Business Attire for Women – Look Professional at Work!
Business attire for women is really important. Like it or not, what you wear says a lot about you as an individual. Whether it’s for an interview or for every-day office use, wearing the perfect outfit can go a long way to increase your self-confidence and how your boss and co-workers see you. Now just to be clear, your outfit is not the only thing that matters when it comes to your professional life. Your work ethic, how you get along with others, and job performance are what landed you the position and helped you keep it—but dressing appropriately helps you maintain the image of a smart, successful working woman!
Unfortunately, the business atmosphere can sometimes be ultra-competitive, full of politics and cliques. No matter what kind of company you work for there will be a ladder and your instincts will be to do whatever you can to climb it. As we’ve said before, your clothing is not the most important thing, but it does matter. Dressing properly at face-to-face meetings can give you the edge and help you seal the deal. However, you don’t want to walk in on a potential client’s meeting and upstage them. Your outfit should be professional, tasteful, and appropriate. You’ll find that work attire for women can be especially important in some industries, such as the legal profession, for example.
Before you put any thought into what you’re going to wear to your job, what you should be doing is going through that handbook and looking to see what kind of dress code—if any—your employer requires. Is it professional dress or business casual? If your employer expects something specific from your attire, it is better to follow the dress code than to improvise and show up looking fabulous. We know it can be hard to hold back your fashion savvy outfits in a workplace that could use a little bit of color, but first and foremost you need to dress professionally and appropriately. Your clothes at work should make you look good, but it should also take a step forward in representing your company. Let’s take a look at the different workplace attire styles—professional dress and business casual—and how you can make the most out of both.
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Miusol® Formal Houndstooth-Print 2/3 Sleeve Business Dress
Our first example of a good business outfit for women comes from Miusol. This formal houndstooth-print business dress is a great example of a professional dress that still shows off your form and beauty. It comes with a scoop neck and 2/3 sleeve. The zippers come on the sides up the front of the dress and it stops right above the knees. The length of this outfit is about as high as we would recommend for a strictly conservative workplace. We love that this outfit will both show off your curves and still look completely professional.
Kasper 2 Button Melange Notch Collar Suit
Our second example of proper business attire comes to us from Kasper. This two-button melange suit jacket has a high-end look without the need for a tailor. This outfit comes in pearl gray, which is a perfect neutral color for any conservative work environment. Seamed at the front with a double button closure, this is the type of attire that you want to let only your trusted dry cleaner handle.
Senfloco Office Cap Sleeve Bodycon Dress
This vintage bodycon dress is from the folks over at Senfloco. This polyester dress is knee length and is perfect for both professional dress codes and business casual workplaces. It comes with a square neck and cap sleeve, both which will help you fit in for different occasions outside of the workplace—like a party or brunch with the girls. The vintage dress comes in three different colors: black, green, and red. This comfortable business-appropriate dress is comfortable and priced right—which is why it made it on our list of recommended business outfits.
Professional Dress Styles
This is also known as business formal, and it is what you might wear if you were going to an interview. This is also the type of outfit you would wear to an important meeting with that hot-shot CEO. This is about as formal of an outfit as you can get in the business world. The professional dress code is the most conservative type of business attire. So, what are your options?
A business suit is probably the most popular building blocks of a formal business attire. The suit is a combination of a blazer and either trousers or a skirt. Your blazer and skirt should be matching fabric. It is highly recommended that you go with a neutral color (black or gray) in a fabric, like wool. One of the most important parts in picking out a suit is that it fits you properly. When shopping for formal work attire you need to keep a close eye on the length of the sleeves and how your blazer sits on your shoulders (you should not look like you’re wearing football shoulder pads). The length of the skirt and the position of the skirt’s slit is also extremely important.
While the suit is the go-to option for formal, conservative workplaces, the buttoned-up shirt might also be an option depending on the setting. If you do opt for the buttoned-down shirt there are a few tips to keep in mind. We recommend going with a silk shirt or cotton blend. Light colors are also the way to go if you choose the shirt route.
Casual Business Attire for Women
The second type of business attire is the business casual outfit. It is the less conservative version of professional dress. Business casual is usually popular in industries that are set in a creative environment such as marketing, design, or promotions. This type of business attire is what you would think of when a conservative workplace with a strict dress code allows their employees to have “casual Friday” in the office. Let’s talk about a few options for this less-formal type of business outfit.
Let’s make sure that as a reader, you understand that “casual” does not mean what you’d casually wear out to Applebees. It is another way of saying that you should dress professionally, but we are not going to break out a measuring tape to check how far down your skirt goes. For professional casual wear, you should look into a shirt with a collar matched with dress pants or khakis.
As we said before, it is important to note what is appropriate for your office and what is not. Some places it would be deemed unprofessional for different colored pants—and for these places we recommend neutral colored dress pants such as a solid black, gray, or navy. If you choose to go with a skirt type, it should be of an appropriate length. The last thing you want your professional skirt to say about you is that you are coming to work trying to look as sexy as you possibly can. Keep it business appropriate!
Dressing for an Interview
For the job interview, take a good inventory of what other people might wear to that office. You do not want to go into a conservative business attire workplace in dark-wash denim with a bright, patterned handbag. When going for the interview, it is best to dress on the conservative side as to what dress code would be accepted if you were hired.
An interview is a perfect time for you to make a great first impression. Make sure you head into the interview looking neat and tidy—no one wants to hire the woman who looks like she threw something together on the car ride over. Black slacks are a safe bet when it comes to your interview outfit. If you start with black slacks as a building block to your outfit, you can dress it up or round it off depending on what type of workplace you are interviewing at.
Business Fashion Tips
Comfort is a huge part of what makes a business outfit a smart decision. It can be hard to get through those long workdays—and it is even harder if you are wearing something that is extremely uncomfortable. Comfort should be a huge factor when you are shopping for appropriate business attire. The best place to get comfortable is with flat formal shoes. A woman’s shoes bear the weight of her body and stress and a good pair of comfortable shoes can help make your workload feel a little bit lighter.
While it can be tempting to spend a long time in front of the mirror, sometimes less is more. While putting on your makeup, remember that you don’t need to cake it on. Nothing is more obvious in the workplace than that one woman who smears her face and looks like she is layering on protection against the elements. When it comes to make-up, keep it simple. Do not over-do it!
For most people in the business setting, a good morning usually consists of a nice cup of coffee. Our next tip is specifically directed towards those who need that extra shot of caffeine to help jump-start their day. No matter how you like yours—with sugar or with a triple espresso shot—spilling coffee on your outfit can be a disaster. Keep a spare outfit on you, if possible. If nothing else, an extra white blouse can be a lifesaver.
Dressing right for the job is an important part of how your company and co-workers see you. While your outfit does not make you a good worker or a bad worker, it does help show the world that you care about how you look and represent your company. Following the dress code and looking beautiful while doing it can give any woman the boost of confidence that they need to make it through those difficult Mondays.
We realize that dressing for that big interview or looking great at the important presentation or meeting is probably a source of anxiety for a lot of women. We hope that by taking the tips you learned through this article, you understand that business attire for women is not as complex as some women make it out to be. You can look good while fighting through workplace politics and you can look great without dressing sexily.