Corporate casualty: the death of corporate wardrobe

What does your outfit say about you?

When uttering the words “work wardrobe” chills runs down my spine. There is no denying in the PR world the way you dress reflects the image of your agency and the style of clients you attract. Seldom would you come across any PR or advertising agency with a uniform so there is a certain amount of trust in staff to ensure they are reflecting the right image when it comes to dressing for work.

First impressions count and whether we like it or not it starts with how we look. It is a sad and shallow truth but when you work in a creative industry like PR these factors may not be a decision maker but they certainly weigh in when it comes to hiring.

Once upon a time corporate dressing meant a suit and business shirt for both men and women but the term ‘ corporate dress’ has been left to individual interpretation and there has certainly been a dress down movement happening in the work place. Casualisation of the corporate world is taking over, but is this a bad thing?

Casual dress Fridays are now the expectation in the Australian workplace. A survey conducted by TMP worldwide shows that 51.3% of males and 60% of female’s value being able to ditch corporate get up on Fridays; this was even more popular among respondents from the 18-34 age brackets. Clearly, we like to keep it casual so why is it still not widely acceptable to dress down every day?

Fashion is a form of self expression and intentional or not, our sense of style does show who we are and ultimately could influence how we are perceived in the workplace. Suits and ties are few and far between in the PR industry, so where should we draw the line when it comes to casual chic? How do we maintain our identity without losing respect from others in our industry or being unfairly judged by the corporate world? It comes down to fundamentals, knowing boundaries and keeping the bra straps well and truly hidden.

Recently, we have been working with local Brisbane fashion stylist Helen Moroney who knows all too well about those fashion demons most men and women face when deciding on what to wear and most importantly how to wear it. She shares some of her top tips for getting it right:

  • Know colours and styles that are best suited to you. The power of colour is immense and can make all the difference to an outfit and how you look as colour can influence your size, complexion and the amount of attention you receive. Helen offers excellent workshops on selecting the right colours and outfits to suit your body shape. If you are looking to jazz up the work wardrobe knowing what works for you could make deciding what to wear fun (and easy) each day.
  • Accessorise. Earrings, bracelets, rings, belts, bags and shoes are as important as the pants you might be wearing. In a stricter corporate setting it can be a way for your individuality to shine through. But remember, the key to any good outfit is knowing when not to overdo it, you don’t have to wear everything you own all at once. Tie in your colour selection with a belt, clutch or shoes that blend or match.
  • Shoes should always be polished, intact and never scuffed (remember people generally look at your face first, then your feet)
  • Ladies keep the mini skirt and cleavage for Saturday night! If it would make your nana blush leave it at home!
  • Mark Wahlberg is the only man allowed to bare his knickers for a job everyone else make sure your undergarments are well and truly hidden.
  • If you’re a low maintenance kind of girl when it comes to hair look into balayage colour technique, easy way to stay on trend with minimum effort!
  • Make sure you read your company policy on tattoo’s and piercing.
  • Boys and girls if you are keeping to the suit and tie choice make sure you have a properly fitted suit and choose a colour that will fit with a selection of shirt and tie combinations.
  • Always remember to dress to who you want to be.

It is all about boundaries at work and remembering that trends are great for weekends but not always for the office. If you have to stop and think “is this appropriate for work” it probably isn’t. Simple is always best and a traditional tailored look will always be acceptable in corporate and creative environments alike.

And if you’re still not sure seek expert advice!