Clothing Etiquette: 9 Dress Code Tips

Clothing Etiquette
Proper clothing etiquette includes dressing properly for every occasion, wearing weather-appropriate clothes, avoiding offensive or inappropriate clothing, knowing how to accessorize and maintaining good hygiene and grooming.

1. Know the Dress Code

different types of clothes hanging on wall
Different types of clothes hanging on wall

Knowing what type of event you are dressing for is imperative to good clothing etiquette. Your clothing choices should be appropriate and tasteful. Dress codes are broad and can range from a whole outfit down to one particular clothing article and anywhere in between.

If you are invited to an event, knowing the dress code is important. If you are attending an event that calls for formal attire, you should not wear a T-shirt and shorts; if you are preparing for an informal event, don’t wear a bow tie or cocktail dress.

You should also know the difference between dress codes, such as business dress, business casual, black-tie formal, semi-formal, smart casual, and casual attire. Knowing when to wear what is a great way to make a good impression and look great.

2. Dress for the Elements

Checking the weather before you leave the house and dressing accordingly is probably the best way to ensure you are dressed appropriately.

For example, if you are going to work and it is cold out, you may opt for a blazer over your blouse or maybe even a business suit rather than just khakis and a sleeveless blouse. If there is precipitation of some sort, make sure to account for it by bringing an umbrella or wearing a raincoat and boots.

Or if you are going to a concert and the weather is warm and sunny, you may want to wear flip-flops instead of loafers.

3. Avoid Offensive Outfits

One important part of clothing etiquette is dressing appropriately, no matter the occasion. Wearing inappropriate clothing, whether that be something too revealing or that may be offensive to others, is a good way to make a bad impression.

As a general rule of thumb, if you think it might offend someone, then leave it at home. Unfortunately, most people have different styles and different ideas of what is appropriate or inappropriate, but for the most part, you should be able to determine if something is inappropriate.

This does not mean you must dress completely conservatively everywhere you go but know the limits. After all, social media is everywhere now, so knowing what not to wear is just as much important.

4. Dress for Success

Most companies will have a specific dress code for you to abide by. It is imperative to follow proper business etiquette. Otherwise, you may be penalized or even let go from the company.

To ensure you are not violating dress codes, your best bet is to avoid wearing anything that even makes you think twice. You can also check the employee handbook for your work dress code.

5. Maintain Good Hygiene

Grooming and hygiene play a big part in clothing manners. You do not want to go out in public looking unkempt and unclean. You must upkeep your hygiene and grooming.

This especially goes for places with a formal dress code or when you are going to work. Your employer certainly does not want to see you in a pantsuit when it is obvious by your hairstyle that you are ungroomed. Not to mention, it is unhygienic to ignore good personal hygiene.

6. Choose Appropriate Accessories

A great way to complete an outfit is by accessorizing appropriately. A nice accent piece or two can really help to bring an outfit together. However, avoid overaccessorizing, as this will detract from the outfit itself.

There are several ways to accessories appropriately to ensure they are appropriate for the event you are attending or the place you are going.

7. Travel in Comfort

If you are traveling, the last thing you want to do is wear something dressy. Instead, you should dress for practicality and comfort.

Though you don’t want it to look like you rolled straight out of bed, you also don’t want to put in the effort to get dressed up if you will be sitting down for extended periods of time or walking a lot.

Generally speaking, some comfortable pants and a loose-fitting but flattering top are a great way to dress for travel and the holiday season. As far as shoes, tennis shoes are recommended, especially if you will be walking long distances.

8. Choose the Right Shoes

different footwear based on attire
Different footwear based on attire

Choosing the correct footwear to go with your outfit is important, as it can change the look of an outfit entirely. If you are attending a formal event and wearing a tuxedo or floor-length dress, you will obviously want to wear nice dress shoes, not tennis shoes or flip-flops.

When choosing footwear, you want to ensure comfort and style, so knowing the dress code is a good first step. Then, pairing your shoes accordingly will complete your outfit.

9. Respect Cultural Norms

Knowing the cultural norms of the places you visit includes dressing appropriately. You can avoid being disrespectful or even offensive by researching and learning what type of clothes to wear and what not to wear.

This small act can go a long way when visiting other cultures.

What are the benefits of following clothing etiquette?

By following proper clothing etiquette, you will not only save yourself from the embarrassment of wearing something inappropriate, but you will also leave a good impression on others.

Taking the time to learn about dress codes or expectations before attending an event or visiting somewhere can make a big difference in the overall experience.

Margaret Dunn

Margaret is a passionate writer based in Costa Rica, though she was raised in the southeastern US. Being from the South, good manners and proper etiquette were ingrained in her from a young age and she has always been fascinated with etiquette in different settings and places. When she is not writing, you can find her exercising, reading, or spending time with her family at the beach.

Recent Posts