Mix and match outfit with a 3-piece basic suit.
Save your money on blouses since it will be hidden under a suit jacket.
Choose quality, classically styled heeled shoes.
Keep accessories simple and elegant for the workplace.
When you're interviewing, it's always better to
dress a little more on the formal and conservative
side. This is relative, of course. If you're going
for a job at a funky piercing studio, you
shouldn't show up in Donna Karan, but leave the
ripped jeans at home until you've gotten the job.
For professional work environments, it means
opting for tailored over trendy and severe over
sexy. .comet the Allie McBeal micro-minis and
tights tops: TV fashion does not apply in the
real-world professional workplace, and people
won't take you seriously if the first thing they
recall about you is your astonishing cleavage. If
you want to base your wardrobe on a relevant TV
show, think West Wing or The Practice.
How to Dress for a Job Interview
The Classic Women's Business Suit We Should All Have
Most suit skirts have the same basic shape: either
pencil-straight or a slight flare as they fall
from the waistband. A kick-pleat can be a nice
addition, or a small slit in front or on the side
may add interest. Good suits have skirts that are
lined, and are usually made in wool gabardine.
Skirts should fall a couple of inches below the
knee or an inch above the knee (depending on your
personal comfort zone). If you have cute knees
(and most people do), don't cover them up--the
expanse of leg between your shoes and your skirt
will be an attractive wardrobe feature.
Hose should be tasteful and unnoticeable. Stay
with nude colors, or maybe sheer black hose in
winter. You can wear tights to keep your legs warm
if you're going to wear boots in the winter, but
keep the colors muted.
What to Look for When Choosing a Career Pant or Skirt Suit
When you're putting together a professional Career
wardrobe, plan for the long-term. Good suits with a jacket, pants and a skirt are
expensive, but they may last you for ten years,
and if you choose a classic look, outdated clothes
won't be an issue. Choose conservative, neutral
colors, black, gray, navy, white or beige for
suits and shoes, and make sure each piece you add
can be mixed and matched with pieces you already
have. One simple way to achieve a pulled-together
look based on separates is to find a designer you
like and stick with him or her when purchasing
your suits. (Ann Taylor has marvelous working
wardrobes.) Three skirts, two jackets, five
blouses and two pairs of pumps (one black, one
brown) should see you through the first six months
or so, at least until your new paycheck has caught
up with your standard of living. At that point,
you can start adding separates piece by piece,
with the eventual goal of being able to take last
week's clothes to the dry cleaners and still have
plenty to wear until the weekend.
Shoes are crucial to the excellent wardrobe. First
of all, they should fit as perfectly as possible,
because they contribute directly to your health
and well-being. Bad shoes contribute to bad
posture, back, neck and leg pain, and create foot
issues like bunions and corns. Especially if you
walk from trains, spend a lot of time traveling,
or work on your feet, your shoes must provide you
Classic Office Appropriate Shoe Styles
Professional wardrobes require pumps. A moderate
heel (around one inch high, up to two inches if
you need the extra height), is classy and sensible
without being frumpy. Avoid stilettos, wedge
heels, trendy colors, odd designs or patterns and
open toes. Shoes should be elegant, tasteful, and
not the first thing people notice about you. (Some
people look at your shoes first; they consider
good shoes an indicator of taste and breeding. If
you're wearing the right shoes, they'll pass
muster, and the rest of you will then be
considered.) Shoes should be made of a good
quality leather or something so like leather that
you can't tell the difference. Ideally, your shoes
will also point up the finer aspects of your legs
without trying too hard. The toes of your shoes
can be slightly rounded for comfort, or if you
have narrow feet, slightly triangular toes are all
right too. If your feet are wide, you may need to
go for a slightly boxy toe, but before getting
square-toed shoes, consider checking out shoe
designers who provide deeper rather than wider
Some companies don't consider boots professional
dress, no matter how well-made they are, but in
other firms, wearing boots in fall and winter is
acceptable. The perfect boot for the workplace is
sleek and sophisticated, with no trendy additions.
It should be brown or black, have a medium heel, a
leather or suede finish, and should hit you one to
two inches below the knee. (Try boots on with your
work skirt before committing to a purchase to make
sure the combination works.) A hidden zipper is
your best bet: lace-ups look a little too
Victoria's Secret to be professional.
Buying Professional Attire on a Budget
The money that you spend on acquiring the perfect
shoes can be made up for in your budget when you
shop for blouses. If your blouse is usually going
to be worn under a jacket, you can skimp on the
quality and get away with it as long as the cut
and fabric are good. Linen blouses are a nice
idea, but all-linen wrinkles right away: go for a
blend. Cotton-poly or the more recent stretchy
blends of cotton and Lycra will keep their shape
better than all-cotton or cotton-linen blends.
Some people can wear silk: others find it doesn't
breathe well enough to be comfortable. If you do
go with silk, you may find some wonderful blouses
in the new, washable silks. Avoid anything ruffly,
frilly or lacy, and .comet about colorful accents
on your blouses in the way of buttons or bows.
Think Katherine Hepburn: tailored, classy, very
Keep Jewelry & Accessories Simple at Work
Your jewelry and makeup will fit in with the
professional look by being understated as well.
Keep makeup muted and elegant: use neutral tones
and minimal eye makeup. Lipstick can be a bit
brighter; after all, that's what it's for, but
ignore any trendy statements in the way of
metallics, glitters, glosses or hot colors.
Jewelry should be simple, without fuss or glitter. Jewelry should be cleaned on a regular basis to make sure it looks nice and not shabby.
Follow the rule of three, wearing a bracelet and
earrings, or necklace and bracelet, but not all
three at the same time. (Wearing earrings and
necklace becomes unbalanced because all your
jewelry is clustered around your face. You may be
able to get away with it if earrings and the
necklace are utterly simple.) For earrings, wear
hoops (not too big), or studs, but avoid dangling
pieces that will destroy the clean line of a
professional suit. If any one piece of jewelry has
gems, keep other pieces solid.
If you wear a watch, don't wear a bracelet, not
even on the other wrist. Your watch should be
elegant, and if you want to make it into a piece
of jewelry, splurge on something with diamonds and
a sleek style that matches your suits.
Never, ever wear an anklet or armband to work.
The single strand of pearls favored by
yesteryear's clothing designers and movie stars is
timeless: if you're starting your professional
jewelry wardrobe, a medium-length pearl necklace
and a really great watch (maybe with an oyster or
mother-of-pearl dial) are excellent starter
A Little on Handbags, Purses and Breif Cases
Your handbag says a lot about you, and it can be
hard to find the right handbag for work. Even if
you always carry a briefcase, there will be times
when you will to go to a luncheon, and your
briefcase will need to stay behind. Like shoes,
great handbags can cost a fortune, and the really
elegant ones will also be innocuous until closely
inspected. If you don't fancy spending a couple of
hundred bucks on a purse that you're going to use
about once a month, visit consignment shops to
look for a classic design with minimal wear. Get
crocodile, lizard or leather, or an excellent
imitation in an animal-free textile. Don't bring a
fabric bag to a professional do: it never looks
right. You probably already know whether you
prefer a clutch to a strappy purse: clutches have
a cleaner look, but some people are more
comfortable with a strap. When it comes to purses,
smaller is better, although it should be big
enough to hold your necessities.
Now you have the basics of your professional
wardrobe. Keep in mind that, like a career, your
wardrobe can be built over time starting with a
few basics and adding gradually over a period of
years. Keep it simple and straightforward for a
look of timeless, understated elegance.