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 of my Dress for Success series provides solution suggestions for femal civil engineers.
- It’s all about expectations
Disclosure: This post has affiliate links.
It’s all about expectations
STEM is still a world strongly dominated by men. Thus, when you have a genderless name like, Morgan, Chris, Robin, Toni, Kelcy, Andrea and alike most likely the client or potential employer expects a guy to show up. In today’s society, the preception 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 fabrics 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?
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-thefield 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).
Here are the basics:
- 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 accross as conservative and old-fashioned. You may be better off going for a faux suit.
- 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.
- A briefcase or portfolio large enough to hold a tablet or laptop helps to create a professional look.
- 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 chromograph. Go for modest jewelry like pearl or diamond-like studs, a short necklace or a brooch, a nice silky scarf.
- 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.
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 sarts. After the tour you may have a skirt with vertical pleats. That may be a go on the runway, but is never appropriate style for an interview.
- A flared skirt, leopard print tight, 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 voltiale 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 don’t belt your trench coat!
It’s 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.
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 prepare for a job interview this post may be of some relevance as well.
Want more advice for other dressing situations? Buy my style recipe book How to Dress for Success in Midlife.
My outfit of the Day
Want to read about what to wear for a as a female engineer or what to pack for a field trip as a female engineer?
183rd Top of the World Style linkup party
Welcome! When it’s your first time at this party secure a weekly invitation. Promote the party by letting others know about it.
First let me introduce you to our co-hostess Angie of Your True Self Blog.
Top of the World Style Linkup party Co-host: Angie
Angie started her blog Your True Self Blog because she began to to share the infinite possibilities of creating artful clothing combinations out of her own closet. She strives for a healthy lifestyle in her choices everyday. Being now over 60 she wants to show her readers that age doesn’t matter when it comes to expressing your free spirits. She lives in Detroit with her husband and cat.
Next let me present the awardees of the last party.
Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav: Jaymie Ashcraft
Jaymie Ashcraft the blogger at Jaymie Ashcraft became Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav with her casual, but interesting look.
Top of the World OOTD My Fav: Yvonne
Yvonne caught my eyes with her suede red shorts. It seems I can’t resist red suede shorts. Yvonne is the travel, style and lifestyle blogger at Funky Forty.
Top of the World Style Winner of the Week: Tim
Tim, the blogger at OOTD by Tim, won the Top of the World Style feature. She found a great ground for her outfit of the day. Are you also always on the search for new interesting backgrounds?
Congrats Ladies! Download your respective award logo and post it in your sidebar or on your award or featured page.
Link up your outfit posts and invite friends to link up their outfit posts too. All fashionistas and fashionisters, fashion and style lovers are welcome. Tweet your linked post using the hashtag #TopoftheWorldStyleLinkup @HighLatitudeSty and I will retweet your link.Join me at the Top of the World Style linkup party. #TopoftheWorldStyleLinkup Click To Tweet
Let’s see what you have been wearing lately or wear today.
P.S. Don’t forget to check my gift guide for gift ideas and promo codes.
Photos of me: G. Kramm
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