‘Looking professional’ is a phrase that never fails to set my teeth on edge. ‘Workwear’, ‘office attire’, or ‘formal dress’ are some of the most binarist categories of clothing, and they just don’t work for me because of that.
People who code or are read as female, for instance, are often pressured to present as femme in order to present as formal. (h/t to Emma for this gorgeous phrasing) In this post, some of the Genderplayful team members weigh in on this aspect of workwear binaries.
There is an expectation, a demand, that working women dress fashionably. Not necessarily at the height of fashion, as runway looks wouldn’t be, as they say, work appropriate, but certainly neatly, elegantly. Dress codes are a snarled tangle to navigate when you’re supposed to be demure, but not drab, neat, but not flashy.
Whenever I have to dress up for a new setting – say an office job, or a formal presentation, or a dinner event – I become even more critical of my wardrobe. I am not a very femme person; I have some heels, some skirts, some dresses, and I wouldn’t have got them if I didn’t like them, but to present so explicitly as femme is a choice that I have to deliberate over, to be comfortable with. Continue reading