Style Scale™ Eliminates Confusion About “Business Casual”

May 11, 2017

Finally, a logical approach to defining specific levels of business dress for multitudes of men and women confused by the dress-down trend. From the Conselle Institute of Image Management comes the Personal/Professional Style Scale™ which accurately identifies four levels of dress—Tailored, Softly Tailored, Casual Tailored, and Untailored.

Judith Rasband, Institute Director, is originator of the Style Scale™. “In getting dressed,” states Rasband, “it helps to know that there are differing degrees on a continuum or scale between dressing up and dressing down—between more formal dress and casual dress. There’s a place on that scale for every personal or professional style, including casual dress in the workplace.”

Rasband points out, “We need to become aware of the factors or variables that account for differences in dress and the statements or messages that clothes communicate to you and to others.” These factors are the elements of design—line, shape, color, texture, and pattern—and what your style scale communicates is what she and her associates teach in Conselle’s Image Management Seminars for professionals.

At the top of the style scale is the Tailored Level of dress, with more formal looking clothing. Tailored clothes are designed with straight lines, angular shapes, darker colors with strong dark/light contrast, firm fabrics, and small scale geometric patterns—prints, stripes, or plaids. Tailored clothes are traditionally more structured, form fitting, matched, layered, and include a collar. They communicate authority, ability, stability and a more formal manner.

At the bottom of the style scale is the Untailored Level of dress, with more casual looking clothing. Untailored clothes are designed with curved lines, rounded shapes, lighter colors with weak dark/light contrast, soft pliable fabrics, and larger scale rounded patterns. Untailored clothes are traditionally unstructured, loose fitting, unmatched, unlayered, and without a collar. They communicate a casual, relaxed, friendly, informal manner.

Within the opposite extremes of Tailored and Untailored are the Softly Tailored and the more Casual Tailored style scale levels of dress, perfectly appropriate for business casual roles and occasions. They are a mix of the tailored and untailored design elements listed above. Softly Tailored clothes feature predominantly tailored design elements mixed with some untailored design elements; whereas Casual Tailored clothes feature predominantly untailored design elements mixed with some tailored design elements. The looks are more casual, by degree on the style scale.

Purchase the Style Scale

At some degree within the four levels is where you identify your preferred style of dress—appropriate for your values, your personality, body build, coloring, budget, and so on. You then adapt, adjust, and modify that style scale according to your lifestyle, role, mood, and occasion—be it social or professional. “It’s the blend, the mix, or the merge of opposite elements of design that makes up the message you ultimately reflect on each occasion,” reminds Rasband.