Matchbook Magazine recently offered a retrospective of their favorite J. Crew covers from years past. As a self-proclaimed J. Crew addict, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to scroll through the iconic images. I’ve always loved receiving these Style Guides in the mail each month because the catalogue offers so much more than the retail store’s latest items for sale. The featured global locations, the photography, the surprising color combinations and unexpected pairings have always served up a heavy dose of fashion inspiration—regardless of whether those ideas actually manifest themselves in my wardrobe as actual J. Crew clothing or not.
While looking at Matchbook Mag’s selection, I stumbled upon the below cover from J. Crew’s August 2011 Style Guide which seems to beautifully illustrate much of what The Classy Cubicle is all about: young female professionals finding their place among a sea of male suits in the corporate world.
In the wake of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and the surrounding dialogue about the challenges women face in the workplace, we know that there are myriad factors, both internal and external, that hold women back. But one important factor that is often not discussed is how women hold themselves back in the office by dressing inappropriately and unprofessionally.
As discussed in the About This Blog page, I’ve seen too many of my incredibly smart, talented, ambitious female contemporaries struggle at the office and fail to get the opportunities they so desperately want and deserve because they fail to present themselves in an appropriate, professional way. Despite their education, aptitude and work ethic, their sloppy appearance sends their bosses the signal that they’re not serious about themselves or their job.
While it may sound trivial or superficial, it really is a rampant problem among professional women. It would be nice to operate in a world blind to appearances, but that’s simply not the reality. In the long run, your actual work product at the office will hopefully speak for itself. However, it may never get the chance to shine if the way you present yourself continually distracts and detracts from your contributions, undermining your credibility and capabilities.
Women can take advantage of the opportunity for greater self-expression and creativity when putting together office ensembles because we’re not confined to the suit and tie uniform of our male counterparts. However, we must be sure that the result is an equally professional appearance. Because if we don’t, the male-dominated workplace will continue to turn its back on us…
J. Crew Style Guide, August 2011 via Matchbook Magazine
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