Career Woman

Like a boss: How to dress for the job you want


Being the boss is a beautiful thing – who doesn’t want to be in charge of a successful business? Of course, no woman starts out at the top. Even Sheryl Sandberg had to start somewhere…and it wasn’t as COO of Facebook. While nothing can replace hard work, dedication, education, and experience, there are a few things every woman can do to get ahead. That includes dressing for the job you want, not the job you already have.

You’ve heard the advice before. It’s in just about every human resources article you can get your hands on. In theory, it’s easy. In practice, it’s a little more difficult to follow the advice. Today’s modern woman is juggling hundreds of different tasks and responsibilities. Who has time to really think about wardrobe choices?

Dressing like a boss doesn’t mean you have to be confined to a life of pant suits, nylons and starched blouses. Confused about where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Read on for inspired styling tips for the office, including 2018’s hottest trends.

Power in patterns

Whether you are the boss or just want to make a fashion power play, pattern is a perfect way to play up your sense of personality while also remaining purely professional. Florals – if they aren’t too “loud” – work well. Look to pinstripes and polka dots for a blouse that, when paired with a blazer, can’t miss. One word of warning: while patterns can be bold and inventive, steer clear of overly “cutesy” patterns in the workplace. Save the bunnies, bears and bubblegum hearts for your PJs. These can send the wrong message, namely that you shouldn’t be taken seriously. Running short on inspiration? You might find some on Pinterest.

Amp up your color

Not everything for the workplace has to be neutral. Gone are the days of having to wear gray, black, or tan every day. Have fun with color. A pop of pink, blue, green or yellow goes great with a nice pair of tailored slacks and heels and can add a bit of pizazz to any outfit. Pantone’s color of the year is Ultra Violet purple, and we’re seeing more and more of it around the office. It’s completely professional – just be sure not to overdo it. A bright-colored blouse means you should probably tone it down on the shoes, pants, and accessories.

Accessorize (carefully)

We all know her. She’s the one who wears huge hoop earrings or three rings on each of her fingers. Maybe she stacks multiple chunky necklaces that clank around her neck when she walks. Don’t. Be. Her.

When it comes to the office, there are a few go-to jewelry pieces that almost always work with any outfit. A great pair of pearl earrings can be your best friend, and best of all they don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Studs are a safe bet, but you can also wear something that dangles. You can pick up necklaces online for a pretty good price. Just be sure you do your research before investing in anything too expensive. Find a reputable online seller and save yourself some money, but we strongly advise looking at the reviews first to see what other customers have to say. If you’re buying real pearls, they should come with some sort of grading certificate to ensure their authenticity.

When it comes to bracelets, stay away from layering multiple pieces that run up the length of your arm. Don’t get us wrong – Alex and Ani makes a great bracelet – but they aren’t all appropriate for the workplace. Along the same lines, you’ll want to skip super flashy diamond tennis bracelets. Jewelry should complement your outfit without drawing attention away from the person who’s wearing it!

Sensibly sexy

Sexy, professional dresses do exist and are completely acceptable in the workplace – with a few caveats. The key is to embrace the adage of iconic fashion designer and stylist Edith Head:

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.”

Leaving aside any patriarchal implications of using the term “lady”, let’s try to agree that what we are going for here is class. Your clothes don’t have to be loose-fitting. If you have curves, it’s ok to show them. Empowering, even. A figure hugging dress is perfectly acceptable. This said, your boss lady dress should not be so revealing that is crosses the line.

Dos and Do nots

Finally, a few sensible tips regardless of what your style may be. These are tried and true rules for any woman in the workplace:

DO: Make sure your underwear is out of sight. This goes for bra straps and panty lines. No one is suggesting you go commando, but if your dress is so snug that people can see the lace lining on your thong, it is way too tight for work.

DO: Have a cardigan or blazer on hand. Why? Simple. It’s the perfect thing to throw on for an unexpected client meeting or luncheon to dress up your look. It’s also super functional. Offices can be cold!

DON’T: Wear super short hemlines. Tight pencil skirts are fine, but mini-skirts are definitely not advisable.

DO: Wear a pair of sleek stilettos. A pair of shiny, pointed heels speaks to a total boss attitude. These days, an open toe or peep toe is also acceptable, but if you’re going to show your toes, you better make sure they look nice!

DON’T: Forget the stockings. Listen, no one has the right to insist you shave your legs or your armpits, but if you’re not going to, may we suggest a nice pair of nylons/stockings? Again, this isn’t a matter of gender equality in fashion so much as it is about professional poise and polish.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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