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Dos and Don'ts for Women's Business Attire: Navigating Business Dress Codes

By: Camryn Ling

As our campus shifts to its previous in-person status, masks aren't the only new things women should be adding to their wardrobes. While we have grown comfortable with our work-from-home attire and fully taking advantage of the camera-off feature in our virtual meetings, these outfits won't cut it for in-person events. Coming back in person means swapping out our comfort wear for something more professional.

Although some places might mandate a "business casual" dress code, don't be fooled by the word "casual." Business casual means a "toned-down" version of the standard business professional attire. In simpler terms, ladies can swap out the formal suit for slacks and a blouse.

To differentiate the two, business professional means suits. It's best to invest in a neutral-colored suit since these usually meet the business professional dress code. On the other hand, business casual gives women more options to wear colorful blouses sweaters, and possibly layer some tops that would have been too casual for business professionals standards.


Slacks: Slacks or dress pants are essential. Slacks are loose-fitting yet structured pants that can sometimes be held up using belts or are fitted to your waist. You must invest in some nice slacks and generally stick to darker colors like black, gray, and navy blues. If you must wear jeans, ensure you stick to either dark blue or black jeans.

Skirts: If you buy skirts, make sure they are either knee-length or below the knee, any shorter, and you risk looking unprofessional. These follow the same color code as slacks.

Blouses: Invest in some nice blouses (silk and cotton) and err on the side of modest; while a deep v neck may be your go-to for business attire, it's safest to go with a higher neckline. In terms of colors, don't feel afraid to experiment with color. While it's best to stick to the neutrals and dark tones for bottoms, for tops, color is okay. Definitely invest in some staple pieces in colors like gray, beige, brown, white, black, and navy blue.

Blazers: As with slacks, investing in a nice blazer in neutral or dark colors are essential to completing the business look.

Cardigans: Cardigans or cover-ups are great to layer over more casual shirts to up their look.

Heels and flats: If you wear heels, a low heel is best not only for looks but for comfort too.

Accessories: avoid heavy makeup and flashy jewelry


No sneakers, casual open-toed shoes like flip flops or tropical sandals

No yoga pants, leggings, jeggings, or shorts.

Some go to places to buy staple pieces are H&M, Express, Macy's, Uniqlo, Target, the Loft, Nordstrom Rack, and J. Crew.

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