Hello again, e31. readers! I’m excited to be back.
As my undergraduate experience draws to a close, I have noticed a subtle shift in the way I structure my wardrobe. Namely, I shop more purposefully. This means that instead of seeing an item I like and immediately picking it up, I ask myself “could I dress this up and down?” If the answer is no, I generally carry on my search.
This is of course a principle, rather than a rule. Everyone needs a few funky pieces which showcase their personality. Such pieces allow for self-expression and while they may not necessarily be work appropriate, they are certainly worth the investment.
Regardless, the principle has made my transition from student to professional significantly smoother. The sea of cotton tank tops and t-shirts which once crowded my closet has dwindled, replaced by their smarter counterparts.
The outfits pictured serve as examples of how I find versatile uses for pieces. Fashion is, of course, an expression of who you are. While I enjoy wearing structured pieces on days off, this is not necessarily true of everyone.
The cobalt blouse adds a pop of colour and is simple enough to be appropriate for the office, an evening out, or brunch. This pencil skirt is one of my favourite, timeless finds. While I chose to sport it only for the professional outfit, a well-fitting pencil skirt can always be worn to dinner or another evening event. Lastly, dark wash jeans are a great staple piece and are appropriate for both Casual Friday and the weekend.
As I prepare to enter the workforce full-time, I have also developed increased awareness of the barriers that women can face in their careers. A striking example of this was shown in Deloitte’s recently released study on gender diversity, with a finding that 40% of women sometimes hold back their opinions in fear of being perceived as “bossy” or overly assertive. While organizations are making headway in bridging the gender gap, long-standing norms continue to create significant obstacles.
On a broader scale, Dove’s Choose Beautiful campaign is another great example of how societal pressures can influence how women perceive themselves. The idea behind the campaign is to have women classify themselves as beautiful or average, rather than have these standards externally imposed onto them.
The experiment targets self-perception, yet the pressure to conform remains profound. The majority of women classified themselves as average, either because they truly feel average or because the notion of admitting that you feel beautiful could be construed as conceited. Just as women are sometimes judged for being assertive, we are also discouraged from feeling confident in our own skin.
As you go through times of transition, I encourage you to take some time, examine your perceptions, and be gentle with yourself. Being assertive and feeling confident are beautiful traits, and ones which we should uphold and respect rather than suppress and criticize.
Remember to stay connected with Ellie via Linkedin.