It’s been argued that millennials “killed the office dress code.” If so—good riddance. Sure, some jobs (like service occupations) require you to wear a particular uniform. Other, long-standing institutions like courthouses or government offices are also super stiff.
But, in workplaces where that’s not the norm, a casual dress code has become the new default. And more relaxed standards allow for a range of styles suited to personal taste—and practicality. (We’d choose Chucks over heels any day). Millennial professionals are seemingly at the forefront of this trend as a generation that pushes back against school dress codes, the policing of women’s bodies, and the unfair expectation women do it all with a smile.
To find out what the modern work uniform looks like in an era when millennials might have “killed the office dress code,” we asked five stylish women what their go-to look is for work.
My style in three words: “Comfortable, bold, chill”
‘Killed the dress code‘? I personally would re-word that. I believe we innovated it. Style is a form of self-expression and it’s a silent language before someone even speaks to you. I think making everyone dress alike in a work place holds some sort of shackles over each individual—they look like everyone else. People way more comfortable in their own style. I think millennials have a great way of defining who we are and what we are through the way we dress and that doesn’t interrupt our work ethic.
Well, for starters I’m wearing biker shorts and a oversized button-up with lace up boots and a fanny pack! It’s considered active wear or comfortable fashion. However, this, for a photographer, is extremely comfortable and movable. I would wear this in the office as well as while retouching photos. I’m at work for 8-9 hours and being in a suit for hours at a computer would definitely make me the least productive. I wouldn’t be comfortable. Physically and mentally, my style is my personality.
Hmm… My worst job ironically was working as Liberty Lady 🗽 for Jackson Hewitt. I hated it mostly because I had to embarrass myself and dress up as a mascot to reel in costumers.
During the week I’m mostly editing, which isn’t too exciting. On the weekend when I do shoot, however, I’m Uber-ing around the city with backdrops to the studio. I’m setting sets, lighting, and accommodating makeup and hairstylists, as needed. When I’m not doing that, I’m shooting product shots in my home studio. I’ll be doing things like hanging lipsticks from rope—and doing all kinds of interesting set-ups to get the right shot.
My advice to people breaking into this industry would be to stay resilient. In this line of work you are forever climbing this mountain of challenges but they ultimately mold you. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Don’t fear stepping out and taking a leap of faith and trying something you’ve never done.
My style in three words: “Easy, comfy, sexy”
It seems that maybe we are moving towards a collective understanding that, as long as you can perform your job properly you should be able to wear what you want. Maybe my outfit isn’t ‘appropriate’ for some work environments, but I do feel lucky to have a job where it’s not an issue.
My style in three words: “Casual, French-ish, bright”
It’s hard enough to afford a base wardrobe. Being expected to purchase an additional professional wardrobe on top of that is ridiculous. What matters is the work you put out. As long as you aren’t wearing sweats to work, I don’t see any problem with dressing semi-casually for work.
My outfit represents the casual dress code that most millennials adhere to. Yes, I’m wearing a loud T-shirt to work, but I also have a low heel and a solid pant that slightly elevates the Zankou shirt. I also make sure to look put-together by doing a light face of makeup and wearing a cute and functional bag.
I worked at a video store during college, which sounds kind of manic pixie dream girl-esque, but it was awful. Once I was told to not wear a v-neck T-shirt (lol) because they believed it was too low cut (it was literally a normal shirt) and that the dads were staring at my chest.
I sit in front a computer a lot of the day, analyzing data and preparing for new seasons. Depending on what time of year it is, I could be at our showroom merchandising our new collection, in Paris showing our new collection at market, or in the design room with our creative team providing feedback from our wholesale accounts.
I worked in vintage home furnishings before Clare V. While it wasn’t fashion, design was still such a huge aspect of it and lots of people know each other between these two industries. If you’re fresh out of college or looking to change careers, I would suggest interning, going to trade shows, sample sales, applying for sales associate positions, and, generally trying to become a friend of the brand or the professional you want to work for.
Also, give small companies a chance! It’s much easier to understand what you want to do if you start at a smaller company that allows cross-functional collaboration.
My style in three words: “Comfy, Tom Boy”
For starters, I really despise dress codes. I totally agree that millennials killed the dress code, but I think it is for the best. I myself am very much a tomboy. The idea of wearing a girly outfit to work every day is like playing dress-up and is just not at all who I am.
Of course, everyone wants to be respected in the work place but that shouldn’t be based off of how girly and/or professional someone looks. I do understand the importance of looking presentable but I am more than capable of looking presentable in the clothes I already own and wear comfortably.
It’s truly me! I wear what I want to wear to work, and I am very happy that I have that ability. A lot of people will say things like, “I wish I was as cool as you when I’m 50.” It’s confusing to me because, just be you! Live your truest self and try and break those boundaries, even if it’s wearing your favorite t-shirt to work once a month.
I unfortunately have only had one really, really bad job and it was a total scam. Somehow I got talked into going door-to-door in South Central Los Angeles selling landlines in 2015? After four days of work I never returned. Three weeks later, I received a paycheck for $30.
My day-to-day changes. I travel quite a bit for work so I really live a touch-and-go lifestyle. It’s unfortunately not as glamorous as people think. A “typical” day for me is waking up at 6 a.m. and working until 8 p.m. at night. Most of my time is occupied working my actual day job that pays the bills, but I always try and find time for my art. Even if it’s reading for 15-30 minutes about something I’m interested in, I’ll do it.
“At the end of the day you are the one that has to sell your vision.”
Keep creating. I cannot stress that enough. There have been so many times I have been stuck in a rut but pushing through that and continuing to create, specifically at the low, uninspiring parts of life is really important. I hate giving advice like, “Network, go out, meet people!” But, as a creative, it is important to make those connections, especially to find like-minded people to collaborate with. Lastly, just be confident in your work because at the end of the day you are the one that has to sell your vision.
My style in three words: “Grandma, classic, comfortable”
I still feel like that old adage of “dress for the job you want” applies, although it’s probably changed in meaning a bit. In the past, it meant that if you want to be taken seriously you’ve got to dress ‘seriously.’ I think it now means that if you want creativity, freedom, and a sense of expression out of your job, dressing with that in mind can contribute to the perception of your work or place on a team.
In my experience, putting effort into how I look and letting my clothes reflect my personal taste has served me well in asserting my creative expertise in a variety of situations.
I think high/low and old/new pairings are the signature of the millennial professional. Think about combinations like a vintage skirt with a crisp white T-shirt and grandma’s jewelry with Vans. I always prioritize comfort and my personality over a traditional interpretation of professionalism. I’m lucky that ban.do‘s dress code is like, “Wear clothes.”
I really haven’t had a bad job. Being at ban.do is my firstreal workplace—I started right out of college.
I oversee both the product design and art departments at ban.do, so I get to look at a lot of really fun things. I’d be lying if I said I’m just making mood boards and choosing color palettes all day. I spend a lot of time in meetings about ban.do’s product line, our marketing campaigns, or any number of projects we’re working on. A big part of my job is to come up with the seasonal direction for our brand and to commission art for all those fun products you see on bando.com and in stores.
It’s a long process from idea to design, to development to marketing, and beyond, but I work with some truly talented designers that make it all happen. Right now, I’m working on wrapping up product design for 2019 and starting our concept for Spring 2020. Doesn’t that seem so far away?
I think this applies to everyone, not just creatives—visually and tonally tailor your portfolio or job application to the company you’re applying for. So much of what I’m looking for when I’m hiring is an understanding of ban.do’s brand aesthetic and voice. So, when I receive, like, a Word doc in Times New Roman that says “To Whom It May Concern,” at the top, it’s hard for me to identify why that person would be a good fit on my team, even if they’re super qualified.
Once you’ve got a foot in the door to the brand or industry you want to be in, be willing to do stuff that’s not what you went to college for. Volunteer to assist at events, to stay late helping brainstorm a project, or to clean up after a photo shoot. You won’t have to do those things for forever, but showing the people around you that you care about the success of the company and not just about your own scope of work will not go unnoticed.