Business Attire

"Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it."

Yves Saint Laurent (1936 – 2008), French fashion designer
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This Business English lesson plan on work clothes has been designed for business professionals or other adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Business attire are the formal clothes people wear in businesses. These days however, the trend is to move away from formal clothing to a more casual style. In this Business English lesson plan on business clothes, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as what they prefer to wear for work, the differences in standards between men’s and women’s business clothes and what kind of clothes might be considered inappropriate in the office.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

CEO Today | “Can The Way Your Employees Dress Affect Productivity?”

The article talks about changing attitudes to dress codes at work and how this can affect businesses. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was written? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below at home. In the class, the students will answer a number of conversation questions directly or indirectly related to the content of the video.

The video for this class is a TEDx Talk by Emma Harner called “Pockets And Sexism” which highlights some of the differences between the clothes men and women wear.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means, if they agree with it and how it could relate to business. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including how the students usually dress for work and the reasons for wearing business clothes.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with business attire such as dress code, business casual and high-heels. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the conversation questions. Before the conversation, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about business wear. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the importance of appearance in customer-facing roles, how dress codes can affect companies and what clothes might be considered inappropriate at work.


After the class, students will write a dress code for their companies. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise business-style writing as well as improving their grammar with the feedback from their teacher.


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