My Corporate America Closet

November 8, 2018
Lauren Alexis Swank
Photos
Muenfua Lewis

I love a woman in the workplace that does not shy away from letting her feminine fashion show. With most fields of work being male dominated, women are often limited and misrepresented in topics of equality in pay, respect, and perception within the workplace. Especially, with the unfortunate fashion bias women encounter. It’s been known for women to shy away from wearing skirts and dresses during the interview process because pants or a  suit represent “professionalism” and create the opportunity to be taken seriously. Why should my dress or heels distract from my qualifications? Simple, it should not. However, sometimes we can be our own enemy with our workwear wardrobe, but let me be clear: a woman’s wardrobe should not equate to her credibility or qualifications in the workplace.

Etinosa posing


As corporate America is constantly changing, the expectations of work wear are shifting as well. For men and women, you see business attire on a whole new spectrum now. With khakis and polos to sharp suits and ties for the men, women indulge in skirt suits and panty hose to ballet flats and slacks. What I've seen time and time again is how easy it is to misinterpret the standards of dress within the workplace. From business casual to business professional, one is often left to self interpretation for what items of clothing meet the criteria. As we focus on what items should and should not make the cut in your workplace wardrobe, here are some brief definitions and examples of business dress.


Business casual is loosely defined as :

  1. (adj.) relating to or denoting style of clothing that is less formal than the traditional business wear, but is still intended to give a professional and businesslike impression.

Ladies, this opens the door for your bold prints and patterns that infuse color in your typical business dresses, slacks, blouses, skirts and shoes.


Business professional is loosely defined as :

  1. (adj.) accompaniment of solid colors, neutral and conservative clothing; moderate shoes with or without a (lower) heel; a suit coat is appropriate with slacks, skirts, or dresses

When dressing business professional, you want to provide a natural ease on the eyes. Minimize the gaudy jewelry, bold makeup, and flashy clothing. Less is more, especially when done right.


The lines are often  blurred when the term “business” is put before casual or professional. However, being tasteful should never be a case for confusion. With dresses and skirts, fingertip length is a minimum requirement. High slits are not recommended. Collared shirts should only be left with the top button unbuttoned. Bra straps should never be shown, and a heel with a platform or an open toe are usually on a thin line between casual and business dress period. These are some of the most common slip ups we make as women in the workplace that again, do not question our credibility but more so our professionalism.  

Tanema posing


It honestly all comes back to dressing appropriately for your workplace. The corporate culture varies from different roles and companies as a whole. If you are unsure what exactly is appropriate within your area of work, ask. As a woman, I feel responsible to encourage and educate other women  on dressing appropriately within the workplace. We should not shy away from fashion favorites from fear, but embrace the wide array of options we have to dress up and down with confidence. We live in a time where the selection continues to grow for work wear that compliments all body types, shapes, sizes and we have to take advantage of that. With inspiration available from magazines to Pinterest, visualizing the looks are one thing, but executing takes more effort. Your work wardrobe should be an investment, and I scream this daily from the mountaintops. When you invest in your work wardrobe, your body appreciates the quality of clothing, and your closet appreciates the durability; meaning that once you invest in quality clothing, it will not need to be replaced often despite regular wear. Below I’ve listed 5 favorites that come to mind when cultivating my work wardrobe. Now take matters into your own hands, and dress like the Corporate Queen you are.


Zara

Banana Republic Outlet

Saks off 5th Outlet

Nordstrom Rack

J.Crew Outlet



-From one well dressed working woman to another.