When it comes to business dress codes, classical conservative attire is the norm for both men and women in British culture and dark colours such as black, dark blue and charcoal grey are predominant. It is common for women to wear either trousers or a skirt in an office environment, and head scarves are accepted as part of religious freedom. Many senior managers are fond of quality and express their status through their choice of clothing. Shopping in designer boutiques is popular among British society and bespoke suits, designer shirts, silk ties and hand-made shoes are signs of affluence and status.
Denim is not normally acceptable for professional business meetings and the Scots do not wear kilts to work. When in doubt about the dress code for a particular business event, it is advisable to be overdressed rather than risk making a poor impression. It is always relatively easy to hire suitable attire for special events; your efforts will be appreciated and you will feel that you are fitting in.
Many organisations provide their non-professional employees with a work-based uniform, which enables everyone to look ‘corporate’ and reflects a certain image of the company. The type of uniform, whether smart or more casual, will give you a good understanding of the type of organisation and the culture to be found there. Many companies are adopting ‘informal’ smart casual uniforms, which are comfortable to wear, but still present a professional image for the company.
Dress code inevitably varies across industries. In the creative sectors (e.g. digital marketing) a more relaxed dress code is common – just a shirt and trousers. Numerous office-based organisations have introduced Casual Friday, Casual Day or Dress-Down Friday, where a more relaxed dress code (and hopefully increased creativity) is encouraged based on the California inspired Dot Com Business Culture.
If unsure of the dress code and what to wear, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a representative from the company. It is often better to find out in advance, so you can make any necessary changes before your introduction to the company. This will put you at ease and make you more relaxed in your encounters with the company representatives.