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Wondering how a CEO should dress?
Whether you just got the promotion of your dreams or are ready to step up your professional wardrobe, dressing for the job you have is vital.
Read on to learn why CEO style is so important and discover CEO wardrobe staples for both women and men.
Why Is CEO Clothing Important?
The most iconic and successful CEOs (think Oprah) don’t develop their personal style by accident.
It’s all carefully orchestrated to evoke certain feelings in people and to align with their personal brands.
But CEOs value their time above all else; for them, time equals money, so they don’t want to waste precious time thinking about what to wear. Hiring an image consultant is a shortcut to great style for them.
By filling your closet with staple wardrobe pieces tailored to the CEO lifestyle, you can ensure you have the right outfit for any occasion and always look put together.
CEO Clothing Staples for Women
A power blazer (or two)
A perfectly tailored modern blazer in a core color like black or navy is a wardrobe pillar for female CEO style.
A blazer conveys power and authority, but as Vice-President Kamala Harris demonstrates, it can also be dressed down to feel more approachable.
Dress it up with a blouse, matching pants, and a sleek pair of heels, or make it more casual with a t-shirt underneath.
When it comes to blazers, fit is key: A tailor can ensure that a blazer looks like it was made for you.
A great-fitting blouse
A great-fitting blouse is a CEO wardrobe workhorse: You can dress it down with jeans and heels, or pair it with the aforementioned power blazer for a big meeting.
The classic white button down is a great piece that should be in every female CEO’s wardrobe, and other core colors like black and navy are equally versatile.
A luxurious fabric like silk feels as good as it looks and is wearable even in the warm summer months.
While you can never go wrong with core colors, blouses are also a great way to incorporate prints, like the floral one I’m wearing above.
A low-maintenance dress
Time is money for CEOs, so getting dressed quickly is incredibly valuable — and there’s nothing quicker than an easy, low-maintenance dress.
A dress that hits right around knee-length feels professional, and you can add in your own personal style through accessories.
Try adding a waist belt, stylish glasses, or a pair of animal-print or metallic heels.
CEO Clothing Staples for Men
A comfortable pair of trousers
A few pairs of great-fitting trousers are an excellent base on which to build your male CEO wardrobe.
Look for classic core colors like gray and navy, and subtle prints such as a check or pinstripe.
Fit is incredibly important here: You want a style that’s flat-front (much more modern and flattering than pleated front), with a leg that tapers toward the bottom.
Paired with a cashmere sweater or a neutral button down shirt, you’ll have a winning CEO look that whispers rather than screams.
A luxurious sweater
Never underestimate the power of a luxurious cashmere sweater.
A lightweight cashmere sweater can be worn year-round in many climates, and cared for properly, it’s an investment piece you’ll be able to wear for many years to come.
Look for neutral colors that will go with everything in your closet, and pay close attention to fit: The sweater should fit close to the body, not tight but not baggy.
And keep in mind you can always roll up your sleeves to give off a more casual vibe.
A collared shirt
The perfect male CEO wardrobe includes a variety of collared shirts in solid neutral colors.
These can be either polos or button down long sleeves, and going for solid colors instead of prints or patterns makes for a more modern look.
The collar makes it slightly more formal than a t-shirt and they’re perfect for layered looks, such as wearing them under a blazer or a sweater in colder months.
Again, fit here is vital: Ensure that the shoulder seam hits right at your shoulder, and the shirt should fit close to the body without being tight.
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Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals. Cassandra’s been featured in Greatist, Livestrong and NY Mag.