Do fashion trends belong in the office?
08 May 2012, 15:37
The modern career woman's dilemma: Do you dress to impress or to give a good impression?
Navigating workplace fashion is no easy task, and knowing whether to
dress to impress or to take a step back and dress conventionally is key
to making the right impression.
For the Y Generation currently
entering the labour force, the quandary over what to wear is perhaps one
of their greatest challenges. Also known as the Millennials, the Gen
Y'ers are in their late teens and early 20s and have been raised on a
diet of pure consumerism – they will buy something (particularly
fashion) because buying is a part of life, as opposed to their
predecessors, the Gen X'ers who buy because they want or need it. Gen
Y'ers are powerful and enthusiastic consumers and have become easy
targets for smart marketers.
Not only do these up-and-coming
professionals bring new outlooks, skills, strengths and challenges to
their employers, but they are also upping the fashion stakes in the
According to Kim Meszaros, marketing executive
of workforce management solutions company, Kelly, "Gen Y'ers are without
a doubt particularly savvy when it comes to the latest fashion trends
and styles, but the appropriateness of these trends in the corporate
world depends on your career choice and the actual office environment."
How trendy should you be?
says it is important, particularly in times of economic downturns such
as the one we are currently experiencing, that employees don't fall into
the trap of becoming fashion victims. "Fashions change so fast that,
unless you have an unlimited budget, it is difficult to keep up with all
the latest trends," explains Steadman.
"It would be more
beneficial to think economy and style, buy a couple of good pieces of
clothing, and rather accessorize to dress up the outfit or to make it
more voguish," she adds.
"It will be your ability to dress well -
and with self-expression - which will earn you more respect in the
workplace than blindly following every single fashion trend."
Corporate culture and your style
nature of the work and your age also impacts on the choice of workplace
fashion, factors which workplace fashion trends tend not to distinguish
Whereas retail clothing stores tend to actively
encourage the wearing of the latest styles, a more professional or
corporate environment requires a more professional approach to workplace
fashion. But professional attire does not necessarily infer boring.
says: "Accessorising with shoes, watches, scarves, bags and jewelry
opens up limitless – and relatively inexpensive – possibilities for
changing the look of an outfit. Good accessories can personalise an
outfit and give it flair, without being inappropriate."
concludes that the corporate world is a tough world, and looking your
best at work will not only determine how your colleagues perceive you,
but could also impact on your chances of advancement. "It is vitally
important that you are conscious of your appearance at work and the
impact it has on making the right impression."