Okay I don’t mean no one cares so rock up in your sweats. I mean no one cares enough about your fashion choices for them to be the ‘make or break’ when it comes to your career and the more time we (women) spend thinking, writing or stressing about it the more vacuous and unfocused we look.
The whole issue gets my goat. Why are we still asking ourselves these questions? If you’re in a corporate environment, wear a nice suit or at the very least a blazer. If you’re in a funky small business with a devil-may-care attitude, chuck on some tailored pants, some pumps and a fuss-free top. Got a uniform? You’re in heaven! It’s not that hard people!
What I don’t want you to do is pore over meaningless LinkedIn articles for hours on end wondering why you’re not being taken seriously because of what you wear. If you’re not being taken seriously at work, you have to stop making excuses. Is it about what you’re wearing or is it that you’re not working to your full potential?
I care just as much as the next person about the way I look at work. I want to look well put together, I want to look like I’m there to do work and I want to be taken seriously, but ultimately if someone were to judge me because they don’t like the shirt I’m wearing well quite frankly, that’s their problem.
Who’s to blame for the business attire game?
Have you ever noticed a large percentage of ‘what to wear at work’ articles are written by women? Classic ladies – always our own worst enemies. As if the typical stresses every professional faces weren’t enough, we also get to worry about whether our outfits are up to scratch. But whatever you might think about the gender imbalance which is at the root of this problem, I’m going to suggest something that might be viewed as selling out my sisters – I think we’re bringing it on ourselves.
We tell ourselves, and our female colleagues, what we should be wearing to work, keyword being should. We’re the ones making it tougher for ourselves! If you need someone walking you through what you’re supposed to wear to work, you might need to ask yourself if the problem you have is a fashion issue or a confidence issue. These choices are not that difficult, but by stressing about it we’ve made sartorial workplace choices a minefield for stress and inadequacy.
What To Do?
Some offices have a dress code. Well the good news there is your outfit planning just got about 50 times easier. Stick to the dress code. The hard one is where there is no dress code. So for the sake of a mental breakdown – here’s my list of dos and donts.
1. Channel the boss – find the highest ranking female employee and copy her. If she’s rocking heels, a pencil skirt and a blouse – guess what you’re wearing.
2. Don’t be a nun, but keep in mind there’s a time and place for boob/leg flashes. As a general rule, avoid cleavage at all costs.
3. Could you wear the outfit to a nightclub/gym/barbeque? Then don’t wear it to the office!
4. Stop stressing. Do you feel comfortable? Then you’re good.
I think we’re all wasting our time. We’re creating more and more reasons to stress and, when we really step back, the one and only thing we should be judged about at work is our work. Sure, take pride in what you’re wearing if you’re that way inclined (ain’t nothing wrong with a power heel ladies) but once you’re in the office, you’re there to work, so kill it! The more time we waste writing about what we’re wearing the less time we spend focussing on what matters – doing the job.
(Yes I am aware of the irony that this blog is, in essence, a ‘what to wear to work’ post but it’s technically part of my job so you’ll forgive me this one won’t you?)