Dressing for the new corporate

When I first started work as a lawyer in 1991, women wearing trousers in a court room could not be seen by the judge – nothing to do with the judge’s eyesight, just a weird rule about appropriate attire for lady lawyers in court.

Rachel Launders, General Counsel & Company Secretary, Nine Entertainment.

Tell us a little about you and your work lifestyle

I’m the General Counsel and Company Secretary at Nine Entertainment.  My work is a mix of corporate deals like our 2018 merger with Fairfax Media, content deals like our broadcast rights for the Super Netball League, working on a variety of other projects across the business, supporting the rest of the legal team, managing our relationship with ASIC and the ASX, and working with the Board.   Some days are very meeting heavy, and other days are mostly at my desk (either in the office or at home) reading, writing, thinking and getting stuff done.  And there’s the occasional random thing like going to a Married at First Sight wedding (not at all required for my job, but I love seeing how our shows come together, so such a treat to be able to do that).

How has your work wardrobe changed over time?

When I first started work as a lawyer in 1991, women wearing trousers in a court room could not be seen by the judge – nothing to do with the judge’s eyesight, just a weird rule about appropriate attire for lady lawyers in court.  The legal profession, like many others, has become more relaxed over time, although for many years I owned a number of navy, black or grey suits (skirts not trousers) that were the staples of my work wardrobe. 

It’s now some years since I’ve worn a suit, particularly as the workplace relaxed over the last 15-20 years and I felt more confident about showing my own sense of style.  In my previous role as a partner in a law firm, I mostly wore dresses and jackets, often brightly coloured – corporate enough, but more reflective of my personal style than a grey suit.  I’ve been the General Counsel at Nine Entertainment for 6 years now, and in that environment, my work wardrobe has become a bit less typically corporate again.  As a workplace, we really do embody “dressing for your day” as our only dress code.  For the on-air talent, that’s highly polished and professional; for those of us in office roles, it’s much more relaxed most of the time.  There are very few suits and ties or the female equivalent to be seen most days.   

On Board meeting days or days when I’ve got a lot of external meetings, I’ll likely wear a dress and jacket, so I’m looking more formal.  On other days, it’s pants or a skirt, relaxed tops, or a more casual dress.  But most days, there’s colour involved, as it does make me feel brighter. 

What’s changed with COVID?

I think so many people having an extended period of time working at home, thanks to COVID, has accelerated the move to a more casually dressed workplace.  I’m seeing a lot more sneakers and a lot less high heels in the office.  It really has sparked the realisation that what you’re wearing for work doesn’t affect the quality of what you’re doing, so being comfortable is a high priority.   

What One P garments do you recommend?

I’ve got quite a collection of the short sleeve and long sleeved merino Ts – great range of colours, as well as black and ivory.  I can wear them pretty much all year round, and, best of all, they can go straight into the washing machine so super practical.  I took a couple travelling last year and they were great for wearing on planes.

I’ve also got a couple of the Tencel & Linen tops (one peplum and one long sleeved shirt), which feel fabulous on your skin and are well shaped, flattering garments.  

I’m loving my navy round skirt, which is easy to dress up or down with different tops, heels or flats, and jacket or cardigan, so a perfect year-round piece.