Basics for work: Not too much not too little

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This week I’m sharing with you what I call my go-to outfit when I want to look put together without raising much attention. Comfortable and versatile, this outfit is ideal for first impressions as it is neither too much nor too little!

Outfit details

Biker jacket – Zara; Top & Trousers – H&M; Bag & Belt – Mango; Shoes – Steve Madden;  Sunnies – Eye Love (purchased from Linda Tol at Fashion Vintage; Jewelry – Something New Fashion; Watch – DKNY

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Pictures by C.E.

Shop the look

 

The first impressions I’m talking about here are mostly related to work. I love to dress up, but in a serious conversation about my work, I don’t want people to get distracted by my pink dress. I mean, my wish is that I could wear that pink dress and be taken seriously nevertheless, but let’s face it. I’m a young researcher, already subjected to bias simply because I’m a woman. Now try to get up there with your pink dress and your heels? Hum, I don’t feel comfortable. Not because it doesn’t suit my personal style, but because it stands out too much. Part of the reason may be that there are not many women around, and also I feel most of them underdress, on purpose. I feel part of it has to do with the fear that people won’t take you serious if you dress up. Because really, how can you be a serious researcher if you had time to do your hair and makeup in the morning? Right? (So much nonsense!!)

I may be wrong, some people may just like to dress more comfortable, some people also dress more elegant/formal and things are changing. Slowly but changing.  But all this to say that, in fact, I wore this outfit to almost any conference/meeting I can remember – sometimes with a blazer instead of the biker jacket. Stylish, but low profile. But should it really be like this? Should I really care that much about the perception people will have of me simply based on my clothes? Is there a ‘dress code’ we should follow?

This is a whole topic on its own and I would be happy to get to know your thoughts on it. I know there are really different approaches and opinions on this topic. So it would be interesting to hear what you have to say :)

 

But the truth is that people generally feel more comfortable in first encounters when dressing black. Not standing out appears to be some sort of mechanism defense that we use without even thinking. I remember this clearly from my first class at the Fashion Design course. We were all sitting down and at some moment during the day the teacher pointed out that most of us were wearing black, and explained how the fact that it was the first class, and we didn’t know each other, had something to do with it. We looked around to realize she was right, laughed about it and dressed a bit more vividly the other days ;)

 

I hope you enjoyed this look and my very short discussion of a problem that I believe exists for women throughout their careers. I could go on, but we would stay here for ages. Let me know in the comments below what are your thoughts about it and perhaps we can discuss it further, or even dedicate a post to it at some point!

Later this week there will also be a post full of ideas for working looks, that sure will be stylish but will cause no controversy. Stay tuned!

 

P.s. Unfortunately, most of the items are not currently available but I’ve linked above very similar ones for an identical look!

 

Xo,

Cátia

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8 comments

  1. Hi Cátia! :)

    I’ve recently started to follow your blog and I really like your posts.
    I had to comment on this one, because, being also a young researcher it’s something that I’ve been thinking about in the last few years. I use dresses and skirts 99% of the time, even for work, because that’s how I feel more comfortable and I don’t intend to change that. But when going going to conferences and meetings I have the exact same problem. I always tend to dress down a little (despite using dresses or skirts like all the other days), since I want people to pay attention to the work I’ve been developing and not my outfits. And I thought I was the only one thinking this way. I guess I’m not alone. :)

    Keep up the good work!
    Sara

  2. Hey girl! Well, I think we are both in the same boat, since I am also a PhD student. I totally agree with you…unconsciously I also have a tendency to wear clothes with more neutral colors. Also, although I love dresses and skirts and don´t wear them when at work, since I keep thinking that people will not take me seriously. I think this is all in our head and we should be more self-reliant and change this way of thinking. Women that work in a company, at a desk or lawyers for example, basically in all other jobs except in the investigation field, I mean in general, they use high heels, but like 15 cm heels, short skirts, tiny dresses, and they are all comfortable, but we in the research field just because we are surrounded by men and because we are afraid they will not take us serious, since we worried to much about what we wear and although we look great we are spending even 5 minutes putting make-up, and in the research world that cannot happen, we need to live basically for research! This is a wrong and old way of thinking and we should change it and start combining fashion with the research world! We need to take care of ourselves as women and still be able to do our job, whatever that would be. This is a very interesting subject to be discussed! P.S.: although simple and discrete I really like this outfit and is a type of outfit that I also use regularly to go to work! xx

  3. Hi Cátia!

    Love your Instagram account, first time on your blog and I feel so strongly about this topic! As a fellow PhD student, so much of my mental space before conferences and big presentations is taken up with wanting to look neutrally professional. I’ve tried many clothing combinations, and find that wearing pants rather than a skirt or dress makes me feel like I’m more likely to fit in. It irritates me no end that I can’t simply be comfortable in any form of neat outfit, but there you go. As you said, as soon as you know your colleagues/audience better, the flamboyance can come out, but walking in that first time I want to feel more secure in the normalcy of my appearance.

    I’ve been dressing down and dressing in more neutral colours in the past few months, and I’ve felt so uninspired creatively in my attempt to be conservative for meetings etc. I’m making an effort to sew some unusual shirts and pants, as well as dresses and skirts with classic lines but interesting textures or prints. Over the next year I’m going to ease myself into a professional wardrobe that satiates my fashion desires, or that’s the aim! I’ve been giving it a go this week and it’s been absolutely fantastic.

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