Informal attire

Informal attire


Informal attire, also called international
business attire or Western business attire is a dress code, typified by a suit and necktie.
On the scale of formality, informal attire is more formal than casual but less formal
than semi-formal. It is more presentational than semi-casual, but offers more room for
personal expression than semi-formal dress. Informal should not be confused with casual,
not even smart casual — in loose common usage, many people refer to informal dress
as semi-formal or formal and formal dress as very formal. The technical definition of
informal is used in this article. Definition
Informal attire consists of, for men, a suit, the main components of which are a pair of
trousers with a matching jacket. The suit is typically dark-coloured: gray, dark blue,
brown, or black. The suit is worn with a long-sleeved shirt, dress shoes and a necktie.
Informal attire for women in its strictest interpretation is patterned after the male
standard—a suit consisting of a jacket with matching skirt or trousers, plus a blouse.
This interpretation of informal attire is not quite so commonly worn by women as by
men, as there are other forms of female attire acceptable in informal settings.
Informal attire is today considered a conservative form of dress, appropriate for nearly all
formal settings that do not require white tie or black tie. For instance, it is commonly
worn in religious services, funerals, government, schools, and other contexts where casual attire
is not accepted but formal attire would be considered excessive. At present, informal
attire is the typical dress at daytime weddings in the United States, where it is a replacement
for the increasingly rare morning dress. Informal attire is also known as international
standard business attire or business formal due to its strong association with business.
Origins The suit was originally a nineteenth-century
British innovation in dress: seeking a casual alternative to the long, heavy frock coats
then considered appropriate business dress, men began to wear lighter coats cut just below
the waist when not engaged in business. Standard suit-making fabric is fine combed
wool, with the inclusion of cashmere in more expensive fabrics. Middle-price suits are
often made of wool-polyester blends, whilst the cheapest are made entirely of polyester
fabric. This business suit became the standard business
daywear for all men who were not engaged in physical labor. The waistcoat or vest was
worn regularly with the suit up to World War II, but is rarely seen today, due to central
heating in offices and the expense of construction. Until at least the early 1960s it was common
to wear a hat. In general, business suits are characterized
by three styles and a fourth fusion style. English suits are noted for having a “touch
fit” to the wearer’s body shape and carefully made padded shoulders. Italian suits are often
slimmer, with higher armholes and highly shaped to complement a slim physique. Traditional
American suits have lightly padded shoulders and loose natural fit with minimal shaping.
Since the 1960s, designer brands have created fusion style that brings a more shaped European
look to the natural American cut. Suits in Britain were often made in tweed,
often with three pieces, and were worn outside the City of London. Tweed is made from uncombed
wool, and, like all fabrics from the time, was thick and durable. A full tweed suit is
less common today, with just tweed sports jackets more often worn, but is still used
generally as everyday wear by some, and for outdoor sports such as shooting and angling.
It is worn with appropriate accompanying clothes, much as any other suit; brown full brogues
and wool ties are common items not worn with other types of suit.
Coco Chanel pioneered the feminine suit in the early 20th century.
Usage in the workplace Most men do not wear suits in their everyday
lives. They wear uniforms, or other inexpensive, sturdy clothing that can be easily laundered.
Wearing a suit to work daily is often an indication of managerial or professional status. However,
when on a job interview or attending business meetings, many men who do not otherwise wear
suits, will dutifully wear them as a mark of respect and formality. Many how-to books
for men recommend wearing a conservatively styled suit to an employment interview even
when the man does not expect to ever wear a suit on the job.
In the 1990s, Internet businesses flourished and so did the relaxed dress standards enjoyed
by unconventional dot-com businesspeople. A new form of attire had arisen, business
casual, which consists of nice trousers, often chinos or khakis, and a polo shirt or short-sleeved
shirt. Today this is acceptable and common attire at technically oriented business meetings
and in semiprofessional settings, and is continuing to gain ground over traditional business attire.
The standard for women is also in flux. In the 1970s, women aspiring to managerial or
professional status were advised to “dress for success” by wearing clothing that imitated
the male business suit: jacket and matching skirt, worn with a plain blouse and discreet
accessories. The plain blouse is designated as a long sleeve button down shirt tucked
properly into the skirt at the waist. Some women wore pantsuits, substituting pants for
the skirt, but in doing so, they risked the displeasure of many who felt that women should
not wear pants. Now even conservative Western workplaces are
more accepting of pants on female employees. However, they may still expect female employees
to exhibit the formality of men’s suits. Women in “creative” professions, such as advertising,
web design, or fashion, can usually dress with more color and flair.
Male business attire is also nuanced. Choice of clothing and accessories proclaims social
and financial status. An inexpensive ready-to-wear suit will lack the cachet of a bespoke suit
fashioned by a famous tailor. Custom shirts, hand-made leather shoes, fine cuff links and
expensive watches may indicate wealth, and in certain professions may effectively amount
to a “dress code”. Western business wear is standard in many
workplaces around the globe, even in countries where the usual daily wear may be a distinctive
national costume. Some non-Western business-people will wear
national costume nonetheless. A Saudi Arabian sheikh may wear the traditional robes and
headdress to an international conference; United Arab Emirates diplomats in particular
are noted for attending conventions of the United Nations General Assembly in full keffiyeh
and thawb. Diplomats of the People’s Republic of China are similarly noted for wearing the
Mao suit to international events; Indian leaders often wear Nehru jackets, with Manmohan Singh
wearing a suit-like combination including such a jacket with his Sikh turban. Wearing
national costume in such contexts can proclaim national pride, or just extremely high status
which allows the wearer to defy convention. Sometimes an element of the national costume
such as a hat is combined with a Western business suit; for instance, Yasser Arafat was noted
for wearing the aforementioned kaffiyeh with a Western-style military uniform, a derivative
of the suit. The aloha shirt, while considered casual attire
in the mainland United States, is considered acceptable business wear in Hawaii, where
it is well-suited to that state’s warm and humid climate. Similarly, Kariyushi style
attire is encouraged in Japan, especially southern locales of Japan, to allow more comfort
in the workplace, and to encourage dress that conforms with Cool Biz guidelines. Akihiko
Higa, a researcher of Kaiho Soken who has worked on a Kariyushi style project for an
Okinawan clothing manufacturer, said, “It is easy-to-wear and highly functional for
wearing either in an office situation or in a resort.”
References ^ a b “Interview appearance and attire”. Career
services. Virginia Tech, Division of Student Affairs. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 25 September
2013. 

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