What Is Upscale Business Attire?

A well-cut black skirt suit is an upscale business wear staple.

Photo: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Savvy women in the business world know that they don't have to leave their fashionista persona at home, no matter the situation. It's all about knowing how to add personal style to poised, professional attire that passes muster even at a command performance. When the occasion calls for upscale business attire (or business formal wear), make sure your outfit is a fashion "do" by following a few simple guidelines. While it's uncommon for everyday events to require this level of formality, you might see it requested for special functions and evening business affairs; by choosing the right ensemble, you'll make an impression that's both on-trend and professional.

The Suit

Upscale business attire for women almost exclusively means a skirt suit. Suits made of quality materials such as wool, wool blends and cotton are acceptable; knits, shiny fabrics or linen are too casual for this style of dressing (and wrinkle more easily). Avoid both mini- and maxi-length skirts; the correct length should be from slightly above to slightly below the knee. If you must wear pants, choose a well-tailored and feminine pant suit, perhaps one with a vest for a more formal, polished appearance.


Under your jacket, you have a number of options to make your outfit appropriately business formal. Colorful or basic silk blouses, button-up collared shirts and simple shells are all suitable. Sleeveless shirts are not recommended if you will be removing your jacket, however, as bare arms are still frowned upon for business situations.


Conservative, closed-toe shoes are preferred for upscale business attire. A pump with a closed heel is ideal. Sandals and boots are too casual for this style and need to stay in the closet. If you are unable to wear heels, try a pair of closed flats, such as ballet-style shoes, as an alternative option. Avoid suede or fabric shoes; instead, look for plain, polished or patent leather, which are most appropriate for this look. Business formal wear still requires pantyhose; a bare leg looks out of place. Choose either a dark or a nude shade depending on the season and the style of your suit, but stay away from colorful or excessively printed hosiery, which can be distracting.


Since formal business attire is quite traditional, without a lot of room for personal style, accessories provide one area where you can show some flair. Wear a statement ring, elegant watch or unique pair of earrings. Keep it simple, though, with just one piece of statement jewelry; you don't want to go overboard and overwhelm your carefully constructed image.

Related Videos


Add to this Article



Just for you

What type are you?

Choose your Body Type
or Register
Daily Look


How would you like to register?

Register with Facebook
  • It's fast, easy and hassle-free
  • One-click log-in and commenting
Register with typeF.com
  • Use your email to create your account