Women’s workwear is a rather monotonous affair. Often mimicking mens silhouettes: boxy and boring, further described using words such as dull and colourless.
Women’s work-dress, however, should not have to consist of such unvaried and unimaginative options. There are a multitude of other options that can create a contrastingly varied and imaginative work wardrobe. A desirable work wardrobe can be accomplished with the help of vintage style icons… using inspiration from icons such as Katherine Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe who’s everyday style have helped women curate both an appropriate but unique work wardrobe.
To start, Katherine Hepburn can be observed. She is renowned for wearing tailored suits, high-waist bootleg trousers accompanied with button down white shirts. Fast forward to this spring/summer and tailored suits are a key trend. Notably, however, tailored suits in mundane colours such as black and white have been put aside. Instead, suits for spring/summer feature most prominently in pastel pinks, blues and yellows have been pushed forward. Pair the pastel suits with a classic white shirt to create an exciting yet appropriate work look.
In addition to Katherine Hepburn, one can take further inspiration from vintage style icons such as Marilyn Monroe. While Marilyn is regularly perceived as a ‘sex symbol’ — seemingly then a contrary figure to that of the work place — one can come to have an appreciation for the lesser publicised but more stylised outfits. Additionally, one can derive inspiration from these same outfits. To demonstrate, Marilyn wore pencil skirts. While this is a regular workplace staple for many women, Marilyn wore them creatively: predominantly pairing a high waited skirt with a high-waisted belt. Additionally, she accompanied the pencil skirt with bright and formfitting jackets/cardigans, that complimented the waist, the body and henceforth shunned the boxy work wardrobe stereotype. The pencil skirts were usually worn with a classic white buttoned shirt, but to add an additional twist to the work wardrobe, subtle patterned and printed shirts can be replaced. On top of pencil skirts, another inspiration from Marilyn is the turtleneck sweater. While turtlenecks are commonly thought of as casual, as demonstrated by Marilyn, a white or black turtleneck paired with a colourful pencil skirt or a high-waisted trouser — perhaps striped trousers for an extra twist — can look smart, suitable and most importantly, appropriately unique.
If there is one thing that Elizabeth Taylor taught us — more than any other vintage style icon — is that accessories have the potential to change an entire outfit. For example, headbands and headpieces. Headbands are a small accessory that can make a large difference to the work outfit. Often headbands can make one look stately and regal or alternatively a more majestic headband — such as a headband adorned with flowers or jewellery — can make one look more standoutish and flamboyant. Furthermore, depending on the colour, a headband can largely pull together certain details in the outfit that would otherwise go unnoticed or even pull together an entire outfit. Elizabeth additionally used scarves to accessorise her outfits. Scarves are especially important to workplace outfits as they can be worn in a variety of ways suitable to a variety of occupations. For example, if one works in an office environment, perhaps a narrower scarf can be tied around the neck, worn like a tie or similar to that of an air hostess. Additionally, a narrow scarf can be worn around a turtleneck. Finally, jewellery: necklaces, earrings and bracelets can always be used to accessorise a workplace outfit. If rules at the workplace are frigid — especially with colour — a matching jewelled necklace and bracelet can always be added to create a different and unique look.
Workplace dressing does not always have to be monotonous and boring. By taking notes from vintage style icons, one can receive inspiration to curate a work wardrobe that has uniqueness and style.
By Oriana Findlay.