A Millenial’s Guide To Cool Corporate Business Attire

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A female Millenial’s guide to cool corporate business attire for women

What were you doing this time last Thursday? Steph Maker was in her boss’s office getting a dress down. Literally. Months of pushing the boundaries of “acceptable business attire” had finally caught up with her. Here is Steph’s cautionary corporate tale.

The weekday in a no-nonsense office is more often than not awash with white blouses, black pencil skirts (a few brave soldiers sporting kick-pleats), ill-fitting suits and nude kitten-heels. Sigh. The poster child for diverse, inspiring style, it is not. A creative’s Wasteland? Perhaps.

Let me set the scene: the corporates define you as a ‘creative type’. You’ve got an Arts Degree (or similar) and you’re not afraid to use it. You sense you’re due to get ‘the talk’ from your boss. You know the one that the Learning and Development team uses as the example of a ‘difficult conversation.’ It happened to me.

My days of pairing brightly coloured paisley pants with polymer clay necklaces were numbered. I was not looking forward to a lifetime of black and white work wear basics.

Fortunately, by boss was kind enough to point me in a more ‘corporate-friendly’ direction. She was a saint to offer her coaching services to this habitually slap-dash dresser!

Female Millenial's guide to cool corporate business attire for women
Female Millenial’s guide to cool corporate business attire for women
Follow her three top tips and you will never fall foul of your workplace dress code again:
Take notes from Iris Apfel: accessorising is an art

Jewellery is the key to dulling the monotony of the corporate wardrobe. A cleanly cut blouse, and a basic bottom can be brought to life with colourful gems and lashings of metallics. Yes. Freedom can in fact be worn as an accessory!

Imelda Marcos was on to something: it’s all in the shoe

Now’s your chance, I was told, “wear the shoes your heart desires.” Glory be!

Again, basics are your pass card. You don’t have to channel a fully-grown ‘adult’ from head to toe – just from crown to ankle. If you follow this rule, the powers that be are more willing to forgive whatever is happening on your feet. Now I enjoy happy days heralding the renaissance of my plastic-look peep-toe Melissa wedges.

For the love of god – no rips!

The final piece of advice was, “whatever you do, don’t let the CEO see you in anything ripped. He hates it.” I took the point, casting aside my initial thought that the CEO “doesn’t seem to mind a north-bound hemline.” And so, my favourite jeans, now contraband 9-5, went the way of the Saturday sleep-in and the Sunday brunch: strictly weekend pursuits.

Now, when I find myself confounded, coffee in hand in front of my wardrobe, I defer to my boss’s savvy solutions. And sometimes I wonder how long it will take before the new CEO and I are sharing style tips as she and I finalise the minutes of last month’s Board meeting.

Have you ever had an awkward sartorial moment at work? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below or click here to compare notes with other like-minded goal-getters in the Iris Lillian squad.
Meet Steph!

From literally watching grass grow in weekly gardening updates for a news website, to delivering in-house professional development workshops in a large Australian company, Steph’s resume is testament to Tolkien’s expression ‘not all those who wander are lost.’ When she’s not wondering whether the skill ‘strategically refrains from kicking people in the shins’ is CV-worthy, you’ll find her with a good book and a strong cup of tea. Head over to Steph’s Instagram or Twitter account to meet her dog Myf.

Photo credit: WhoWhatWear.com

A female Millenial’s guide to cool corporate business attire for women

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