I Make Clothes for People To Wear

Sasha Weiss: So there's a lot more freedom today when it comes to clothing than it was in the 80s, surely, but I wonder now that things are less coded and less formal, at least for people working in a creative setting, it's kind of harder to dress for work, and I wonder how women who are entering the work force learn the norms, because it is harder to draw the line now.

  Cartoon by William Hamilton, 1980s (?), found  here .

Cartoon by William Hamilton, 1980s (?), found here.

Susan Morrison: That's interesting. Emma Allen, a young Talk of the Town writer here [and I] were talking about this yesterday, that when she graduated from Yale in 2010, every student was given this thing called "Life After Yale," a little publication produced by the Career Services people called a Survival Guide for the Class of 2010. And for women there's a long section about what to wear, and here I'll read a little bit of it:

If wearing a skirt, you need to wear nylons. Sheer is best. Don't forget to keep an extra pair of nylons in your desk in case of runs.

Now, I can't even remember the last time time I owned or put on a pair of sheer nylons. When I first saw this book I thought, "This is preposterous," but then I was thinking about my own teenage daughters, who I think just because they're younger and they don't feel as confident about knowing the ways of the world tend to have more conservative ideas than I do often about what's an appropriate thing to wear.

 

From The New Yorker's Out Loud podcast, September 13, 2013. Sasha Weiss discussed "Work Clothes" with Rebecca Mead and Susan Morrison.

 

Are the "rules" of (work) fashion generational? How do you dress for work? Susan Morrison thinks the only no-no is "being inappropriately revealing." But that's relative too, isn't it? Up to a certain point, I guess. Oh, and no flip-flops. Agreed.

This piece has some worthwhile contemporary observation of work dress and dress codes in literary and creative offices.