Musings on Diva Career Wear...From a Man's Perspective!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Have you Divas ever wondered what the men in your office think about your work attire? I'll admit that I think about it all the time...mainly because I happen to know a fair amount of men that have strong opinions on what women should and should not wear in a professional environment. While I don't always agree with their assessments, I am always intrigued by their perceptions of a professional woman solely based on her wardrobe choices. Which types of women's suits are considered stylish? Which types are seen as frumpy? Just how much cleavage is appropriate in the work place? Are skirt suits preferred over pants suits? Are dresses okay? What about form-fitting apparel? Is the after-work cocktail dress too sexy? Heels or flats?

I obviously have my own opinions on issues regarding a woman's professional wardrobe, and I have shared them on the Chronicles in a number of different ways. As such, I'll shut up and shift the Chronicle spotlight to the Professional Diva's counterpart...the Professional Gent! Please welcome Marvin Gilmore and his opinions to the Chronicles with a virtual round of applause. He is the true definition of a Professional Gent with an impeccable sense of style. I am so happy that he has agreed to join us today to give a male’s perspective on three different types of career wear for women: Corporate Conservative, Business Casual, and Creative Wear. Believe me when I tell you that Marvin has brought some pretty good ideas to the table…so go grab a glass of wine, and let’s see what Marvin has to say!

Hello readers!

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to give my opinion and a few tips on women’s career wear in the year 2012…from the perspective of a stylish gent.  First, I must note that historically, the idea of “style” originated with women. Professional wear, however, started with men, and women have increasingly adapted and created variety to the genre. Since there are so many different work locales, types of work, dress codes, etc., I would like to break down the wardrobe possibilities into three categories of career wear: Conservative Corporate, Business Casual, and Creative Wear. Let’s dive right in shall we!  

Corporate Conservative:

Corporate Conservative wear is typically for you ladies in a profession where image and brand presentation is everything! This includes, but is not limited to, lawyers, politicians, doctors, and business executives.   Most office dress codes, and more conservative and seasoned professional women, will discourage younger and less-seasoned professional women to push the boundaries when it comes to career wear in the corporate environment. These seasoned professional women advocates what I call the classic “grade school secretary look,” a look that will ensure that you will be taken seriously and not seen as a piece of meat. You know the type. It looks like this:

Now, we all know this is NOT the route many modern professional women choose to take. From a man’s perspective, there are MANY ways women can look stylish and professional in the male-dominated Corporate America. One person whose style I admire is news reporter and XM radio host Gayle King (who is also best friend of one lady named Oprah Winfrey).  The reason I admire her personal style is that she manages to put so many different looks together, and still retain a cool, calm, classy, and professional poise. See these pics for an example:

In the first picture, Gayle is wearing a conservative black dress that shows off her arms, and a skirt that hits right at the knee…just enough so that it is not “classless” or eye-catching in the wrong way. Then, she added numerous accessories that complement her dress.  Fortunately, Gayle isn’t the only professional woman in a corporate environment who can do this. Check out this woman rocking a female power suit…after all, power suits are not just for men:

Courtesy of
This trick is to remember that Corporate Conservative does not necessarily equal frumpy and boring.

Business Casual:

In my opinion, this is the BEST category of the three because there is so much freedom. When it comes to business casual, the key is to keep your clothing professional while de-emphasizing the casual. Please note that business casual does not mean slouchy, off the wall, provocative, or distracting clothing. It does, however, present an opportunity for women to play with color, a stark contrast from the traditional greys, blacks, and blues that are customary in Corporate Conservative wear.  Here are two examples of my favorite business casual outfits:

Courtesy of

Courtesy of
With business casual, I like to see well-tailored and fitted blazers, casual fabrics (such as linen and seersucker), patterns  (like a muted pinstripe), and small details (like flashy accessories).  By way of another example, check out this outfit from designer Ann Mashburn of (

Ann has a WONDERFUL store based out of Atlanta, which is right next to her husband’s store (, where I am a frequent customer. In this picture, you see that the model has on a fun button-up shirt with a classic pleated dress skirt. Now, fashion may say that this look is back in style, but this is a classic look that NEVER went out of style! The moral of the story is that professional women working in a business casual environment shouldn’t be afraid to play around with different pieces and ideas.  Do remember, however, not to go overboard with patterns and color pairings. Also, remember to focus on fit, color, moderation, and proportion. What doesn’t work you ask? Taking business casual too casually by donning a fitted cocktail dress, heels pushing past 5 inches, or flashy makeup, all of which screams “come get me” instead of “let’s do business.”

Creative Wear:

This section is for you ladies that have what I like to call “creative jobs,” such as being an artist, interior designer, freelance writer, blogger, etc. The cool thing about having these types of jobs is that you dress for the image you want to portray. If you want to be an artist that wear suits…go for it! The thing here is to discover your own personal style…hone in on it and recognize what you like to wear and what pieces fit you and your personality. Clothes aren’t meant to be a uniform, but they are meant to tell a story about the person in them.

That’s all for now! Hopefully my tips are useful to you. Please feel free to ask any questions or make any comments, and I will surely answer as quickly aspossible. Stay sexy and  stay stylish! *takes a bow*


Divas, please join me and thanking Marvin for sharing a gent’s view on career wear for women. As always, show your love in the comment section below. Later!

More About Our Guest Blogger: Marvin Gilmore is the Co-founder of Suave Society, an upcoming men's style & lifestyle blog covering the southern fashion scene. Based out of Little Rock, Arkansas, Marvin graduated from of Ouachita Baptist University with a B.A. in Marketing, and is currently pursuing an MBA. He is dedicated to solving and giving advice on the millennial man’s struggles with style, and giving men a new perspective on fashion. Outside of his day job at an eMarkting Firm, Marvin works as a part-time style consultant and does freelance writing for numerous blogs upon request. Follow him on Twitter (@ThatManGilmore)
or contact him at


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