Monthly Archives: January 2015

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

Dress for success.

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Dress for success.
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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

• Figuring out how to dress for 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 told Business Insider.

In general, 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 more 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.

That being said, di Giusto added that there is “no cookie cutter approach'” or a “one-size-fits-all formula.”

“In fact, professionals must be able to adapt and adjust their professional style based on the industry they work for – plus the clients they serve,” di Giusto said.

For example, she noted that boardroom attire “might look very different in a startup in Silicon Valley than for financial advisors or attorneys in New York City.”

Ultimately, di Giusto said, it’s up to you to choose what works best in your office environment.

“Everything goes, from pants, dresses, skirts, jumpsuits – as long as they represent themselves in the best possible way and choose the right fit, fabrics, colors, and patterns,” she said.

When it comes to dressing for success, you’ve got a ton of options. Below are some ideas of what you could wear for each level of dress based on di Giusto’s recommendations:


Baseline casual is more relaxed, but still neat and professional

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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Business casual provides people with a more polished look

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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Executive casual dress is professional, without being stuffy

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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Traditional business attire is formal, but allows for a pop of personality

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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Boardroom attire tends to be more tailored, high-end, and conservative

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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Here’s What ‘Business Casual’ Really Means

Very few people actually know what

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Very few people actually know what “business casual” means.
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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/flickr

Very few people actually know what

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Very few people actually know what “business casual” means.
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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/flickr

“I’ve really tried to learn the art of clothes, because you don’t sell for what you’re worth unless you look good.” -Lady Bird Johnson

Your boss invites you to a conference. He sends an email letting you know the dress code is “business casual.” You haven’t a clue what that means, so you take a chance and wear your new sundress and sandals.

You show up and you’re completely underdressed. You’re uncomfortable – and you worry about your boss feeling embarrassed, too.

“It is critically important to be aware of dress codes, understand what they mean, and follow them,” says Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., and author of “Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results.” “Employees are obliged to comply with company standards. Oftentimes, that means maintaining a professional appearance in the office, at client sites, and any business functions.”

Price says during her 20-plus years working as an executive coach, one of the most frequent career roadblocks she has observed is inappropriate dress in the workplace.

“Many highly intelligent, well-qualified, capable men and women are often disqualified or dismissed because ‘they don’t sell for what they’re worth,'” Price says. “They’ve left the ‘business’ out of ‘business casual’ and the lack of professional appearance holds them back. It’s frustrating, because clothing certainly does not determine one’s actual competence and credibility; it does, however, influence others’ perception of those qualities – and that reality impacts career opportunities.”

The problem is, most people don’t have a clear understanding of the different dress codes today.

For example, there is no general agreement on the definition of the term “business casual.” “It depends on several factors including the industry, size of the company, number of employees, amount of interaction between employees and customers, geography, climate, culture, and average age of the workforce,” Price says.

At most companies, however, the “business casual” dress code encourages employees to project a “professional, business-like image while enjoying the advantage of more casual and relaxed clothing,” Price explains.

Appropriate business casual dress typically includes slacks or khakis, dress shirt or blouse, open-collar or polo shirt, optional tie or seasonal sport coat, a dress or skirt at knee-length or below, a tailored blazer, knit shirt or sweater, and loafers or dress shoes that cover all or most of the foot.

Below are examples of appropriate “business casual” outfits.

business casual

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Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

APPLY NOW: Business Insider is hiring a paid politics editorial intern

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Business Insider’s Politics vertical is looking for a paid intern in our Manhattan office.

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APPLY HEREwith a resume and cover letter if this sounds like your dream internship, and specify why you’re interested in covering politics.

How to properly shake hands in 14 different countries

Handshaking etiquette changes depending on the country you are in the world. It is important to recognize and respect these cultural differences, especially when conducting business around the world.

In Brazil and the United States, a firm handshake is expected. However, this would be off putting in the UK, as the British like to greet each other with a lighter handshake.

We created a helpful guide for handshake etiquette across 14 countries, thanks to information from BBC and Mental Floss.


United States

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

United Kingdom

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Brazil

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

China

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Turkey

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Morocco

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

United Arab Emirates

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Russia

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Australia

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Thailand

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Mexico

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Switzerland

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

South Korea

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

France

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Skye Gould and Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Kathleen Elkins contributed to an older version of this post.

The 20 hardest colleges to get into in America

Harvard is the hardest college to get into in the US.

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Harvard is the hardest college to get into in the US.
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Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

  • The hardest US college to gain acceptance to is Harvard University.
  • More than 90% of applicants get rejected.
  • Academic review site Niche ranked American colleges based on acceptance rate and standardized test scores.

With an acceptance rate of just 5.2% and typical SAT scores between 1430 and 1600, Harvard University is America’s hardest college to get into, according to a list from the academic review site Niche.com.

The rankings are based on 2017 acceptance rates and SAT and ACT scores reported to the US Department of Education. College acceptance rates received a weighted average of 60% in the ranking computation, and SAT/ACT scores received a weighted average of 40%. Niche rounds acceptance rates to the nearest whole percentage.

Acceptance rates are listed below, along with the mid 50% SAT scores, which indicate the range in which 50% of students score.

Take a look at the top 20 hardest colleges to get into in the US:


20. Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, California)

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Claremont McKenna College/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 9%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1320-1490


19. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)

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Swarthmore College/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 13%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1305-1530


18. Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland)

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Johns Hopkins University/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 13%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1400-15670


17. Rice University (Houston, Texas)

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Shu-Wei Hsu/Flickr

Acceptance rate: 15%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1410-1570


16. Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)

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Northwestern University/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 11%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1400-1560


15. Pomona College (Claremont, California)

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Facebook/Pomona College of Admissions

Acceptance rate: 9%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1340-1540


14. Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, California)

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Flickr / CampusGrotto

Acceptance rate: 13%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1420-1580


13. Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire)

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Facebook/Dartmouth

Acceptance rate: 11%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1350-1560


12. Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)

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Duke Engineering/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 11%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1380-1570


11. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

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Via Wikimedia Commons

Acceptance rate: 9%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1380-1570


10. Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island)

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Brown University/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 9%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1370-1570


9. Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee)

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Vanderbilt University/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 11%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1420-1590


8. Columbia University (New York, New York)

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Columbia University in the City of New York/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 7%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1410-1590


7. University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

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Facebook/uchicago

Acceptance rate: 8%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1450-1600


6. Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey)

Acceptance rate: 7%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1400-1590


5. California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California)

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YouTube/Ricky Chavez

Acceptance rate: 8%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1510-1600


4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

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Facebook/MITnews

Acceptance rate: 8%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1460-1590


3. Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)

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Tony Fiorini/Yale University/Facebook

Acceptance rate: 6%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1420-1600


2. Stanford University (Stanford, California)

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Linda Cicero via Facebook/stanford

Acceptance rate: 5%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1380-1580


1. Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

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REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Acceptance rate: 5%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1430-1600