We’re excited to introduce the ladies of Silkarmour, the highly fashionable unfashion site for professional women. InPower Women is partnering with Silkarmour because while we both believe that what we wear matters to our career, traditional rules about how to dress in the office often disserve us. Join us in welcoming Galyna and Rosie to the site and join their hosted forum conversation for career advice on Unfashion Fashion! – InPower Editors
Having been a part of the British educational system, getting dressed in our formative years was always easy most of the time as my sister and I wore school uniforms. Even in the countries where those itchy school uniforms are not the norm, we are told by our friends abroad that their parents would often take full control over their wardrobes. During our childhood, there seemed to be few clothing options to consider when getting dressed.
Dressing on a daily basis was something we only really experienced when we reached adulthood, when we first started working. We were restricted in our choice of what to wear as children because of school uniforms; as young adults at university and college we did not have the money to buy the wardrobe we desire. Adulthood however, offered us the best of both worlds. But like children who have been given free rein in a candy shop, we soon realized that we have indulged too much and bought in excess.
Fashion Can Trick Women About What To Wear At Work
And we weren’t alone. We found that many of our friends were at a disadvantage when buying into the passing trends of fashion – an industry that changes far more quickly than the average consumer can respond. This was especially true when it comes to understanding how to dress for work. Unlike men, women are confused by the ambiguous expectations of their working wardrobe. We often question our choices, which makes it hard to dress with confidence and leads to the negative self-talk that we all know too well.
We learned that fashion could trick us. We learned from experience that low-cut, brightly coloured polyester clothing wasn’t appropriate when leading an important meeting but we continued to buy into it because it was ‘fashionable’. When we went to the other extreme and tried not to pay attention to fashion altogether, we felt frumpy, unfeminine, and unnoticeable: a representation that was far from the one we want to project.
Your Fashion Choices Affect Your Career
Like it or not, personal presentation is highly relevant to career progression, especially for women. As part of an article published by the Wall Street Journal, Elena Berton raised a valid issue in commenting on the public mockery of Swiss bank UBS and their 43-page dress and personal grooming guide distributed to all of its employees. Detailed though it may have been, the bank had a point – personal appearance in a professional environment matters. A report from the Centre for Work-Life Policy, suggested that dress codes for staff are absolutely necessary. As judged by the thousands of employees surveyed by the Centre, ‘executive presence’ (EP) was highlighted as a common factor for career progression and 53% of the women surveyed felt that dressing professionally was vital to success. To get there, they proposed the obvious – female executives needed to avoid tight, low-cut or revealing clothing. Similar results were flagged by the Centre for Talent Innovation in New York as more than 75% of those surveyed said an unkempt appearance detracts from executive presence. Specifically, 73% of the women agreed that too-tight or provocative clothing undermined it. In light of this, it’s obvious why people bother to look smart and professional at work. But can fashion, an industry at the forefront of the buy-today-throw-away-tomorrow culture, really help women to climb the corporate ladder?
Dress Consciously For Success
Over time my sister, Sacha, and I have come to believe that dressing consciously may be the answer. Remembering that the product mass-manufactured by high-street brands is often not up to scratch for a working environment. Women need to move away from the media mania of what is ‘in trend’ and instead, shop and dress with a purpose. By directing your attention away from fretting over what to wear every morning, you can save yourself time and energy, focusing it on more important decisions. In choosing quality office staples in neutral colours, every item will contribute to a curated working wardrobe, a uniform for the office. Getting dressed can then be less of an outfit-building exercise and more of an easy routine as one can point to any combination of clothing, out of a curated 20 pieces, and know it will be to the standard that is required and expected of them. By doing so, you can psychologically depend on your working uniform every morning and immediately feel ready for work by association. This may sound crazy to many women but men have been using this trick for centuries. Zuckerberg is known for his work uniform of a hoodie and t-shirt and Obama wears the same colour suit every day “because I have too many other decisions to make”.
Curating a wardrobe out of the vast choice of clothing for women is one of the few portals at our disposal to communicate to the world how we perceive ourselves. In detaching ourselves from prescribed trends and defining what is our own working style, it is possible to utilize fashion as a tool to better ourselves at work. By focusing on what we actually need from office wear and making it a mission to invest in quality items that will always look chic and make us feel at our absolute best, we can build a reliable working wardrobe that will be a dutiful servant to our aspirations and not a capricious master of our mornings.