Am I Wearing The Wrong Thing To Work?

3.3.17


I've led a fairly sheltered life when it comes to work-wear.  The school was a casual affair, where jeans and trainers were par for the course, and now in my first office job I'm lucky that it sits on the more casual end of formal attire.

But listening to an episode of The Guilty Feminist focusing on shoes made me wonder if I've got it all wrong.

There was talk of how uncomfortable high heels are, reference to this case of a temporary receptionist being sent home from work for refusal to wear heels and discussion of heels can give women the confidence to walk into a male-dominated board room and nail their presentation.

With the exception of a pair of boots, I have never worn heels to the office.

Research suggests the psyche behind why women wear (often) uncomfortable high heels to work is a complex one.  On the one hand it comes down to the sexualisation of women; we're conditioned to think that heels make a woman's legs look longer and therefore better.  Juxtaposing this overt femininity is the idea that by wanting to appear taller, women are actually trying to take up more space and appear more masculine.

And it's not just shoes that are a minefield.  This treatment of women as sexual objects extends to clothes as well, with studies suggesting that women in sexy clothing appear to be more intelligent

When recently discussing job interviews, one of my closest friends stated that she would never go to an interview wearing trousers.  Never.  And this hadn't even crossed my mind.....I turned up to both stages of the interview for my current job in trousers and have since only ever worn skirts or dresses on a handful of occasions.

Objectification aside, there have been studies which found that dressing for success can have a positive effect your focus and performance.  I can get behind this...who hasn't put on an item of clothing which makes them feel good and reaped the benefits of (at a very basic level) a good mood and feeling like you can take on the world?

It seems to be a juggling act.  Dressing for success I'm all for, but is it so deep rooted that women can only be thought of as "dressing for success" if they're dolled up in a sassy pencil skirt and killer heels?

Apparently 45% of women find deciding what to wear to work stressful and spend an average of 90 minutes a week choosing their outfits.  If I'm going to stress about clothing, I want it to be over the outfits I *want* to wear.  Not how I feel I *should* be dressing.

Which leads me nicely into another thing I've recently felt like I need to consider.  Does (and should) my age have an impact on the clothes I'm wearing to work?  Being truthful, I feel slightly in limbo at the office.  There's the younger crowd who wear things I wouldn't always consider 'appropriate' in the sense of casualness (and absolutely nothing to do with the aforementioned skirts/heels combo) but whose style I identify more with, in an off duty kind of way, than colleagues who I'm closer to in age. 

I want to hold on to my sense of style and be able to translate this into the workplace, but sometimes find that this doesn't fit with my entry level role.  Take the beautiful dusky pink blazer I recently purchased; turns out it was just *too* dressy and would be far more suited to someone in a more senior role. Am I alone in feeling like I don't want to draw attention to myself by appearing overdressed?

Let's open up a discussion on this.  Do you suffer workwear-related anxiety?  What do you wear to work?

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