Since I have been running my own business, I admit, I have grown to hate clothes shopping – that great pastime of fresh-faced teenagers I used to so adore. Who has the time? Last week, in between two meetings in Edinburgh, I managed to have a power shop in the last of the January sales, and picked up three dresses and a skirt at LK Bennett and Hobbs in just over an hour. What I was looking for, and why I keep going back to those stores, is simple – hemlines. They are among the only high street retailers who offer dresses that don’t stop mid-thigh; a look that screams ‘I’m giggly and can make fast photocopies, but I’m not promotable in the long term!” Considering the number of professional women working out there, you’d think we would have more choice.
So, with the dearth of options I head out looking for dresses that hit just below the knee – universally the most flattering length. This length says “Take my work seriously, and my sartorial elegance means I’m a good bet for senior positions.” This is the sweet spot of skirt length as far as I am concerned because ‘too short’ reminds us of recent grads and gets the wrong kind of admiration from male colleagues and questionable looks from female colleagues – neither of which is helpful to your long term career goals. Dresses are also so easy – and who doesn’t want that? The fabulous thing about work dresses is that they are easier to put on than a suit, and yet people think you went to a real effort! Plus, they are a great way to maintain your femininity so you don’t have to look like ‘one of the boys’ even when you are surrounded by them. My one caveat is that senior women, women who are more established in their careers can get away with wearing what they want – simply because no one is questioning their credibility any longer. They’ve earned their stripes – pinstripes or otherwise. Career progression amongst the boys club is a tough enough ladder to climb, don’t let people look up your skirt as you do it! Find more on career planning here.
Dres from Hobbs.