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The Evolution of Workwear

Dress for Success Southern Nevada on redefining professional style for empowered women

The evolution of workwear and the world of work for women has undergone significant changes in recent years. Diversity in workwear, remote work, and the consequences of the pandemic have impacted how we are showing up at work today. Let me share with you some key ways in which workwear has evolved, along with some fabulous looks from Dress for Success Southern Nevada to help you feel your professional best. 

It is important to note that these changes and looks are not uniform across all workplaces or industries, as some sectors may maintain stricter dress codes, even during remote work. While some industries and organizations tend to have a higher representation of women, it's critically important to note that there is still significant progress to be made in achieving gender parity, breaking down gender and racial-based occupational stereotypes to create a more inclusive and accepting environment so that all women can thrive in work and in life. 

Inclusivity in workwear

Workwear for women has evolved to be more diverse and inclusive, with some shifts in the fashion industry to meet the needs of women with disabilities, varying gender expressions, and ethnicities. 

Inclusive Sizing: Fashion brands are recognizing the importance of offering a wide range of sizes to cater to diverse body types. Inclusive sizing now includes plus-size options, petite and tall ranges, as well as extended size ranges to accommodate different body proportions. This ensures that women of all sizes can find workwear that fits well and makes them feel confident.  

Adaptive Clothing: To cater to the needs of women with disabilities, adaptive clothing is critically important and, as such, is gaining prominence. These garments are designed with features such as magnetic closures, Velcro fastenings, and adjustable straps to make dressing easier for individuals with limited mobility. The designs also accommodate the use of prosthetics, wheelchairs, or other assistive devices, ensuring comfort and functionality. 

Gender-Neutral Fashion: The concept of gender expression has evolved, leading to a rise in gender-neutral or unisex fashion. Many brands now offer workwear that is not specific to any gender, allowing individuals to express themselves authentically in the workplace. This includes options like tailored suits, button-down shirts, and trousers that can be worn by anyone.

 

Casualization of workwear

The economic consequences of the pandemic and remote work have led to a more relaxed dress code in many workplaces.  Traditional business attire has given way to casual and comfortable clothing. Women are opting for a more relaxed and informal style, with smart-casual clothing taking center stage.

  • Emphasis on comfort and functionality: As remote work blurs the line between personal and professional spaces, women are prioritizing comfort and practicality in their workwear choices. This shift has resulted in a focus on flexible fabrics, looser fits, and comfortable footwear, allowing for ease of movement and adaptability throughout the day.
  • Increased importance of video-conferencing attire: With remote work and virtual meetings becoming the norm, women are paying more attention to their appearance from the waist up. This has led to a greater emphasis on tops, accessories, and hairstyles, while bottoms and footwear may be more casual and comfortable. The need to make a professional impression through video calls has influenced women's workwear choices.
  • Hybrid work attire: As some companies adopt hybrid work models, where employees split their time between remote and on-site work, women are adopting a more flexible approach to workwear. They may dress more formally on the days they go to the office and opt for casual attire on remote workdays.
  • Personal style and self-expression: The shift to remote work has allowed women to express their personal style more freely. Without strict dress codes, women have the opportunity to experiment with fashion, incorporating their preferences, individuality, and creativity into their workwear choices.

I encourage you to define your style and remember fashion is for everyone! I’m 52 years old and can assure you that fashion and workwear style only gets better with age. Refuse to be invisible, take up space, and rock your style and talents at work. Put your best foot forward, celebrate the achievements women have made, and pave the way to a brighter future. 

Dress for Success Southern Nevada empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Since starting operations in 2009, Dress for Success Southern Nevada has empowered more than 13,000 women across the Las Vegas Valley to achieve economic independence. Visit dressforsuccesssouthernnevada.org to learn more.

Love what you are reading? Want to help further amplify the mission of Dress for Success Southern Nevada and help women in our community thrive? Join us; send us an email at info@dfssouthernnevada.org. There are many ways to get involved—volunteer, become a member of the Dress For Success Southern Nevada “Little Black Dress Club” Giving Society, host a clothing drive, attend an event (like Diamond Dig this Fall) to help women and their families improve their economic circumstances. 

Norma Intriago is the Executive Director of Dress for Success Southern Nevada, the local affiliate of the leading global nonprofit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. She joined Dress for Success Southern Nevada in 2021, spearheading critical change to help women recover from the economic consequences of the pandemic. Norma has held numerous positions with local, national, and global organizations, including spearheaded Corporate Social Responsibility programs in DC, development efforts with the United Nations Working Group, and a decade-long career with Fortune 500 companies. Norma’s commitment to empowering women is drawn from her many years working at the intersection of the business world and non-profit sector, meeting some of the world’s most marginalized women, survivors of war and gender-based violence, witnessing first-hand the transformation that takes place when women are given the opportunity to thrive and improve their lives.

Refuse to be invisible, take up space, and rock your style and talents at work.

  • Norma Intriago