The Ambitionista

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Conservative Chic

I truly believe in life a lot of times a thing is neither really positive or negative per se. It’s usually what you make of it.  A lot of us work in a conservative environment , or often times, deal with conservative clients. We’re talking tailored clothing, lots of black. white and neutrals, and nothing  loud, trendy or avant-garde.

But this is never an excuse to look boring. I use to work in a bank where I had to look a certain way all the time. But I found little ways to make a conservative look appealing :

Stick to the Following Tips to Look Amazing :


1. Aim for being feminine without being overtly sexy. While you may mean business, your suit doesn’t have to be boring or manly. The trick is to make sure your clothing fits YOUR  body. This could mean simple things like hemming your sleeves or trousers, but might also mean taking in a suit or dress that’s just too boxy around the waist. Also please note that ‘fit’ is not a synonym for ‘tight’ . You’ll know it’s the latter when things start to bulge or underwear outlines start showing.

2. Opt for a classic suit with impeccable tailoring. Many women think they can buy a suit and wear it the next day. Again, tailoring makes all the difference even if it seems all you can ever wear to work is a buttoned-up navy blue or black suit. The best suit is one that is custom tailored for you but a more affordable option could be a taking a store bought suit and asking a good tailor to alter it. ( When I first started working, I used to buy MaxMara suits that were a size 10 or 12 that were going for up 70% off and take it to a seamstress who would alter the suits for me. The result? Beautiful designer suits that fit me perfectly at a very reasonable price point.

3. And sometimes, if you think all you can wear are neutrals, consider wearing or layering the color in different tones (see photo below). So you’re a banker or an attorney and you think all you can wear are blacks, navies, whites and all kinds of beige hues – what you can do is try to layer them like to add visual interest. Also, adding metallic detailing does help break up the monotony of just using one color.

Sarah_Hadley_2_-1223 - edited

(Somewhat related note:  I have a friend who is a doctor and she takes her scrubs and white lab-coat to a tailor.  That’s her work-outfit and she wants it to look as good as possible. Let me just say, she manages to make even scrubs look great even though no one understands why. It’s all in the fit.)

4. Finally, add a splash of  vibrant color.  Not only will you turn up  the volume up on a basic suit, but you will amp up your appearance of power and self-confidence by not blending into the crowd.  If wearing a brightly colored blouse feels too dramatic, punch up your whole look with a hint or red or berry colored lipstick.

Heidi Fall Weather

You can also personalize your suit.  If you feel your creativity stifled in a matching skirt and jacket, swap out the buttons on the jacket for something more interesting.  It’s a subtle, but important change, and will allow you to bring some of your own personality to the outfit. You could even add some trim, or edging to a skirt to boost the flair.

Dressing conservatively doesn’t  mean handing over your individuality.


Style & Beauty Note

Ferragamo coat, blouse, skirt  c/o Ferragamo .

Ferragamo handbag is my own. Get similar here.

Celine belt.

Roberto Cavalli sunglasses.

I’m wearing Bobbi Brown’s lipstick in Italian Rose.

Q: How do you stick to a conservative dress-code while maintaining your own sense of style?

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15 Responses

  1. StyleCaster

    Trying or swapping buttons on my coat/jacket is a good idea, I like it. At least it won;t make my style look boring and dull. Thanks for the great tips!

  2. Eliza Day

    Actually, I prefer to wear clothes that are funky and playful, but when I really need to dress conservatively, I make sure I still look casual and not so loud by wearing simple accessories like jewelries and a sling bag for the occasion.

  3. MJ Walters

    I don’t have much outfits on my closet, but I’ve stacked at least 5 conservative suits/dresses which I much favor than casual clothes.

  4. Taylor

    I guess I’m one of those who are considered conservative, because, really, I’m pretty conservative in the way I dress. As much as possible, I don’t want to expose so much skin, even on a sunny day.

  5. Jessie Wakefield

    I think I’m one of those conservative types. I prefer wearing slacks and vests/jackets. Thanks for sharing your tips, Heidi.

  6. I like what you did with your MaxMara suits which you have tailored/altered for perfect fit. I may have to do that too, since I bought a couple of outfits that are quite big for me. I’ve lost a little weight so now I’ve got to have someone alter the size to fit me. Thank you for this tip!

  7. My boss is the conservative one, really, so I wear something conservative yet looks casual smart at work. But sometimes, I ran out of options so I usually wear a jacket on top of my blouse, to make me look conservative.

  8. Kelly

    Suits can look nice and even a little sexy when done right. They don’t have to be the suits of our grandmothers’ generations!

  9. I see what you mean about looking boring especially with office uniforms, since I used to work in a bank, too! But I steered away from boring by adding a dash of color to my blouse every now and then by wearing a scarf or a red sling purse. I learned to do that on my last year at work and actually notoriety in the office, LOL

  10. Mikayla

    I don’t mind wearing conservative clothes, I actually feel at home with it. I mean, I feel more comfortable wearing long skirts and blouse, because I don’t have to think if the top of my breasts are showing or if there’s a visible skin shown.

  11. Sharla

    I actually don’t mind dressing conservatively and wearing suits. I find that I can look very sexy without showing everything 😉

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