Oh Heel No! Women’s Wardrobe Dilemmas in the Workplace

Oh Heel No!

Women’s Wardrobe Dilemmas in the Workplace

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The discussion around women’s workplace dress code has been a hot topic of company policy since December 2015 when Nicola Thorp was sent home from PwC London, for not wearing heels.

Resurfacing the discussion last month, The Telegraph, UK, reported that Ministers would once again crack down on the UK policies in place that make it legal for a woman to be forced to wear heels to work. The announcement that the Ministry would crack down on these anti-discrimination laws that encourage women to wear “sexualized clothing,” stemmed from the injury of a Minister’s daughter, who broke her foot after being forced to wear heels to work.

It was MP Gill Furniss’ daughter who was denied compensation for the time she missed while suffering from a metatarsal fracture. The Telegraph article put the injury into perspective by comparing it to David Beckham’s equal injury that almost required him to miss the 2002 World Cup. Yet, there was little recognition around Furniss’ daughter’s injury, both in the workplace and in the news.

So, while the UK is in the midst of a descriptively, discriminative legal battle, where does the U.S. stand? Although there haven’t been any headlining offences, the general viewpoint of women’s dress code is an expectation that is held higher than men’s in a corporate culture.

A woman may be able to get away with flats and slacks, but they are still expected to dress to impress in order to benefit their professional image.

And, of course, exists the fine line between a powerhouse female versus a sexualized female; both images that can be construed from a female employee choosing to wear heels, a low cut top, or a pencil skirt. All scrutiny of which females in any spotlight are familiar with—from political figures to in the boardroom as a VC.

In her book, Bait and Switch, Barbara Ehrenreich perfectly sums up the catch-22 that exists not only in the U.S., but for females internationally: If you look “too authoritative” and “not feminine enough,” then you are at a slim chance of receiving a “white collar job,” yet if you steer in the opposite direction and are “too feminine,” you will also be overlooked for the position.

The dress code dilemma is just another unresolved, daily discrepancy that women are fighting, but continue to fight, which shows a step, whether high-heeled or not, in the right direction.

Jillian Dara

Jillian grew up an island girl but converted to city style after living in Boston, London, Santiago, and now, NYC. She is a writer, editor and content creator with a desire to share stories in the lifestyle genre. With a particular focus on travel and profiles, she prides herself on sharing the most authentic story for those who aren’t able to share their own.

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