dress: anthropologie; sweater: anthropologie (circa 2010); shoes: Louboutin; shades: Ray Ban; clutch: vintage (Zachary’s Smile); ring: DANNIJO; earrings: podunk town in Vermont
‘Business attire’ in a conservative office is sometimes summarized as ‘suits only’ but is often expanded by exclusions: no bare arms, no bare legs, no open-toes, no décolletage, no visible bra straps, no skirts more than 3 inches above the knee and above all- NO JEANS (dun..dun..DUN!) Workplaces that institute draconian wardrobe restrictions are generally dreary places where chinos are celebrated because at least it’s Friday, pantyhose is worn through the hot summer months causing encased legs to looked like sweaty sausage (NOT a euphemism!) and color is restricted to those included in Ralph Lauren’s Home Collection. While this seems quite the sartorial burden to bear, at least participants in this paradigm know where the boundaries are.
Contrast this with the predominant ‘business casual’ paradigm where almost anything goes: Bare arms? Sure, just make sure to shave your pits. Bare legs? Stick with that razor. Jeans? Keep it to Fridays and whenever the bosses are away and you’re golden. This freedom is essential to a style enthusiast like myself but with so little guidance it is easy to find oneself standing in front of the mirror on a weekday morning in a very cute polka-dotted dress asking ‘Is this too short for the office?’ Without strict guidelines delineating what is too skimpy or too bare, it’s easy to answer this question with ‘keep the heels low and it will be fine…you spend half the day sitting down anyways!’ So you set off and everything is hunky-dory until you reach for a box of Cheerios in the office pantry and realize that when you lift your arms, the hemline rises to gynecological levels- even casual workplaces draw the line at seeing London and/or France! Needless to say I spent the remainder of the day with my elbows glued to my sides- high fives were out, copying could only be done in an empty supply room, those yummy veggies chips were just out of reach. Was it worth it? Absolutely…it’s a cute dress!
Does anyone else struggle with the quagmire of ‘business casual’? Do share!!