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Front view of meeting look with Harley Davidson booties, Modalu Pippa bag, Festina watch, bracelet, updo, leopard print tight, college graphic print T-shirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Tahari glen check blazer, and Aires skirt (all own)

As more women enter the STEM fields the question comes up what to wear to look professional. Obviously, the traditional work dress codes in the various fields would look like Judy in Disguise. This post provides solution suggestions for what to wear as a female civil engineer.

Disclosure: This post has affiliate links.

What to Wear as a Female Civil Engineer Is All about Expectations

STEM is still a world strongly dominated by men. Therefore, when you have a genderless name like, Morgan, Chris, Robin, Toni, Kelsey, Andrea and alike most likely the client or potential employer expects a guy to show up. In today’s society, the perception of a civil engineer is still a men in a two-piece suit, a shirt, tie and dress shoes or dress pants and blazer instead of the suit and a hard hat. Of course, he wears solid colors; the fabric of his clothes is tightly woven, no bold or flashy prints or patterns except maybe a simple design in muted colors on his tie.

Now what does Jill Doe, the female civil engineer wear?

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Outfit Suggestions for a Female Civil Engineer

It definitely depends on the employer’s company culture. The more “old-fashioned” companies like IBM or national labs dress more conservatively: button-down shirt with pants, flats for out-of-house/in-the-field meetings, heels for in-house meetings. Steal-toe boots in the trunk of your car to always be handy when you need them. For in-house meetings Jill may wear a knee-length tailored skirt suit with shirt or blouse and pantyhose. In cold climate regions, opaque tights and boots are typically allowed, but ask HR to be safe or watch what your female colleagues are wearing (if you are lucky enough to have some).


Sketch of a fake suit outfit for older woman
Sketch of fake suit outfit with blouse for female civil engineer outfit with briefcase. Rolling up the sleeves is a great way to look stylish, but still professional.


Dressing Basics of a Woman Civil Engineer

  • An outfit of a tailored women pants suit or tailored dress pants and blazer plus tailored blouse or shirt is perfectly acceptable. Always tuck in your shirt. #femaleengineer Click To Tweet
    Tip: When you are over 40, a suit may come across as conservative and old-fashioned. You may be better off going for a faux suit. See these tips on styling unmatched suits.
  • Build a versatile wardrobe with pieces that can be used with a number of different accessories. Mixing and matching pants, shirts (or skirts and blouses when the dress codes allows or you know you won’t have to climb anything) and a tailored jacket can keep you looking sharp. Make sure that all of the colors coordinate well when mixing and matching.
    • A versatile navy blue or black jacket, for instance, can be used with pants in the same color, gray, tan, or beige pants, and with a number of different colors of shirts or blouses.
    • A white tailored blouse is always crisp, and looks professional. Unless ironing is your hobby, make sure you buy no-iron, wrinkle-resistant shirts and blouses.
    • If your job involves being outside on a regular basis create a sun safe female engineer work wardrobe to reduce your risk for skin cancer.
      work look for a female working in a male field
      Sketch of a skirt suit outfit for a civil engineer for an in-house meeting with clients.


  • A briefcase or portfolio large enough to hold a tablet or laptop helps to create a professional look. There are also good quality durable vegan options for women.
  • Wear your hair out of your face and go for a hair style that works with a hard hat. This doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of your long locks. A low ponytail works fine with a hard hat.
  • Keep your accessories simple. A men’s watch or women’s chronograph or a designer watch in minimalist style like shown in the post at the link. Go for modest jewelry like pearl or diamond-like studs, a short necklace or a brooch, a nice silky scarf. Anything dangling is annoying when you answer the phone or may become a safety issue.
  • Wear basic loafers or lace-up oxfords that match or work with the color of your pants. The same color elongates your legs and let’s you look taller and slimmer than you are. Shoes can really make an outfit. #professionalstyle Click To Tweet
  • A little bit of natural looking makeup for a professional look. You can find more about how to look natural with make-up in the post at the link.
  • A trench coat is great for rainy weather. A pea-coat is perfect in winter. As it originally was designed for sailors to be able to climb the mast, it gives you the freedom of movement you may need as a civil engineer in some situations. For what to look for when buying a trench coat or a finding the perfect pea-coat see the posts at the links. Be aware that it is a big fashion faux-pas to belt a trench coat. It has to be knotted either in the front or the back.
  • If your company is a start-up and/or has a Casual Friday culture, you may wear a blouse and dark jeans on Fridays.


civil engineer sketch of woman engineer in casual Friday look with hard hat
Sketch of female civil engineer Casual Friday outfit with blouse and dark jeans, pearl necklace and hard hat. Ok, flats, but I can’t sketch myself without heels. 😉


What Not to Wear as a Woman Civil Engineer

Here is a list of things not to wear:

  • Pencil or straight skirt to an interview. You may get a tour of the facilities and may have to pull over a jumpsuit. Sounds like a problem when there is no room to change, right? That’s only where it starts. After the tour you may have a skirt with vertical wrinkles. That may be a go on the runway, but is never appropriate style for an interview. More on dressing for a job interview in a conservative field.
  • A flared skirt, leopard print tights, or mix of leopard print with glen check like in my OOTD. Tip: Never wear leopard print as a female engineer at work.
  • Strong cologne or perfume. While you may enjoy the note, it may be miserable for anyone interviewing you or your clients if they have allergies. Be aware that strong smells of volatile organic carbons (that’s what’s make the great scents) are migraine triggers for allergic people. In case of an interview or business meeting, they are in a small conference room with you for hours. There is something to the German saying “Ich kann den/die nicht riechen!” (I can’t stand his/her smell.)
  • High heels. You may get a tour of the facilities and might have to climb heavy equipment or steal stairs. When you are not used to walk in heels a long walking tour will make you feel miserable. The pain may be visible in your face and/or sabotage your concentration. On ladders, heavy equipment and steal stairs and platforms heels are a safety issue.
  • Any open faced shoes. There is a reason why engineering boots have steal caps, right?
  • Untucked shirt.
  • … and a buckled up trench coat!


Dressing Is All about Marketing Yourself

There is no one way to look professional and fabulous. Creating a professional does not mean that you have to kiss trends off. On the contrary, incorporating trends wisely signalizes “I’m on top of things, but also know how to make the right decisions.” Accessories are your best allies for personal style.

>More General Dressing Tips for Women Civil Engineers
You may also be interested in reading 9 of the best dress code tips for female engineers and/or what to wear as a woman engineer. In case, you will start your new job soon or just started, do not buy an entire new wardrobe before the first weeks on the job.  Instead read what to wear in the first weeks on the job.

Want more advice for other dressing situations? Buy my style recipe book How to Dress for Success in Midlife.


My Scientist Outfit of the Day

#chicover50 female scientist in meeting outfit with skirt, glen check blazer, briefcase

female science professor in fake skirt suit with leopard print tights and heels
Outfit details of professional look for a female professor in sciences: Harley Davidson booties, Modalu Pippa tote, updo with barrette, leopard tight, Tahari blazer, and Aires skirt (all own)


Want to read about what to pack for a field trip as a female engineer?

P.S. Don’t forget to check my gift guide for gift ideas and promo codes.

Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Angela

    I definitely agree with you too about not wearing super strong perfume to the office! Great tips, and especially avoiding a skirt when you might have to tour faciltiies!


  2. Carrie at Curly Crafty Mom

    I find this so interesting and love the sketches. It is def. a male dominated field, but probably not as much anymore. I’m sure this post will be helpful for other women out there!


  3. Mutton_style

    As a working professional myself I found this piece really refreshing. Thank you Nicole for sharing.

Comments are closed.