6 Outfits and My Top Tips for Dressing for Authority at Work

How do you say “I’m the Boss” while still being feminine, especially if you work mostly with men? It’s a dilemma a lot of women have, as one of my readers said “I work in a team of mostly men and I’m the Boss. How do I assert my authority without having to wear a masculine style suit? I still want to be feminine but last time we had a client meeting, again mostly men, one of them looked to me to pour the coffee when it arrived!”

Don’t be afraid to be feminine you have worked hard to get to where you are and research has shown that companies with gender diverse boards perform better.  So use your femininity to your advantage.

Here are a couple of specific things you can do to stand out as the senior member of the team:

  • Wear a suit but choose a feminine colour or style and my number one tip is that the fit should be impeccable. Badly fitting clothes lose you credibility and look cheap even if they weren’t.
  • Choose the best you can afford and add classic, quality accessoires – if they are beautiful quality you can use a bright colour like the bag and shoes below.
  • Remember, in meetings you may be sat at a desk and only your top half will show so wear colour (pick one of your best colours) close to your face. Colour is the single biggest statement you can make, it shows confidence and will make you stand out from a sea of dark suits and white/blue shirts.
  • Add a set of pearls but make them contemporary and avoid wearing jewellery that jangles when you move as it will distract from what you are saying.
  • Choose blouses and tops in silk and avoid the classic man’s shirt.

business wear for women, authority dressing, dressing your personal brand

Grey jacket and trousers // Blouse // Pink bag // Pink shoes // Pale blue jacket and skirt // Top // Bag // Shoes // Pearls //

  • Don’t be afraid of wearing pink or floral patterns – as long as you do them right.
  • Use navy to add authority to pink or pick a floral that includes black and add black accessories. Neither of these two outfits below are “girly” they both say “professional and in control” but show an attention to detail.
  • Choose a jacket with waist shaping that works with your curves.

business wear for women, dressing with authority, dressing your personal brand

Navy jacket // Pink dress // Bag // Shoes // Black jacket // Floral dress // Bag // Shoes //

  • Use high contrast like navy and white (but only if it suits you or it could make you look washed out) or one of your darkest neutral colours with a lighter neutral or accent.
  • A shirt dress with a feminine twist and lighter neutral accessories is great for the summer and less formal occasions but still looks professional.

business wear for women, dressing with authority, dressing your personal brand

Navy blazer // White shirt // Stripe skirt // Shoes // Necklace // Cream jacket // Dress // Tote // Shoes //

  • Always make sure your clothes are in great condition and are current. Retire anything that is showing wear. A navy blazer is a capsule wardrobe staple but if you wear it once or twice per week it will only last a couple of seasons.
  • Don’t be stingy with your clothing budget – look at it as an investment in your career, because it is!
  • Remember that every day what you wear tells people about your personal brand before you say anything. Make sure your packaging isn’t letting you down.

You can see an example of an executive capsule wardrobe here.

I have just launched an Executive Wardrobe and Styling service – find out more here.

Shop the items by clicking the links above or the images below: