Does anyone work in an office in a managerial role? How do you pull off your style?

Hi everyone!

So, I manage people and projects at my work. We do client-focused consulting work.  I also teach.  My field is male-dominated; my business partner is also female but she tends to dress in a very masculine manner. (BTW my business partner is rad and will take me seriously no matter what I wear).

I really like my pinup style at work.  Currently, I wear primarily swing skirts under shirts or sweaters.  I do that because the skirts take up a lot of physical space and are dramatic - to me that speaks of feminine power.

I specifically don't wear the pencil skirt style "wear to work" PUG dresses because when I do I find I'm more likely to be mistaken for an office manager and people won't talk about business strategy with me.  And, while I think that a secretary is a totally valuable thing to be, I've found by experiment that if people assume I am an office manager rather than a practice lead they try to negotiate my hourly rate for strategy consulting and they ask me to do things that should be done by our junior consultants, which is fucked up but is how it is.

I would love to hear from anyone else who is also a manager or a senior individual contributor at your work about how you balance wearing the pinup look with also having a look that gets you taken seriously by clients. 

cheers,

Katherine

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I don't have an answer, but I just wanted to give a cheers for this question.  I am an attorney (unemployed, but hopefully not for long) who has been looking for a way to incorporate PUG style into my work wardrobe. I can't wait to see other peoples' ideas. 

Hmm, 

I actually always wear pencil skirts when I have to go in to work because A. Usually the dress code is business professional (I work in writing/communications) and B. I think my ass looks damn good in a pencil skirt and everything else just drowns out my hips :P 

But I tend to pair a lot of wiggle dresses with sweaters, blouses, and blazers to achieve the affect as well. 

So.... 

I should say that I work in a field where jeans are de rigeur and literally if I were wearing a pencil skirt people would think I was either a salesperson or an administrative professional and that I didn't actually know anything about the field.

My particular job is a little different in that I mostly see clients rather than other people who are in my field :)

so pencil skirts are hugely different from swing skirts in that respect? I'm a bit curious as to how that works because to me a skirt is a skirt in a way :P 

I think that people see the swing skirts as unusual; most of them don't have a mental category for them, so they throw a kind of exception.

Whereas pencil skirts are like that thing that businesswomen in other fields wear to work.

I probably could find a pencil skirt pairing that worked, but I haven't thought of one yet.

Hmm, that's an interesting idea, kind of like a loophole in our programmed ways of thinking. Definitely worth thinking about. 

Personally I think of pencil skirts as empowering. They're modest but sexy and you can choose just how much you want to show off with the way you sit and the way you walk, and most importantly the way you wear your shoes. Take Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts from Iron Man. Sexiest as hell and yet people respect her, and part of that image is fronted by her fashion.  

I 100% agree that you shouldn't wear them if they wont' earn that image or you don't want to wear them, or they dont' fit in though. 

Great question! Actually, I'm a research manager in a healthcare setting and manage projects and supervise staff, as well as work really closely with physicians.  

I do wear pencil skirts and I think the vintage/pinup style longer length pencil skirt is actually very versatile and office appropriate, I just make sure it's not too tight. I think that if you look at photos from the 40s and 50s, the clothing is actually very classy and could easily be considered work appropriate by modern standards. I also do wear swing dresses and even my cherry heidi to work...  I guess it's not a super "corporate" environment so I could get away with more than some people, but I also just carry myself in a professional manner and do my best to do great work.  The only comments I have ever received from co-workers and other management is compliments, so I think that pinup or vintage inspired attire can even work to your benefit and help you stand out at work! I also set my hair and do a vintage hair style on a daily basis, so overall I think that the entire look can help one look put together.

P.S. I also love my Sean tops for work, but I always sew the gap in a little so that there's minimal cleavage.  Other vintage-inspired blouses and cardigans work great too!

I guess the point of this rant was that it is absolutely possible to maintain the pinup look/lifestyle at work, as long as you keep some of the wilder pieces for the weekend.  In my experience, the quality of work and professionalism/demeanor has been more vital to others taking me seriously than my wardrobe.  

Thanks! This is a great response!

I totally think that pencil skirts can be classy - as I said, though, I worry that people will call up associations with 1950s secretaries.

I agree that pinup helps me stand out positively at work - I get lots of positive comments from clients on my swing dresses!

I love this question! I am also a manager at a VERY corporate government organization. Married suits (top and bottom have to match) are the norm, so it is very difficult to incorporate a pin up style, unless you have a wardrobe of vintage suits and don't mind wearing them to work (I have a few). 

I used to wear pencil skirts and separates to work (before I was promoted to manager, when I was an individual contributor) but I found out later that the men I worked with had a certain nickname for me: "the girl with the nice ass" and I didn't think that contributed to being taken seriously. Messed up but true, sexism still exists. 

Where I work, only secretaries (we still call them that) or "office professionals" have long nails, loud jewelry, or super high heels. Managers are conservative, in married suits, and nylons, etc. There are starting to be a few younger managers that dress "stylish" (think Ann Taylor or Kate Spade) but it's not unique or pin up. 

I do try to use vintage accessories, like brooches and jewelry sets,  as well as vintage inspired shoes (like those from Miss L Fire) to wear with some vintage inspired suits, but that's about as "pin up" as I can get. It totally sucks because I now have two wardrobes: my PUG wardrobe and my "work uniform" as I refer to it. The one thing I try to do is to wear my Lauren or Sean tops with my suits, as long as I wear a cami underneath for cleavage control. I haven't tried to wear a swing skirt, but I have thought about it on a "casual Friday" (we have them but they are a joke because line staff wears jeans but managers are still expected to dress "professionally". It basically means guys can wear Hawaiian shirts). 

I'd love to hear other "boundary pushing" ideas about this!

Wanda

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