Incognito Chic: What we can learn from Christian Grey’s wardrobe & Karl Stefanovic’s “Sexism” Experiment

Do you ever worry whether anyone will notice that you are wearing *the same thing* to work AGAIN?

Well what if you could dress in such a way that no-one noticed what you wearing and that the focus was solely on your work? When we interviewed Marina Piche who is now the Network Stylist at Channel Nine for the Melbourne in Fashion podcast, she mentioned that when styling news presenters, her greatest challenge is “to put them in outfits that are stylish enough for TV but also not distracting from the news that they present.” And for me that’s kind of the point of good workwear – you want to look stylish and professional enough for your 9-to-5 and beyond but in a way that you’re not having to franctically buy a whole new outfit every single time…

There are a few ways you could go about this. Steve Jobs owned multiple versions of the same Issey Miyake turtleneck which he wore with jeans and New Balance sneakers.

A more stylish way of doing this is shown below from the The Fifty Shades of Grey Film trailer which opens with a scene showing Christian Grey getting dressed. His toned physique slipping on one of the six identical-looking immaculately pressed stark white shirts hanging in his wardrobe, 12 identical-looking blazers lined up at the ready before he opens a tie drawer to display multiple shades of grey ties. The number of things he has, speaks less of being frugal and more of knowing what and how he likes things.

Grey exercises control in his wardrobe fifty shades of grey film trailer

Stills from the trailer of the Fifty Shades of Grey film showing the control Grey exercises. Source: YouTube

Breakfast show presenter, Karl Stefanovic, conducted a “Sexisim experiment” to demonstrate the double-standards for male and female presenters.

karl stefanovic wore same suit every day for one year

TV presenter, Karl Stefanovic, wore the same “Burberry knock-off” suit to work on TV, every day for a year. Image: Facebook

While I applaud Karl’s experiment, something else it highlights is that women’s clothing can be a lot more varied than men’s suiting and a lot easier to notice and for some, scrutinise. While women have the pleasure and pain of being able to create work-appropriate looks using a whole myriad of textures (from milano knits to leather, not to mention colours and prints), men are still in suits. So for men, it’s about enough to change a tie at most! The takeaways for men looking to create this kind of Men In Black dressing in between the range of say Christian Grey and Karl Stefanovic are:

  • Grooming is important. Work out what works for you whether it’s the hair on your head or your face.
  • Wear the suit, don’t let the suit wear you. A timeless suit should fitted enough to look stylish but in a timeless incognito way so that the suit isn’t wearing you. I’ve observed instances where suits are cut so tightly and sharply that it kind of feels rude and highly noticeable. Keep it real, boys.
  • Colours. Choose colours that suit you. Navy and charcoal suits offer more flexibility than a flat black suit – see how even the colour of Karl’s “Burberry knock-off” looks slightly different in each of the above images? A coloured suit does that and a plain suit gives you a bit more wear than say a patterned suit which is relatively more noticeable.

For men looking to add more variability to their wardrobes: experiment with your grooming, the fabric and patterns of your suiting, colours of your shirts and accessorise with ties, tie clips, pocket squares, socks and shoes.

How to create Incognito Chic for women?

On the otherhand, if you are a woman who wants the convenience of being able to wear the same thing week in week out, can I suggest checking out my Little Black Dress Project (now also available as an ebook and hard copy book!)? Again the above principles apply. Keeping hair and make up relatively neat and professional, I selected a single dress in a simple and timeless cut which I accessorised differently each time I wore it to work – which was once a week – over a whole year. The outfits saw me through typical days in the office, out at conferences, in meetings, out for drinks after work. I accessorised using other classic wardrobe staples (like a work shirt and the cardigan) and aired out my dress between wears and had it drycleaned 3 times (over the weekend) to ensure that I did not smell! I had colleagues comment that they hadn’t realised what I was doing which for me means that the focus was exactly where I wanted it to be; on my work.

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