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A Woman's Guide to Business-Formal Dress

• Suits: The keys to suits (either skirt suits or pantsuits) are fabric, fit, and comfort. For autumn, winter, and spring, wool is still the best choice. For summer, cotton, gabardines, and linen are good choices.

Have the suit professionally fitted if you have problems with off-the-rack clothes. Choose suits with jackets and skirts that are appropriate for your body type.

• Skirts: Don’t make your skirt too tight, and don’t make it too short. Business skirts typically are hemmed just around the knees.

• Blouses and shirts: What you wear with your suit is as important as the suit itself. Blouses made of transparent material are inappropriate. High-quality cotton and silk are good choices, as are high-quality microfiber blends.

• Stockings and pantyhose: Pantyhose and stockings are both acceptable in the workplace, so long as they’re matched to your other clothes, aren’t heavily patterned, and don’t suggest anything other than a commitment to work. During warm months, or if you feel comfortable doing so, going without pantyhose is fine.

• Shoes: Take care of your shoes. Keep them functional, attractive, clean, and shined. Most women find that low-heeled pumps or flats are suitable for the vast majority of business situations.

Heels can be as high as, say, 1 1/2 or 2 inches, but heels much higher than that look unprofessional.

• Accessories: Welcome to the bottomless pit of accessories! Just keep it simple and sophisticated:

o Handbags: Large enough to carry a few items of makeup and whatever technology you use to plan your week, but no larger.

o Briefcases: Some women carry a briefcase in lieu of a handbag, which is much neater.

Increasingly, the briefcase and notebook computer bag are merging into one article. Briefcases traditionally are made of black or brown leather (black is the dressier of the two). Don’t skimp on quality. If you choose a separate notebook computer bag, in addition to a briefcase (and maybe handbag), make sure they all coordinate.

o Belts: Leather, 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Coordinate the belt's color with your outfit.

Proper attire dictates that when a garment (such as pants) has belt loops, you are supposed to wear a belt to be fully and properly dressed.

o Scarves: Made of silk, wool, cashmere, or a blend of these fabrics.

o Jewelry: Less is more. Keep your jewelry simple and understated.

o Eyeglasses: Glasses are among the few areas in business dress where you’re allowed to assert your individuality, even in conservative environments.

What to wear for an Interview (Interview Dress Code)

First impressions last a lifetime. Research shows that interviewers make up their mind about a candidate quickly (less than 20 seconds or so). So you want to make the best impression that you can when you enter the interview room.

Generally the type of dress will depend on the company that you are interviewing for. Once you have done your research on the company – you will have a better idea of the type of wardrobe that would be acceptable - whether the Interview dress should be casual or formal. When unsure it is better to err on the side of formal and conservative. Also do not assume that that it you should wear what the current employees wear to work everyday. Interview attire is generally more formal than everyday office-wear.

Fairly Safe Bets for what to wear to an Interview (Interview Dress Code)

Men: Blazer, Formal Shirt and Slacks (no jeans)

Women: Formal Shirt and Pants

In certain type of industries, your type of dress also conveys a lot about you. For example:

Media, Fashion & Advertising Interviews: Designer, Smart Casual, Trendy, Colourful

Banking Interviews: Suit, Tie, Formal Shoes

Technology Interviews: Smart Casual (No JEANS)

Civil Servant Interviews: Smart Shirt and Trousers (No jeans and T-Shirts), Smart Belt, Formal Shoes

MBA Interview: Suit & Tie, Blazer & Tie, Formal Shoes

Accounting: Suit & Tie, Blazer & Tie, Formal Shoes

For Women Traditional Wear is also accetable for Interviews Dress in many sectors

If you are not comfortable in western wear, you can always opt for traditional wear. Keep the print simple and focus more on the cut. A sari or suit is perfectly acceptable as long as it looks professional and not like party wear.

Make sure you do you research on the company, as to whether traditional wear is an acceptable part of the dress code.

Be Comfortable in what you wear at the Interview

Whatever you wear, you need to look comfortable. Make sure that everything fits well and does not look sloppy. Your clothes should be clean and well ironed. Your shoes should be polished. Also make sure that your clothes are not too big or too tight. Ensure that there are no loose buttons and stains on your clothes.

What not to wear in an Interview

Do not wear too much jewelry, perfume or accessories. Keep it simple as possible. For example, bangles can be very distracting.

Do not wear sneakers, chappals, noisy shoes or overly high heels.

Do not wear too expensive accessories or jewelry.

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