It takes about six seconds to make a first impression, and what you're wearing is a huge nonverbal and often subconscious way of ensuring the interviewer/client/coworker thinks you're a great fit. But before you reach for that bulky suit on the rack, think again.
These days, women can let go of the boxy power suits of the 1980s. Women wore these suits to blend into their environment, to subtly tell men that you were one of the guys and part of the team. Suits gave women power and confidence.
These days the modern suit is much different--it's all about fit. Stay away from blazers with shoulder pads and try on a style that cinches around your waist. What's paramount now is dressing for your industry. Every office, field and work environment is different.
If you're in finance or law, for instance, chances are you need to stick to a suit. However, stay on trend. While the pant suits you wore the 80s and 90s might still fit, that doesn't mean they are still the right fit and doing you any good at the office. In fact, they're most likely aging you. Take a look at what the senior women are wearing and take your cues from them. You can insert your style by adding a dash of color with your blouse or a statement necklace.
Corporate finance or law are also industries that tend to favor suits over other, more casual getups. Find one that complements your specific field. Remember, fit trumps quality. Visit a tailor to shorten a sleeve or (if they're a fit for your office) hem a skirt.
Before buying another shirt because it's on sale or accepting your older sister's hand-me-down blazer, think before you put it on. Does the fit, quality, and style truly compliment your professional brand? You'd never submit a report that was disorganized or create a PowerPoint that was all over the place. Extend this attention to detail to your work wardrobe.