How to Look Professional at Work and Still Stay Feminine

It has been a while since I posted anything for those of you who work in a corporate or semi corporate environment but as I have this week released the new Style Club Executive membership (more about that later) I thought I would give you some of my best workwear tips here too.

If you work in an environment where you need smart business wear and you want to climb the career ladder it pays to dress the part. For men it is easy as they can just pull on a suit and add a shirt and tie. But that’s where you can benefit and stand out in a sea of navy or grey suits. Sadly there isn’t much comment about what men wear to work, whereas it seems acceptable to focus more on how women look than how they perform. As Hillary Clinton once said “to get on the front page of the papers all I need to do is change my hairstyle!”

Dressing for business as a woman doesn’t mean you have to emulate the boys. For a start you can wear much more colour, whether that’s for example, a red jacket over a neutral dress or in a bright blouse under your navy suit. You can also show your personality with interesting jewellery and draw the eye up to your face and what you are saying with a scarf.

I always recommend buying the best quality you can afford for the office. After all you will want to get plenty of cost per wear from your business wardrobe. Rather than buying into trends you will be buying more timeless items for the investment buys of suits, blazers, coats and handbags. You can add in trend colours that suit you (try my colour dossier if you aren’t sure about your best colours) in other accessories and tops.

Here are a few more of my top tips for business wear for women:

  • Start with a navy suit, or at the minimum a navy blazer – navy suits everyone (better than black) and is the top colour for projecting authority plus it will go with everything else in your wardrobe.
  • Choose a stretch wool for comfort and style.
  • Make your core suits an investment buy and look after them properly by hanging them on decent hangers (banish all metal coat hangers from your wardrobe) and cleaning as recommended on the label. Refresh them in the fresh air rather than having them dry cleaned too often though to prolong their life.
  • Choose two neutral colours for suits and jackets – navy and grey perhaps – then add two accent colours. Red is a good choice for those times you want to command attention.
  • Maximise the wear from your suits by splitting them up and wearing with other pieces. Wear the jacket over a dress and the skirt or trousers with a toning jacket.
  • Add dresses to your workwear wardrobe. A long sleeve dress is smart, professional, feminine and may not need a jacket – just add fabulous accessories.
  • Choose beautiful signature accessories, for example a watch, business card holder, phone case and of course a businesslike handbag.

capsule wardrobe business wear accessories

Professional accessories finish your look

Compact (also a charger – brilliant) //Agenda // Scarf // Card holder // Necklace // Phone case // Tote bag // Keyring // Shoes // Travel wallet // Watch //

  • Always make sure your clothes and accessories are kept in the best condition. Make time for repairing hems, cleaning and get shoes reheeled – I promise people do notice when you don’t.
  • When you buy concentrate on fit and function. Move around, walk and sit when you are trying on. Check that a skirt or dress doesn’t ride up too high when you sit and gaping blouses that show your bra are instant credibility crushers.
  • Choose what goes underneath just as carefully. Don’t choose patterned bras that show under your tops and if a dress or skirt isn’t lined consider wearing a slip – old fashioned I know, but they really do stop skirts sticking to your tights and you can always choose one with beautiful lace that makes you feel good too.
  • Stock up on tights and keep spare pairs at work in case you ladder them during the day.
  • I’ve heard clients say that they don’t want to spend much on their work wear compared to their weekend wear, but I think this is a false economy. You probably spend far more of your time at work (unless you work part time) and it’s where your appearance is judged more, so buying good quality is an important career move. Plus why shouldn’t you love what you wear and feel good every day, not just at the weekends. If you don’t take your workwear seriously you are in danger of colleagues and bosses not taking you seriously.
  • If you travel for business keep your travel wear smart too. You can wear jeans and a sweater but add a blazer and a scarf with a smart travel bag – it will be Sod’s Law that you bump into that important person at the airport when you are in trainers and joggers.

Business wear capsule wardrobe

Choose red to command attention and make pink professional mixed with navy.

Earrings // Dress // Bag // Court shoes // Jacket // Blouse // Skirt // Watch // Bag // Shoes //

If you struggle with what to wear to work and don’t have the time to put together a professional capsule wardrobe, I have the answer to all your prayers!

This week I have launched a new Style Club Executive Membership that includes two complete business wear capsule wardrobes designed for the professional woman; one at a designer budget level and the second at a mid to high end high street budget. Both include the essential suit, professional but chic dresses – including one that will go from desk to dinner – separates that mix and match and accessories. In total each has 22 items and a month’s worth of business wear. Each month that you continue to subscribe to the Style Club you will receive an additional 8 items for each of the two wardrobes plus another set of outfits and you can subscribe for as long as you want to. Future month’s selections will include pieces you can wear for business casual and corporate events, entertaining and travel. This really will cover all of your business needs. As items in the core capsule sell out I will be updating it with new stock so that if you don’t want to buy everything immediately you will still be a blue to buy a similar item later.

To subscribe to the Style Club Executive Membership just click here.