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Women techies log on to trendy, soft wear - Bangalore Mirror

Demure gives way to `smart', as they flaunt their `cool-chic' attitude instead of trying to fit into a man's world

"Dress-down-at-work" -the unwritten rule for women in Bangalore's IT sector -is slowly seeing a transformation as young techies move from `modest-dressing' to `smart-dressing'. 

"This does not mean that we come to office wearing clothes that sport trendy cuts, we pep it up with trendy colours and fashion accessories.There is nothing wrong in being swanky at the workplace," said Wortimla, who works for a multinational software company in Koramangala. 

Image consultants tracking the IT sector agree with her, saying that Gen-Y techies are getting more fashion conscious and are ready to flaunt their `cool-chic' attitude instead of being sober like their seniors. Leema Bernad Viji, director of image management company Dotting i, said: "Earlier, the major focus at work lay on one's skills. Women were afraid of changing their clothing style, thinking it showcased a shift of focus from work to dressing up.There was also a common misconception that it was meant only for celebrities." 

A woman employee who was modestly dressed was supposed to be hard-working, completely focussed and serious, but this is not the case any longer. Shalini Venugopal, founder of Evolve Image Con sultants, said: "Earlier, they chose to dress up like a man at work because they wanted to fit into a man's world. But now women are changing." A major reason for this change is travel which is associated with IT jobs, requiring them to engage with people on a daily basis. This is usually the case with women in managerial level jobs, where their work takes them beyond their laptops. This has made them aware of the need to be presentable. "There has been a 20% increase in IT women in the last five years who are interested in getting fashionsavvy mostly because of the travel factor," said Leema. 

However, the changes are not drastic. Women who prefer a conservative dressing style opt for Indo Western wear, slowly graduating from saris to kurtis to trousers. Even women who prefer to stick to saris are making a change, choosing 'professional saris' with blue, grey, white and other neutral hues. 

"We make a conscious effort to bring in variety in our dressing. It is a transition from modest to smart dressing," said Wortimla. On smart picks that younger women make these days, she said, "Women who used to wear smaller necklaces and ear-rings are now opting for chunky and colourful ones. 

Bags too have changed from the laptop bags to stylish branded designs. Techies are even sporting bold lipstick to office. This would have been a sacrilege a few years ago." Another young woman techie, who did not want to be named, said: "Even my umbrella is designer stuff." The changing trend was discussed at the recently held fifth annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Bengaluru. Anju Sethi, head learning and development at Tesco HSC, who spoke at a track titled, "Tapping into my Inner Prada" said: "People feel good about themselves when they look good. They exude confidence and this makes way for more opportunities at work. It also affects people around them in a positive way." Women are even approaching image consultants where they are advised on how to choose clothes with the right fitting, how to avoid clothes which suit only western physiques and how to dress up even when overweight. "Women are now feeling comfortable in their own skin. We advise changes on dressing depending on the person's comfort and lifestyle," said Shalini. 

But there are some who think it would take some more time for the makeover. 

Poornima Kotak, an image consultant and trainer, contends that "Non-IT women are more fashion-conscious than the IT ones," and added: "In Bengaluru, there are a lot of avenues, showcasing fashion trends. Women want to change their looks but they are not sure where to start." She maintains women in the IT industry still choose to dress down to be perceived as serious and committed to work. 

However, Anju said: "There is a common misconception among women where they think they need to look like a western woman to look smart. 

That's not true. There are so many women who can carry off a kurti or sari gracefully. 

Now women want to feel good. They are being pushed towards it as they experience diversity in work. They are also getting exposed because of the travel factor." In fact, the perception of mid-level managers too is changing as they see a fashion-savvy employee as someone is more in sync with the outside world.