I've had a lot of really interesting comments on my thoughts on a work wardrobe. Thanks, everyone! Your thoughts have helped me think through what kind of clothing will help me be taken seriously at work.
Being taken seriously is a higher bar than "acceptable by the strict HR standards". I think it encompasses dressing in a relatively understated manner, so that your message is the focus, not your clothing. Hence, dressing as similarly as possible to your co-workers. If people are routinely complimenting my clothes, I'm actually a tiny bit concerned that the focus is on my clothing. (This is also why practically no one at my workplace knows I sew. I don't want the conversation at work to be about sewing.)
I have to agree with you on shape. I read a lot of blogs where people create a lot of vintage dresses. Thing is, those shapes are typically from an era when women were rarer in the workforce than they are now. A very full, gathered skirt does not convey authority or power - it conveys "pretty", or, "50's housewife."
I do think a cardigan would have helped that dress. I also think that the colors in that dress are neutral enough that with a slimmer, sleeker skirt, you would have felt better.
I could not agree more with this comment - SewOm articulated exactly what I was feeling about my dress. And a cardigan would have toned it down. And both authority and power are synonyms for being taken seriously, I think.
Kid, MD wrote:
YES! That grey dress is fabulous!!
I need to comment on your blog more. I love all the dresses you've made lately, and your post about color has really had me thinking. And noticing! I wonder if it is color or prints that feel less work appropriate. Do you think a nice saturated purple or blue would feel professional and chic, but still satisfy the need for color?
Well, I wore the above pink shift dress to work yesterday - I think it is border-line acceptable.
On the shape/color thing - it is a very bright color, but the shift-dress shape is very professional. I think a saturated blue or purple would be better than this pink. Instinctively, though I can't really explain why, the following colors are a bit of a not-quite-ok for work.
But I can't explain why. (Especially the white. A cream seems ok to me, but a white seems too summery, if that makes any sense.)
Conclusions so far: (All of this just applies to my workplace. There's a ton and variety in workplaces, your experience might be totally different from mine.)
- Full skirts in a color are not ok for work. (The jury's still out on full skirts in a neutral.)
- Really bright colors are probably out as well. (Though I don't care, I'm going to keep wearing the pink dress.)
- Prints in bright colors are definitely out. Prints in neutrals are ok, as long as they are a work-appropriate shape.
I know this might seem to be pretty obvious to a lot of people. But, with me? When buying RTW clothes, I was appropriately dressed, mostly by instinct. However, when sewing my clothes, I need to articulate why something works/doesn't work, so I'll remember that at the start of a project.