If you have read the book or watch the move “The Devil Wears Prada” you know that how you dress can dramatically impact your career options. No matter how hard you work to prove your talents and abilities, earning recognition or establishing respect is also a matter of your personal demeanor and presentation.

While we would all like to believe it is best to not “judge a book by its cover” in the world of business for men (and also women) your appearance has the ability to elevate your status. The choices you make for professional attire can also be career limiting. And before you think it is all about labels and the cost of your clothing, think again. Even on a modest budget you can find affordable suits online from retailers like Ownonly and create the right look and boost your career.

Navigating Business Casual

It has happened to us all. You ask about the kind of attire that is appropriate and you are told that the work or social function requires a ‘business casual’ dress code. You arrive wearing new, dark denim jeans and a dress shirt with no tie, and some oxford shoes. You realize to your horror that everyone else is wearing dress pants and pressed shirts and ties.

Being over-dressed professionally is less of a problem than being underdressed, but the rules of ‘business casual’ are confusing at best because they vary from one business environment to the next. Start-up organizations that value a creative, liberal culture may prefer jeans and a t-shirt whereas corporations and more formal business environments may not ever have a “casual Friday” or a pair of jeans cross the threshold.


If you are starting a new job and unsure about the appropriate business attire, you can ask an existing employee or an assistant or receptionist for cues. They will be flattered and impressed that you cared enough to ask and more than happy to give you some tips on what to wear, to make the best impression on your first day. In fact, before you have even started working, you will have already made a great first impression by attempting to fit in with the corporate culture.

The Color Code

There is nothing wrong with creative, bright colors. Ever. And if you are fortunate enough to work within a creative graphic or marketing environment, that expression may be encouraged. Advertising agencies for instance typically foster a more artistic dress code to keep the flow of ideas and innovation unhindered with artistic staff. But what is appropriate in a creative environment is not practical, and may even be offensive within other corporate environments.

Certain types of careers come with a great deal of responsibility. If you work in accounting, finance or sales, you may find the “dark suit” rule applies in most cases. Psychologically speaking, a deep navy or black suit instills a sense of authority that is expected of professionals in highly responsible roles. Physicians and lawyers, dentists and other professionals also follow a more traditional business attire rule, one that is unwritten but instills confidence and a sense of leadership among their colleagues and subordinates.

Save the bright colors for social events and the weekend and create the right impression with your peers and customers. Unless you are quite brave and open minded, chances are you wouldn’t want your dental work completed by someone in a neon green suit. For the record, neither would we.

A Shoe Win

Have you ever seen a really fancy sports car on the street with a rusted license plate and bald tires? The image is not consistent with your expectations of the vehicle; what looks good should look good from the top to the bottom with no exceptions.


Stylists and men’s fashion experts cringe when they see a man who is wearing a fitted suit that is paired with old, scuffed or dated shoes. No matter how good you look from the ankles up, human nature will cause everyone to focus on what is “wrong” with your outfit. Invest in 2-4 pairs of quality shoes in black and brown (with coordinating leather belts) and tie your look together like a fashion professional.

You Wear the Suit

When opting to wear a professional suit to your workplace or special event, remember that while “the suit makes the man” the “man wears the suit”. Ensure that the color, fit and style of your suit are to your taste and that you feel comfortable wearing it. In fact, you should feel empowered when you wear a quality suit, and it is that surge in self-confidence that colleagues and leaders within your organization will notice, and remember.

Getting Promoted

If your goal is to advance within your organization, wearing a suit or the appropriate attire for your business environment can help you receive recognition and earn respect. Even if there is no formal dress code, when you opt to dress neatly and professionally, you are assuring your manager and other leaders in the organization that you are serious about your career. You are also sending a clear message to your team that you are committed and that you can be trusted with more responsibility.

Avoid wearing suits that are not appropriate for the temperature of the environment. During the summer it is not a good idea to wear a wool blend suit because regardless of air conditioned offices, chances are you are going to be warm and uncomfortable. Tailor your fabric choices seasonally with the right types of suit cuts and styles (casual to formal) depending on the occasion. You don’t have to ‘strut your stuff’ to make the suit work. Remember that a good quality suit will get you the attention you want and create the professional impression you need to be noticed.

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Author's Bio: 

Korie Cantor is a blogger and writer who blogs about fashion and lifestyle. She possesses a great sense of style. Being a fashionista, she loves to share her thoughts about fashion and it's latest trends.