This post is part of "Dress for Success," a series of 15 posts. You can start at the beginning or see all posts in the series.

Jessica Perason has one of my dream work wardrobes. Everything she wears is polished, crisp, and perfectly tailored. Her clothes are feminine yet incredibly powerful. Unfortunately she does not exist, at least not that I know of. Jessica Pearson is a character on the show Suits, played by Gina Torres and her character illustrates how the right dress can be as polished and formal as a traditional suit.

On the show Pearson is the managing partner of the law firm the show is based around. I know that this is a television show and does not always accurately portray the law firm life but a few things can be taken away from Person’s style. I have always thought that a great dress can be a substitute for a suit on many occasions, including job interviews. I know this is subject to debate but unless the firm or organization is ultra-conservative I think a dress can be an appropriate alternative.

When determining whether a dress is appropriate you should consider a few things. First, stick to neutral colors, just like you would a suit. Black, navy, camel, eggplant, burgundy and gray are all good bets because they are bold yet understated. Second, it needs to fit properly. A dress that is tight across any body part will look inappropriate no matter what (same for too big). Third, the silhouette should be more conservative than risqué. The hemline should be knee length and minimal cleavage (if any). If you’re asking yourself if it’s too much cleavage than it most likely is. Fourth, pay attention to the fabric. Stick with cotton, tweed, and wool, anything satin or shiny is more cocktail hour than courtroom. Below I’ve found a few dresses that I think are professional and powerful enough for a job interview.

More Calvin Klein…

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