Vintage Fashion & the Job

So it’s been a week off almost, and I’ve been immersed in the world of period fashion trends, namely through watching copious episodes of the rave hit Downton Abbey. I’ve missed this series for the past few years, but I’ve now blown through the first two seasons in the last few days and am contemplating buying season three on Amazon Instant Video for my viewing pleasure. (And, no, I don’t make any profit if you decide to purchase something off that Amazon link, even though I should figure out how to set myself up on something like that.)

After watching all these episodes and feeling like I was born out of time and then reading several fashion pieces over at BlogHer, most notably this post that perked my interest and sent me off on a tangent, I figured I would comment on fashion in the workplace.

All my business professors (most of them male) would comment on the studies that showed implementing professional standards of dress tended to increase productivity and employee relations and blah, blah, blah. All that is well and good, but it stands to reason that in today’s workplace, professional dress and business casual dress can be seen as very fluid concepts. Women, especially, seem to have trouble finding a balance between what to wear and what not to wear, and there’s very little solid guidance on this.

That said, I’ve become a bit enamored by the period clothes of the early 1900s favored in Downton Abbey and even prior to watching the series had a desire to go back to some of the vintage styles so favored in the roaring 20s. While I simply can’t see us going back to the standards of the Victorian Era (quaint and stylish as it was in its own way), I can see a turn towards a bit more modesty and femininity in dress that can easily be taken into the office quite stylishly.

Edith, Sybil, and Mary Crawley of Downton Abbey

While I won’t say all their dresses would work for the office, the styles and a paring down effect would work perfectly. The dresses of Downton Abbey are the perfect blend of modest and proper with a bit of daring and flare, sometimes high-waisted and sometimes drop-waisted, sometimes square-necked, sometimes loosely draped – all to excellent and highly feminine effect.

To that end, since I work in an office that expects employees to wear business casual Monday through Thursday, I suppose it’s only proper for me to be able to indulge a bit of my feminine side every once in a while and wear something that’s not your typical business slacks and sweater or business slacks and button down or business slacks and so forth, ad nauseum.

I’ve become a bit of a fan of ModCloth from years ago and only recently indulged in any purchases there. One such purchase is a dress I’ve yet to wear to work as it’s been a bit chilly to wear it yet. But I’ll be wearing it soon enough, no doubt. It’s an adorable dress that I found and couldn’t help myself buying, and while not quite Downton Abbey, it is a bit me.

Unfortunately no longer available, it is rather adorable, don’t you think?

Capped off with some strappy black heels, this would easily be a business outfit that borders on flirty but doesn’t cross the line into dangerous territory. On me, it’s not too short; though it does go just a hint above my knees. And the flirty ruffle draws the eyes away from any extra curves I might have and gives me a bit of feminine flare.

I’m definitely looking forward to warmer weather to wear this number to the office.

And another number I ordered and have already worn to the office is in one of my favorite colors: red. Of course, red is always a striking color, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And my Coach Tour Dress is one of my favorites that can be paired well in the winter with a few extras to make it warm and inviting in the office.

Coach Tour Dress in Rouge

It’s slightly fitted with side pockets, and once again, it hits just above my knees. The buttons make a flashy bit of pop that give it some flare, and the dress pairs well with some leggings in the winter, even black and gray plaid ones if I’m daring. I pair this with black leggings or my black and gray plaid leggings and a pair of black mini boots with a silver buckle on the sides.

I’ll likely do more shopping at ModCloth for more options; though I should really be looking other places for more vintage-inspired styles. ModCloth can be a bit pricy, and their dresses aren’t always work appropriate, especially in terms of length.

Any suggestions would be helpful, but overall, I believe it’s best to remember that dressing for the office comes down to remembering to follow exact guidelines (i.e. no flip-flops, no t-shirts, etc.) as written in company handbooks and then use your own judgment in determining how to reflect your own individuality in your dress as you work out the fluid idea of “business casual” dress.

Just a thought.

– RaeNez