How to dress your best in any work environment, from a casual office to the boardroom

No matter where you work, learn how to dress for success. Samantha Lee/Business Insider

• Figuring out what to wear to work can be confusing and frustrating.

• But dressing appropriately for the job is crucial.

• From casual clothing to boardroom attire, here’s a handy guide to dressing for success.

There was once a time when every professional, no matter his or her industry, put on a suit each morning.

But today, there are so many interpretations of formal and business casual that it can be easy to look sloppy or over-dressed if you’re not aware of the environment.

Sylvie di Giusto, founder of Executive Image Consulting, works with executives looking to improve how they present themselves and professionals hoping to impress their clients and bosses. In her book “The Image of Leadership,” she breaks down the five levels of dress code that she uses with her clients.

If you’re not sure which level is most appropriate for your work environment, the basic rule of thumb is “the more you deal with a client’s money, the more traditional and conservative you should be dressed,” di Giusto said.

That means that people in finance, law, and accounting, for example, should stick to traditional business attire, and those in creative industries, like entertainment and advertising, can dress flexibly within the casual levels.

If you’re a member of the board or meeting with a member of the board, boardroom attire is most appropriate – regardless of the size of the company.

We’ve represented them below, and included di Giusto’s insight into how to make your clothes work for you in the office:

Baseline casual


Business casual


Executive casual


Traditional business attire


Boardroom attire