Holy heck, did you see Pope Rhianna The First at the Met Gala earlier this year? And not to be outdone, Katy Perry portraying slightly less Angel Gabriel, and slightly more the Fallen Angel? There were so many amazing and wonderful creations in the name of Catholicism in Fashion, with the slightest nod to a cross seeming to be sufficient to meet the brief. What struck me most though was the amazing differences between the female and male outfits. The females were all vying to be the most wondrous creation, desperate not to make the worst dressed list. Well apart from Madonna, who seems to consider it her pride of place. But in general the guys got away with a tuxedo, albeit in Tom Brady’s case, a slightly badly chosen one. I was pondering on this, whilst out for a run. I’m just going to put it out there – I hate running, and anything to take my mind off it is gratefully appreciated. So, what I contemplated, as I was rubbing the sweat out of my eyes, was the level that this difference in our outwardly appearance prevails in general society.
I thought about my male colleagues and female colleagues over the years in numerous different industries, albeit all in the corporate world. Without exception, the males have largely attended the workplace each day with a button-up shirt, some dark-coloured formal trousers, and usually a slightly uncomfortable shoe. In fact, the only real choice, or difference, other than colour, seems to be whether to wear a tie, whether the shirt cuff should be French or classic, and whether the shoes should be shined. For the record, my own personal preference is no, either and always. But that’s just me. My female colleagues on the other hand have worn such choices from the classic skirt or pant suit, through to the formal dress, trousers and shirt, trousers and top, and one particularly badly chosen Chanel knock-off suit in pink velour, but the less said about that, the better. So, with so many choices in acceptable professional wear, is too much choice a bad thing? Does choice add pressure, or remove it?
Certainly, having a certain amount of choice and leeway in what you can wear allows for the myriad of female body shapes, to make sure that what you wear is best suited to your shape, allowing you to make your best bits shine. Not to mention that you can express your individuality, through your outwardly appearance.
But, as has been seen by Madonna numerous times over the ages, having that choice can also mean we get it wrong. This is definitely true for the shirt choice that you make. To discuss this in the ubiquitous fruit terms of apple, pear, banana and hourglass (presumably because calling someone a butternut squash didn’t catch on), a few pointers are:
- If you are a pear, you might choose a shirt that has detail around the neckline, for example some frills or a cowl neck. This will help balance out your top and bottom halves. Alternatively, a fully fitted shirt will accentuate your petite top, and, if tucked in, will show your itty bitty waist to great effect.
- If you are an apple, a shirt that is tailored to be worn outside of your trousers or skirt is a great look, especially with a flowing A-line skirt to show off your fabulous legs, and streamline your silhouette.
- If you are a banana, and your body shape is quite rectangular, you can create the illusion of a smaller waist, and larger hips, by wearing a peplum style skirt or trouser, with a fitted shirt. Alternatively, a frilled shirt, tucked in to low-waisted ankle-length trousers, rocking a statement belt, will maximize the impact of your hips and create definition to your waist.
- If you are the most Marilyn of hourglasses, your shirt should be fitted, and tucked in. Team it with a high-waisted pencil skirt or tailored trousers. You will look, and feel, fabulous.
And whilst we are on the subject of choosing what to wear, it is worthwhile taking a second to think about whether you are choosing clothes to conform, or clothes to stand out. To achieve either, it is important to think about what sort of styles are common place in your workplace. If your work colleagues are more Sloane Ranger, wearing Gucci-inspired shoes and Hermes knock-offs, and you want to stand out, wear a wrap dress, and some killer heels. If on the other hand, they are more Perfectly Presented Princesses, you can stand out by donning a pair of Sloan pants, with a beautiful fitted shirt and some brogues.
So, given that choice allows us to be our own individual person, able to decide whether to blend in, or stand out from the crowd, perhaps there isn’t such a thing as too much. The only thing I am absolutely sure of is that you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. Make sure that whatever you wear you wear it well and that you don’t have any more on show than you choose. We can help with that!
Till next time,