It is Tuesday, and sassy Sally hastily struts into her office premises in Kenya. With a folder in hand she has to get to her office in Nairobi, do a few emails before attending the crisis meeting with the human resource officer in charge of organizational management. Luckily, she got to the office in Nairobi in time, thanks to her carefully tucked PDA that buzzes to Merimela every week day at 6am- religiously. Sally had forgotten about the pop up mail she received yesterday on her Outlook window notifying her of the intended meeting. She had left the office a tad bit early, feeling rather sickly on account of her wild weekend escapades.
Sally is adorned in a bright blue blouse and orange chingo pants. To say that she likes colour is an understatement. She has a "teardrop" statement necklace and an orange strapped watch to match with her pants. On her left arm are three chunky bangles in a mix and match colour sequence. She also has a pair of drop chandelier earrings dangling down her robes and 6 inch Jimmy Choo heels that are doing a bad job at maintaining the serene silence in the corridor as she struts to her office on the first floor.
This gets me thinking, “What is the appropriate way to dress to an office in Kenya?"
Most NGOs in Kenya do not have guidelines on choice of clothes to wear to the office and as such one can wear practically anything. In fact one of my friends who works in an NGO in the suburbs of Nairobi was asked to wear anything that makes her comfortable on her first day at work.
Chunky and noisy statement pieces are however a downright NO! NO! The bright coloured earrings and necklaces should be kept for the weekends and not to the office in Nairobi. Earrings should at best be kept to say diamond, gold or silver studs. Hoop earrings are allowed on a dress down Friday if need be. Earrings should be most unobtrusive and pendant necklaces as simple as they can get. An occasional tennis bracelet can also be worn if necessary.
Six, or is it nine, inch shoes in Nairobi are not very formal- and more so in our Kenyan set up. We would all agree that a nice polished pair of a two or a three inch heel is more formal than a six inch pair of metal studded Louis Vuitton shoes. Stiletto heels are and strappy hells look attractive on a date and not as office wear. Ladies do everything in moderation. Heels that shockingly exaggerate your height or leave your calf muscles sticking out and mistakable for a marathoners’ are not the way to go. Clearly, I am no fashion guru but I think ladies need to differentiate an office in Nairobi from a bar of a club in Nairobi, and a week day from a week end. I am not saying colour is bad-but do it with moderation. Anyone who meets you on the street should be able to tell that you are going to an office- not to "Rumours" on the busy Moi Avenue.