This is probably going to be mean but I have had enough. Office girls, we have to have a talk. I stuck up for you when Subway made that ad and called you generic; I said they would never say that about office boys, and that there is an expectation for women to look attractive when men can just wear a shirt and that's sufficient. Except, I don't care about office boys. I care about You. You, who walk down High Street in your lunch break, never smiling, just doing your little errands; buying presents for your friends' housewarmings and engagements and your boyfriends' mothers' birthdays, picking up your sensible sandwich or your sushi. You never say thank you properly when we wrap your things, and you ask too much sometimes, without even bothering to look us in the eye. We feel sorry for you, but when you leave, we want to scream. Because you look So Bad, and it's because you're not Being Yourself. If you were, you wouldn't wear that office uniform that isn't even a uniform. Let's establish some guidelines. They aren't rules; you clearly think that rules are gospel, and thus far Jesus hasn't been much of a friend to you. They are just some friendly advice from someone who cares; someone who hates billboards because they are ugly and intrusive and one-sided. You don't have to be a billboard, but you are; a billboard for boredom, and offices, and Glassons' cardies. You can be a person - yourself! - and then people will treat you like a person, and you won't be so lethargic when you come into the shop, and then we can have an actual conversation! We could even be kind-of friends, like me and that office girl who wears the cool eye-liner, and smiles and makes jokes. You could be her! Let's talk about how.
1. The black (usually ballet) flats with the black opaque stockings and the black (not-quite) pencil skirt Have To Go. They make you look like Benjamin in the pool, minus the rod and the mask; like a frog-person. They make you look exactly like your friend with whom you came in. You Are Better Than This. They must be comfortable. But do you know what's even more comfortable? Pants! And you might not believe it, but you can wear trousers with your beloved white shirt and Not Be Mistaken For A Man (although if you were, you would probably get a pay-rise). Pants are great, but you never wear them. You can! I believe in you.
2. Black is not your friend. With your mousey hair and that complexion, you should be wearing colour! I know you were the kind of girl who wore her school uniform so correctly that you were frequently held up as an example, and this has stayed with you - no blue nail polish or red hair-bobbles for you. But it's not school anymore! And you know what would suit you? Red. Orange. Blue. Pink. Peach. I see it all, and it looks so beautiful. Share my vision!
3. Shoes. I mostly wear flat shoes too. But sometimes, you have to wear heels, especially if you are little or wearing a mid-length skirt. I am on my feet for six hours, and I can hack it - you, who have more tenacity than I, and who are sitting for most of the day - you have no excuse. The black flats are only going to come out when your legs aren't stockinged. Haven't shaved? Me neither! It's a pain and I'll just have to do it again anyway. No-one cares! Actually that's a lie, but I Found A Man with my hairy legs and underarms, in spite of everything Cleo told me.
4. Trends are bollocks. Whatever you saw on the Shortland Street actor in About Town last Sunday, or whatever Marie Claire told you, or what's on the mannequins in the front window of Cue or the front table at Glassons - they don't mean a thing. They are not you, and they don't care about you; if they did, they never would have let you buy three of those fawn cardigans. You can buy whatever you like. Whatever You like! If your friends don't like it, even better. To be honest, it's probably a compliment. And if the shop person at Karen Walker gives you the funny eye - it's okay. They are them. You are you.
5. Make up. You don't have to wear it. Except you do - you wear concealer and foundation. It covers your natural flush, and really matches that dead look you have going. Except, maybe you're not dead. From the little you say to us when you come into the shop, I'm not sure. But I think you might have a pulse. In which case, look alive! If you have to wear foundation, which you probably don't, how bout some blush! How about switching your mascara from brown to black, and putting on more than one coat? Be daring! No-one will think you don't care about your work. You could even put on some Lipstick. Feel the power that comes with leaving your mark on everything. No more drinking the communal milk straight from the bottle - everyone will know it was you, and you will claim it. So what if you did? So what if you have Hep C? We all have to die from something.
6. Cardigans are good but they've become your hipflask. As have the shirts. There are hundreds of tops to choose from; we're lucky, we don't have to choose from just tshirts, shirts and polos. You have a lovely neck. Let's see it! You have a not lovely neck. Let's wear something high-necked! If you're cold, a jumper actually makes you warmer - unless you do up the buttons on your cardigan, which you never do. And if you wear a shirt, how about undoing the next button, or doing them all up?
Taylor. She demonstrates the beauty of form-fitting clothes. They cover her completely but she doesn't look like a nun or a ghost. And she has Poise. She knows who she is and what she expects. I'm in awe of her.
Bacall. She demonstrates the power of attitude. She always has her chin up like she's saying And What. She is an expert in the raised eyebrow. She wears all kinds of amazing things but you barely notice them - it's her general vibe you feel. She also has immaculate hair. Here she might be saying I Am Owning This, except she would never need to.
Monroe. Commitment might not be the first word that springs to mind when you think of her, but think again. She has a look, and whatever fashion might have said, she's stuck with it because it works. She also demonstrates Life. In this picture, I half-expect her to wink of flick her hair, and not because I like Harry Potter. She just exudes life. I can imagine her laughing, and crying, and singing, and watching. If she wore black flats with black opaques and a black skirt (heaven forbid) she would have a bounce that would set her apart as Monroe.
The point of this isn't to be an ornament to society. Your job is not to look pretty. You can look hideous if you want to - it's just as enjoyable. But you do have to be you. I see you, and I despair, not only because you bore me to death but because I don't believe you like what you wear. I don't even think you see it. Do you want to be invisible? I don't think you do. Do you want to be part of a herd? Maybe, but why? You can't be just like everyone else; it's not possible. You might be as boring as you look. But I'm not sure. Let's think about this, and reconvene soon.
Images from strangecosmos.com, grishley.com & popsugar.com.