Business Casual Attire That Successful Women Wear on Repeat

Updated 03/29/18

A great outfit holds a lot of power. It can straighten our spines, lift our heads a little higher, and help us walk into a room with newfound confidence. But while getting dressed is something we have to do every single day, picking the right outfit doesn't always come naturally. This is true whether we're heading into our very first job interview or walking into a boardroom for the hundredth time.

This is why some of the most successful people—take Steve Jobs or former President Obama, for example—adopt a work uniform, thus taking away that decision-making process early in the morning to make room for more important choices. "You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits," Obama told once told Vanity Fair. "I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make."

Curious to know what successful women choose as their work uniforms, we spoke with eight entrepreneurs, executives, and founders in industries from fashion to politics to find out what they wear to feel more powerful, what their casual business outfits look like, and what they consider to be their work uniforms. Take note—getting ready in the morning is about to get a whole lot easier.

Babba Canales, Founder of By Babba

Business Casual Outfits
Courtesy of Babba Canales

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

I opted for black pants, a black cashmere turtleneck, paired with my big round glasses and a fashion bag. I wanted to express confidence by not trying to fit in, and instead express personality and sophistication.

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

I actually wear a lot of suits and two-pieces. They're so universal and can be dressed up and down for the occasion so easily. I also love how easy it is to get dressed when you go for a suit or matching two-piece.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

While I feel empowered with a good power suit, the way I wear it really depends on the occasion and who I'm meeting. I like to embrace my differences instead of trying to be someone I'm not, especially when meeting with people I look up to.

What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

I love a sporty suit matched with sneakers or a turtleneck with jeans and heels. For days when I have more fashion-forward meetings on my calendar, I also love to opt in for a denim jumpsuit matched with colorful socks and heels.

What fashion advice would you give to a young woman starting out her career?

Double-breasted Satin-twill Blazer
Tibi Double-Breasted Satin-Twill Blazer $595
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Available in sizes 0 to 12.

Dunk Suede-trimmed Leather Sneakers
Axel Arigato Dunk Suede-Trimmed Leather Sneakers $225
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Available in sizes IT35 to IT42.

Sylvie Mini Chain-embellished Leather Shoulder Bag
Gucci Sylvie Mini Chain-Embellished Leather Shoulder Bag $1980
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Alfani Cropped Straight-Leg Pants, Created for Macy's $70
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These pants will look just as good with a blazer and pumps for night as it will with a t-shirt and sneakers for day.

Meredith Melling, Co-Founder of La Ligne

Business Casual Wardrobe
Courtesy of Meredith Melling

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

My first interview suit was a gray, glen plaid miniskirt suit that I paired with a black turtleneck, black opaque tights, and black Jimmy Choo stilettos. It was my first-ever designer shoe purchase—I think they were more expensive than my suit!

I really dress according to my mood or what's on the schedule for the day, but it goes without saying that my daily work uniform includes stripes—and often stripes on stripes.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

I was very close to my father, and he passed away three and a half years ago. I was given an antique locket with his initials engraved on it, and I wear that when I feel I need strength, confidence, or even a bit of good luck.

What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

I really dress according to my mood or what's on the schedule for the day, but it goes without saying that my daily work uniform includes stripes—and often stripes on stripes.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

I was very close to my father, and he passed away three and a half years ago. I was given an antique locket with his initials engraved on it, and I wear that when I feel I need strength, confidence, or even a bit of good luck.

What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

La Ligne AAA Lean Lines Sweater $275
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Available in sizes XS to L.

Mango Striped Linen-Blend Trousers $60
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Available in sizes 2 to 10.

Petite O Locket 14-karat Gold Necklace
Grace Lee Petite O Locket 14-Karat Gold Necklace $440
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Sayu Bhojwani, Founder and President of New American Leaders

Work Uniforms for Women
Courtesy of Sayu Bhojwani

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

It was so long ago, but it was a suit because I thought that's what I was supposed to do.

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

Mostly, I'm in a neutral pant and a loose or structured top, depending on how I'm feeling. I pair these with ankle boots and a gold necklace.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

A bright color, specifically red, fuchsia, orange, or royal blue.

What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

Denim and my Adidas Superstar Metallics with a shirt or T-shirt and blazer.

Silk Crepe De Chine Wrap Blouse
Diane von Furstenberg Silk Crepe de Chine Wrap Blouse $300
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Available in sizes 0 to 14.

Mango Belt Line Trousers $80
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Available in sizes XXS to M.

Loeffler Randall Carter Boot
Loeffler Randall Carter Boots $395 $295
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Available in sizes 5 to 11.5.

Latham Thomas, Best-Selling Author and Founder of Mama Glow

Business Casual for Women
Courtesy of Latham Thomas

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

I have been an entrepreneur my entire career. I can speak to what I wear for meetings, which is always tied to my unique sense of style. I wear a pant or skirt and blazer with brooches and pins, which often spark conversation. I also wear a piece of strong statement jewelry as well.

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

I love a patterned jumper, a colorful pair of heels or a wedge bootie, a denim jacket or blazer, and a tote. Every day, I wear one of my late grandmother's scarves—either on my neck as an ascot, on my head, or worked into my accessories. She had such incredible style.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

I love to wear beautiful undergarments, and I do it for myself, not for my partner. When we adorn ourselves with nice-fitting and flattering clothing, it makes us feel good about ourselves. When we do it with our underwear, it's a little way of honoring our sacred female anatomy. We have to upgrade our panty sets to reflect who we are and how we want to feel.

What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

A trench coat, hats—I always have hats—scarves, a blazer, pumps, skinny jeans, and a fly blouse. I also have coats like many women have shoes. I have so many types of trenches.

Pussy-bow Printed Silk-georgette Blouse
Giambattista Valli Pussy-Bow Printed Silk-Georgette Blouse $1790
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Available in sizes IT38 to IT48.

Zara Double-Breasted Checked Blazer $100
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Available in sizes XS to XL.

Suede Slingback Pumps
Mansur Gavriel Suede Slingback Pumps $475
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Available in sizes IT36 to IT41.

Sarah Ahmed, Founder of Warp + Weft

Business Casual Clothes
Courtesy of Sarah Ahmed

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

My first interview was at Elle magazine for their Fashion Closet intern position. I was new to the industry and wore a blazer, skirt, and heels, which was my take on business formal in the fashion industry. I ultimately got the job, and my style improved as a result.

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

I have a very simple formula designed to take me from day to night. Our Warp + Weft jeans wear extremely well throughout the day. They're comfortable yet keep their shape, so I usually wear those as my everyday jean. I pair our CDG style with a classic white Hanes crew and an oversize jacket.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

Denim—I'm really not kidding about this. I find that denim enhances the body all while being comfortable and wearable for every occasion. Juggling two fashion companies requires me to look polished, stylish, and also professional, and I think denim is perfect for that.



What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

I have a very simple formula designed to take me from day to night. Our Warp + Weft jeans wear extremely well throughout the day. They're comfortable yet keep their shape, so I usually wear those as my everyday jean. I pair our CDG style with a classic white Hanes crew and an oversize jacket.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

Denim—I'm really not kidding about this. I find that denim enhances the body all while being comfortable and wearable for every occasion. Juggling two fashion companies requires me to look polished, stylish, and also professional, and I think denim is perfect for that.

What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

Merlyn oversized leather biker jacket
Acne Studios Merlyn Oversized Leather Biker Jacket $1800
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Available in sizes FR32 to FR42.

The Classic cotton-jersey T-shirt
Hanes x Karla The Classic Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt $48
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Available in sizes S to L.

Warp + Weft CDG High Rise Straight Jeans $98
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Available in sizes 00 to 24.

Temi Adamolekun, Principal at Pembroke PR and Co-Founder of Radiant Workspaces

Business Casual Dressing
Courtesy of Temi Adamolekun

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

The first job I interviewed for that I really wanted was in-house PR for a large jewelry company. I stalked their offices to get an idea of how they dressed so I could make sure I was on brand. They were pretty corporate and wore suits a lot so I went off to Zara and got the best-fitting, least-expensive dark gray suit and wore it with my favorite white shirt and some of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

I tend to rely on solid basics with a few pops of personality to anchor my whole look. My basics tend to be black jeans and either a printed silk shirt or cashmere sweater (usually in black, gray, or pale pink). I'm almost always wearing my leopard-print boots, as they really elevate an outfit.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

My style is sophisticated, elegant, and cosmopolitan, as that's what makes me feel confident. Pops of personality make me feel like me and are a nod to my cosmopolitan roots (Nigerian-born, London-raised, and now living in SF). My pop pieces are usually bold colors and prints that I mix in with my more neutral and classic pieces.

What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

Black or blue jeans, leopard boots or leopard loafers, V-neck sweater or button-down shirt. Then to top it off, either my pale pink, burgundy wrap or dark blue military coat.

Zara Soft Crossover Coat $46
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Available in sizes XS to XXL.

Troy Leopard-print Suede Ankle Boots
Dieppa Restrepo Troy Leopard-Print Suede Ankle Boots $425 $188
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Available in size 6.5.

J.Crew High-Rise Stretchy Toothpick Jeans $110
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Available in sizes 23 to 35 classic, petite, and tall.

Alexandra Friedman, Co-Founder of LOLA

Work Wardrobe for Women
Courtesy of Alexandra Friedman

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

A black skirt suit with a white collared shirt underneath. The interviews were rigorous, and I was nervous, and I sweated through my interview shirt every time!

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

Not a uniform per se, but usually something casual. At our office, we want everyone to be comfortable and wear whatever allows them to perform their job best.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

I'm a big fan of speckles right now, and my team keeps complimenting me on my flecked pieces. Their compliments must mean I'm doing something right.

What is your business casual outfit of choice for everyday wear?

Jeans and a sweater and hair up for sure!

Herringbone flecked coat
Mango Herringbone Flecked Coat $130 $99
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Available in sizes XXS to M.

Flecked sweater
Mango Flecked Sweater $40 $29
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Available in sizes XS to M.

10
Madewell High-Rise Skinny Jeans $128
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Available in sizes 23 to 32 in classic, petite, and tall.

Molly Howard, Co-Founder of La Ligne

Casual Work Outfits
Courtesy of Molly Howard

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

What outfit did you wear to your first interview?

My first real interview was on campus for a summer internship at Credit Suisse that I hoped would later turn into a full-time job (it did!). I had to wear "business casual" to the interview, but it was important to me that the outfit let some of my personality shine through. I wore a fitted pale blue Theory button-down, with a knee-length navy Prada pleated skirt I had bought in high school at the outlets in Italy. In retrospect, my heels were a bit too high.

Do you have a work uniform? If so, what does it consist of?

I wear jeans, sneakers, and a La Ligne striped tee or sweater every day. I think it is important to always look put-together, but also to feel your best and most comfortable. Wearing jeans and sneakers doesn't mean looking sloppy.

What do you wear to feel confident and empowered?

I spent the first half of my career in clothing that made me feel physically uncomfortable, so I have rebelled a bit by making sure that is never the case now. I am most productive and empowered when I feel at ease and like myself, which, it turns out, is dressed very casually. The transition from Credit Suisse to Rag & Bone to La Ligne made me aware of how much an outfit can affect a mood.

What fashion advice would you give to a young woman starting out her career?

La Ligne Classique Knit $165
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Available in sizes XS to L.

Bow-embellished Leather Sneakers
Miu Miu Bow-Embellished Leather Sneakers $650
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Available in sizes IT34 to IT41.

High Rise Skinny Jeans
Rag & Bone High Rise Skinny Jeans $195
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Available in size 23.

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