The following post comes from a mystery figure, who stylishly wishes only to be known as Ms J…
Further to Desmier Esq.’s recent posting on this issue, it falls to me – a loyal reader and PR fashion guru, to reply. I’d like to start with one main assertion: Dressing appropriately for PR is much more of a dilemma for the ladies than it is for the gents.
As far as our male counterparts go, it is far easier for them to find a half-way house between a suit and jeans (e.g. chinos and open-necked shirt) than it is for us. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has flung her whole wardrobe all over the bedroom floor in despair and tried on three separate outfits in the morning before deciding on a suitable look for that day’s activities.
The smart/casual conundrum could be endlessly debated, as could clothing options for a day which contains meetings with three radically different clients. However, I think it can be essentially concluded as follows: don’t be afraid of being a little bit creative, and, above all, wear what suits you. By creative, I don’t mean wacky (!) but I think if I were a client, and especially one of the more consumery variety (or one that doesn’t have a particularly impressive wardrobe themselves), there would be something quite gratifying about seeing your agency team mirror their creative qualities in their clothing style.
Nevertheless, as far as PR ladies in London go, most people seem to play it safe and stick to one general “look.” They may have a wide range of different outfits but I believe they basically fall into one of five categories and I have had a bash at segmenting them as such for the purposes of this article. Being a corporate PR girlie myself, this is skewed towards the types of people usually found in a corporate agency, but I imagine those of you working in other sectors have similar examples in your own companies.
1. The Quality Surveyor – classic fashion sense, always looks good, checks out everyone else’s outfits when they walk into the office content in the knowledge that she looks better, and has spent more money on her outfit than everyone else. The QS is stubborn about her favourite shops – you’ll never catch her in H&M and secretly wish you too could buy your capsule items (white t shirts and the like) from Reiss and Joseph.
2. The Classic Cheap & Chic-ster – good bargain hunter, adept at teaming a one-off designer or vintage piece with something from Topshop or even Primark (as unprepared as she is to get involved with the current chav-tastic crush-athon situation on Oxford Street). Always well co-ordinated and knows what suits her. Like everyone else, she has her off days (i.e. when all the good stuff is in the wash) but this is ok because off-days are timed to coincide with a rare night off in front of the telly.
3. The Flesh Flasher – great figure, not bothered about updating her look on a regular basis, the Flesh Flasher is a fully signed-up member of the “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” club. She has several flattering pieces which she knows are winners in any situation – super short skirts and shoulder-padded jackets for the new business pitch, ridiculously low-cut tops for the meeting with new male client. FF has the most criticised dress sense of all the women in the office, sometimes rightly deserved (inappropriate for her age and seniority), though oft-fuelled purely by jealousy (we all wish we had pins like hers).
4. Am I bovvered? – Probably the most intelligent girl in the office and a firm believer that there’s more to life than clothes. Never looks bad but equally never takes a risk, sticking to what she knows and likes. Often has a theme to her outfits e.g. always wears black or whenever she wears a suit, it’s always with the same blue shirt. Equally not bovvered about footwear and has a sensible pair of M&S “footgloves” which are sturdy and sensible and clearly far more comfortable than the stilettos the rest of us are limping around in.
5. The Wrong ’un – we all have one in our office – the person who probably thinks they have an “individual sense of style” but whatever they do, it just looks wrong: no co-ordination, silver, gold and costume jewellery (together), red toe nails, pink finger nails (at the same time, usually chipped), tights with sandals, winter coat with flip flops etc etc. the list goes on. The annoying thing is, the Wrong ’un is normally pretty good at her job so when she rocks up to a client meeting looking a bit, well, wrong, no one bats an eyelid.