In what feels like a time and place far, faraway, long before the world shifted and working from home and getting dressed up from the chest up became de rigueur, I had some initial musings about why what we wear matters.
I’ve given some more thought to this as we’ve successfully emerged from our covid cocoon and into the new year.
In the 80s and 90s, women dressed in black power suits solely to fit in with their male counterparts, seemingly without giving a flying frock whether this battle gear supported them to bring their best selves to the table or muted them. I say seemingly because personally, I did give a flying frock. I walked a fine ‘fashion-fabulous to business-boring’ line every day out of a fear that appearing to care about my personal style in the corporate space might result in me being perceived as ‘not serious about my career’. Fear was at the centre of many women’s sartorial choices in those days – fear of getting it wrong, fear of standing out, fear of being perceived as having too much sizzle and not enough sausage.
In more recent decades, this fear was replaced by resentment. Resentment about keeping up appearances based on the unfortunate reality that it is human instinct to judge others on their image and dress; that people’s decisions about whether to work with you, buy your services or promote you are influenced by what you wear (regardless of how much you wish it wasn’t so).
And so there was a resounding sigh of relief, when the casualisation of work attire initially driven by Silicon Valley, was accelerated beyond our wildest dreams in 2020 (did you even wear pants in those last few months?). The countless conversations I had with women about the delight they felt at being free to don sweats and lycra ensembles on the daily, made me want to
Throw my hands up in the air sometimes,
Saying ayo, gotta let go
Of all the stylish fashion in my life
Saying ayo, lady, JOLGO.
If you haven’t already, you really should read that particular post (primarily so you don’t think I’ve gone completely B.A.N.A.N.A.S. I ain’t no hollaback girl).
As we’re almost half-way through 2021, (GAH! – trying not to panic at the thought of how quick time flies!) we’ve witnessed how this season of dressing has a re-invigorated focus on achieving stylish, effortless and wearable wardrobes — which has totally been influenced by the matching sweatpant vibes of last year. But how do you achieve this look? For something that looks effortless, there seems to be a whole lot of heavy lifting! It’s confusing and can feel hard to navigate, and that’s why instead of throwing their hands up saying ‘ayo’, many women are now throwing them up in despair, and reaching out for my help. The very fact that more and more women are reaching out tells us that what we wear really does matter, and importantly, to ourselves.
Fear and resentment is finally giving way to inspiration and hope and more and more women see clothing as a powerful device that not only influences their visibility in the workplace but also impacts how they show up for themselves.
Your clothes and how you wear them are a powerful asset that you can leverage externally and internally to greatly enhance your interaction with the world and your alignment with self.
If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you agree that your personal style is a compelling means of communication and connection and a powerful device for maintaining relevance in a saturated world. But you might still be wondering how you can get your wardrobe and style sorted once and for all. You might even feel confused or embarrassed that a successful woman like yourself still struggles with this stuff, not to mention that you simply don’t have the time, headspace or desire to figure it out. Although it pains me to say, perhaps you sometimes long for the no-brainer, old corporate wardrobe of mannish suits?
Absolutely no need to go to those depths of despair though lovely! I can help you. If you’re ready to be guided by an expert so that you can say no to default dressing and start dressing with intention and experiencing the inspiration, self-belief and vitality that comes from effortless style then I’m ready and waiting for your call (while trying unsuccessfully to erase that darned Dynamite tune from my mind).
Hi, I’m Nicole, and I’m a personal stylist obsessed with helping women in business and corporate roles to experience effortless, stylish dressing, allowing them to stand out for all the right reasons. I bring strategy, solutions and expertise to my clients. I fully understand the challenges women face when trying to achieve a wardrobe that actually works and I take the pain out of shopping for clothes and deciding what to wear. I transform something that feels fraught and complex into a streamlined solution expertly tailored to you.
Image credit: Fi Mims Photography