The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Working 9-5

The working wardrobe can be a minefield after the years spent slumming in your comfies on the Magic Bus, so some minor shifts might be needed to get the professional look

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As graduation begins to loom large over my essay-stressed, reading-overloaded mind, I am starting to take steps towards finding some form of full time employment — I know to some I may seem a bit late, but don’t judge, I have my logic. Over the years I have done my share of internships, work experience placements, part-time jobs and shadowing days, and being the fashion-obsessed girl that I am, what to wear is always at the forefront of my mind.

The jump from student to full time employment is akin to saying that you have to become a “real” adult now, one who is self-sufficient. Sadly my boyfriend jeans and Stan Smiths do not seem appropriate attire for such an occasion.

For men the workwear choices are limited, most corporate or business employers expect to see men in shirts, suits and ties; even in more up and coming, start-up, young businesses men are likely to wear a variation on top and trousers.  For the fashionable out there I do fully acknowledge that this can go drastically wrong or right — however, it’s not the main topic of conversation here.

Women, on the other hand, have a plethora of options available to them in the workwear department. While some employers feel it is within their right to impose a certain kind of dress code on women, that’s coming to an end thanks to the petitioning and legal action taken by people such as Nicola Thorpe. The controversial decision to send her home without pay for refusing to wear a heel of two to four inches brought to a very public head the archaic dress code some employers still hold. Do not mistake me here, there are certain jobs that require uniforms, but no employer should force employees of any gender or binary to be uncomfortable for the sake of propriety. Heels are glamorous, they can lift an outfit, they can make you feel great, but they do cripple your feet.

Workwear exists in a strange world that does not dare to embrace the increasing high fashion replicas that the high street can now create, it clings to ill fitting black bootcut trousers — something no one should own. Ever. No matter what your parents tell you looks smart. The desire to be taken seriously in the workplace often leads many women to fall back on shift dresses, suits and bright blouses, all fine options, that can look lovely. However, being at work should not mean a relinquishing of the personality you express through your clothes; personally, I love heels and will merrily wear them to work but that is part of the look I choose to present! Just as I will wear skirts, trousers, dresses, jumpsuits, blouses, brogues, culottes, etc, etc, I don’t think I will ever be the plain black shift dress sort of person. I am craving a loose tailored double breasted blazer to go with skinny trousers to form a suit though — I’ve got a few months before I need one yet though.

If we have to spend 40 hours a week working, or for some people more, I plan on feeling as much like me as I can through the muddling confusion that will be starting a new job.