Women in Workwear - the challenge of too much...

We have never been stronger, more present or more represented in the workplace but there remains a problem of dress for women and the challenge of 'too...'

“Women face a sartorial double bind: too original or forgettable, too feminine or not enough, too uptight or casual,” reads Argent’s website. “It’s time to change the ­conversation—and your clothes.”

Virtually every single female client comes to me with the worry of 'too much....'    The biggest concern is to show off too much of your shape, but the other concerns are:

  • too short a skirt
  • too wide a trouser
  • too tight a trouser
  • too feminine a style
  • too masuline
  • too bright
  • too dark
  • too different
  • too casual

to name but a few 'too..'s.

The overall issue is we worry too much!  Whilst we concern ourselves with all of the above it is actually an interesting dichotemy that very few men I have questioned on this issue have agreeed. 

'We just don't think like that', said a recent client when I asked him his opinion of women in his workplace.  In particular when it comes to colour most men are pleased that women are looking feminine and wearing brighter colours as it can 'encourage the men, too'.  There's another one.

Are women creating their own set of problematic beliefs? Are we responsible for the dilemma of workwear?

I believe they are.  I say 'they' now because I have come out the other side of being too worried about what others think of my dress.  I very happily stand on the platform in the brightest coat or dress as I now have the confidence to STAND OUT as I know I am standing out in the right colours.

But I haven't always been so clothing confident.  I was all about blending in and covering up at work when I was an investigator in the police service and previous to that when I worked for an engineering firm.  I know all about trying not to draw too much attention from male colleagues.  It didn't take much in the police service which is renown for it's sharp wit, sarcasm and constant cajoling of eachother.  It was very easy for a woman to stand out and consequently unwanted attention and amounts of comments from her peers - females, too.   Taking the **** was part of the culture and an accepted part even when the comments crossed the line.

In my next blog I will delve deeper into the issue of 'blending in' and the impact that this syndrome is having in industry.   

For now I hope I have given you some food for thought.  The only 'too' in my book is TOO DULL and TOO MUCH OF A UNIFORM.  Having worn uniform as a child and an adult the dulllest thing you can do is to all look the same, to lose your own style, to hold back on expressing your personality.  

We are all individuals and have our own unique approach to our work.  Express your uniqueness and wear your own style.  

Have a great week!

Jo x

Some of my favourite workwear websites for women:

Go to www.argentwork.com for the full range of stunning pieces designed to be chic but comfortable, to stand out but look smart.

www.silkarmour.co.uk - London-based range of silk based work & leisure wear

www.annahariri.com - Arab womenswear

www.gormleyandgamble.com for bespoke tailoring