In the world of business, what you wear says a lot about you, that’s why it’s important to pay attention to how you dress in a professional environment, especially if you are looking to awe and make a long lasting impression in an interview or client meeting. There are a few different categories of “Business Attire” and we will briefly address each category for both men and women, and touch on what type of traditional khaleeji outfits fit within the categories. Note that these pointers are purely based on our research and are not rules that are set in stone. The four main categories of “Business attire are as follows:
1) Smart Casual
Smart casual wear is a combination of formal and informal pieces to create a stylish attire. This look is clean and simple, with a touch of professionalism.
For Men: You can wear short or long sleeve button down shirts, or t-shirts and pair them up with a stylish informal blazer or sweater. When it comes to the pants, you can select neutral colored chinos or jeans which are straight legged and not ripped. You can wear loafers or sneakers to complete the look.
Traditional wear as a Smart Casual attire: Traditional outfit such as the Thobe is generally deemed as an acceptable form of formal wear, provided that it’s well ironed and of good quality. For a smart casual look, you can wear a simple white thobe, without the headcover. Shoe options can be sneakers or loafers.
For Women: You can wear any shirt provided that it isn’t wrinkly or too flashy. Pair your top with long skirts, jeans, pencil skirts or pants. You can also add a stylish informal blazer, sweater or a statement accessory. Complete the look by wearing heels, sneakers or pump flats. Do not make your outfit too colorful. Simplicity is the key here.
Traditional Wear as a Smart Casual attire: Any abaya can be passed on as a smart casual wear as long as it is well ironed. There can be variations in the Abaya colors, material and patterns. Shoes options include heels, pumps or flats. When do I wear Smart Casual?Wear smart casual for casual work days when there are no client or company meetings, or to casual work weekend events.
2) Business Casual
Business casual is more put together and professional than smart casual. Unlike Smart Casual, shoes as well as skirts/pants are required to be strictly formal.
For men: This look includes long sleeve shirts paired with neutral colored chinos or trousers, leather belt and loafers. Wearing blazers is optional, however it is recommended to tuck in your shirt.
Traditional wear as a Business Casual attire: Pairing your thobe with the traditional Shemagh (headcover) and loafers is what transforms your smart casual look to a business casual look.
For women: You can wear wide leg formal pants, formal knee length/ long skirts or dark jeans and pair them with satin blouses, or button-down shirts. Make sure to wear loafers, heels or pumps that are professional.
Traditional wear as a Business Casual attire: For a Business Casual look, you can wear colored Abayas with some patterns, however, make sure you select simple and calm abaya colors such as salmon pink, black or grey. Complete the look with shoes such as professional heels or pumps.
When do I wear Business Casual?
Wear business casual at the office and client meetings (if your workplace allows it), or during an interview (unless you are interviewing for a position that requires a more formal look, then we recommend business professional wear).
3) Business Professional
When it comes to this form of attire, you are expected to dress in well-fitted, tailored formal clothes.
For Men: You are expected to wear a basic colored suit (preferably navy blue, black or grey) with a simple tie. Prints and patterns in shirts are not generally advisable. Complete the look with a leather belt and a pair of loafers or Oxford shoes.
Traditional wear as a Business Professional attire: Wear a Shemagh (headcover) along with your thobe for a Business Professional look. Make sure that your shoes are dressy and formal such as Oxford shoes or Loafers.
For Women: You are expected to wear neutral colored suits. Suit variations include a shirt, blazer along with a matching trouser or a shirt, blazer with a matching long skirt. Complete the look by wearing medium length heels, loafers or tidy flats. It is preferable to tie your hair in a bun or a neat ponytail.
Traditional wear as a Business Professional attire: Stick to neutral colored Abayas such as beige, grey, black or navy blue. Minimalistic abayas with little to no patterns are preferable. Pair your Abaya with medium length closed heels or tidy flats.
When do I wear Business Professional? This form of work wear is generally worn in companies with a strictly formal dress code. It also depends on the industry that you work in. For example, individuals working in banks or government are typically required to be dressed in Business Professionals.
4) Business Formal
This wear is a more glamorous and dressy form of Business Professional.
For Men: You can wear a suit and a tie, with flexible color options, however black is classic and you can’t go wrong with classic! You can wear a bow tie or add in a pocket square fold if you want to jazz things up. You can accessorize with cufflinks and a belt. Loafers and Oxford shoes fit this look well.
Traditional wear as a Business formal attire: The Business formal attire comprises of the Thobe, the headcover and professional shoes such as loafers and Oxfords. However depending on how formal the event is, you may want to wear a ‘Bisht’. This is a light overcoat that can be worn over your thobe to give your traditional wear a more formal feel.
For Women: Long, dark formal gowns are ideal, but you can even wear long skirts or knee length skirts with stockings as well. Minimalistic jewelry may be appropriate for this look. Shoe options include medium length to high heels.
Traditional wear as a Business formal attire: Select floor length Abayas that have some embellishments on them. It is advisable to wear a dark colored Abaya for a Business formal look. Shoe options include medium length or high length heels.
When do I wear Business Formal?
Company award ceremony and parties, special company dinners, or other important evening events.