I feel the great need to riff a little more on a column written a couple of months ago by my Current Mom colleague, Stacy Feuer, in which she asked readers what they wore to work. The answer to that question for me has undergone a profound transformation from 1984, when I first set out, briefcase in hand, to conquer the work world.
At my first job, working in a boutique PR firm in New York City, I needed Ann Taylor suits and Alcott & Andrews linen separates, and when I was feeling like I could dress down a little, a polka dotted Laura Ashley dress. This was all complemented by the fad of the time, off-white hose and either black patent pumps or (don't gasp) white shoes (but only in the summer.)
I was learning how to dress for success during a time when women in corporate America felt they had to look like men in order to succeed. Remember the droopy ties over boxy suits? That was my boss in my second job. And of course, we all had our Reebok sneakers and white socks that we wore with our hose when we commuted, a tortured product of the 1980 New York City transit strike when working women had to figure out how to walk to work.
Today, I have a much more comfortable and personally suitable work wardrobe, much of which simply morphs from my casual clothes into work clothes. Even though I work at home a great deal (think yoga pants), I enjoy getting dressed for the office and appreciate a good black dress with a great accessory and cool shoes (but no hose unless they're tights) as well a great pair of slimming pants with a jacket. The work world has come a long way in its dress code since 1984, and in many ways, for the better.
Clothing is such an important part of our identity. It is the way we express who we are, and it has the power to make us feel, on any given day, slim, fat, powerful, schleppy, in control, reckless, tall, short, well heeled or down at the heels, having a bad day or simply fabulous.