Normally I do not like clichés. But I have to say, they exist because they contain some grain of truth. One of the most appropriate clichés for women trying to move up the professional ranks is that you need to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. That means if you want to occupy that corner office with the big desk and have a secretary screening your calls, you need to start dressing like an executive and not like a secretary. Womens work wear for those who are ambitious and actively seeking promotions should be clean, professional, and most importantly, appropriate for work. Too many times I see women show up for work in a skirt that is too short, or pants that are too tight, or a shirt that is a little revealing.
This will get the attention of your male superiors for sure, but it will not win you any respect. The idea is that they see you as their equal, someone who is capable of managing employees and making tough decisions. No one is going to take you seriously if you come across as a lady who is trying to get ahead based solely on looks. While I think you should keep it professional, I also think that you should keep your look feminine. You are not trying to be one of the guys, so you do not need to dress like they do. I wear light, solid colors, jewelry, and makeup, and I’m gunning for that corner office.