Business formal. It gives the best of us a lingering feeling of dread. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Be the talk of your office: in a good way, and dress to impress.
The basis of any business formal wear is a nice, tailored suit. A pantsuit, skirt suit, really, any suit is acceptable. It must be in a business color: black, navy, charcoal, dark grey. You want to tell the world, "I mean business! Take me seriously".
No matter which suit you settle on, you need a shirt under it. It's quite against any dress code without one. A beautiful silk blouse in a flattering color would do your suit justice.
Sensible shoes don't have to be unattractive. Black goes with everything, and a classic style like a mid-heel pointy pump will serve you for your career. Unless the shoes are ruined somehow. Then you ought to get a new pair.
The purse, the briefcase, the career sac. Whatever you call it, it must match your shoes! This is business formal, and once again, a black bag in a classic silhouette will last forever. It can hold your iPhone, your Blackberry, your pager, your agenda, your personal cell phone, your iPad, your laptop, breath mints, wallet, and spare flats. Basically, it holds your life.
Office perfume should only be strong enough that a person hugging you would be able to smell it. That is all. Not even a person sitting next to you at a boring meeting should smell it. It should be a nice, clean smell, nothing too exciting and nothing gourmand or sexy. (Read: no sweet, fruity, cupcake, cookie, anything you can eat scents). Graduate from middle school.
A great watch, like this minimalist design, will serve you well. You can discreetly check the time during said boring meeting. Counting the seconds till the end of the day always helps it go by faster.
Cheekiness aside, business formal is one of the easiest dress codes to figure out, because it's rather formulaic. Suit, shirt, watch, bag, shoes. Now take those calls with confidence!