What should you wear to work?

How many times have you woken in the morning asking yourself “what should I wear to work today?” and more importantly “What would people think if I wore the same outfit everyday for a week?!” Although men and women alike question the acceptability of wearing the same clothes to work it seems to cause a greater conundrum amoungst women. So what should women wear to work? Can they wear the same outfits two days in a row like men often do?

This Leadership Insight video (transcript below) was recorded for International Women’s Day. A day when we share messages about equal rights for women and celebrate women’s achievements around the world. Here Sarah Cordner and Fiona Spence take an unusual look at office attire, and Fiona shares an entirely new perspective on an old theme.

If you prefer to read the transcript here it is!

TRANSCRIPT of  What should you wear to work? Are the same Business Clothes OK?!!!

Sarah Cordner: Hi everybody, it’s Sarah and Fiona again, we’ve been talking about all things International Women’s Day as it’s coming up in a couple of weeks. How are you Fiona today?

Fiona Spence: Fabulous thank you very much, I’m very much looking forward to International Women’s Day, as I am to our webinar that will just be a few weeks after that.

Sarah Cordner: Exactly, now as you’re all used to now we Fiona and I chat about a lot of topics, one of the topics we were talking about was women in the workplace. When it comes to what you wear it can be really hard when you go to the office, to get yourself ready every day with a different outfit on.

Some time ago Carl Stefanovic, who I’m sure a lot of you know is one of the Channel Nine presenters on the Today Show, made a comment that he had worn the same suit for 365 episodes, that no one had commented! BUT as soon as his female co-presenter wore the same outfit people were up in arms, “she’s worn the same thing – what’s going on here?” Stefanovic made it clear that clearly there’s some sort of sexism there going on in terms of outfits.

After Fiona and I atttended a Zoom course together over a week I asked her why the presenter, Benjamin J Harvey, wore the same outfit every day. I couldn’t understand his thinking and assumed that it was because he just literally couldn’t be bothered, but Fiona’s got a whole different take on that.

Fiona Spence: I have, it’s an efficiency technique! And I know this because he told me so. Apparently Ben worked out that if he wears the same thing every time he presents, whether he’s presenting on stage or on zoom, wearing the same outfit everyday is one less thing to think about.

When you think about it, when you get up in the morning and you’re getting ready to present and do your big thing the last thing you want to do is have your brain making annoying little decisions. Traditionally woman can feel like there is an expectation to wear the different clothing each day. To get around wasting valuable thinking time in the mornings I always to get everything ready the night before. That way when I wake up I can use my refreshed brain to be really creative. I can use it to learn or I can use it to make some bigger decisions. But with Ben’s way getting his outfit ready the night before is really fast and easy because he has the same outfit! Ben says that if you go to his house and you open the cupboard you’ll see five of the same shirt, so he reassured us he’s not wearing the same one over and over!

When you know exactly what shirt and jacket you’ll put on tomorrow because it’s the same as today it makes life very simple. What a great way to live! And that’s the thing isn’t it Sarah, a man can so easily go into efficiency mode without anyone noticing, but as soon as we women do it somebody jumps on it! So it’ll be very interesting to see whether you and I choose to wear something different on our webinar on the 24th and will anybody notice.

Sarah Cordner: So if you’re watching and and you want to know we’ll put a link below so please do register, if you haven’t already for our webinar [this webinar has passed but Fiona regularly runs an online How to Stop Procrastinating Workshop].

What should women wear to work? Is the same outfit everyday acceptable?

If you’ve got any views about whether or not you should wear different outfits each day, or the benefits of wearing the same outfit, then please do share them and I’ll leave you with one last idea on them.

Imagine you’re presenting on a stage. Normally you wear the same outfit but today you’re wearing someting new. Previously you’ve always had spare batteries for your headset microphone in your jacket right pocket. You’re a bit of a pro and have even practiced changing the batteries so you don’t have to interrupt your presentation is the mic suddenly loses power. Today is the big day, all that practice will finally pay off when you notice the batteries die on your headset. Like the pro that you are you reach for your jacket pocket – but “oh no – it’s a different outfit – no right pocket, no batteries.”

But it gets worse, not only so you have to stop your presentation to find fresh batteries but later you get to a part where you show off your acting skills. You start to make your big arm gesture to emphasise the key point in your walk when you realise that you are not familiar with how your new jacket moves. The old one was like it was part of you, but this one is restrictive and awkward and you realise “I can’t get my arms in the air!”

Okay maybe it is a bit exagerrated but the truth is that the familiar is comfortable. The familiar allows us to focus on the task at hand without distraction. So perhaps wearing the same outfit everyday makes sense in more ways than one! Please do comment below.

Fiona Spence is a Master Mindset Coach and highly sort after as a Life Coach to Professionals and Business Owners.

Sarah Cordner is a senior director of client services, and mentor, with over 30 years of experience working in senior leadership roles in top tier corporates.

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