Health & Medical Beauty & Style

Reflect Your Goals

Reflect Your Goals

Your goals for business dressing should reflect the reason that you’re at work in the first place. You’re there to do a job, not to make a fashion statement. So although it’s important to look nice, it’s not so important to be trendy unless you’re working in the entertainment or fashion industries. Dressing correctly for the business situation shows your boss, colleagues, and clients that you know what you’re doing.

If you don’t dress properly, you may be regarded as having poor judgment on the job, which could affect your pocketbook by costing you plum assignments or promotions.
Short women especially may be at somewhat of a disadvantage among their taller peers, so if you're petite, it's especially important to project a businesslike image at work.

Know Your Options

For business/formal dressing, there are three options that work best:
  • Skirt suit
  • Pantsuit
  • Dress with matching jacket

A long-sleeved, tailored dress may be OK too. If you’re going to wear a dress, think classic, not trendy. The problem with a dress alone is that there’s no jacket to go with it, so you have to rely on the long sleeves for coverage. Wearing a jacket serves notice to the world that you’re there to do business.

When you wear a jacket, you're wearing the businessperson's uniform. Even if you take your jacket off in your own office, it’s a good idea to wear a jacket when you attend a meeting or see clients. So if you want to wear a dress, think about whether you can do without the extra layer of coverage that a jacket provides.

No matter which business/formal dressing option you choose to wear, your outfit should fit well. Short women may have a more difficult time finding a good fit in ready-to-wear, so be prepared to alter your suits if necessary to achieve a great fit.

Choose Your Colors

Black, navy, charcoal gray – with or without pinstripes – are the most conservative choices. Although these neutral, dark colors are always safe, you can liven things up with color as long as other respected women colleagues do the same. Red is considered a power color for women; it's not unusual to see women senators wearing red suits. Base other color choices on what looks good on you, not what’s trendy.
In your major garment pieces, you should avoid the "baby" pastels such as pink or blue because they may tend to emphasize your femininity, rather than your valuable work skills.

If you like to wear soft pastels, pick those hues for your shells and blouses that you’ll wear with suits.

Start With the Suit or Jacket Dress

When you’re dressing for the day, first select the suit or jacket dress that you’re going to wear. If you’re wearing a jacket dress, you’ll only have two major pieces of clothing, but if you’re wearing a suit for the day, select a shell or blouse to wear with it. Petites especially may want to think twice before wearing a blouse that's ruffled because the ruffles may be perceived as too girlish at work.
Even if you think that you’ll be keeping the suit jacket buttoned up all day, at least wear a shell.

When you raise your arms, the bottom of your jacket may also raise above your waist, and if you’re not wearing anything under the jacket, your bare midriff will show.

Select Undergarments

Once you know which outfit you’re going to be wearing, decide which undergarments you’ll need to smooth and slim you so that you’ll look your best. When you look slimmer, you'll look taller too.
Choices may be as simple as control-top panty hose and a full-coverage bra, but there are so many options in shapewear available now that you may want to check them out to see what works best for you.

Choose Appropriate Shoes

For a business/formal environment, shoes should be in excellent condition without rundown heels or scuff marks. Although short women are frequently tempted to wear very high heels for the additional height boost, the heels don't need to be extremely high. Pumps works for best for business/formal. Stick to heels that you can walk well in, and avoid trendy styles in shoes. As to colors for the business/formal workplace, neutrals are the best choice.

Leave the sandals, shoes with ankle straps, and stilettos for after work.

Cover Your Legs

A business/formal look requires that women wear hose, so don't be tempted to imitate the bare-legged look that some celebrities insist on even when they're on camera. Matching shoes to your outfit is fine, especially if you're wearing a dark color. Having legwear the same color as the rest of your outfit will give you a monochromatic color scheme, making you look taller. If your suit or jacket dress is a dramatic color, such as red, select shoes in a neutral color.

Once you've selected shoes to go with your outfit, pair them with matching or skin-toned legwear, either opaque or sheer.

Carry a Purse

Carry a purse that's a neutral color. Avoid huge handbags; a purse of medium size will do. Keep it neat and not slouchy. Like your shoes, your purse should be in excellent condition, free of broken hardware and scuff marks.

Keep jewelry conservative, and avoid very long dangling earrings, jingling bracelets, or statement necklaces. Costume jewelry – also known as fashion jewelry – is OK as long as it doesn't stand out too much, and fine jewelry, such as gold or platinum, or sterling silver is always appropriate as long as the jewelry is not disproportionately big. Another great choice for accessorizing with jewelry is to wear pearls; a single strand of pearls is properly understated for business/formal wear.

Remember that business/formal means dressing conservatively, so cover up. Save the mini-skirts, low-cut tops, and peep-toe shoes for after-work hours.

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