Fashion Etiquette for Women

Avoid Faux Pas by Following Basic Guidelines

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Little black dress is a must-have in a woman's wardrobe. Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Do you ever wonder if the latest fashion trends are appropriate for you? Have you ever heard negative comments about pants or a dress being too tight, too short, or too anything?

Fashion trends change every season, so you'll see pieces going out of style just as quickly as they arrived on the fashion scene. However, good manners will always be in vogue, so when you choose whatever current fashion to wear, don't push proper etiquette aside.

People pass judgment on you based on how you look, how you act, and how respectful you are to others. Give yourself every advantage by following proper fashion etiquette guidelines. It's always a good idea to have something in your closet that is versatile enough to be worn for a variety of occasions. You can break up a suit and wear the jacket with a dress and the slacks with a tank top and cardigan.

Professional

When dressing for the workplace, you need to consider the environment and dress code of the company. Most companies today request business casual, but there are still some that want their employees to come to work in professional business attire. Many offices allow casual attire (jeans and T-shirts) every day of the week and not just casual Friday.

Professional business attire requirements mean you should wear a suit, hose, and closed-toed shoes. Jewelry should be understated and not flashy.

Before you go on a job interview, do some research to find out the company dress code. It's always a good idea to step up your interview outfit a notch to show that you value the position and would like to stand out in a positive way. Knowing that you look good will also give you more confidence during the interview.

Personal

When you are with friends, almost anything goes. Just make sure you don't dress in an offensive manner that might embarrass, humiliate, anger, or annoy your pals. Before you step outside your door, take time to do some grooming. Shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair, wear clothing that suits the occasion, and check yourself in the mirror one last time.

Consider the Event

Always consider the event and venue before choosing an outfit. If you are attending a church wedding, you'll probably want to wear something dressier than if the vows will be exchanged on a beach. If in doubt, you can contact the bride, groom, or someone from the bridal party.

Funerals are somber occasions, but that does not mean you have to wear black, unless the family of the deceased requests it for religious or cultural purposes. However, you don't want to dress like you're going to a garden party or out to a nightclub either. Be respectful and dress in something conservative that doesn't stand out. This is not the time to be flamboyant.

Age Appropriateness

You want to dress your age. This doesn't mean that if you are a grandmother you should wear a shirtdress, apron, and dowdy shoes. It simply means that you should cover up any parts of your body that have started to sag or drag, and have support for anything that gravity has caused to droop.

The older you are the more tailored your clothing should be. Gauzy tops that the older woman wore back in her teen years will make her look like she dug her outfit out of someone's garbage can. While young women may look cute wearing cheap, bold fashion jewelry, older women may look like bag ladies in the same pieces. It's always better to wear less jewelry of a higher quality than a ton of cheap shiny bling.

Pieces That Work for Many Occasions

The well-dressed woman knows what looks good on her and has a closet filled with the basics that can be changed with accessories, jackets, sweaters, and shoes. There are some articles of clothing that every woman should have. The key is to add other pieces to suit the occasion. Purchase the highest quality of basic pieces you can afford and pay less for trendy items that will go out of style by next season.

Basic pieces every woman should have in her closet:

  • Little black dress, aka LBD, in an age-appropriate, flattering style and length
  • White long-sleeve button-front shirt that can be worn with a suit or as an overshirt
  • Dark jacket that an be worn with dresses, skirts, slacks, or jeans
  • Cardigan in a neutral color
  • Tanks and camisoles for layering
  • Dark pants that can be dressed up or down for work or a night out with friends
  • Long dark skirt in a solid color that can be dressed up or down with various tops and accessories
  • Dark denim jeans for more casual occasions
  • Pumps with heels that can be worn with a variety of outfits
  • Flats to wear with dresses, slacks, and jeans
  • Tote for shopping and taking to the beach
  • Well-constructed handbag for work and nicer casual events
  • Evening bag