What Do You Wear to Work ?

My first job was in an international development agency and at 21, I was the youngest employee they ever had. So, I made it my sole ambition to be considered mature and taken seriously and my work outfits were a major means of communicating that - I mostly wore western formals in blacks and greys and on off-days stuck to the combination of jeans-kurti. I later shifted to a government job in rural development and my outifts mostly consisted of handloom cotton salwar-suits in sober colours to enable me to blend in easily in a government setting as well as field visits in villages. I find it fascinating how we choose our outfits at work to convey our personality, aims and agenda; and that is why I have always been curious what do other people wear to work, especially women? How do they interpret their personal style in terms of their professional responsibilities and how do they use their clothing as a form of self-expression.

I asked 6 women I admire for their work and style, what they wear to work. Here they are:

Ocupation : Editor at a publishing house (New Delhi) 

"I am an editor of a publishing house and as such, I have to meet authors. So, my workwear is mostly a cross betwen formal and casual. I like to wear simple kurtis with pants/culottes, bright-coloured dupattas and of course, big earrings. Also, culottes or formal trousers paired with both shirts and t-shirts. I love adding a quirky touch (think elephant brooches/the whole ensemble in the same colour tone etc.). The idea is to just have fun with the things I have."  

Occupation: Banker (Vadodara)

"For me, a saree is perfect work wear because nothing speaks power dressing to me like a saree does. Good days, bad days, the okay days; fat, thin, tall, short; fair, dark, brown, yellow - it never asks, never thinks. The saree wraps itself beautifully around everyone and anyone - making it the most versatile, non-judgemental garment ever! Crisp cottons, ethereal silks or flowy georgettes - when I wear a saree, it makes me feel like I am on top of the world - sophisticated, traditional, modest and humble all at the same time - this timeless garment is my go-to anyday, work or otherwise. Most of my sarees are handlooms from my mom’s own brand."  

Occupation: Sales Manager at a Travel company (Leh) 

"My work requires me to sit long hours on a chair so I always choose things that are flowy and baggy. These allow me to sit on my chair cross-legged (literally). Comfort over style is what I go for. But then if I end up being a little stylish while putting my baggy outfits together  then it’s a win win situation I guess. Here I am wearing a thrifted blazer for that professional look, a floral maxi dress to keep it casual along with a cloth bag and white canvas shoes. White canvas shoes are a must for me as they go with almost everything from jeans to dresses to long skirts etc." 

Occupation: Food Photographer and Food Stylist (Hyderabad) 

"My job requires me to be on my feet for 8-10 hours and on shoot days I pick comfortable and easy going outfits. Honestly, I can spend days working from home in my pyjamas and tshirt but it's nice to put some thought into what you wear at networking events. My style is usually really classic colours and things I can mix and match easily. I put this outfit together for an event where I wanted something comfortable yet chic and sporty. Just a simple black top paired with blue jeans and a grey blazer. I am currently completely into white sneakers. They speak comfort and style to me and jazz up a lot of outfits instantly."  

Occupation: Counselling Psychologist and Founder of Begin Again Counselling Services (Bengaluru)  

Being a counselling psychologist, my everyday work involves working with people who may be in a lot of pain.  It sometimes becomes hard to leave that pain behind in the therapy room and that's why there is a huge emphasis on self care for therapist.  One aspect of self care for me is being able to dress in a way that makes me happy.   I tend to gravitate towards pinks and bright colours. I also need to strike a balance between outfits that bring me joy and what is a distraction so clothes that are bright and comfortable are a happy compromise. In this picture I'm wearing a dress which I love because of the colour and that its really easy  to  wear. 


Occupation : Social Studies Teacher at a school into transformational teaching (Pune)  

"Well normally, I would've been comfortable in a jeans and a Tee but since my work involves being at a school for more than 8 hours, we stick to cotton leggings and kurtis. The children we teach are from underprivileged communities and are not used to flashy clothes or really bold styles. Also, we are more credible in front of them and their parents during PTMs when we are decked up in traditional Indian wear. I do wish sometimes formal western clothes could be worn, but for that, the Indian mentality needs to progress with the idea of a 'Teacher' and so I guess that's a long way off for now. I normally stick to neutral and soft colours like green, blue, off-white and grey. It makes us more relatable to the children. Also, jewelry is very minimum and make-up, almost zero. In this picture I am wearing a soft mul-mul cotton breathable saree from Hastavem. Nothing is more comfortable than a saree which stays put :D !"  

Thank you, girls!  

What do you wear to work? Do share in the comments below. 


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