The culture of work is changing, and with it, our office dress codes. As companies encourage staffers to bring their whole selves to work -- and people embrace style repeats and “personal uniforms” in an effort to de-stress workwear -- Thrive decided to take a deeper look into how what we wear to work affects our mental well-being, creativity, productivity, and authenticity. We welcome you to take a spin through our special section: The Psychology of What We Wear to Work.
In September I took part in a town hall conversation sponsored by Advertising Week. The topic was the cultural shift around recharging and productivity in the business world. First I interviewed Mark Cuban, and then I was joined by five other panelists — all, as it happens, women.
We had a lively, robust panel discussion, covering the designated topics and more. But what I want to talk about today is what everybody was wearing. Yes, I know, that sounds shallow — we’re not supposed to focus on appearance and such talk is stereotypically female. But it actually relates to the deeper themes of the panel.
So, Mark Cuban arrives, of course, in jeans and a t-shirt, his signature look. Mark and I have our talk, and then we’re joined by the five women: Ellyn Shook, head of global HR for Accenture; Joanna Coles, Chief Content Officer for Hearst; Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook; Bethenny Frankel, CEO and founder of Skinnygirl; and Lori Lee, Senior Executive VP and Global Marketing Officer for AT&T.
As you can see from their titles, they’re all very successful. And as you would have seen if you’d been there, they also all arrived looking great, as successful women in the business world tend to do. Unlike Mark, who looked like he’d spent, at most, five minutes getting ready, the women on the panel — including me — looked like we’d spent … longer than that. Much longer. As women, we’ve collectively broken many glass ceilings, but still seem to be laboring under the cotton-silk-rayon-makeup-and-heels ceiling.
That’s why I’m so thrilled to be launching Thrive Style, which is all about helping women close the style gap and open up more time for productivity, creativity and recharging. This might seem trivial, but it’s not. There are real issues at play here. Women already pay a higher price than men in our culture of sleep deprivation and burnout. And notions of professional dress are as outdated as the idea that burnout is synonymous with dedication. At the core of Thrive Style is the belief that, when we’re able to reclaim all the time and energy lost to picking out clothes and getting ready, we’ll gain a serious competitive advantage.
I’m not suggesting we go full Cuban by wearing t-shirts all the time, or raiding Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie closet, only that we make it easier on ourselves and dress in a way in which we can still feel chic and good about ourselves without spending a huge amount of energy, mindshare and time — not to mention cash. Thrive Style is about redefining conventions so that women can feel confident, professional and great in something other than five-inch heels and a new outfit for every occasion.
And to do that, our first step (in stylish yet very comfortable shoes) is our campaign to normalize — and actually celebrate — repeats. Because women should feel as comfortable as men repeating outfits.
I’ve been passionate about repeats for a while. Back in 2012 I wrote an entire piece about my love for a certain black Nanette Lepore dress, and how I refused — refused! — to stop wearing it. I wore it not just on random occasions, but special ones, too, like Thanksgiving, the White House Christmas Party, a dinner I hosted for Bill Maher and even New Year’s Eve.
Of course, social media has only increased the pressure women feel to wear new outfits. And since social media isn’t going away, what we should do is harness its power to turn that pressure around and instead pay tribute to repeats. Don’t hide them, flaunt them — own them. And then do it again! To kick things off, here’s a whole gallery of my own repeats, including the same long dress I wore to the Time 100 party this year, and then the White House Correspondents’ Dinner three days later. As you can see, I proudly Instagrammed my shame and transgression in a collage.
We want repeats to be a global movement. Earlier this month in the heart of the global fashion world, Milan, I asked Ilaria Amato from Donna Moderna — which is joining Thrive Style as our Italian partner for the repeats movement — to translate “repeats” into Italian: “reindossalo” she said, which literally means “wear it again.” I love how melodic the word sounds, so if you are in Italy, use the hashtag #reindossalo! Here in the U.S., Laura Brown, the editor of InStyle, has what she calls “The Underthink It Philosophy,” which is perfectly aligned with the idea of repeats.
It’s a great way to begin to close the style gap, affording women the same freedom (in the form of time and money and thought) that men have in putting together their outfits. That doesn’t mean we can’t still take the time to thoughtfully select an outfit for a certain occassion — it just means we no longer feel like we have to.
So, women of the working world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our thoughtfully draped gold chains. And heels, and dresses, and the hours and hours of time and effort we spend getting ready. Think of what we could do with those hours — build businesses, spend time with our loved ones, sleep, change the world…
Join the Repeats movement and send us your favorite repeat photos. And also send us your best hashtag ideas that can help spread the word in any language! By sharing our own experiences and tips, together we can activate the best kind of peer pressure — the kind that helps women everywhere dress for success, on our own terms.
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com
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