I want to share with you the bizarre story of a furious male employee who went to court claiming that sexual discrimination was going on in his office as, day by day, he had to unwillingly attend his female colleagues’ parade of the most diverse outfits — worse than being forced to attend the whole fall-winter-spring-summer seasons of a fashion show in a row. The poor man was deeply affected by all this showing off, as the only clothing-related thrill he and his fellows at work were allowed to enjoy was maybe choosing the color of a tie.
However, what this nice gentleman in court probably was not aware of is that the “clothing sexual discrimination” was actually stirred up by the male category more than two centuries ago. At that time, in fact, well-educated women started a clothing revolution by wearing a very military-style skirt-and-jacket suit to try to acquire a certain status of professionalism and seriousness in a society that was male-dominated. That could have been easily renamed “the murder of femininity.” It was indeed so anti-aesthetic that men couldn’t bear the sight of it, and so, they started a proper rebellion against it that led to the merciless end of the women’s courageous attempt.
Two centuries ago women started wearing suits because they recognized that clothing was an important factor in order to reinforce their working value in the eyes of society. How incredible is it that something like an outfit could gain so much weight in such an important issue as equal rights?
Indeed, it is a truth that how we look is fundamental. Appearance has an immediate impact on the people you engage with; therefore, delivering a well-presented image of ourselves is crucial, and both men and women should not underestimate this. But why is this so important in business? The answer is simple: you represent the business you work for, and for that, you need to deliver an image of yourself that is in line with the one your business wants to convey. Proper grooming standards and care for the clothing become, in this regard, essential elements to accomplish this task.
So, what are the standards to look professional and impeccable in the workplace?
Let’s start with the ladies. Your clothes need to deliver the message of how you want to be perceived, and nowadays, women in the workplace want to be perceived as smart and polished. To make sure this is the message you actually convey, outfits overtly provocative such as mini-skirts or big necklines should always be kept for afterhours.
On the other hand, a dress that hits just above the knee or a suit with skirt and jacket is the timeless perfect match. It is simple, but always elegant and feminine, and every woman should always keep them in her closet.
I am also a huge fan of trousers. Trousers have always represented the symbol of masculinity and gender strength, so that for decades it would have been a catastrophe if a woman dared to wear them to work. Luckily, we got over this taboo, and the thought that a woman has to wear a skirt to look feminine has been officially cast aside. I genuinely think trousers can make a woman look gorgeous and super elegant to go to work, so let’s definitely go for them.
In terms of colors, using the appropriate matches is also important — for example, avoiding the use of only monochromatic colors that can convey a sense of dullness, or wearing shades too bright with striking patterns that can undermine your professional status. Finding the right balance between a fresh, stylish modern look and the classic one is the key.
Let’s move on to the male category, an interesting one in terms of clothing. Yes, the gentleman mentioned at the beginning was right — women have a much more vast range of outfits they can choose from — but the situation of men is not so desperate. They can also twist around their way of dressing.
Although the classic suit and tie can become boring for men, I have to say that nothing makes a man look sharper than that, but again, it all depends on the work environment. Focusing on the accessories, I think it’s key to give a breath of fresh air to men’s clothing. Shoes really make the man, so choose the appropriate shoes and keep them shiny! Following on the heels of shoes, cufflinks and ties are absolutely fundamental details to complete an impeccable look.
Appearance does matter. How you present yourself to others affects your overall impression, and taking care of it is something people need to do thoughtfully both for themselves and for the business they represent.
Now let me take a look at what I will wear tomorrow …