Stylist in Pocket · Business Attire: Decipher the Dress Code

BUSINESS ATTIRE: DECIPHER THE DRESS CODE



May

05

Business attire is generally the most formal day-to-day attire found in most offices (although some law offices adhere to a suits-only policy, which would be much more restricting).  Business attire for men is pretty simple: suit and tie.  Fortunately for women, the formula is much more lax, and can take various forms.

Some basic aspects of business attire for women:

  • Tops: Button-up shirts can be the norm, but other embellished blouses will also work in a business outfit, especially under a suit jacket.  Sleeveless tops may or may not be acceptable in a business office, but even if they are, stick to a wide-strap shell.  A cardigan
  • Pants: Stick to full-length trousers in various colors, fits, and fabrics.  Cropped pants should be reserved for casual Fridays.
  • Skirts and dresses: Pencil-shaped skirts and dresses in structured and tailored fabrics look more professional than flirty A-lines or flowy chiffon.  Keep the length around the knee (give or take an inch or two).  To mix things up, try a colorful graphic print or accessorize with a belt.
  • Blazers: While not required, blazers are an easy way to dress up any outfit for a business environment.  Try a fun pattern or color to pair with classic trousers for a fun variation on suit separates.
  • Suits: Still a staple of a business wardrobe, suits today are more fun than ever.  Add a skirt suit with a ruffled hem and a pants suit with a three-quarter sleeve blazer for a change of pace from the basic black suit.  A dress + jacket suit looks eternally chic.
  • Shoes: Some business offices do insist on closed-toed shoes; peep-toes are about as racy as you'll get here.  Keep the heel moderate (less than 3"), and have some fun with colors, fabrics, and embellishments (can anyone say d'orsay?).
  • Accessories: Chunky jewelry and flirty flowers may not be appropriate here.  Infuse your personality subtly, with a colorful belt, layered necklaces, or an embellished watch.

Here are some styled business looks you can try:

Trousers + blouse + cardigan = on the more casual side of business attire


Cap-sleeve sheath dress.

Pencil skirt + top + cardigan.  Note the low heels.


Classic black suit. 


Sheath dress + embellished blazer