Dress Like You Mean Business

I still follow the old-school “Dress for Success” mantra. Even though times have changed since I started working in corporate America in the 80s, some timeless rules still apply.

One important rule for me is to keep it professional and classy. First impressions are crucial and can leave a lasting impact. You can maintain your style while still adhering to corporate dress codes.

Employees should be able to distinguish between appropriate business attire and club wear. Dressing for the work environment doesn’t mean you can’t be feminine or fashionable while still maintaining your sense of style. However, it’s crucial to avoid dressing provocatively in the workplace.

Take note of the professionals who hold very high-level positions; most of them are probably not dressed as if they were going out for a night on the town. Your wardrobe sends a message about your seriousness in the workplace, so it’s essential to dress in a way that communicates your professionalism and business mindset.

Some employees have gotten a little too relaxed in their career attire. 

I am very much against dressing provocatively in the workplace. There is a time and a place for everything, and your wardrobe should clearly state that you mean business. I had looked around the room when surrounded by the most established, successful people, and never did I spot one woman dressed as if she were on a night out on the town. 


  1. Consider the impression you want to make with your wardrobe – think carefully about the job you’re applying for and the expected dress code.
  2. Invest in timeless classic pieces that are appropriate for different work situations.
  3. Create a color palette that works with your existing wardrobe and switch it up to transition into the next season.
  4. Accessorize strategically – a few simple touches can take an outfit from basic to stylish.
  5. Know that you do NOT have to splurge to create a working wardrobe. Consider shopping thrift, consignment, and online resale.
  6. Select quality pieces that will last a while. You can make an outfit look more stylish and expensive even when it’s not.
  7. Build a professional wardrobe from the basics by creating a  capsule wardrobe with basics that can be mixed and matched. 


  1. One aspect that particularly resonated with me was the emphasis on timeless elegance. Trends may come and go, but classic pieces never go out of style. Investing in well-tailored blazers, crisp blouses, and perfectly fitted trousers can create a versatile wardrobe foundation that effortlessly transitions from boardroom meetings to networking events. As the article rightly suggests, when we invest in quality clothing, we’re not just buying clothes; we’re investing in ourselves.

  2. The tips are amazing! I have to admit that I’ve also gotten a little too casual, especially when I’m not feeling well. I definitely need to get back into my professional attire!

  3. Love this post! The tips are super helpful, especially ones that explore how you can make your existing wardrobe work for you by selecting timeless pieces or creating a color palette that makes it easy to change your look just by mixing and matching what you already have. Thanks for the great ideas!

  4. Tip #2 was me to a T when I was in the corporate world. I still have some of those classic pieces and still love a blouse and blazer to go along with my jeans. Or maybe a plain white T, but often a black blazer.

  5. Great tips! I’ve been getting a lot of repeat messaging regarding being intentional in my dress, so this is right on time. Thanks, Ola!

  6. Great post. I think its important to establish your personal style and build your wardrobe from there. Great tips on not having to break the bank to create a capsule wardrobe.

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