A very frequent thing that you guys tweet at us is, “This outfit is like caviar for my corneas but HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO WEAR IT TO WORK YOU PSYCHOPATHS?”
And you know who reads those tweets? Yvonne Dunlevie, Man Repeller’s content strategist and Twitter tweeter, who then emails Leandra and me things like, “Hey guys, great article about how to make an office bikini out of toenails — super inventive, lots of shares! — but not only does no one know what an ‘office bikini’ is, should they know, no one would be allowed to wear it to their place of work, whiteboard-environment or not. Also, I’m no textile expert but toenails are gross.”
Then she follows up with a useful suggestion like, “You know what would be great? Actual office outfit help.”
Ah, wise Yvonne. Haven’t you ever heard the line that there’s nothing worse than a great idea that gets approved?
But here’s the thing: when she accidentally volunteered herself for a 5 Outfits to Wear This Week after a similar-to-the-opening-paragraph tweet, we the wolves didn’t sign her up just because she dresses “appropriately” or “in a way that wouldn’t get the average reader fired.” We signed her up because Yvonne, my friends, has personal style.
She very clearly long ago learned what works not just for her body, but for her lifestyle. She’s practical, and while the point of fashion is absolutely about fantastical greatness, personal style has to fit you better than your most-supportive bra. That doesn’t mean you don’t let yourself have fun, either; just because Yvonne leans toward a preppy, sporty, “classic aesthetic” (my annoying words, not hers) doesn’t mean she stops at the wall. She finds ways to play with nuanced pieces of trends that might overwhelm her in their entirety. And in doing so, she always looks like her.
Which is the biggest compliment in my book of Mormon.
Back to the OG point at hand, of course: how to dress like fire without getting fired if you do not work in an office environment that promotes things like “festive corporate swimwear, open for interpretation” in the employee handbook, according to a woman who has previously held down jobs at companies that prefer the absolute opposite.
(That was the original title of this article but Yvonne gently suggested otherwise.)
1) Remember that there is nothing boring about gray, white, black and navy so long as the woman in said colors keeps it weird.
2) Tiny bits of styling will transform an outfit: pop the collar (it’s only douche-y if you’re a douche!), flip the cuff, untuck your shirt and tuck in your sweater.
3) Monochrome will make you feel put together on days when you don’t know what day it is.
4) When it comes to Casual Fridays, pretend you heard “cashmere” instead of “casual,” especially if you need to ask for a raise on the same day you wore sweatpants.
5) Unless you work at a bank, you really can get away with a strange amount of denim at the office if: a) it’s well-tailored, b) your most by-the-book boss is on vacation and c) you pair it with “a nice sweater,” then stay seated so no HR tattle-tales are any wiser.
Or do none of this. But at least now you know the wardrobe of one more person on Team Man Repeller who, rather than doing work, is slipping in shoe-slides and reading your tweets.
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.