Work wardrobe essentials? Stop telling me to have a wardrobe devoid of personality

Work wardrobe essentials? Stop telling me to have a wardrobe devoid of personality

It’s 12am and I’m still up, Googling ‘cheap cashmere jumpers’ because a fashion website told me they should be a part of my ESSENTIAL work wardrobe.

And this isn’t the first time I’ve been sucked in by something like this. Before I started my full-time job, I impulse bought a vintage Burberry cashmere jumper. Albeit gorgeous, it was a little tight, and the baby blue shade probably isn’t something I’d normally go for.
But I had to get it, because an anonymous publication told me that a pricey piece of cashmere is something that I *needed* to own before I turned 30.

And aside from the fact that I know cashmere isn’t cheap, and I don’t really want to be buying knock-offs, I also know that skinny black trousers and tailored blazers don’t suit me. Nor are they very, ‘me.’
So why, like many other women, am I so worried about whether or not I’m conforming to a work wardrobe?
While I’d like to think it’s because I want to make it easier for myself in the morning, that’s not the case. I want what I wear to look professional, but not intimidating, stylish but like I haven’t tried THAT hard.
I’m fortunate to work in an industry where work clothes are fairly relaxed (anything from gym gear to a three-piece suit is seen in my office). But that doesn’t stop me from worrying, and wondering, whether I am giving off the ‘right’ impression.
I know others who work in a corporate environment that stick to a strict ‘uniform’ of bland grey suits and low court shoes.
Not only is this because they need to adhere to a business dress code, but friends have admitted that in such a male-dominated environment, they’re worried that being too casual will make them look unprofessional, while being too glamorous will mean they’re not taken seriously.
I wonder if my boyfriend faces the same predicament? I wonder if he deliberates as much as I do about HIS work clothes?
Recently I’ve become more aware of what I wear to work. Whether what I’m currently wearing to the office is suitable enough, that I give off the right impression not only to fellow colleagues, but to senior members of staff.
Normally, if I’m running late I might quickly throw on a pair of jeans, top and trainers with little makeup. Other days I might wear a floral dress, with a bold red lip and my hair done nicely.
Both outfit choices pose a problem. The former makes me wonder whether people think I look unprofessional. Whether I’ll suddenly be called into a meeting and I look like I’ve thrown on something to pop to the shops.
The latter outfit is what I prefer. I feel confident and more proactive in bold prints, but I worry people will think I’ve made TOO much of an effort. That I care more about my appearance than my job.
Searching online for ‘work wardrobe essentials’ brings the same things up.
  • Cashmere jumpers
  • Classic pea/trench coats
  • Pointed toe court heels
  • Delicate jewellery
  • Tailored blazers
  • Silk blouses
  • Straight leg trousers
A work wardrobe devoid of personality.
Can you imagine if we all conformed to this? Rows of desks with women kitted out in the same off-duty Zara blazer, trouser and pussybow blouse combo. All in varying hues of white, black, navy and grey.
I can see the money-saving logic of having a condensed, capsule wardrobe (not just for work), but why are these fashion guides on the very subject so often filled with bland, plain pieces of clothing?
As Virginia Woolf wrote in Orlando, ‘clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.’
And like for many, clothes for me are a vehicle for self-expression. A red lip means I’m ready for business, jeans and a t-shirt to a video shoot means I want to be comfortable, and ready to get my hands dirty. Bold prints, pretty dresses and cosy jumpers is what I want my wardrobe to look like.
‘Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you,’ Gianni Versace once said. ‘You decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.’
And whether that be in sky high heels, or trainers, floral print tea dresses, or an understated blouse and classic straight cut jeans – if it’s what YOU want to wear, you wear it.

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And no matter what X,Y or Z says, girl bosses don’t all wear the same thing.

(main image source: pinterest)