It’s not a phase, mum!
In a stunning new lookbook, Helen Anderson showcases a number of alternative looks fit for the modern working woman…because there are (devastatingly) just some situations where your beloved band tees might not do the trick.
But how does one even define “alternative”? Despite its tendency to be a “bit cringe”, Helen says that alternative means a myriad of things. From encompassing people with a lot of tattoos and piercings to those with colourful hair who like listening to rock and roll, “alternative” is an identity that many choose to adopt, an all-encompassing brand for an edgier style. However, as her style has grown over the past three years, Helen has struggled with landing on a style that feels office-appropriate while still feeling like…well, her!
“I think that problem is very common amongst me and my friends,” she says, detailing how specific workplaces may not allow for unlimited creative freedom when it comes to your wardrobe. “A lot of people I know will say ‘Oh, I’ve got an office job and I don’t want to dress, like, really-super-boring… how do you go about it?’ There is a way of dressing a bit more grown-up, dressing a bit more mature, while still maintaining your individuality and still looking a bit edgy.” It’s all about finding a balance, and Helen is here to help give us a little outfit inspo.
We’ll give the corporate office a little credit – there are a few alternative style staples that have broken into the mainstream and found homes in a modern office. Hair, for instance, is a perfect medium for rockin’ a little more color day to day, and one that’s become more accepted in recent years. Rock-inspired closet staples like Helen’s favorite leather jacket have also ascended into the ranks of cool-girl fashion and are similarly office-friendly.
Animal print is another eternally cool choice, especially in the form of a pencil skirt, blouse, or a pair of shoes. And hold up, don’t ditch the band tees just yet! Helen suggests tieing it up at the waist, tucking it into a pair of jeans, or pairing it with a blazer. “Band t-shirts can be worn casually,” Helen explains, “but, likewise, if you wear it with a fancy skirt, layer it up on top of a dress, something like satin or bodycon, you’re changing it from ‘hey, I’m at home being casual and cool’ to ‘hey, I’m an adult as well, rockin’ it in the office.'” The world is your oyster, and the oyster is full-on blasting Iron Maiden.
Helen has even found a way to adapt her love of adorning herself in chunky metal jewelry to her current style. While she’ll still stack on the statement rings, she notes western belts are a great alternative to your standard studded belt. “I think the rule of thumb for me is picking something for the outfit that you feel is very unique, kind of edgy, very you, and shows your personality and pairing it up with things that are conventionally smart,” says Helen. “I think that’s how I get the balance right.”
While Helen acknowledges the discouraging gatekeeping that sometimes manifests in the alternative scene, she also touches on the sentiments that make the community great: celebrating your individuality through your fashion choices and embracing those who differ from the mainstream. Rock on, Helen! We’ll rep some leopard-print leggings to our next team meeting in your honour.