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Corporate Events: Here’s How to Dress for the Occasion

Corporate events are like marmite: you either love the opportunity to network or you dread the small talk with complete strangers. The one thing that’s certain is that, once the invitation lands in your inbox, it’s very difficult to decline especially if you’re summoned by your boss.

We might not be able to help with the actual corporate conversations but we know that first impressions are really important. Our useful guide will help you dress for the occasion and boost your confidence before you even enter the room.

4 steps to choose the right outfit for a work event

1. Is there a dress code?
If organisers have a specific dress code in mind, they’ll make things simple by adding it to the invitation, in which case it’s not a suggestion but a requirement. The most common dress codes for corporate events are:

Black tie – Reserved for formal evening occasions, like award ceremonies. It consists of a tuxedo and bow tie. To make your life easier, all our tuxedos come with a matching bow tie.

Business – Very common for after-work socials and conferences. You’re expected to wear a business suit and tie.

Business casual – You can lose the tie and probably the jacket as well. Make sure you wear the nicest shirt you have and that it’s clean and ironed.

Casual – Used for informal occasions, such as daytime or weekend team bonding activities. Your nicest pair of jeans and a clean ironed shirt should be ok.

2. Is it ok to dress down?
Many people, especially at the start of their careers, make the somewhat catastrophic mistake of assuming that it’s ok for them to dress down because they’re “not senior leadership”. Absolutely not and, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. You are expected to make an effort and your manager is watching you and trying to ascertain whether you should be given more opportunities to mingle with decision makers.

3. What happens if I turn up in the wrong clothes?
Let’s start with overdressing. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll ever turn up in a tuxedo when everyone else wears a business suit, because you’d only wear a tuxedo if the dress code is clearly stipulated on the invitation as black tie. If you turn up in a business suit and everyone is casually dressed, you can tone down your outfit by leaving the tie, waistcoat or jacket in the cloakroom.
Underdressing can be very awkward and difficult to put right, unless you head straight to the shops, so our only advice here is make sure it doesn’t happen. It’s always best to go up a notch than down one!

4. What if I don’t own suitable clothes?
You can always borrow or hire a tuxedo or business suit but, as you progress in your career, it’s important to start building a wardrobe for such occasions. Start with a lounge suit in navy or grey and gradually expand into different styles and colours.

Business events are an excellent opportunity to meet new people, interact with company leaders and build your reputation. How you carry yourself in these occasions is important and matters in your career progression. Start with small steps, like our blog on how to exchange business cards, and you’ll gradually build the confidence and experience to navigate them in style.