Sydney and thoughts on work place dress codes

Another post from sunshine-y Sydney!

As much as I love Sydney, I always feel a little disoriented and find myself slinking into laneways that remind me of Melbourne. I was in one such laneway waiting for coffee when I spied Laura’s fresh and fab dress from Cue brightening up the laneway and dashed out to photograph her. Luckily for me she said yes.


Laura’s styling of a fab Cue work dress with polished black patent leather pumps is perfect for those who work within the confines of a Contemporary Business Wear dress code. I’d keep a cardigan in the office to combat office air-con but also the sometimes over-zealous staff who disapprove of bare shoulders at work. If meeting with clients in the boardroom, I’d make sure that I had a blazer on hand because that’s been the done-thing in places that I’ve worked to date.

Laura’s unstockinged ways reminded me of something… Those of you who have liked the BusinessChic Facebook page may have seen my posting of this SMH article about workplaces enforcing work dress codes,

No lip gloss, dangly earrings or opaque stockings.

These are just some of the dress requirements Sydney’s young women professionals are being asked to adhere to by their prestigious companies, worried about the poor presentation of Generation Y employees and the impact on client relationships.

Read more:


All of this reminds me on my very first day at work in a professional services firm when a fellow grad pointed out that I’d commited the major sartorial faux-pas of not wearing pantyhose with my skirt suit. Sure the kid was an idiot but I was a baby grad and became so worried about what it might mean that I confided my troubles to the receptionist who patiently assured me, “you’ve just come back from the beach and you looked tanned and healthy, no-one will care to think about whether you’re wearing pantyhose.”

For some reason this tip turned in my head into, “you can wear whatever you like to work, just make sure that it looks impressive and professional.”

Today’s BusiChic is not wearing pantyhose and I think she looks great and professional.

The SMH article goes on to talk about how presentation seminars at work offended women by making them feel patronised. @ausnomes tweeted me asking whether it’s even legal for workplaces to enforce dress regulations and run style workshops. If anyone knows the answer to this, please do let us know as I’m not sure. From my understanding a company should provide training to relevant employees where the company wants things done a certain way  so I have a feeling that it is legal but how it’s run may have Equal Opportunity considerations.

What I do know is that dressing professionally for work but in a way that you look like yourself rather than a cardboard cut-out can be an art – and I hope that BusinessChic is a celebration of that rather than being just another dictator…

I’d love your thoughts on any of these matters!


  1. I love the dress! Esp the color! It’s not the usual boring work outfit!

    xx lovefashion –

  2. She looks so gorgeous with her outfit and i love the way she carry it. Thanks for sharing this with us and i’m looking forward to read more from you.

    • Hi Heidi, thanks for your comment, you are so right; the way we carry ourselves is arguably the most important thing about an outfit.

  3. Love your dress! The cut is so simple yet it’s beautiful.. You can wear for any events and it is nice to any color of the shoes.

  4. Love her outfit! 🙂 Such a pretty dress 🙂

    I like that my workplace is pretty casual and relaxed in the dresscode. There are some people that wear jeans to work during the week. (Always dark wash, no rips or tears)

    Took me a while in the workplace to start to find my feet around what to wear everyday – and I think your environment and role plays a lot into how you dress. I’m not in a customer focused role at the moment, so that’s why the dress code is a lot more informal. When I do have meetings with clients I dress more conservatively, like you said I’d throw a blazer over a bare shouldered dress.

  5. Ok… I don’t know where this young lady works but if it’s a corporate environment, I don’t think she looks professional. Don’t get me wrong, she looks lovely – but not professional. Even if we aren’t talking about the lack of hosiery, she’s got her shoulders on display too.

    The fact is, climate isn’t really a consideration… it’s more or less the exact same temperature in an office all year.

    Contrary to the wonderful Lou’s thoughts on the matter, I think Australia isn’t uptight enough about these things.

    In conclusion… cat, I’d like you to meet these delicious pigeons.

    • Oh my goodness, Sam – thank you for such an awesome comment! I am all for some constructive discussion about work dresscodes so thank you!

      I know what you’re saying. The thing that I find tricky about BusinessChic is the wide range of things that people do wear to work, what is appropriate for their workplace and what looks good to me. I’ve classified Laura’s outfit as I’ve photographed it, as “Contemporary Business Wear” rather than “Corporate”. In places that I’ve worked, this dress code means an outfit that can be worn in the office when you know that you don’t have any client or formal meeings.

      Perhaps its time I revisit my definitions?

  6. I think it’s strange to adhere to European work dress standards when the climate of Australia is so very different. In 30 – 40 degrees, stockings and blazers for ladies just aren’t practical. Speaking of equal opportunity though, I feel for the guys in full shirt, tie and pants! I think we need to calm down all ’round.

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