professional outfit ideas

19 Professional Outfit Ideas (That Aren’t a Suit)

19 Professional Outfit Ideas

Dress codes have lightened up over the years.  And, wearing a suit every day is not the norm anymore.  Granted, there still are some industries and companies that have this policy, or require that a suit is worn for certain instances.  Let’s talk about professional outfit ideas that allow you to look put together and polished.

Here are 19 professional outfit ideas broken up into four different categories (that aren’t a suit):


The cardigan tends to get a bad rap for being prim and proper, librarian-like, and preppy.  With so many styles to choose from, it’s the most versatile layering piece in your closet for dressy and non-dressy looks.  And, it can be worn with everything.

Cardigans are a great alternative to a blazer/jacket when you still want to have some polish in the office.

Professional Outfit Ideas - Cardigans


A blazer instantly dresses up any outfit.  It adds a certain layer of polish and gives you a pulled together look.  It also can be the hardest working item in your closet…if you let it be!

A black blazer is a valuable asset to any working wardrobe.  And, if black is not your best color (near your face), choose navy, brown, or gray.

If you still wear a suit from time to time, take a look at your suit jackets and see how they look with a different colored bottom or dress.  You will get more mileage out of them this way.

When you are purchasing a new blazer, pay attention to the length (where the bottom of the jacket hits you) of the jacket, where it hits you on your shoulders, and the sleeve length.  You might also want to consider it in a petite or tall size, or go up a size to achieve the right fit.  And, if the fit is still off a bit, seek a tailor to alter it, so the blazer looks like it was made for you.

Professional Outfit Ideas - Blazers


There is no need to have a “pants-only” policy when it comes to work.  Skirts come in many different styles, and the two most common styles in a corporate/office environment are a pencil skirt and an A-line skirt.  Both should come to your knee or right above your knee to look polished and professional.

A pencil skirt offers clean lines, a classic shape, and tapers down the leg.  An A-line skirt is universally flattering because it hits the smallest part of your waist and then bells out at the bottom.  If your office/job is more creative than conservative, you have a lot more skirt options.

Professional Outfit Ideas - Skirts

Professional Outfit Ideas - Skirts


Dresses or “one-piece wonders” as I like to call them are a great option to add to your work wardrobe rotation (if you are not already wearing them).  Nothing is simpler than getting dressed with one piece.  Although, I would recommend adding an accessory or two. Some suggestions would be a necklace, a belt, or a scarf.  A blazer or cardigan is a great layering piece to add depending on your dress sleeve length, the weather, or your plan for the day.

Some professional silhouettes to consider:  A sheath dress, a wrap dress, and a fit & flare dress (A-line). Depending on your dress code and your work environment, there are a lot of other dress styles to consider.  If you have a casual Friday dress code, a shirt dress is a great style to consider wearing.

Professional Outfit Ideas - Dresses

Professional Outfit Ideas - Dresses

For further tips, check out my Maximizing Your Professional Presence blog post.

Need help with your professional image? I’d love to help you.  Check out my wardrobe packages by clicking here.  Contact me at 414.841.5096 for a complimentary 15-minute phone session or email me at


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