1970462_439749922829748_2143241250411544867_n Fashion

Women’s Business Casual Guidelines for the Corporate World

When in doubt, use the Executive Rule of Thumb – If you can’t imagine a successful female CEO wearing it, put it back on the hanger.


Look down. What are you wearing today?

If a female executive stood next to you, could you match her professional attire and appearance? Would someone look at you, without knowing you, and think you were at a higher level in your corporation than you really are?

If not, it’s time to go shopping! In our How To Get Promoted Article, we told you that your appearance is part of your Visual Resume. You have to Dress the part. This includes clothing, hair, makeup, accessories, etc. If you want the title of Regional Manager, President, or CEO, then you need to make it easy for people above you to imagine you in this role.


Don’t worry, you can still be trendy and fashionable, but make sure to follow these guidelines before handing over your credit card.

Skirt Length – At or below your knees. One good test is to get on your knees, and if your skirt doesn’t touch the floor, don’t wear it to the office. Avoid sundresses, mini-skirts, skorts, and beach attire.

Cleavage – We don’t care what God gave you, or didn’t give you, keep the girls hidden. You want the attention on your mind, projects and out-of-the-box ideas…..NOT on your out-of-the-shirt-boobs. If you are going to wear a low-cut or v-neck shirt of any sorts, make sure to wear a cami underneath. Don’t wear tank tops, spaghetti straps, midriffs, halters, t-shirts, or sweatshirts.

Heel Height – Yes, it seems that stripper shoes are in style right now (not sure why), but save those for your off hours. Keep your heels between 0” and 3” (depending on your height).

Fit – All clothing should fit your body appropriately. Your skirt is too tight if creates a ripple effect across the front. Your shirt is too tight if we can see the outline of your bra and/or there are gaps between the buttons on your button down. Your pants are too tight if they cling inappropriately to the front and back. Leave some room to breathe!

Pants – Pants should be tailored to fall just above the ground with your shoes on. Don’t wear pants that are too long (walking on them) or so short that they hike up to your calf when you sit down. Wear pants made of cotton or synthetic materials. Avoid pajama pants (duh!), sweatpants, exercise pants, shorts and overalls.

Jewelry/Makeup – You aren’t a Christmas Tree so be careful not to over accessorize. Also, take into consideration what you’ll be doing that day. If you are giving a presentation, you don’t wear bracelets that clink together when you move your arms as that is distracting during a talk. Use good judgment here, and sometimes, less is more.

Overall, don’t let coworkers discount your intelligence based on your appearance. Remember, when in doubt, use the Executive Rule of Thumb – If you can’t imagine a successful female CEO wearing it, put it back on the hanger.

4 comments on “Women’s Business Casual Guidelines for the Corporate World

  1. Office Manager

    Now that we are into summer, wouldn’t you say keep “spaghetti” straps hidden (and bra straps!) while in the office? For office hours, cover them with a “shrug” or another layer that you can quickly shed when you leave the office.

    • Yes!!! You are dead on with this, and I am surprised by how many women I see dressed like that. DEFINITELY cover up for the office. Great point and thanks for the comment!

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