The same overall rules apply to women’s work attire as apply to men’s. Business clothing is not a reflection of the latest fashion trend. A woman should be noticed for who she is and her professional skills rather than for what she wears. Her business wear should reflect the industry in which she works and her position or title within the industry.



Women entered the workplace in the 1970’s and 1980’s in greater numbers than ever before. They began to move into positions which had traditionally been held by men. Many of these women believed that they needed to imitate male business attire.

The result was women showing up at the office in skirted suits or coordinated skirts and jackets with tailored blouses finished off with an accessory item that looked very much like a man’s tie.

Happily those days are gone. While the business woman may now wear trousers to work, she does it out of a desire to appear professional and at the same time enjoy the flexibility and comfort that pants offer over skirts rather than the need to mirror her male colleagues.

The same overall rules apply to women’s work attire as apply to men’s. Business clothing is not a reflection of the latest fashion trend. A woman should be noticed for who she is and her professional skills rather than for what she wears. Her business wear should reflect the industry in which she works and her position or title within the industry.

Start with a skirted suit or pants suit for the most conservative look. A skirt gives the most professional look. With a few exceptions, dresses do not offer the same credibility unless they are accompanied by matching jackets.

Skirts should be knee-length or slightly above or below. Avoid extremes. A skirt more than two inches above the knee raises eyebrows and questions.

Pants should break at the top of the foot or shoe. While Capri pants and their fashion cousins that come in assorted lengths from mid-calf to ankle are the latest trend, they are out of place in the conservative business environment.

Blouses and sweaters provide color and variety to woman’s clothing, but they should be appealing rather than revealing. Inappropriate necklines and waistlines can give the wrong impression.

Women need to wear hose in the business world. Neutral or flesh-tone stockings are the best choices. Never wear dark hose with light-colored clothing or shoes. Keep an extra pair of stockings in your desk drawer unless the hosiery store is next door or just down the street from the office.

Faces, not feet, should be the focal point in business so chose conservative shoes. A low heel is more professional than flats or high heels. In spite of current fashion and the sandal rage, open-toed or backless shoes are not office attire. Not only are sandals a safety hazard, they suggest a certain social agenda.

When it comes to accessories and jewelry, less is once again more. Keep it simple: one ring per hand, one earring per ear. Accessories should reflect your personality, not diminish your credibility.

Business attire is different from weekend and evening wear. Investing in a good business wardrobe is an investment in your professional future.

About the author

Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey helps people promote themselves and grow their business by showing them how…

Online Courses

Learn anywhere, any time, on any device.

Explore

Learn Online

Self-paced courses from the
world's top sales experts

Virtual Training

Live, interactive instruction in small
groups with master trainers

Coaching

One-to-one personalized coaching
focused on your unique situation