Whenever “new normal” shows up, can it please include comfortable business attire?
For probably at least two hundred years but certainly, for as long as I’ve been an adult, the clothes people have worn to work have not been what we’d call “comfortable”. Look, if to be "professional" you need a girdle (or shapewear of ANY sort, really), a reflexologist (or podiatrist) on speed dial, or a bottle of wine to recover once you kick off your beautiful-and-tortuous shoes, there’s something seriously wrong.
There's a whole industry around adapting to these absurd expectations. Pack gym shoes so you can walk to your car without breaking an ankle, but switch to those stilettos as soon as you get into the office. I'm seeing whole (long, depressing) discussion threads in businesswomen's groups about "training our feet to get back into those shoes when we have to go back to the office..." What?!
I can't even count all the companies making millions off forcing our bodies into unnatural shapes so we can wear "the right silhouette". And GOD FORID we wear the same painful shoes & Spanx-required suit more than once a month... STOP! This is insane, people.
And it’s not just women who are adversely impacted by the absurd clothing norms that are Professional/Business Dress Code Fashion. Men, we know you don’t love wearing starched shirts and ties, pinchy shoes, and blazers that restrict your arms. HOW do we know it? We’re on the Zoom calls with you.. we see how you dress when you have a choice. (It's ok - we don't blame you!)
Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we think, and history has proven this accurate, that we should “dress for the job we want” and everyone who has the jobs we want does it. Yeah, some industries have managed to kick this archaic form of masochism to the curb, but many have not. Generations of bunions, damaged hamstrings, and battles over office thermostats are the result, and I’m here to tell you…
It doesn’t have to be this way!
We’ve just been through at least six months of a pandemic where everyone who wasn’t forced to wear something specific spent their days in sweats, yoga pants, and PJ’s and *gasp* somehow work still got done. Maybe it’s not actually about the clothes, afterall.
That's not to say you shouldn't wear things that make you feel powerful or amazing. Let's stretch that definition, though, to expand beyond the very narrow definitions of "acceptable" as we've known it. So please, for the sake of everyone’s foot health and so much more… let’s learn from this experience and ditch the faulty logic that you need a business suit to be a functional businessperson. What you NEED is tenacity, work ethic, creativity, and a willingness to collaborate with others. Speaking for myself, those are all a lot more robust when I can breathe and my feet don’t hurt.
(Originally published on my LinkedIn profile. Please connect!)