setting.

What is gender-neutral clothing?

Gender-neutral, or gender-free clothing, is attire that avoids what is traditionally considered hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine elements. Gender-neutral clothing is appropriate for any person to wear, regardless of the gender with which you may identify. Slacks or pants are one example of gender-neutral clothing. They can be dressed up or down depending on the office environment and you can pair slacks with a wide variety of tops, shoes and accessories for a more individualized look.

Tips for gender-neutral attire in any professional setting

First impressions matter, whether it’s a job interview, a networking event or the first day at a new job. It is certainly possible to look professional and still feel comfortable and confident that your clothes express your unique personality.

Here are a few tips for selecting clothes for a professional setting:

  • Clothes should be clean, in good condition and free of wrinkles, holes, lint, pilling and excessive fading.
  • Clothes should fit properly and not be too tight or too baggy.
  • Make sure that any piercings or visible tattoos you have align with company guidelines.
  • Add some color and personality to your outfit with accessories, shoes and layered items, such as cardigans and jackets.
  • When in doubt, consider how your coworkers dress and follow the same general principles. For instance, if no one wears jeans you will probably want to reserve those kinds of outfits for weekends.

Tips for gender-neutral attire in specific professional settings

Gender-neutral clothing should support your effort to look polished, professional and comfortable. You can incorporate gender-neutral clothing into your wardrobe for any professional situation. Here are some tips for deciding what to wear in specific settings:

Dressing for a job interview

Do a bit of research about the company and their culture. If possible, find photos of people in the office to see what they are wearing and dress one step more formal than they are. For example, if the company accepts casual dress, you should select a smart casual or business casual outfit. If you are interviewing for a more traditional industry, such as finance or law, you should wear professional attire for your interview.

Dressing for your first day on the job

It is typically appropriate to err on the side of business casual unless there is an industry standard. Once you are able to observe the way others dress you can adjust your clothing accordingly. It is also appropriate to ask the recruiter, HR manager or hiring manager if the company has a dress code.

Dressing for a conference or networking event

Notice the tone of the messaging around the event (including invites or emails you may have received). While they might explicitly state any attire requirements, you might also be able to gain context about the event. For example, if the messaging seems highly professional, you might err on the side of formal dress. If you are attending the event with others, ask them about the way they might dress.

Read more: How To Dress for a Job Interview

Honoring employer dress codes

An employer’s dress code dictates the style of clothing employees should wear to work. Gender-neutral attire can also be applied to any employer’s dress code. Here are several examples of gender-neutral clothing you could wear for different dress codes:


Casual dress is the least formal form of business attire. This is common among creative industries and tech companies. Gender-neutral tops that are casual include t-shirts, henleys, sweatshirts and colorful tops. Casual bottoms include jeans, khakis and chinos. There are many styles including skinny, straight leg, bootcut and wide-cut you can use to change up your look. For shoes, you might wear tennis shoes, boots or sandals.

Even if your workplace allows casual dress, you should still pay close attention to how people dress in your workplace. A good rule of thumb is to mimic a person’s dress at the professional level you aspire to be. You can also dress in a“smart casual” style, which incorporates both casual and formal pieces to achieve a more stylish look. Generally, you should still avoid tank tops, flip-flops, workout clothing and anything that is torn or highly distressed.

Business casual

Business casual attire is the most standard form of dress code and it’s a good default option if you’re unsure about what to wear. Slightly more formal than casual dress, business casual standards include button-down shirts and pullover sweaters with chinos, slacks and khakis. You may also be able to wear well-fitting, dark-colored jeans in some settings. Gender-neutral, business professional shoes include boots, loafers, oxfords and clean, professional-looking sneakers.

Business professional

Business professional clothing is often the most formal workplace attire, commonly required by more traditional industries such as finance, legal and other client-facing roles. A good suit is the best option for business professional settings. Depending on your preferences, you might wear a tan, navy or black suit jacket or sport coat with a matching pair of fitted trousers. Business professional suits should be dark or neutral, with lighter-colored tops or shirts.

Avoid complex patterns and bright colors, and opt for close-toed dress shoes with or without a heel. You should also consider carrying a professional bag, portfolio or backpack to store personal items and cell phones. Other accessories include watches, belts and simple, minimal jewelry.

BUSINESS CASUAL ATTIRE — Click to Learn More —

What Does “Business Casual” Mean? (With Example Outfits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

March 8, 2021

When preparing for an event that requires business casual attire, such as a meeting, interview or first day at a new job, it can feel challenging to select the right outfit. While many organizations adhere to a business casual dress code, there’s no single, agreed-upon definition of what it means.

Wearing the right clothing has the ability to make you feel confident, comfortable and capable. As such, learning about the standards of business casual attire can help you can strike a balance between dressing too formal and too casual. In this guide, we’ll define business casual attire with examples of appropriate business casual outfit ideas for men and women.

My Business Casual Interview Outfit – Rent the Runway Employee

What is business casual?

Business casual attire is broadly defined as a code of dress that blends traditional business wear with a more relaxed style still professional and appropriate enough for an office environment. For example, in a business casual setting, you could wear slacks or khakis and a polo or blouse without a jacket or tie. With more jobs becoming remote and more virtual meetings, you may only have to worry about your attire from the top up.

If you’re attending an interview and are unsure of the appropriate attire, you should first ask your point of contact arranging the interview if they can confirm the company’s dress code. If that’s not possible, then business casual is typically your best dress option. Employers may have different definitions of what constitutes business casual attire, so you should reference the official dress code policy for specific details if available.

Business casual attire is common in organizations where customers or clients often visit the premises, such as law offices and financial institutions or for employees in public-facing roles such as sales and customer service. To help you choose the right outfit, below are several examples of business casual attire.


Business casual ideas for women

There is a wide array of business casual dress options for women from tidy jeans and slacks to blouses and sweaters. If you’re unsure what is considered acceptable in a specific setting, it’s best to select more traditionally accepted business casual outfits. Then you can observe your surroundings and adjust accordingly.

Business casual clothing options for women might include:

  • Slacks, khaki pants, chinos, dark jeans without holes or knee-length skirts
  • Blouses, sweaters, button-downs, henleys or polo shirts
  • Knee-length or maxi dresses
  • Optional hosiery or tights, especially for added warmth during colder months
  • Optional cardigans, blazers or jackets
  • Closed-toed shoes such as lifestyle sneakers, loafers, oxfords, pumps, flats or boots
  • Simple, professional accessories such as scarves, belts or jewelry

Read more: Guide To Women’s Business Casual Attire

Business casual ideas for men

Business casual attire for men is typically more straightforward. Acceptable options fall between a full suit and pants paired with a professional shirt, button-down or sweater.

Business casual clothing options for men might include:

  • Business dress pants, khakis, dark jeans without holes or pressed slacks
  • Button-down shirts, dress shirts, sweaters or polo shirts
  • Closed-toed shoes such as lifestyle sneakers, loafers, oxfords or brogues
  • Optional belt that matches your shoes
  • Optional tie and jacket, cardigan or sport coat, especially for added warmth during colder months

Read more: Guide To Men’s Business Casual Attire

Gender-neutral business casual

There are also gender-neutral options for business casual dress. During interviews and at work, it’s important to feel confident in what you wear. If you’re not comfortable conforming to women’s or men’s attire, consider these options:

  • Slacks, khakis or other non-denim pants
  • A sweater, button-down shirt or another tidy-looking style like a henley or polo shirt
  • Boots, loafers, oxfords, lifestyle sneakers or dress sneakers made of leather or canvas

Read more: Guide To Gender Neutral Attire

Defining business casual by industry

The definition of business casual attire can vary by industry and can be impacted even further by individual company culture. Here are a few examples of how business casual can look in common industries:

  • Agencies: In a creative agency setting—advertising, digital, etc.—it’s certainly acceptable to add a bit of creative flair to your attire such as a pop of color, or a printed tie or shirt.
  • Education: Most educators work in a classroom or office and can wear khakis and a polo with loafers or lifestyle sneakers, or even dark, non-ripped jeans with a nice shirt and flats, lifestyle sneakers, loafers or oxfords. Many combinations of business casual styles work for educators.
  • Entertainment: In the entertainment industry, It’s all about being noticed so it’s totally acceptable to embrace bold styles, unique hairstyles, statement jewelry and other pieces to stand out.
  • Fashion: Style is always key in the fashion industry. Traditional “business casual” rules usually don’t apply, and most who work in this industry wear things that truly express their individual style and are aligned with the latest fashion trends.
  • Finance: In the finance industry, if it doesn’t make dollars, then it doesn’t make sense. It’s still highly recommended for finance professionals to wear suits to the office, or at least a shirt and tie or dress particularly if working virtually. Fine jewelry, luxury watches, and designer handbags are often the accessories of choice.
  • Medical: Medical professionals usually wear lab coats or scrubs in the hospital or medical office and are always on their feet, so it’s acceptable to dress very casually underneath and wear super comfortable shoes like clogs or sneakers.
  • Service Industry: It’s very common to wear uniforms if you work in a service industry—hospitality, retail, transportation, etc.—so you’ll likely only have to worry about your accessories and shoes. Comfortable flat shoes are a must-have, and it’s encouraged to keep accessories to a minimum.
  • Tech: In tech industries, it’s common to wear hoodies, t-shirts, sneakers and other casual outfits any day of the week.

What not to wear with a business casual dress code

Here are several things you should avoid wearing in a business casual environment:

  • Well-worn athletic sneakers or tennis shoes
  • Flip-flops
  • Stained or wrinkled clothing
  • Clothing with holes, such as distressed jeans
  • Clothing that is too tight or too short
  • Clothing that is oversized or too loose
  • Bright colors, such as neons
  • Overly distracting patterns
  • Shorts or short skirts
  • Tank tops or strapless shirts, unless paired with a blazer, jacket or cardigan
  • Backless or low-cut tops
  • Crop tops
  • Spandex or Lycra
  • Clothing with inappropriate logos or text

Related: Q&A: Are Jeans Business Casual? (With Examples)

Tips for dressing in business casual attire

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you decide what to wear to a business casual workplace.

1. Consult your company’s official dress code

Employers have different definitions of business casual—what’s acceptable in some workplaces may not be in others. For example, some companies allow employees to wear open-toed shoes, polo tees and jeans while others require all employees to wear closed-toed shoes, full-sleeve-length shirts and non-denim pants. Some companies require that employees only wear dark, solid-colored clothing while others allow patterns and brightly colored prints.

Additionally, employers may require more formal business dress for certain situations, such as representing the company at a conference, trade show or networking event, or in client meetings. Always consult your company dress code policy to ensure your clothing is compliant.

2. Show up virtually

With so many of us now working from home—whether full time or just a few days per week—it has become imperative to focus on dressing from the top up. Now is the time to wear tops or shirts in bold colors or with unique details, and possibly add a statement necklace or fun pair of earrings to add elements of style even over a Zoom meeting.

Cameras off or on? If you’re relatively new to your role or still learning on the job, we definitely recommend showing up to your meetings with your camera on. We also recommend investing in a ring light to enhance lighting.

3. Adapt to the post-pandemic workplace

Due to the pandemic and the influx of employees working remotely over the past year, we are now in a cultural shift in the workplace. We’re likely not returning to the buttoned-up, “business casual,” or corporate environments that we once knew and are now “returning” to a new workplace. As for attire, that means that jeans and even sweatshirts and sweatpants will likely become more accepted in the office, and we may finally reach a place where we’re not required to have a separate wardrobe for work.

4. Beware of casual Fridays

Some companies allow employees to dress more casually on Fridays than other days of the week. It’s best to take note of acceptable casual Friday attire based on what others are wearing before straying too far from the daily dress code. A good rule of thumb is to mimic the attire of your manager or other leaders at your company that you admire. Always avoid clothing with offensive images or language, affiliations with political groups or other logos that may appear unprofessional in the workplace.

5. Consider what other employees are wearing

It’s best to dress more formally during your first day at a new job. As mentioned above, doing so will allow you to see what other employees wear on a typical workday and model your attire after them. For example, if you’re not sure whether or not you have to wear a tie every day, be sure to wear one on the first day and observe other members of your team.

6. Overdress for the interview

When deciding what to wear to an interview, it’s best to overdress than to underdress. If a company has a business casual dress code, consider wearing a full suit for your first in-person interview. This will allow you to make a positive first impression and identify what others in the office wear so you can model their style in subsequent interviews.

7. Communicate medical and religious requirements to HR

If you have a religious requirement or medical condition that prevents you from meeting an employer’s dress code guidelines, be sure to let the human resources department know before your interview or your first day. For example, it may be necessary for you to wear religious garments or doctor-prescribed orthopedic sneakers. By letting the HR team know, your requirements will be documented and you won’t be penalized with a dress code violation.

As a new employee or candidate, it is best to appear composed and professional. By understanding business casual attire and ensuring your clothing meets your employer’s dress code guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to making a great first impression.


Your Guide To Business Professional Attire (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

March 8, 2021

Business Formal vs. Business Casual: What to wear to an Interview

Whether you are attending a networking event, going to a job interview or starting a new job, it can sometimes be confusing to decide on an appropriate outfit. Business attire ranges from casual to formal, and many organizations have varying cultures around their dress code.

Business professional is known as one of the more formal forms of workplace attire and is common in more traditional industries. In this article, we will define business professional attire and provide several examples of business professional clothing options.

What is business professional?

Business professional attire is a formal dress code common in more traditional workplace settings. Industries such as banking, accounting, government, finance and law typically require business professional dress in the workplace. Business professional clothing might also be appropriate for job fairs or networking events where you know the attire to be more formal.

When attending an interview, unless you are aware of strict formal attire requirements, you should commonly err toward the side of business casual. Typically the most appropriate outfit for an interview is one step more formal than what the workforce at that company wears. For example, if the dress at a certain company is casual, your interview clothing should be smart casual or business casual.

Business professional attire for women

Women following a business professional dress code should wear pressed slacks, skirts or dresses, sharp button-down shirts or tidy blouses and blazers. No matter the look, solid, neutral colors such as black, gray and navy are best. Keep any accessories minimal, avoiding items such as chunky jewelry or oversized belts.

Depending on your outfit you might also decide to wear hose, especially if you’re wearing anything other than dress pants. You should also consider polished, closed-toe shoes with a maximum three-inch heel and a neat, professional hairstyle. You might also carry a streamlined laptop bag or briefcase in a neutral color.

Here are several additional tips and options for women’s business professional attire:

Skirt or pant suits

A pantsuit is an excellent option for professional dress. Select a clean black or gray pantsuit or pencil skirt and blazer. The garments should be comfortable but fitted with skirts falling just below the knee.

Business professional shirts

Opt for a collared, button-down shirt with your pantsuit and blazer. Select a neutral color like white or blue. Button-down shirts always look professional but must be pressed. Wrinkle-free fabrics are a great option for a business professional office.

Business professional shoes

Whether you prefer flats, pumps or heels, choose a shoe that has a heel less than three inches. Black patent pumps or loafers are an enduring option. Pair your shoes with hose close to your skin tone when wearing a dress or skirt.

Professional women’s accessories

Select minimal jewelry such as stud earrings or a simple cuff. Avoid using heavy perfume or body sprays. Any nail polish should be nude or clear, and you may be required to cover tattoos depending on your workplace. Your belt should ideally match your suit and blend in under your blazer.

Business professional attire for men

Business professional styles should include subdued, solid colors. A good example of professional dress is a dark-colored suit and tie with a light blue or white button-down shirt. Match your belt to the color of your oxfords or loafers.

Choose a conservative tie by avoiding overly bright colors or busy patterns. You might also invest in a few pairs of dark socks and a tidy hairstyle.

Here are several additional tips and options for men’s business professional attire:

Business professional suits

The perfect business professional suit is solid or pinstriped with plain or cuffed bottoms and notched lapels. When in doubt, choose a black or dark gray suit for year-round wear and a medium gray or deep blue for the summer. Avoid light-colored suits, however, as they’re more appropriate for social events such as weddings.

Business professional men’s shirts

Good shirt options include solid white or light-blue to medium-blue button-downs. Always consider your company’s dress code before trying to incorporate new elements you’re unsure about. No matter the shade, your business professional shirt should feature a French or barrel cuff to which you can add minimalist cuff links.

Business professional ties and accessories

Keep your tie simple. Solids are a great starting point, but classic, conservative patterns and stripes are also appropriate. Business professional shoes include loafers, oxfords, monk straps or classic cap-toed shoes in black, brown or burgundy.

How does business professional differ from other dress codes?

Business professional is always about looking polished. More formal than most other forms of business attire, it is not quite as proper as business formal dress.

Business professional vs. business casual

Unlike business casual where you can typically wear more expressive styles, business professional adheres to neutral tones, clean grooming and attention to detail. There are many items of clothing that you may be able to wear in both settings such as button-downs, dresses, skirts, slacks, oxfords and loafers.

If you’re unsure of an organization’s dress code when scheduling a job interview, erring on the professional side of the spectrum is best. Once you start a job, you can get a feel for the office setting during your first week on the job and dress up or down as needed.

Business professional vs. business formal

Although business professional is tidy and formal, it’s still a step below business formal. Business professional is similar to “black tie” in that women might wear evening dresses and men wear black suits with cuff links. This dress code is rare in the daily office, but some business professional companies might require business formal events such as galas or fundraisers.

As with any dress code, pay close attention to your company’s policies on attire in the workplace. It is a good idea to mimic the formality of those who are in a position you’d like to have one day while keeping your own personal style. While you should certainly abide by your company dress code, it is also important to feel confident and comfortable.