Topic Of Debate: What’s “Appropriate” For Women Too Wear To Work?

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When women started to get into the work force, many thought to look professional they had to dress like the men did. Most would wear outfits similar to men’s suits so that they would be taken seriously. To help women better understand what to wear to the office, designer Donna Karan launched a collection in the 1980’s that was completed centered around outfits for women to wear to work. This collection offered women stylish and flattering pieces that could me mixed and match to make numerous looks for the office.

Many women struggled with what to wear to work. Women were expected to look feminine but not too feminine. Nothing could be too bright, too tight, or too sexy. But many women did not want to continue wearing the ‘suit’ because they felt they looked too masculine. At this point, there was no ‘easy’ look for women to throw on and head to the office in. It took thought and time in deciding what to wear so that they would look professional but not to the extreme of being too feminine or too masculine.

That’s where Donna Karan’s collection, called seven easy pieces, came into play. Before this collection most places that were known for providing women work attire were Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, J.Crew and other similar name brand lines. But many of these brands began to be pulled in numerous directions and struggle to find a perfect vision of how modern women’s workwear should look.

Women who are shopping at the stores mentioned are saying that they are not able to find looks they feel comfortable wearing for work. In this century, women are beginning to have a little more freedom with their outfit choices so places are struggling to find the perfect balance between what is acceptable and what is not. With having more freedom, women are having a hard time shopping for what they feel would be deemed as suitable for their office.

The challenge of being trendy while still providing clothing deemed good for the working environment are what many companies are struggling to grasp. Many companies are trying to stay up to date with all the latest trends, and while many offices are moving with trends, there are still some who want women dressing in conservative looks from the past. Trends such as athleisure and ripped-denim are looks you may find in a casual office setting every now and then but are still not appropriate for large corporations such as banks or law firms.

The more official office settings are where the line is drawn as to what women can wear. But, as mentioned, many offices have lessened the formality of workwear. Often now it is hard to find a distinction between what women wear during the week for work versus what they wear out on the weekends. So, with so many mixed feelings on what women should be wearing to work, how are brands supposed to know that they should be providing to this type of audience?

Even with many offices lessening how strict they are with clothing, there is still a main consensus of what is appropriate; which is that women’s clothing should not be too revealing or too sloppy. But, with the newest trend of leggings, many are confused as to if they are to ‘tight’ or to athletic looking to be seen as appropriate for work.

Many fashion enthusiasts have mixed reviews on wearing leggings to work. Most say flat out no, these should not be worn to work and are just for a casual look. But, with the argue of them being appropriate or not just again shows how casual office looks of gotten. Many women who work in offices now do not have closets full of suits and tons of formal attire; rather they have drawers filled with leggings and casual clothing.

This trend also is affecting sales of companies who sell each of these different clothing articles. The market for women’s suits has shrunk extremely while the leggings market growth continues to get higher.

So, what are your thoughts on what is deemed appropriate for women to wear to the office? Are you stuck on the thought the women should stick to wearing suits and more professional outfit’s or on board for offices becoming more casual?

Lover of all things fashion from day one. While everyone else was reading long novels you could catch me browsing through the style portion of any magazine. I'm a reality show junkie in all forms and will endlessly watch The Food Network while shamelessly throwing in some reruns of Keeping up with the Kardashians.

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