Women are rising up the ranks in business and boardrooms. Almost 28% of board positions in FTSE 100 companies are now occupied by women, up from just 12.5% in 2011, according to the latest Hampton-Alexander Review. Meanwhile, the number of all-male FTSE 350 company boards has fallen from 152 to just 10.
These ambitious, high-flying businesswomen want a sharp, top-quality wardrobe to match their seniority. But fashion brands have been slow to catch on, chasing trends instead of focusing on the customer and her lifestyle.
The Fold is different. We launched in 2012 as a contemporary workwear label for today’s professional woman. Founder Polly McMaster spent her early career in the corporate sector and says ‘Working in consulting and finance, I struggled to piece together smart and stylish work outfits. When most of the men in the room are wearing bespoke suits, you need to be on a par sartorially to hold your own.’
This doesn’t just affect how others perceive you; it can boost your own self-confidence and performance at work.
A study on ‘The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing’ in 2015 asked subjects to change into formal or casual clothing before cognitive tests. Wearing formal business attire increased abstract thinking — an important aspect of creativity and long-term strategising. Smart clothes are empowering. If you want to be a big-ideas person at work, dress up.
We decided to delve deeper into what you wear to work, and understand more about how the seemingly simple task of getting dressed can impact your day, your confidence and your perceptions. To do this, we quizzed more than 1,300 businesswomen from across the country and spanning all sectors. This is what we discovered…
"I receive unwanted attention from men every time I'm in a dress"
"Wall Street Barbie"
"A male colleague asked me if I was wearing stockings under my skirt."
"A director at a formal dinner shoved his face in my bust when he was drunk"
"Leering remarks about a shirt or a skirt were all too common when I worked in construction."
The Fold would like to thank the following from London Business School for their contribution in compiling this report: Amrita Srivastava, Xing Sun and Mitali Israni.