The underlying assumption always seem to be is that everyone either works in fashion or a creative industry and can wear whatever they want with scant regard for office dress codes applicable to the majority of other industries. That we should all be so lucky! In particular, Summer fashion presents the average working girl with a sartorial minefield with magazines trying to push the latest trends which are, all too often, completely incongruous with most office dress codes. Now I may work at the more conservative end of the office dress code scale but I'm sure that the majority of us have to be much more realistic when choosing what to wear to work, yet here are some of the office appropriate suggestions I've seen recently.
Looking for a way to ban boardroom wardrobe boredom? Well one surefire way to do so is to get yourself banned from the boardroom faster than you can say "tailoring is so boring" by taking a page out of Grazia's definitive guide on how to dress to look cool for summer and permanently damage your career in the process.
First up is their plea to take up that mythical item of office suiting: a pair of city shorts.
|Source: Grazia UK|
Shorts at work? Yes you can? Uh, actually, no you can't! Unless you work in fashion or that ilk of course but the world is a little larger than that dear Grazia. And yet they claim "there is no need to stick to fusty skirt-suits if you have a smart work dress-code." Tailored shorts to the rescue apparently - through Grazia barely succeed in covering their ass (excuse the pun) by attaching the rules that they shouldn't be too tight and too short - "no Daisy Dukes ladies!". Well phew! I'm so glad someone at Grazia is drawing a definitive line under where the professional woman's acceptable thigh exposure should begin. Me thinks the horse will already have well and truly bolted if you turn up to the office in any of the suggestions that do abide by their rules.
Three words to bear in mind when dressing for work: TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Your colleagues don't need it. To tell it to you straight, I have worked under many a smart dress code and most expect you to cover up, even in the heat. Some provide explicit, written instructions that shorts, miniskirts and in some cases even cropped trousers are off limits.
I suspect none of the Grazia team have ever worked in an office with a smart work dress code because as lovely as tailored shorts are, they are anything but office appropriate no matter what you wear them with. I don't know a single female city worker who would dare wear these to work and with good cause. Despite any suggestions that choosing a well cut tailored style and pairing it with a prim top will tone it down, nothing will deflect the attention (particularly that of your male colleagues) from the fact that your legs are blatantly on show and that ultimately, you look unprofessional. You are at work, not the beach.
Second up: wear a tee shirt with pretty skirt.
|Source: Grazia UK|
Some office dress codes are casual enough that they allow tee shirts but there are many, many others in which wearing a tee shirt to work will scream to your colleagues "I really couldn't be bothered this morning" whether you paid £10 for it or £100 to be fashionable. Never mind tee shirts, could somebody please explain to me in which type of workplace (apart from the Grazia offices clearly) a crop top would be considered appropriate workwear? Please! I'm dying to know!
Are we to delude ourselves into thinking the addition of a statement skirt (including one costing almost £2000) absolves the professional crime of baring your midriff? Do your colleagues really need to see your belly button/belly piercing/muffin top/stretch marks/gap year tattoo? Crop tops only look good on sixteen to twenty nothing year olds with washboard stomachs and even then they should never be worn to work. Has it escaped Grazia that there is rather high rate of unemployment in this age bracket at the moment due to the recession? Yet here they are gaily recommending this as an office worthy outfit without any caveat of what industry it might be appropriate for (selling ice cream at the beach would be my suggestion).
Finally there is suggestion of how to work that old chestnut, the boardroom to bar outfit, with a split skirt.
|Source: Grazia UK|
Although this look is more covered up than shorts and a crop top it clearly intends to ooze sex appeal and risks sending a message to your colleagues and more pertinently, your boss, that you would rather be at the bar than at work. When I showed this picture to Mr V who also works for a corporate he guffawed with laughter. So be warned ladies! While you might score kudos points with your fashion savvy female colleagues the men might be thinking something else altogether.
I don't know what boardroom dress codes are for shopping editors but in any of the boardrooms I've been in you would be mad to flash even a hint of thigh. There are few professions I would imagine looking sexy would be part of your job description. Overtly sexy is never a look you should be aiming for in a professional setting especially if you have male colleagues. At work you want to be taken seriously and have people concentrate on your performance at work. Save the high voltage gear for changing into once you leave the office.
I fully concede a huge range of work dress codes exist in offices and across different careers but I seriously question whether the level of flesh exposure proposed in these outfit suggestions would be appropriate for any of them. While we would all like to inject some personality and look good at work I feel that these sorts of articles are not helpful and very often misleading. Why not cater for a range of professions (outside the realms of the usual fashion/creative/marketing et al...) rather than serve up three major disservices to the credibility of women in the workplace in one magazine?
Most of us are not being paid to be cutting edge fashionable or sexy, we are being paid to do a job and represent a company. This doesn't mean you can't be stylish at work but you should carefully consider the dress code of your office before swallowing advice like this which really needs a career health warning slapped on it. This is the type of of fashion journalism you get when you get unpaid interns that have neither salary, raise, bonus nor promotion at stake to write your workwear suggestions for you!