Dress for success

As more women enter the workforce, fashion at the workplace is becoming a critical area of focus.

Ayesha Usman September 20, 2010

As more women enter the workforce, fashion at the workplace is becoming an area of focus. Modern working women may find it a challenge to strike a balance between looking glamorous while remaining in the confines of professional decorum. The following tips from successful professional women shed some light on achieving this balance.


Appropriately chosen clothes are the most essential part of any professional wardrobe. The key to choosing the perfect outfit lies in striking the right balance between trendy and practical. Beenish, a Brand Manager at a multinational believes in the importance of choosing clothes that are comfortable yet stylish. She recommends chiffons and georgettes all year round, while for the sweltering summer months, she prefers cottons and lawns. Ayesha, a human resource manager at a communications firm, advises against wearing flashy clothes, citing them as inappropriate in the Pakistani workplace. She suggests long, flowy shirts with straight trousers for a modern, professional look and believes traditional shalwar kameez or churidar pajama are equally acceptable.


While everyone has their own preferences for hair length and style, working women need to figure out how to make their chosen hairstyle suitable for the workplace. Hina, who works as an executive at an IT firm, finds it inconvenient to wear styles that allow hair to come in her eyes. She keeps her hair at a medium length to allow herself the flexibility to either tie it up or blow dry them for formal presentations. However, Hina advises women with considerably long hair to tie it in a barrette or a ponytail instead of leaving it loose to create a neater, professional look.


Although appropriate makeup can groom a person and make them look more professional, too much makeup can be seen as inappropriate. The safest bet is to go with understated and subtle, choosing natural shades over more dramatic tones. Mahvash, a professional in the NGO sector, loves to dress up. However, she believes that getting too dolled up for work is definitely ill advised. Mahwash uses moisturiser, lip gloss and kajal on a daily basis and suggests a well-blended foundation as well. She suggests avoiding heavy eye makeup and excessive blush at all costs.


Comfort and style are the ideal combination at the work place. Sara, a teacher with a shoe fetish, believes that flats and sandals come in handy. To complete the professional look, Hina, the executive, also wears small to medium heels for presentations. Both agree that stilettos should be avoided at the workplace both from a comfort as well as safety point of view.


Adding different accessories can help enhance your outfit, but it is important to see that the overall look does not become too cluttered. Maira, who is pursuing an MBA after a four-year stint in the corporate world, suggests that women should avoid chunky or heavy jewelry when putting together their daily work attire. Although dangling earrings and beaded bracelets look funky, Maira believes that they can be quite distracting. She herself wears small earrings, occasional rings and other understated jewelry as part of her professional attire. Alizeh, a budding lawyer, believes that bags are vital for the eight to nine hour stint at the workplace. She prefers big bags, which are also in fashion these days, as they are highly practical for lugging around all the necessary stuff. However, those people who don’t like the idea of carrying a big bag around could also do with a medium-sized one. She also believes that clutches and small handbags are impractical for carrying all your essentials.

Having the right look which is fashionable yet professional equips you with confidence and poise, which is an essential ingredient for survival in the corporate world. Incorporating the above tips into ones personal style is a step towards turning oneself into a truly professional yet fashionable woman.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2010.


Ayesha Usman | 10 years ago | Reply Sara, thankyou for you comments. Saleha,all these people are real. Some of them are people i work with while others are old friends:).
Saleha | 10 years ago | Reply Ummm just curious, are these women real or did you make them up for the article?
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