How did your work wardrobe change as you moved up the chain?

posted 2 years ago in Career
Post # 2
261 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2020

I wear slacks, a blouse and accessories.   However that is how I dress, it is timeless and professional.   

Nothing wrong wearing a lovely dress with nice accessories.   Who a business suit of a skirt and jacket.  🙂 

Post # 3
3154 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I would say invest in a few key dresses. I usually go for pencil dresses in block colours. Professional, smart, but the colour gives you a way to express you.

I would look at specialist shops for your figure. I am the opposite being 6ft tall and I buy most of my work wear from a specialist tall shop. It fits better and therefore looks more formal.

Post # 4
3220 posts
Sugar bee

View original reply
shadows9x :  I have observed that the higher up women are in the corporate world, the more confident they feel to take risks and deviate a bit from the norm style-wise. You don’t shy away from color – as you wear purple, red, and orange blouses – and that’s great. You can also experiment with office staples such as blazers, but with a more interesting cut. And a useful accessory such as a watch does not need to be boring, while still being office-appropriate. Some ideas:

Post # 5
2231 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

Blazers, neutral coloured blouses and shirts. Knee length or just below the knee dresses. Cigarette pants and pencil skirts. Also invest in a good quality dark coat.

Post # 6
293 posts
Helper bee

I agree with few key dresses, I wear black heels with a variety of key staple dresses and at time will wear black blazer jacket or I also have some really key skirts and I just mix and match high neck tops with it to still give it that professional look.

Post # 7
213 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2018

I’d start wearing jackets rather than the cardigan.

I’m still fairly junior in my career path, but a big change for me when I got my first promotion was wearing heels every day.  I hated heels and would wear ballet flats or loafers, but that was also what a lot of paralegals or graduate lawyers wore.  I starting slipping into low but stylish ferragamos and have never looked back.  

Post # 8
1560 posts
Bumble bee

I’ve actually moved the other direction.

I was three from the CIO, wore professional dresses with heels every day.  I changed industries and now am two from the Director (only the Faculty Chair is higher) and I’m in jeans and bright tunics with loafers every day.  It was a MAJOR change for me.  When we go to conferences, I go back to slacks, blouse, and cardi with heels, but it’s not a daily thing.

The point is that it’s all about your industry and what’s expected and accepted there.

Post # 9
3001 posts
Sugar bee

Think about necklines. (Think Meghan Markle, but without the tiara). Don’t just go for boring rounded necklines. Try square or boat or vee shaped.

If you have great collarbones then show them off without distracting with cleavage.

If you have to wear heels then there are some that claim to be comfortable for 18 hours from

(I’ve not tried them myself yet but I’ve heard good things about them).

Try block colours rather than swirls or paisley patterns.

Invest in some jewellery: delicate and statement pieces.

Don’t wear matching earrings and necklaces.

If you have to wear linen then make sure it is lined so that it is less prone to crease.

Wear really nice underwear. No one will see it (I hope) but it’s a good confidence booster.

In winter make sure that you have fluffy jumpers, cute hats and skiing jackets. You take them off when you get to the office but people see them as you arrive and leave. They realise that you are a really interesting person who doesn’t just work but has an exciting life outside work.

Always have something quirky – a hummingbird brooch, or a brightly coloured scarf  – so that shy people can give you a compliment.

Keep makeup light.

If you have short hair make sure that you have regular haircuts.

If you have long straight hair there is nothing better than a French braid (French plait).

Post # 10
9976 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

View original reply
bywater :  I agree, same with me.  Years ago as a legal assistant, and fairly low up the corporate ladder, I wore suits, conservative dresses, skirts with heels and jackets every day because I worked in a law firm, and everyone dressed conservatively.  I stuck to dark colors and conservative jewelry.

Now, although I’m a supervisor (position next to closest to highest in our department), much further up the ladder, but in a more casual industry (health/fitness), I wear skinny pants with ballet flats and cardigans most days, or more casual dresses with flats or sandals.  Brighter colors, patterns and more creative jewelry is common in our office as well. 

OP:  In your situation I would observe what your co-workers are wearing at your level of authority and dress accordingly.

Post # 11
570 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2016

I do agree with PP that is depends on your industry and culture of the office. Personally, my office is quite casual. However, I do feel the need to dress up a bit. I wear similar to what you do, but I am not as high in the organization.

If it were me (and my style), I would wear more professional/modest dresses. But, I don’t see anything really wrong with what you wear now. Maybe you can change the accessories to make you feel less “childish”. It’s cheaper than changing your entire wardrobe! 🙂

Post # 12
1716 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2018

You’ve gotten good advice,  I’d definitely go with the corporate culture.  If I were to want to rise to a more advanced role with my organization(i don’t since they don’t get a flexible work schedule or work from home),  I’d go for suits.  Honestly,  I know this series was forever ago,  but I usually loved the way they styled Veronica from Better off Ted.  Seriously quirky and fun show By The Way that died with the writers strike 10 years ago. 🙁

In any case,  here’s an article with the stylist,  apparently,  they focused on tailoring, color,  and keeping the base layer interesting.

Post # 13
12811 posts
Honey Beekeeper

I like the website corporette for career wardrobe advice and inspiration. 

ETA Cross posted! 

Post # 14
8747 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

View original reply
shadows9x :  If you are that petite I think tailoring could really help you elevate your wardrobe. Pencil skirts are great IMO but have them hemmed so you don’t look like a kid playing dress-up in your mom’s clothes. Otherwise I agree that swapping out the cardigans for jackets is a good step. My go-to work wardrobe is skinny black ankle pants and a white button down which I accessorize with fun shoes, jewlery, or cardigans if it’s chilly. I think well fitting clothes and being otherwise well groomed (no flyaway hairs, no chipped nails, etc) is more important than the styles so long as it’s in the range of professional. 

Post # 15
924 posts
Busy bee

Sheath dresses with a blazer are classic, professional, and mature. Accessorize with a scarf or necklace. The patent leather bag probably needs to go. I’ve noticed admins tend to have that uniform of “black pants, “statement” blouse, cardigan” so try to stay away from that. A blazer absolutely elevates the look. Make sure everything is in good condition- no scuffs on your shoes or holes in your purse. Agree with PP that the blog corporette is a good resource. I also like Cap Hill Style.

A capsule wardrobe is a good idea, and dark colors are the way to go. I’m a lawyer in court a lot, so my wardrobe is business formal. I’m also 5’2 and a 00. Tailoring is very important. Watch the length of sleeves especially. Petites do make a difference if you’re short. 

Leave a comment

Find Amazing Vendors