Stumbling across this article today made me think about just how many times, as a junior setting up my work wardrobe, I was influenced by the style of the women I was working with at the time. Of course making the transition from uni to work meant that I was buying quite a lot of new clothes in the period just after I started work, and, like doing anything for the first time, you look around to see how everyone else is doing it. There is a phase when, as a new employee, you have to suss out the workplace wardrobe rules. Open toed shoes ok here? Do I need to wear a blazer every day? Bright colours, yay or nay?
And while I wouldn't say my personal style changed, I did see the other women wearing things I normally wouldn't have considered. I tried them, I bought some of them. I will admit, I have subconsciously pilfered style from my direct superiors.
But here's the really interesting part: it has always worked out well.
I've had that awkward moment when i've arrived at work in the same brand-new Leona Edmiston frock as my supervisor (and, lets face it, half of Sydney). It is so awkward that moment, but then it becomes funny, and then there is a little shared connection, something like a mutual approval. It's nice.
They say that for women, finding a sponsor to support you in your career progression is crucial to achieving success. Someone with credibility to speak up for you when you're not present, and to promote you to others in a way that would sound like bragging if you did it yourself.
But, in high-pressure professional industries, establishing a connection with senior women in the office is not easy. At work, people are looking to get the job done as efficiently and as professionally as possible, not to bond. So softening up the ground with mutual interests like fashion, or even just a enchant for a particular designer can lay the groundwork for the beginnings of a professional friendship.
Just be sure to time your outfits strategically. While arriving at work to find yourself in the same outfit as your boss can have benefits, doing it every week? not so much.