You may think the skin-baring heat of summer throws up sexist dressing conundrums, but actually winter presents dilemmas of its own
Is it just me or as the air has got bitingly colder and pavements more slippery, you’re finding that you’re spending more time in the morning in front of your wardrobe before work in a panic?
And by “you”, I’m addressing women who need to look remotely smart at work.
Now you’d think summer would be the season with the most unfair dressing issues for women – after all, when it gets warm, you have to find a way of staying cool at work while still adhering to the concept of what a professional woman looks like, i.e demurely covered up/take into account any perverts who might enjoy the extra flesh on show. However, winter spins that on its head and presents you with a whole new issue – how the hell do you stay warm but still look groomed to professional perfection.
Smart offices may expect their female employees to look demure, but there’s also an expectation that if you want to look demure but not frumpy, you should be in form-fitting dresses, pencil skirts, sheer tights, silk blouses, and heels. None of which, let’s be honest, is actually what you want to put on when it’s cold, wet and icy outside. Really you want to put on a massive jumper, comfy jeans that cover up all of your leg (I have no idea how some women bare their ankles so fashionably in this weather without getting frostbite) and sensible footwear that hasn’t got a stiletto heel nor is open to rainwater getting in. In other words, wellies or hiking boots. Or if you’ve got to put on a skirt, you want to pair it with tights many sheep have suffered the indignity of being sheared for.
Plenty of fashion magazines present the idea of women being able to turn up to work looking wildly androgynously warm and safe from icey accidents in oversized layers and trainers, but most workplace attitudes outside of the creative industries have not opened up to that. Let’s be honest, if we walked into a bank, or a law firm or even a restaurant, we would be a bit taken aback to be served by someone in the wide legged tracksuits currently in vogue with a massive cowl neck jumper and trainers.
Men on the other hand can stack up the thermals discreetly under their suits which cover up all of them anyway and their smart shoes are rarely open topped or heeled, so they can still be smart and fashionable in the cold weather. Plus lets face it men are super hairy/allowed to be super hairy and that’s a whole extra layer of warmth they get!
Granted this is hardly an issue that’s up there with #MeToo, but it is an example of the every day ways in which life is just a little bit more difficult for women.
I have no idea what the answer is, except that, women, I suggest more and more of us embrace the Michelin Woman look in the winter months and normalise this as acceptably smart and fashionable work wear. Because let’s face it, the workplace will go tits-up without us as we all huddle under duvets at home with pneumonia and broken limbs, fretting about whether our summer wardrobes will get us fired, because magazines are already telling us what to wear despite the fact that even when it is summer, only a small handful of days warrant skimpy dressing.
And, figures of the financial sort, the ones that ensure everyone gets paid enough to feed their families and pay the mortgage, are the only figures that should matter in the workplace.