Professional Business Attire for Women – Business & Social Etiquette Blog

ellenpostitnoteWhen we meet someone for the first time we make an immediate decision based on their general appearance. It is therefore crucial that we present ourselves to the best possible advantage. People spend thousands of pounds on their education and forget that they will more often be judged on how they present themselves than what they know.

Although there are general standards and expectations for business attire, it should be appropriate for the company you are working for and your position in the company. Below I am going to focus on professional business attire for women.

The most professional business outfit is a plain coloured suit made with good material such as wool or a woollen blend, with a knee length skirt (just below or above the knee) is the most professional. The best colours are black, navy, dark blue, or grey. If you wear a dress make sure it is worn with a jacket and adhere to the above guidelines to keep it professional and business like. Some women prefer to wear a trouser-suit; if this is the case the trousers should rest at the top of the foot or shoe without creasing when your leg is straight.

Blouses and tops worn under your jacket should blend well and complement the suit. Choose natural materials such as cotton or silk. Be very careful with patterns; one pattern is probably sufficient for formal business attire. Be careful that the neckline is not too low.  Avoid sleeveless tops unless you intend to keep your jacket on.   If wearing a scarf choose a silk scarf which should complement what you are wearing.

Bare legs are not appropriate for a professional business look. Always wear tights of a  neutral or flesh colour.

A smart leather court shoe with a 1 – 3  inch heel is fine; avoid very high heels, flat heels, high boots, sandals and sling backs.

When wearing jewellery keep it simple; wear pearl, silver or gold small stud earrings or earrings with a small drop.  Avoid wearing more than one pair of earrings, large hoops or long dangling earrings. Not more than one ring on each hand other than the wedding combination. Do not wear rings in your nose or eyebrow. Wear a good classic watch.

Choose a good quality briefcase, writing materials, pen and digital equipment.

You can use  your accessories to reflect your personality but keep it professional. It is fine to modify your clothing to fit your office, position or culture.

Before you leave the house look at yourself in a full length mirror and ask yourself what would I think if I was meeting myself for the first time?

For  more information visit my website at   The etiquette courses are on sale for less than the price of a glass of wine.  The courses are also certified for continued professional development (CPD)  if required.

About the author

Ellen is our Business & Social Etiquette Blogger. You can reach Ellen on: Etiquette and Manners, Facebook, Linked In

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