TBT – Office Attire – Did They Really Wear That?

Some of you probably love getting dressed up for work every day if you work in an office requiring professional attire. For the rest of us, however, waking up before the sun is up on a weekday just to put on a dress or a button down shirt is torture. In fact, some companies offer the option to wear jeans everyday as a perk to employees.

If you take a trip down memory lane, however, the office attire we have to deal with today isn’t nearly as bad as some fashion trends that came before us. If you’re reading this at work, thinking to yourself how much your heels hurt your feet, just be glad that you don’t have to wear any of the office attire below.

1. Hoop Skirts

While it wasn’t common to see an American woman in an office setting until long after the 1800s, middle-class British women worked in offices beginning in the late 1800s. During this time period, hoop skirts were in style, so those working women probably had an arsenal of these in their office attire collection.

2. Top Hats

Wearing a top hat would no doubt feel pretty badass the first few days. Having that extra weight and attention would probably get old quick for most guys in today’s workplace. Go back to the early 1900s, however, and you would fit right in.

3. Detachable Collars

Although dress shirts with collars attached started to catch on in the 1920s, before that, men had to wear uncomfortable, detachable collars so that their shirts would look dressier. Wonder if they had clip-on varieties of these neck decorations?

4. Dress Hats and Gloves

Unless it’s very cold outside, you won’t catch many women wearing gloves or hats into the office these days. During The Great Depression, if a woman could find work, she took it. Since most women in those days didn’t have many dressy clothing items, they made do with what they had and dressed up other areas of their bodies; hands with gloves and heads with hats.

5. Suits…Everyday

The classic business suit is still popular today, of course, but can you imagine wearing the same, boring colors and styles every day? At least these days, if a suit is your daily office attire, you have a variety of choices to select from.

6. Shoulder Pads

If you’re a child of the 1980s, your mother no doubt had plenty of suits and dresses that included shoulder pads. While I can appreciate what these foam inserts stood for (an attempt to equalize men and women in the workplace), I would imagine constantly having to adjust them would get old quickly.

7. Vests

Up until around sometime during the 1920s, men wore vests pretty much every day. The main reason for this was so that they had a place to put their pocket watch. In fact, even when wristwatches became the new norm, men still wore the vests.


What is your least favorite clothing item or accessory in your office attire collection?




Kirstin Wright
Kirstin Wright
Kirstin is an IT worker by day and a freelance writer by night. When not behind a computer screen, she can be found exploring one of central Florida's famous theme parks or embarking on a new adventure. You can read about her adventures at Fun Orlando Ideas!