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The Hypocrisy of Office Work-wear

Suits. A timeless classic for men for all occasions.

Let’s just start this by accepting the fact that it is almost expected that every single man in the modern world owns a suit. It can almost be guaranteed that every ‘modern’ man within a 100-mile radius of you has at least one black/grey/blue number in their wardrobe that will make an appearance at every special occasion.

Which is great.

To be able to easily and simply ‘pick’ your outfit for significant occasions is one of the greatest benefits of being a man.

‘You’re invited to a wedding!’ – SUIT UP!

‘It’s my 40th birthday party!’ – SUIT UP!

‘It’s a fancy meal’ – SUIT UP!

The wonders are endless!

Except for when it comes to the workplace.

Now, I worked in an office environment for around a year (before realising that there were greater ways of spending 40 hours a week than in a sweaty room with other depressed employees – but I digress), and one of the most irritating notions to me was the attitude that every professional workplace adopts to the standard of their employees dress codes.

In an age where equality is a very prevalent issue, I used to find it incredibly tiresome to wake up at 7am every day and have to make sure that every inch of my suit was pristine and crisp, ready for the day ahead, only to find that upon my arrival that every female colleague of mine was rocking a cardigan, summer dress, and leggings combo.

This hardly screams ‘fair’ to me? 

work-fashion-officeAdmittedly it took a while for my eyes to open up to this. I mean, the idea of having to wear a suit every day and dress to the 9s does make you feel incredibly good about yourself. However, once the novelty – inevitably – wears off, you find yourself wondering why professional men can’t enjoy the same comfort that professional women are able to enjoy.

It is no secret that women are incredibly fortunate to enjoy a wider range and variety of clothing than men – take a look in every fashion outlet and scan the room to spot the 10% of the shop dedicated to men, hidden amongst the 70% that belongs to women, and the remaining 20% that belongs to children and bric-a-brac (a completely separate issue) – but I cannot see the fairness in expecting men to adorn their immaculate jackets, shirts, shoes and ties, when the ladies can enjoy the freedoms that they do.

So my question is this:

Why shouldn’t men be able to enjoy the experience of comfort in the workplace?

Or:

Shouldn’t women meet the same dress standards of men in a professional environment?

To put it into perspective, a male work colleague of mine once came into the office wearing a dark pair of chino trousers. The result? He was called into the manager’s office and was provided with a lecture on the importance of smart work attire in a ‘customer-facing role’ (we were employees of the marketing division working mostly with professionals internally). This is in stark opposition to a female work colleague of mine who frequently turned up to work in a flowery summer dress, black leggings and beige pump shoes.

Equality?

Fairness?

I understand that, at the end of the day, there are far more pressing issues in the fight for equality, but if we don’t start with the basics, how can we expect to conquer the big stuff?

If you agree (or disagree) with any of the points raised in this article then get in touch, I’d love to hear the opinions of others on this issue.

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About danielwillcocks (14 Articles)
23 year old copy-editor based in Lincoln, UK. Dan is a blogger, father, writer and hedonist with a passion for the existential.

1 Comment on The Hypocrisy of Office Work-wear

  1. Steven Sawyer // November 4, 2016 at 11:26 am // Reply

    Dan,

    As an HR Professional I agree with you totally. It amazes me how women are permitted to wear sleeveless clothes, short skirts, and in many occasions less professional attire than men. I would love to wear a professional sleeveless shirt or shorts to work but we both know I would be written up and sent home to change. I sometimes feel that companies allow this hypocrisy because they are afraid of a law suit.

    Thank you,

    Steven

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