What do you wear to work? Plus thoughts on personal style

As I mentioned in my Ash Wednesday post two weeks ago, one of my big goals for Lent is to think more about my wardrobe and become more conscious of the kinds of garments I like and what I need more or less of. One thing I’ve been giving a lot of thought to is what I wear to work, since my days off are usually spent in my pjs sewing at home. I’ve also spent some time researching what is considered “professional dress” these days – what skirt lengths are appropriate, what types of garments, etc.

As I’ve been exploring my own personal style, prompted by the Wardrobe Architect project at the Coletterie, I’ve discovered that my personal style doesn’t really jive with what is considered “professional” these days! I really love outfits that look “cute” – poofy skirts, knit dresses, a few frills here and there. However, “cute” doesn’t exactly scream “I’m a professional who should be taken seriously.” Often my overly-cute or practical outfits start to feel frumpy in the work environment.

Judging by what the internet tells me, garments that typify the “business chic” look are pencil skirts, skinny sheath dresses, slacks, and heels – all items that I either don’t want to or for practical reasons can’t wear. I hate tight fitting skirts and dresses – they don’t work with my proportions and generally emphasize my tummy area. On a practical note, they also make playing the piano difficult – I need to be able to move my legs and knees to use the pedals. Pants, however, bring too much emphasis to the low waist, which I like to obscure using high waisted skirts and dresses. I do like “skinny” jean-type pants, but I’m not sure how work appropriate those are. And as for heels….I love them, but I walk way too much on uneven brick surfaces for that to be practical!

Another factor I’ve been giving a lot of thought to is skirt length. At my workplace, there are no specific dress codes or rules (when I was hired, I was just told, “please no jeans or shorts, except on Fridays”), so there are no official guidelines dictating skirt length. I want to dress appropriately and modestly, but one thing I’ve discovered while exploring personal style is that shorter skirts look better on me – skirts that hit above the knee create a more pleasing line and the optical illusion of a smaller waist. A perfect example is the Coco dress I made a week or so ago – I love how it looks, but I feel scandalous wearing something so short to work!

So, how do you adjust personal style to the needs of the work place? I’m honestly not sure, which is why I bring it up! Does your work place have any specific rules regarding dress, or can you wear pretty much whatever you want? Do you feel you need to dress differently in order to be taken seriously? What do you wear to work?


5 thoughts on “What do you wear to work? Plus thoughts on personal style

  1. Interesting blog. We have a jeans day on Friday, but a few people don’t wear jeans on that day preferring the serious suit combo that they wear the rest of the week. Most people wear a variety of outfits – dress pants, nice T’s and sweaters all the way to the suit combos. I am happy that I can wear almost anything, whatever I am comfortable in, although I do prefer styles of dresses and pants and tops that hide my tummy! I still wonder what is the proper skirt length though…

      • I used to have them under my knee but now I feel short with them like that because I usually don’t wear high heels anymore, so I am going with a couple of inches shorter than that now.

  2. Hello. I have recently discovered your blog and am enjoying your writing. Your topic today is very relevant to me as I am in the process of sorting out a new work wardrobe. I have lots of skirt and jacket suits and I. Am. Sick. To. Death. of them. Regardless of clever things you can do with knit tops and scarves, I am just over them. As an aside there is actually nothing wrong with them, I had them tailor made in Singapore 6 years ago and they have stood up beautifully to week in week out wear. The investment in good fabric (beautiful Italian wool suiting) was most certainly worth it!

    So I have embarked on sewing a work wardrobe of Joan from Mad Men inspired frocks. While I don’t have Joan’s, err, spectacular assets, I do have an hourglass figure and I am a fan of the frock. After much fitting faffing I am about to cut into my lovely fashion fabric this weekend so it *should* be a straightforward construction.

    I despise casual Fridays, in my building I see all sorts of hideousness that is inappropriate for the work place, worn only because it is Friday. I don’t wear a suit (unless I have a significant meeting) but I still wear a tailored skirt and shirt and heels. I know I sound awfully old and cranky but mini skirts and tank tops and flipflops are not appropriate office wear. OK, rant over 🙂 Have a lovely weekend.

    • So glad you like the blog! A Mad Men inspired work wardrobe sounds *amazing* – what a fun idea!! I don’t have the right body type for those particular styles, but they are soooo fabulous, and perfect for the professional world. Good for you for doing your own thing and setting your own style standard for work!

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