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Some people say that dress suits are wrong. In the sense that a woman cannot wear a dress and be considered to be wearing business formal attire. Well, I’d like to say that I believe they are wrong. I don’t think suits should be limited to slacks or skirts. Dresses are an item unique to women. I really think dresses and skirts are the one area that can help carry us forward when it comes to dressing professionally and retaining our femininity. With that said, there are dresses and styles that may or may not be appropriate for business formal attire. So here are some suggestions for picking out a great business formal dress:

Suggestion #1: Modesty doesn’t mean blandness.

Modesty doesn't mean bland

Modesty doesn’t mean bland!

  • Many people have the idea that they cannot wear creative dresses because they show a little bit of cleavage which isn’t true. You can show a little cleavage; you just have to stay modest about it.

Remember, the goal is not to cover up the fact that you’re a woman. It’s to celebrate you being a woman and find unique ways of dressing yourself.

It's not an evening dress - not too tight, not too loose

It’s not an evening dress – not too tight, not too loose

Suggestion #2: The length of your dress should not go past lower-thigh when sitting down.

  • This generally means it’s somewhere around your knees when you’re standing up. It might feel weird at first, but it’s pretty much the same standard for skirts. And you will soon learn it looks great on many body types. On that note, follow the same tips as you would for a shirt or skirt in making sure your dress fits properly. It should flatter your body, not too tight or loose, and give you room to breathe or get a food baby. It’s not a body fitting, evening gown. Function before form ladies.

    Virginia Rometty - CEO IBM

    The blazer covers your arms so you can look okay even if they’re short or longer.

Suggestion #3: The arms of your dress should not matter – they will be covered by a blazer.

  • But if it does have long arms, make sure it’s not too tight so you can reach your hands upward or that if it’s short, it’s not like a sundress (some of which have no arms). There should be a clearly established arm.

Suggestion #4: Stick with neutral colors for the most formal occasions.

  • But outside the boardroom or major presentation, you can branch into different colors. Especially when a nice color dress comes with a matching blazer, there’s really nothing anyone can say but about how nice you look.