What does every woman need in her closet? We posed that question to one of our favorite style experts — the FIT-trained, fourth generation designer Janine Giorgenti, who happily offered up tips on what every woman should have in her closet to project a polished, professional image.

Style icon Audrey Hepburn
Style Icon Audrey Hepburn

Giorgenti’s dressed countless Fortune 500 execs, worked as a consultant for Saks Fifth Ave, Ann Taylor, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, and has established herself as an expert in color psychology. So, when we posed one of those questions every woman asks herself every time the season changes, here’s what she told us.

There are seven key, must-have, essential items that every businesswoman should have in her wardrobe.

1. A dark colored suit

Darker colors portray authority and exude confidence. You work hard to be successful. You deserve a well-constructed suit that applies to various business settings and events. A dark colored suit will show your fashion savvy and sophistication.

Here’s a tip. Suit separates are a great way to achieve a high-powered look, are easier to fit and are cost effective needing less alterations.

2. That essential to-go dress


Style Icon Jackie Kennedy 

You can go with a simple shift dress made famous by Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy — shift dresses provide simple elegance in a one-piece format — or you can go with a flattering fit and flair princess, or A-line dress, depending on your body type.

These beautiful dresses can be sleeveless and worn as a stand-alone piece, or worn under a jacket to make them look business professional. Other variations include cap sleeve dresses for those who like to cover their shoulders and are more modest. In the colder seasons some women opt for long sleeve dresses. Dresses are a trendy alternative to pants suits.

Note: Don’t forget to accessorize your dress with a great pair of earrings, necklaces, scarfs or bracelets.

3. Black leather pumps

Simple, subtle, business like yet sexy, black leather pumps are a must-have item in every businesswoman’s collection. Featuring a wide range of uses, black leather pumps can be used with dresses and skirts. Furthermore, a nice pair of close-toed pumps has the unique ability to transform a casual outfit into a formal ensemble.

Black pumps can dress up anything

Trendy now is the dressy ankle boot, which looks great with a short pencil or mid-calf skirt with leggings.

Full length leather dress boots is a very sleek look — and trendy — when worn with a longer length shirt. The key here is that there is no break in the line between skirt and boot, giving the wearer a taller, uninterrupted look.

4. Black pants

A classic look!

High-quality versatile black pants go well with several looks and combinations, ranging from blouses to soft casual cardigans and stylish longer length knit tunics, as well as an elegant classic structured jacket.

You want to look for a pair of black pants that fit your particular body type, made from fabrics that can be worn around the calendar year. The shape can be straight leg, tapered or boot cut.

Today’s advancement in techno fabrics has helped pants keep their shape and fit a variety of body shapes.

5. Fitted jackets

Always in style, always appropriate and flattering for most body types, a fitted jacket is classy and timeless. It can be used to mix and match with your dress slacks and skirts, or worn over a dress.

Bonus: A fitted jacket, worn with a nice blouse and beautiful pair of well-fitted jeans, makes for a great (and sexy) after hours/weekend outfit.

6. Skirts

There is a flattering skirt and skirt length for every woman, you simply need to know what works with your body type and then choose from the classic pencil skirt, flared skirt, A-line skirt or gored skirt.

Designer Janine Giorgenti uses clothing to create an image of success
Designer Janine Giorgenti at work

Now, about leggings . . . For shorter length skirts in the colder weather, it’s appropriate to wear skirts with hosiery or today’s popular opaque leggings. Although acceptable in summer, bare legs in the fall and winter seasons look awkward and unfinished.

6. The Trio-of-T’s: Turtlenecks, Tees, and Tanks

These are three of the most instrumental (yet needed) staple elements of a businesswoman’s wardrobe. My recommendation is to choose neutral colors and tones; allowing for several layering options. In addition, you want to make sure to have black and white in both short and long-sleeved varieties to adapt to changing and emerging fashion trends and seasons.

7. Soft blouses and tailored shirts

Almost any color silk blouse or tailored cotton shirt is acceptable. These add personal flair and style to your wardrobe.