The science of how to be dressed appropriately at work is one that has been well researched by many fashionistas around the world. It is also one of the most important questions for every women with a career.

I personally follow two simple rules. Number one: Those items that are noticed first should be fancier. Think about what you notice first when you look at someone’s attire and go from there. Number two: No one ever regretted buying quality. Consider which item will last you the longest, and invest in those.

With these simple rules, you will be able to conquer the jungle that is corporate fashion in no time. So lets begin.

A classic handbag

No matter if you are launching fresh into your business career or you have been at it for decades, please take my advice: You can save on every item of your wardrobe, but not on your handbag.

A handbag tells a lot about your personality. Especially in a business environment, where formal wear sometimes makes it hard to get the measure of somebody, you can learn so much about the accessories people carry with them.

If you want to display confidence, style and professionalism, a classic choice is a black Chanel Flap Bag. In my opinion, this bag is a timeless piece of art. So if you can, then invest in one. It tells your surroundings that you care about your appearance. At the same time, you don’t give away too much. 

How to dress to impress as a business woman

A classic Channel handbag

Apart from the symbolic character, a good bag will last for years, so don’t be afraid to invest in one.

A good coat and/or jacket

What goes for your bag, also does for your coat and jacket: Don’t save on it!

If you walk into an office, go to a meeting or attend a formal evening event, the first thing people will notice is your coat or jacket. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make it count.

I personally almost always go for either Max Mara or Burberry. Max Mara has a really good range of coats and jackets for all shapes and sizes, while Burberry has a must have trench coat.

Burberry coat - 2015 collection

Burberry coat – 2015 collection

Take your time and go and try all the coats out there. It’s something you don’t buy very often and it needs prior research to make the right decision. I’m sure you will soon find the one that’s made just for you.

Blouses for every occasion

After the, admittedly, pretty costly introduction to business fashion, let’s dial it down and talk about some parts of your business wardrobe that don’t need to be expensive (even though they can be!).

Lets start with the working hero of your office uniform, the blouse. Have at least one for every business day, and one more. They should be in light colours of cream, apricot, lavender or baby blue. A white blouse is also essential, even though it can be very unflattering for certain skin types.

How to dress to impress as a business woman

Blouse from Asos collection

Also, make sure your blouses have sleeves. In summer, it might be especially tempting to go for one of those gorgeous sleeveless models. If you absolutely can’t resist, bring a cardigan or a light jacket to cover your arms.

You can find plenty of perfectly suitable business blouses from your favourite online stores, or on the high street at Zara, Mango or Topshop. Even H&M offers a decent range. 

Comfortable trousers

Trousers are another item you can save on. Like blouses, you should visit your usual retailers and find at least two pairs. Stick with neutral colours like black, navy or grey. A good tip for tall women: Go for a boot cut. They flatter your long legs.

I have read in some fashion blogs that apparently you should avoid wearing skinny jeans to the office. I don’t really see why. If you have the figure, why not? They look amazing with the right jacket and a pair of pumps! Of course, if you work at an extremely conservative company (or like me, in finance), this won’t be an option for you. 

A pencil skirt

This is one of the most classic fashion items in every woman’s wardrobe. There are countless variations, and they all make you look professional and fabulous.

There really is only one rule: Your skirt shouldn’t be shorter than the distance between your fingertips and knees.

How to dress to impress as a business woman

Pencil skirt from Asos collection

If you’re not sure, it’s too short! Test your potential new skirt by sitting down, walking and reaching for something above and below you. And ask a friend for a second opinion.

Many, many dresses

A dress is my favourite piece of clothing at work. It’s practical, it looks good and it underlines my femininity. In a business world, where men still dominate the high ranks of management, I think it’s important to make your statement, not only in actions and words, but also in appearance. Too often, I have seen women dress like men in order to fit it. Ladies, this is not necessary! We should be proud of our femininity. 

How to dress to impress as a business woman

Experiment with colours, but don’t go for colours that are too bright, or for busy patterns. With regards to length, same rule as for skirts applies here: don’t wear your dresses too short. Also, this may be obvious, but don’t show off your cleavage if you want to be taken seriously.

Court shoes

Yes, we’re finally here. Let’s talk about shoes!

You need at least 2-3 pairs of comfortable, yet fashionable court shoes in black, nude and in one of your favourite colours. The heel shouldn’t be higher than 8 cm. You have to walk around in these the entire day, don’t forget. Like with the bag and coat, people also notice your shoes, so don’t hesitate to spend a little more on the perfect pair.

How to dress to impress as a business woman

Jimmy Choo 2015 collection

Fashionable flats

If you feel more comfortable with your heels on the ground, you can always go for a pair of flats. They come in millions of variations and are a good way to accentuate your otherwise neutral outfit.

A range of scarves

To round off your business attire, choose a scarf in a colour that suits you best. Everybody has that one colour that really brings out their eyes or skin, and you probably know already which one that is.

Of course, you can get more than one scarf. I have a whole range of them, some in bright colours, some to match my shoes, and some for those meetings where I really have to look super professional.

Monogram Louis Vuitton scarf

Monogram Louis Vuitton scarf

I am absolutely in love with Louis Vuitton scarves. Of course, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives. Just make sure that you choose a fabric that doesn’t irritate your skin, like wool, silk or soft cotton. 

Jewellery and accessories

After all the formalities, you will probably be delighted to hear that your way to shine is through unique accessories and jewellery – but keep it classy! For ultra-conservative environments, keep your favourite string of pearls within reach every morning.

If you are working in a more relaxed company or want to leave a strong impression, just make sure your jewellery isn’t louder than the click-clack of your heels.