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“What should I wear?” Working out women’s workwear

I’m finding this whole professional attire thing extremely vexing. It’s not the whole ditsy “hmmm (twirling hair) whatever should I wear this morning” question that I find annoying, it’s more the fact that the choices I have which are traditionally considered “professional attire” are either uncomfortable, practically useless and/or usually not warm enough. Firstly there’s the fitted, tailored suit. Now I’ve noticed that your man suit has this amazing ability to not only be fitted and tailored but you can also carry the entire lost treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb in your jacket pockets as well. I on the other hand, on the odd occasion that morning’s permit me to wear pants suits, the fitted (ie. exceedingly tight and figure hugging) nature of the pants renders the pockets on the pants completely useless as they appear stuck to my thighs. Any attempts to place even the thinnest piece of paper in said pocket, suddenly creates a clear outline of this object…I’m pretty sure that if the piece of paper placed in my pocket had anything confidential written on it, you would be able to read it from the outside. 

To add insult to injury, I then have to contend with these pockets on my suit jacket which are clearly ornamental and just there to add some sort of aesthetic value that is completely lost on me. It feels like someone went “Where are the best spots on a woman’s body to place pockets to make her look her largest? Slightly below hips and slightly above hips? Ok done”. We don’t even get that awesome inside jacket pocket!

The overall impact of all of this is that since current social norms dictate that I shouldn’t make it obvious that I read Twitter whilst on the toilet, I have to stuff my phone up my jacket sleeve as I walk to the bathroom to hide it, because I don’t have any useful pockets. Can you imagine a bathroom trip without your phone? I didn’t think so. It’s disastrous! You’re left reading the evacuation plan over and over again making anagrams (and then forgetting the actual meeting point when it’s actually time to evacuate).

Then of course there’s the fact that womens’ work clothes are evidently not designed for cold weather – it’s as if the working assumptions is that all working women are meant to go into hibernation during the Winter months as the men go out gathering food. Firstly there are the shoes: have you ever noticed that whilst men get to wear effectively their school uniform for their entire life, women have to swap normal shoes to shoes (heels and ballet flats) which have this gap on the top of the shoe to act as some sort of magnet for cold air, thus giving your toes frostbite and making you feel like a 1800s Chinese footbound concubine. It doesn’t matter if you wear pants, there’s still this gaping hole on your foot which can allow cold air through!

The obvious solution to the cold issue is to wear panty hose, right? WRONG. Watching me putting on panty hose should be made into a Mr Bean-esque skit: first one toe goes in…gently….gently….ah tear. I try again….gently…gently…I get to putting my whole foot in….ah tear! Next I get to putting my thigh in but again there’s a massive ladder forming on the back of my calf. 15 pairs of panty hose later I give up and change outfits.

The alternative to panty hose, are leggings – black, opaque leggings that not only are warmer and easier to put on, but the critical ‘opaque’ element of them means that you can also get away with an extra layer of warmth from unshaven legs. I’ve even found a special trick with leggings – if a hole forms on say the front of your leg, then turn the leggings around and SURPRISE! the hole disappears. I’ve used this trick on many occasions and because no one wants to be that person to admit they were looking at the back of your legs, no one ever notices….The obvious issue with leggings however is that there’s always a yearning to get thicker and thicker leggings until one day you find yourself wearing a full thermal onesie under your work outfit.

The fact is we need an outfit that is smart and professional but also multi-functional and trans-gender, to wear to work.  Hmmmm maybe one of those Communist uniforms? Nah too…well Communist. Hmmm maybe pyjamas? Nah too much potential for non-showerers. Hmmm maybe I should think about this the next time I forget to stuff my phone up my sleeve on my way to the bathroom.

About Arani Satgunaseelan (78 Articles)
Corporate nerd. Wannabe blogger.

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