Like Mary Lambert, I’m usually pretty content to rock “mom jeans” and “cat earrings.” My criteria for making fashion purchases are as follows: 1) Does it fit? 2) Is it comfortable? and 3) Can I wear Converse with it? But sometimes, life requires me to wear things that are “business casual” or “business attire.” As a college kid with little money and a lot of feelings, I am hyperaware of the intersections of capitalism, queerness, and fashion (specific wardrobe components or fashion aesthetics should never be a requirement for inclusion in any community!). As a person who shops in plus sizes, things are extra challenging because the clothes that are marketed for my body are often more expensive than smaller sizes. When I’m shopping for things that might be professional attire, I think it’s less soul-crushing when said items have cute animals on them, OR when I can sneak in accessories with cute animals on them. So without further ado, here are seven exciting ways to make your workwear a little more quirky and nature-inspired.
1. Dress and a blazer
Since my gender presentation is usually a little femme of center, this tends to be my go-to business attire combination. I have a few versatile dresses that can be dressed up or down, and throwing a blazer over something makes it instantly classy. However, none of my dresses are as cute as this one from Modcloth because puppies make everything instantly more awesome.
2. Classy button-downs
Those who prefer pantsuits can sneak a fun pattern into their ensemble with an animal-themed button-down. Wearing an exciting print with a dark or neutral suit is probably an acceptable way to go. Not into suits? Tuck a fitted button-down into a skirt. And of course, button-downs work super well with various types of pants if you have the option to be business casual.
3. Fun sweaters
I have a sweater with giant cat on it that I absolutely love. Layering a fun sweater over a chambray or button-down can take you from cozy to classy in seconds, but you’re still letting your love of animals shine.
Cardigans are amazingly versatile. They’re comfortable but also presentable, and can be a great way to add character to an outfit. My favorite cardigan is camel-colored with a gray cat print on it, and the neutral colors but fun pattern are the perfect combination (sadly it’s all sold out though). You can layer cardigans over dresses, button-downs and pants, shirts and skirts — anything really.
5. Scarves and ties
Scarves are a staple of my wardrobe because they add variety to even the most simple outfit: changing up a scarf choice can make the same jeans and a t-shirt look really different. I personally treat scarves kind of how some folks treat statement necklaces: a cool accessory that adds personality to an outfit. My favorite scarf is like the zebra one pictured but it’s a mossy green background instead of yellow, which means it goes with everything. The patterns on scarves and ties can be subtle or more pronounced, but you’re still personalizing what could’ve been an otherwise boring outfit. Try adding a scarf to a plain dress and blazer, a shirt and cardigan, or wear it over a button-down. There are so many stylish options!
I’m not a big fan of jewelry (other than my nose piercing, which I love), and I know that it’s not for everyone. However, if you are a person who enjoys accessorizing with jewelry, you have a wide variety of options for incorporating critters into your ensembles. If an animal exists (or even if it has gone extinct), someone has probably made a necklace of it. Animal earrings and rings are also super trendy at the moment, which is great if you are looking for a small and subtle way to add animals to an outfit.
Unfortunately, I have yet to encounter a workplace that believes Converse or Doc Martens qualify as business attire. This leaves me with flats or oxfords, which are fine. But why go for normal shoes when you can have shoes with cats on them?
I’m not claiming to be a fashion expert by any means, nor am I claiming that this list is inclusive of every style and gender presentation. There are probably thousands of trendy queer workplace looks that my brain cannot even conceive of! Animal accessories are helpful for me because I can keep a few basic work items in my wardrobe and change them up with less expensive (and more interesting) items that are easier to repurpose. Hopefully this list can be a starting point for folks who are looking to bring their love of critters into their workwear!