Business Attire – Section 2: Blouses & Tops

Your blouse is like the scent of a flower. It shouldn’t overwhelm your suit jacket or outfit, it should compliment it.

Wear a conservative tailored blouse (long-sleeved is recommended) or a ladies shirt in a color or small print pattern that coordinates nicely with your suit, skirt or slacks. Blouses should be tailored and coordinate with the rest of your outfit and give a fine, finished look. Eye contact centers on the oval made by your face, your jacket lapel, sand the upper part of your blouse. This frame must send the right messages of quality, coordination and taste.

Choose natural fibers or top quality blends like silk, crepe, challis, cotton or linen. Fine-gauge knit shells are fine but be sure any top you choose is not see-through or too low cut. Camisole are another option, and a silk or satin camisole can transition into the evening for dressy occasions. Remember that with a camisole, you will not want to remove your jacket.

Select the proper neckline and remember that the least flesh shown, the more powerful you look. As a general rule stay at least two inches above your cleavage for a conservative neckline. This rule applies dresses as well. Neck styles that work best with most jackets are the jewel neck and high collars. It is extremely important that your outfit always represents respect and professionalism.

Make sure blouse is properly fitted to your figure. The buttons must remain closed without pulling as you move. Generally, they should also be longer than your hip bone so they can be tucked in between your underwear and your pantyhose, which helps keep them secure and neat. Some designers offer blouses styled as bodysuits which can be a great option.

Clothing Guides

General Guidelines

  • A high-quality cotton, silk, or a microfiber blouse of neutral color with a simple collar is a good choice.
  • Opt for tailored blouses and tops without a lot of frills or ruffles.
  • Tops can be button ups, turtle necks, shells, or fashion blouses.
  • Keep colors neutral, don’t wear loud colors or patterns.
  • Coordinate your blouse color with your suit color and choose opaque materials for business shirts.
  • Your blouse should fit comfortably, and not appear to be tight, wrinkled or distracting due to loud colors.
  • Consider solid colors or conservative prints to coordinate with a suit.
  • Keep your arms covered, the longer your sleeves are, the more formal your look is.
  • Collars on women’s blouses vary but should not excessively stand out against your suit jacket.
  • In addition to tailored shirts or blouses, tailored knit sweaters & sweater sets are appropriate attire.
  • Whatever you choose to wear, make sure it keeps you covered.

To Be Avoided

  • Blouses made of transparent material are inappropriate, avoid see-through garments.
  • Velvets and shimmery fabrics suitable for parties are not appropriate.
  • Steer away from sleeve-less blouses, just in case you have to take off your jacket.
  • Avoid low cut blouses as cleavage is not appropriate to business attire.
  • Camisoles are generally not appropriate unless worn under a sheer blouse and are not overly revealing.
  • Fit should not be tight.
  • Avoid bright colors and large prints, opt for cotton or silk, laces should only be opaque and tailored.
  • Avoid shirts with revealing necklines or bare midriff tops.

Keep in mind, that in a public forum you will most likey be wearing a jacket, if you opt for a business suit. If however a suit is not the coice of the day, your blouse or top needs to be conservative enough to stand on it’s own – not too sheer or revealing. Here are some examples of conservative, professional women’s blouses and tops that do and don’t follow these guidelines.

Skirt Suits (Proper Examples)

Skirt Suits (Poor Examples)