How to Rock Your Cool Girl Style At Work Without Breaking The Dress Code Rules
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This one's for all the creative spirits out there working in a corporate environment. I see you! And I empathize with you. You may love your job, but there's one little thing that makes it kind of a drag: your ability to express your cool, unique style may be... limited.
When it doubt, put a blazer on. Corporate dress codes love their blazers, don’t they?
And guess what? Blazers don’t have to be super conservative and corporate. In this post, I’ve assembled 10 blazers that could work for your company's dress code, yet still tap into your cool, unique style.
I’m pretty sure there’s no arguing that the items I’ve listed in this post are, indeed, blazers. A lot of them may have an edgy, bohemian vibe to them… but they are technically blazers. Is there a chance a corporate company could take issue with them for not being conservative enough? Perhaps. (And if the company you work for is one of those super conservative, corporate companies, I’d tread carefully here.) But the fact remains: these are, indeed, blazers.
This may be a childish pushing of boundaries on my part, but when it comes to corporate dress codes, all I really have to say is this: neener, neener, neener.
It's all about playing by the rules, but also kind of breaking them at the same time. ;-)
If you want an easy way to look and feel more professional, donning a blazer is an easy one-step way to get there. And fortunately for the creative types who work in an office environment, there are some really cool options out there.
Scroll through to see 10 of them! And peppered throughout the list are my thoughts on fashion in the workplace and how women should feel empowered to reclaim their individuality and self expression in a professional environment.
So stick with me through the end if you want a nice little dose of empowerment and a full helping of “amen sister!” 👌
So far, do you see what I mean? These blazers each have their own unique twist to the traditional corporate blazer. And I’m a big proponent of the idea of women reclaiming their individuality and self expression in the workplace.
If you're anything like me, your style choices on a daily basis are not just simply about your appearance. They're actually an important means of communication and self expression (a topic I go into vivid detail about in my post Introvert in a Mini Skirt: How Fashion Can Be An Empowering Tool For Introverts).
For many women, fashion truly is a way to express ourselves in a world that’s, at worst, trying to keep us silent, and at best, letting us speak but constantly interrupting us.
Our outfit for the day can be a way for us to communicate a complete sentence without using words that can easily be interrupted.
For me, choosing what I put on my body for the day is an act of self expression I’m pretty attached to.
We get up in the morning, approach our closets, and get to make one of our first decisions of the day - a decision that can mean the difference between feeling confident and empowered or uncomfortable and insecure for the work day. And no, a woman’s confidence shouldn’t rely solely on her outfit. But there isn’t just one way to feel confident - shouldn’t we use every tool we have, as long as we enjoy it?
Fashion is one of many of these tools, and it can be a very gratifying means of self expression.
Sadly, many corporate environments are not into the idea of self expression.
In fact, I know from experience how intense corporate dress codes can be from when I worked at a recruiting agency in LA - a lot of our clients were ultra-corporate finance firms, and let me tell you, they could get straight up weird about their dress codes. I won't go into detail, but let's just say it could be downright oppressive. And dare I say... sexist. Even racist. Believe it or not, there are companies out there who basically shit their pants if a woman wears anything that doesn't involve a blazer, a silk blouse, Anne Taylor slacks, closed-toed pumps, and tame (white woman) hair.
I'm just going to come out and say it. Overall, I am really not a fan of corporate style. I actually find the enforcement of an ultra-corporate dress code to be quite problematic. For a company to ask its female employees to wear suits (like men), pumps (aka torture devices), and to cover themselves up so as to completely eliminate any semblance of sexuality (which will distract the men), is frankly something I disagree with. Pretty fiercely.
(I will say though, if you truly love the corporate style aesthetic and genuinely feel empowered wearing it, that's a different thing. Rock that! I'm talking about the enforcement of corporate style, not the simple act of wearing it.)
7. Free People Audrey Officer Blazer
What is the actual point of corporate attire? Why does it exist in the first place, and specifically why does it seem to intend to pointedly obliterate a woman’s sense of individuality?
It seems to me that ultra-corporate workplace dress codes are the result of a society that conditions girls starting in elementary school to feel insecure about what they wear. To feel like at any moment, a (male) teacher could decide to latch on to one of the arbitrary, worthless school dress code rules as a way to assert some kind of weird power over her for innocently wearing leggings and a sweatshirt.
How many times have you read an article about a girl who was sent home for wearing a perfectly appropriate outfit to school, but perhaps her shoulders were exposed or the edge of her skirt went slightly above her fingertips? Sadly, young girls at school and women in the workplace alike are faced with arbitrary, oppressive rules that are meant to control us and limit our ability to express ourselves.
Ok, I’m fully aware that I managed to make a harmless post about blazers something of a feminist rant. I tend to get worked up when I talk about fashion and its role in a woman’s ability to express herself. Welcome to Moda Misfit. 😎
Luckily, a lot of companies - particularly in the tech world, including the company I currently work for - have left the corporate aesthetic of suits and pumps in the past. Good riddance, right? And even a lot of the more traditional companies out there are easing up on their dress codes. So I do think we as a society are slowly realizing the pointlessness of suits and ties and that happy, comfortable employees are more productive employees.
At the end of the day, I say wear what makes you feel empowered. Wear it loudly. Shout your style. And if you're ever in doubt about whether your outfit complies with your workplace dress code, and you're just not in the mood to test the rules, just put a fucking blazer over it. It’s a simple act for an arbitrary set of rules, and It pretty much works every time.
Have you ever been wronged by a workplace or school dress code? Feel free to vent about it in the comments!
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Hey there! I’m Steffi, creator of Moda Misfit - a lifestyle blog that aims to inspire you to embrace who you are and express your creative self through decor, fashion, & music. We're all Moda Misfits here!