Grow your career on

Advanced Search

Career Guide Articles

View the current Ag & Food Career Guides:

Enhance your career development by signing up to receive relevant career advice delivered to your email! Sign up for the Career Success Kit at

Download      Back


Workplace Dress Codes 101

By Kristine Penning,



Each business has its own unique dress policy. Typical agribusinesses expect one of the following in their workplace: smart casual, business casual, or business professional. But what do those terms really mean, especially when everyone has their own definitions? You can spend hours Googling various responses, or you can rest safely in this simple and convenient guide that plainly explains (and shows) what each dress policy means and what it does not.


Smart Casual


“Smart Casual,” for all intents and purposes, is what “Casual Friday” looks like except every day of the week. Jeans are okay, and maybe sandals are all right too, but your top or shirt should remain professional in taste and appearance.

  • Nice jeans or capris (no holes or embellishments like embroidery, studs, or sequins)
  • Sweaters, polo shirts, blouses, t-shirts, or tops without graphics




Business Casual


This is the most common dress policy you’ll encounter. Most workplaces expect their employees to dress “business casual” which falls between “smart casual” and “business professional.” You don’t need to wear a suit everyday (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but don’t expect to wear jeans or sandals unless there’s a Casual Friday policy.


 On women:

  • Sweaters, cardigans with camisoles, blouses, blazers
  • Dresses or knee-length skirts, capri dress pants, or full-length slacks
  • Closed-toe shoes, although nice sandals may be acceptable


On men:

  • Neatly pressed dress pants, khakis
  • Button-down shirts, polo shirts, knit shirts with collars, sweaters, sweater vests, sports jacket
  • Leather shoes and belt; optional tie



Business Professional


Business professional is attire that you’ll typically find in a very formal workplace setting such as a law or accounting firm, a marketing or advertising agency, or any other workplace that regularly conducts important meetings with clients, shareholders, or an executive suite. Business professional is also the most recommended attire for job interviews.


On women:

  • Formal, fitted slacks or skirt (at or below the knee)
  • Matching or coordinating blazer jacket
  • Coordinating blouse or button-up shirt
  • Closed-toe shoes that match suit and nude pantyhose
  • Manicured nails, conservative makeup, minimal jewelry


On men:

  • Blazer with matching or coordinating slacks
  • Button-up shirt with coordinating tie
  • Socks to match pants
  • Coordinating closed-toe dress shoes
  • Trimmed facial hair and fingernails



Never (or Rarely) Appropriate


The following list should never be worn or implemented, no matter the dress policy.

  • Graphic t-shirts or t-shirts with words on them, especially anything violent or offensive
  • Sweatshirts or sweatpants
  • Shorts or rompers
  • Revealing shirts or skirts on women (no halter tops, crop tops, or strapless tops)
  • Frumpy, wrinkled, and/or holey clothing
  • Athletic wear including leggings, shorts, or shoes
  • Hats or hoods
  • Flip-flops, slippers, or excessively high heels
  • Distracting body piercings or tattoos
  • Excessive or obnoxious jewelry, makeup, or fragrance



What if I don’t work in an office setting?

Certainly, these dress codes don’t typically apply to agricultural workers in skilled trade, production, scientific, or outdoor roles. However, it will be necessary at certain points in your career (especially when interviewing or attending meetings) to know and possess professional dress.