Today,  Letitia Jett a femme d'un certain age , and I play a weekly game on our blogs. We share our views on our adopted countries, France for Letitia and The States for me, all the while comparing one and the other. We "come up" with a topic to "discuss" and we each publish our thoughts on the subject from our respective sides of the Ocean, never looking "at each other's sheet", so to speak.
There are some things we really love, others we miss. Some drive us nuts and sometimes we are very amused by something typical about our new homes. Whatever our point of view, we bring it to you on Mondays. This is what we interested us today...


I have not gone to an o.ffi.ce office for many years. (I don't count mine as one since it's not a regular 9:00 to 5:00 affair with multiple departments and cubicles and an HR person and a CEO etc. etc.) And when I did go to "the office", back when, it was a fashion design office which does not qualify as an o.ffi.ce office as there was NO dress code, trust me! 
But I imagine dressing for the office can be a big headache depending on what you do for a living. You don’t want to look too strict and boring even in the most conservative law firm or bank and you better not be too colorful nor too revealing. You are in an office to work after all. 
We all know enough to use SOME common sense...

However, I am shocked to see that in the US some women still dress like the women (I can't say feminine) version of men. Black or gray are staples in most corporate offices. A wardrobe does not have to look like you are going to a funeral. You can easily accentuate an outfit with interesting accessories or shoes or raise a hemline a tad, or wear a large belt. You can do SOMETHING. You don’t want to look like a Christmas tree, but you don’t want to look like you are going to Uncle Scrooge's to work.
I conducted a very unscientific survey at the train station at "rush hour" in the morning one or two times.
 And I must report that what I saw was a lot of this:

I think I can safely conclude that my co-riders were going to an office where the dress code is not exactement rigolo- a French slang word for a ton of laughs. I am really surprised at the severity of the outfits a lot of commuters wear to the city. Too bad they feel they have to imitate the men in their companies to succeed...
In an American magazine this is what they were advocating for the office ( again they apparently meant a conservative corporate office.)
Well, no one will shock in this outfit but it is well accessorized with dark tights, reasonable but trendy shoes and a pretty scarf; the skirt seems a little long however but the two outfits in my survey would benefit from a little advice for this particular column. 

At the very least a small adjustment in the accessories department would do wonders to a gray suit. Of course the whole attitude makes a big difference too. I am not implying rolled up sleeves and turned up cuffs will do the trick, but I am saying just a little flair would help balance life at the office and just life.
This look is from an American publication, so someone actually wears this.

If only the same person wore this: It says ( to me anyway) I am a woman, I am professional. I don't need to wear a man's suit to function.
Dresses like these from a French web site could be very nice, don't you think,  and perfectly appropriate for a corporate job..
There are, of course, many jobs where the dress code is much more casual and many law firms (I am not so sure about banks) have "dress down Friday" every day of the week now. I suppose it also depends on where the particular company is. Just the idea that you need to spell it out as dress down says a lot. We all know dress down has never meant come in jeans, it means take it a little easy, right?  I imagine New York and Washington DC to be the least relaxed (please correct me if you know otherwise.)
The same French site as above had suggestions for all types of jobs, and did suggest these outfits:
For a job at a bank or a conservative firm.
Yes, I agree, the skirt is a lot too short for most jobs. The look is great nonetheless.

 For a position in communications or design and architecture.

and social work.
Pretty casual I would say. 
But this I see in the streets of NYC all the time. It's the corporate look that is ..distressing.
If the look is neat and does not attract undue attention, but shows the professionalism of the wearer, I don't see why a small dose of casual can't be just as acceptable as any drab gray suit. 
So come on  Corporate America, re.laaaax!

It would be so much fun if you left comments and reactions below or if you wish to, go tout de suite to A Femme d'un Certain Age to see Letitia Jett's take on all of this.

au revoir.


  1. Really well done. Love the way you've offered your "French touch" to perk up and add some feminine details to the "uniform." I think Americans have a hard time "sliding" comfortably into their clothes to make them look easy, comfortable and stylish like you do. It's that je ne sais quoi we keep trying to copy and never quite seem to be able to pull it off.

    Love the shoe challenge btw and think your choices are divine.

    Bravo, my chere.


  2. Merci Letitia, don't you think it's a mixture of culture and "puritanism" a concept foreign to the French psyche? it's a lot of baggage to overcome. But with globalisation , maybe... Thank you for the shoe compliment. Hope you can dot it.

  3. I've recently found your blog and I am enjoying your "eye" for all things lavish and lovely, simple and serene. This post is especially pertinent as I have recently shifted into a position that requires me to think of my "professional" dress in ways that I rarely had to before, though I don't work in corporate America. That said, I find the options for professional dressing (suits at least) fairly constrained. And I see a gap between men and women in my profession; the men, for the most part (or at least in my department) are much more casual than the women. I admit that a part of me resents this, and the time it takes me to put together an outfit in the morning. I simply do not feel, however, that I can go to work in a t-shirt and jeans, as does one of my male colleagues, and be taken as seriously, regardless of the quality of my work.

    I love the French options you have posted here though. Seems I need a trip to Paris ...