Business Casual Is Over: Back to Dress for Success


Business casual, made a cult by Silicon Valley, didn't survive The Great Recession.

That's why the bible of professional life, Bloomberg Business Week, tells you. About 66 percent of employers demand a return to professional attire -- so goodbye to jeans, flip flops, and no underwear. There's more. Organizations are hiring image coaches to guide employees on how to get a competitive edge through how they dress. That "how" ranges from a well-tailored suit to a quality attache case. Will those phrases like "Dress for Success" and "Power Dressing" return too?

So, what are the rules for job searchers and those attempting to develop new business?

As with lawyers pitching to juries, you can't dress better than those you want to influence. That could trigger their dislike and resentment. It's smart to research what they invest in looking good. Then go down one notch, but no lower.

The big trick is to adapt to the new formality and still appear comfortable in your own skin. Yes, break in outfits and accessories before the day of the interview. That will also prevent being perceived as trying too hard to please -- for example, by rushing around purchasing special clothes. Coming across as confident is everything.

With the demise of business casual also went the communications excesses of the age of affluence and Oprah. They include the assumption of instant intimacy, disclosure of too much information, and a focus on self.

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