The idea of having to look a certain way to be heard at the workplace is one an age-old bourgeoisie custom we could all do without. This concept for women in the workplace is arbitrary. A custom dress code doesn’t necessarily specify suits and synthetics, though. It could be anything at all. It could propagate that jeans are acceptable, but shorts and miniskirts aren’t. Indeed, in some cases, the dress code could be an unspoken rule, and anyone dressing differently may end up feeling awkward and even treated differently.
As much as one might hate it, but it is finally time to get into our fashion zone and spoil you for choices when it comes to attaining the chic office look, so you don’t fumble around your wardrobe at the last minute and come out with a hand full of mismatches!
Here are some of the best office staples that every woman on the go swears by.
1. Monochrome button-down shirts: Button-down shirts are a wardrobe classic that always strike a balance between casual and polished effortlessly and can be worn for various occasions ranging from casual to black-tie events while staying perfectly in accordance with professional office dress codes.
Navy blue and ivory white are generally the go-to shades for this fit. Branch out with this choice, either pair it with comfy office pants or chic skirts, mix it up and try different colours and tucks for new looks. You can also accessorize it with a thin leather belt, soft-hued scarves, and an elegant pair of heels to complete the look. The monochrome tones and straight silhouettes allow you to craft your look with room for maximum experimentation.
Give it an edge with printed or embroidered pants.
2. Classic work trousers: A staple in almost every working woman’s closet, a pair of well-fitted pants with a matte touch, this is a must-have thanks to its effortlessly chic and polished aesthetic. Coming in a massive range of colours, textures, and fits, office pants open doors for a plethora of styles that could ace the workplace vibe.
A pair of linen flat-front trousers in dark tones is the perfect pick for an easy-going outfit. It can be paired with shirts of any kind and chic accessories due to its simple cut and natural tones. Cigarette trousers provide much-needed variety to your look with smooth linings and an elegant fit, and their sheer ability to match up with almost any kurta, tunic or shirt.
Give it an edge with a pair of high-waisted paper bag pants and a t-shirt for Fridays.
3. Printed straight kurtas: Indian looks and combinations are just as stylish as western fits. What could be more versatile than the classic straight kurta? With minimal effort, a straight kurta can help you achieve a graceful yet sharp look. Aesthetic prints matched with pants in neutral tones strike the perfect balance between flashy and bland. Match it with flared trousers or palazzos for a casual look, or pair it up with monochrome cigarette pants to achieve a crisp formal aesthetic.
Give it an edge with a statement jewellery piece of choice.
4. Vintage cut blazers: The classic formal look is incomplete without a well-cut blazer. The classic blazer can help you achieve almost any look effortlessly, because you can throw it over just about anything.
Be it a jumpsuit, dress, or shirt underneath, blazers immediately give you the go-getter look. Invest in one plain and one printed blazer so you can mix and match according to your outfit for the day. Be it good old grey or a daring shade of red or blue, textures and styles can help you pull off absolutely any blazer.
Give it an edge by always wearing the right fit. Order or pick up from the store, never pick a blazer that isn’t the right fit for you.
5. Formal dresses: If mixing, matching and putting together outfits isn’t your jam, a dress is your way to go. Coming in a range of tasteful styles and beautiful fits, a classic office dress could be anything from a V-neck sheath dress to an elegant shift dress. Generally paired with heels, choose dresses in subtle and soft tones so you can always pair it up with fitting accessories to glam up the look.
Give it an edge with a pair of plain sneakers, and swap the heels out for a day you expect to spend on your feet or just to be comfortable.
6. A pair of versatile footwear: Footwear completes any outfit you choose. No matter just how perfectly decked you are at the top, unfit footwear choices can make or break looks.
You may own a number of pairs and yet rely on two trustworthy pairs that are force-fed with every outfit. This could be because you don’t own pieces that are either comfortable or versatile.
Pointed and rounded pumps or ballet flats come to the rescue in these cases. A neutral pair in black can be taken anywhere. Flats can be your go-to on days when you resent heels. Black or any neutral colours would complete a simple yet elegant office ensemble.
Give it an edge with stockings for an evening out. Today, heels and pumps aren’t the only formal footwear options. A day at work and an evening out with friends can both be achieved with the same outfit, with the simple addition of stockings.
Too old for gendered fashion policing
Does having an official dress code written by the corporate fashion police also mean that an unofficial double standard dress code doesn’t exist? Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg have, for years, adorned the same two pairs of monochrome tees and casual pants whenever out in the public eye, and no one bats an eyelid.
But, how frequently have you come across articles about Michelle Obama or Kate Middleton stepping out in an outfit they have worn before, or repeating a pair of earrings? It’s scrutiny city all over, and it is the same for women in the workplace.
Luckily for us, we’ve more open to clothing choices today, and in the Indian context, a saree is no longer considered too dressy for work, nor is a pair of pants and a t-shirt too drab. The key is for every individual to pick what they’d most be comfortable in. Bear in mind the fact that our bodies change every day, and what’s comfortable today could feel stifling tomorrow. A versatile wardrobe with a few staple elements can take us places every single day.
(Edited by Neha Baid)