I have had not a few people ask me over the past year, whether there is a future for women’s work clothes. In this strange time where things are half opened and half closed, and we all wait anxiously to get back to doing the things we love while Spring blooms around us it can be hard to see what comes next.
How do I know that women will wear work clothes? Are pjs as work attire here to stay with a larger share of the workforce mostly working from home? Are women’s work clothes still relevant?
I have to admit that I have a bias in answering these questions. I am obsessed with women’s work clothes – not what they are but what they could be. My partner will tell you that I get dressed up every day I am working – even if it is to take a work phone call on a weekend morning. To answer these questions I thought that I would start here – why do I get dressed up for work? How do I define my professional attire?
Interestingly, back in the Spring I realized that while lots of freedoms were yanked away from us – for those of us working from home, we were given the freedom to dress in clothing that pleased no one but ourselves. If we chose to, we got to start wearing things that we love and left behind uncomfortable pants and shoes and fussy burdensome clothing. This shift allowed me the freedom to think about what I love and don’t love about traditional work clothes and Why I kept getting dressed.
Perhaps like a vest on a service animal, getting dressed is my queue that I am showing up as a professional to bring my skills out into the world. It helps me demarcate the line where I am ready to lean in and focus on something – where I am bringing 100% of my energy and attention to a particular work challenge or to talking with a colleague. It helps me to embrace 100% the fact that I have a unique value and creativity that I am bringing that is important for the work and my working relationships. It signals to other people that I am bringing the best of myself, and a level of seriousness to the work that we are engaged in together. It demonstrates to that person that they can be assured that they are getting 100% of my energy and commitment to the work we are doing. It builds trust. This is even true if that person cannot see 1 square inch of what I am wearing. I know what I am wearing and I act differently.
It also helps me to embrace my value in these situations. Bring a level of confidence and self-love to my working relationships and the work I do. For me, what I wear when I work is an act of love, an homage to the work I do.
Thank you for support to build this vision.
Now we get to the fun part: what are the important qualities of the work clothing we are creating with Reid Miller?
– The garments make us feel confident, comfortable and feminine. Feminine and powerful. * In terms of comfort – the best measure for this is whether you change out of your clothing the moment your workday ends, while you are signing off – you strip off an uncomfortable pair of pants. You can’t even get across the threshold of your door without working to remove your pants, top or shoes.
– They are no fuss. I can drink a coffee in it. I can enjoy my lunch on a public rock wall without a pull or stains. I can take a walk during lunch. I can squat down to cut out a pattern.
– They are a frame for the parts of our physiques that we love, the colors that work with our skin tone or hair, the shapes that work for our bodies in terms of movement and design. Our work clothes should be the most complementary frame for who we are, personality and all.
-They have practical pockets for keys, phones, pens, a wallet.
What they are not:
– Uncomfortable, restrictive
– Fussy – i.e. a stain or pull appears in the first few wears. I have to plan a trip to the dry cleaner to wear it again
– Stuffy – overly formal, matching blazer with matching trousers, dye cleaned everything, personality-less – like a stock image of an “office workers” on the internet
Why does this all matter? Women’s work is important. What we wear impacts that work. It is a tool. I want women to feel the power and solidarity of wearing something that is just for them, that frames and compliments the unique gifts they wield as they fight, tirelessly to make the world better.
Go, fight, win.