Dressing up for a business cocktail

In the world of business, networking is everything and at networking events what you wear is who you are.

A normal cocktail attire is less than formal but not casual but if you want to be taken seriously at a business cocktail, your outfit must be devoid of plunging necklines, short hems, sequins, feathers and strapless dresses that are acceptable at normal cocktail receptions.

The phrase ‘business cocktail’ however should conjure images of dressy but conservative get-ups.

Business cocktail attires for men are relatively simple: a dark suit or slacks, a jacket and a dress shirt and dress shoes to match. In less formal cocktails, they can do without the jacket and just go with a plain neutral coloured shirt (for who will take seriously a business man dressed in a Hawaiian shirt) or a suit without a tie. In these days of the thriving African wax print industry, a wax print shirt in subdued colours is also acceptable.

Shoes: Dark coloured shoes with socks to match should do the trick

Hair: Try and get a new haircut if it’s possible. If not, comb out head hair neatly and trim facial hairs.

bcoFor the ladies, it isn’t that simple:

Attire: Stick to the same rules in the office. Meaning no cleavage, hemline should be a few inches above the knee. Keep flashy attires for normal cocktail parties. Burgundy, eggplant, nude and black are suitable colours for dresses. Not a dress person? A skirt or pants with a lovely blouse will do. However, you can tackle the ‘cocktail’ aspect with a little aggrandizement like a standout piece of jewelry, jeweled neckline, an eye-catching clutch or indeed, a tasteful waxprint blazer

High-Heel-ShoesShoes: Flats may look good during a business cocktail but nothing beats heels. Pick heels you can actually walk and be comfortable in. You don’t want to be walking on your knees. That isn’t a good look. Heels give you a very feminine look and gait. If you cannot walk in heels however, a nice pair of flats will do.

Make up: You don’t want to scare potential business clients. Keep the make up to a minimum.

Hair: Make sure hair is neatly pulled out of the face. People who are interested in doing business with you would like to see your whole face (people believe that faces can actually tell if one can be trusted which may not always be the case)

As the saying goes, first impressions last forever. Very few people get the chance to make a second first impression. Nail it the first time!


By: Deborah Wiafe-Agyei/Business World Magazine