What Is Business Dress for Women?

by Bailey Shoemaker Richards ; Updated October 04, 2017

Professional attire is important in the workplace.

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Most companies and businesses have a dress code--written or unwritten--that they expect employees to adhere to; business dress is generally more formal and sophisticated than clothes worn around the house. In order to project a businesslike appearance and work as a professional, follow some simple guidelines. Women have more options than men in what they can wear to work, as dresses and skirts are often appropriate business attire for women.


Button-up shirts are the standard professional type of shirt for many businesswomen, although it is easy to pair other types of shirts like blouses and ruffled tops with blazers to make them suitable for professional wear. Shirts that coordinate with one or more suit combinations allow you to put more color variety into outfits. Shirts can be accented with bracelets, necklaces, pins and other types of jewelry.


Suit pants and a jacket or blazer, a skirt paired with a jacket and a skirt with a sweater are often acceptable for business dress. A navy blue blazer can be paired with a number of colors, and it makes a simple but professional addition to a business wardrobe. Some companies insist that female employees wear a matching suit with pants or trousers and a jacket. More lenient companies allow you to pair skirts or dresses with business blazers and blouses. Companies with casual dress days may let you wear khakis or jeans to work, while other businesses prefer strictly professional dress at all times.


Flats and boots are seasonal shoes that can be added to a professional outfit without making it less business appropriate. Heels that are more than 2 to 3 inches high can make an outfit appear more business casual than business professional, but many women have no trouble wearing high-heeled shoes to the office. Shoes with low heels are the most suited for a business environment, although some offices prefer employees to wear flat shoes at all times.


Dresses are appropriate in some, but not all, offices. Pairing a dress with a jacket or, in a more casual environment, a sweater, is an easy way to keep the dress professional. If you wear dresses to work, choose outfits that reflect your personal style but will not present an obstacle in the workplace due to discomfort or other wardrobe problems. Dresses are often paired with heels or flats for the office.


Check with the personnel or human resources department, or your boss, regarding specific wardrobe questions, since business dress for women may vary among offices. In any business-related setting, however, there are a few things to avoid. Short skirts or dresses, ripped pants or jeans, tank tops, loud plastic or metal jewelry and shorts or capri pants are generally considered to be unacceptable office wear. Flip-flop sandals, platform shoes and most hats are also unprofessional.

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