A business woman, or a woman in business?

We’re back today with another post from Rach (where does the time go?! I can’t believe it was a month ago that I posted her last post), and this time she’s discussing the subtle, but important to her, difference between being a business woman, and a woman in business. Perhaps it’s just syntax, or perhaps there is more to it than that. Perhaps it’s about redefining our ideas of what a business woman looks like, or maybe it’s about reclaiming the word and being proud of it. Whatever it is, it certainly got me thinking…

When I think of a business woman, I think of stiletto heels, the pout and the perfectly manicured nails. I think of a big office with floor to ceiling glass walls and slim line computers and iPads everywhere – this could well be just from watching particular types of films and The Apprentice however! I don’t see myself as a ‘business woman’ – more of a ‘woman in business’, which is a subtle but significant distinction I think.

Not me – and not at all what my place of work looks like!

I wear dresses to work, yes, and I like to paint my nails too – but I’m always bare foot in the boutique! I don’t ‘do’ power shoes. I like my comfy boots to walk into work and take them off as soon as I get to the boutique. I like my fleece lined padded jacket which always has lots of doggie bags in the pockets for when I’m walking the pooches. I don’t have long hair curled at the ends. I have, quite frankly, half a hair cut!

People often say to me – ‘you have so much responsibility’ – but I don’t think I do. I just see myself as an honorary bridesmaid to each bride and love chatting to them about their plans for the big day. And I’m so lucky that each and every bride that enters my little world in the boutique is completely different to the next. I never get bored.

When I think of a business woman I think – wow – I wonder what that must be like.

I do everything myself, the business is named after me. But that doesn’t make me a business woman, does it? I love my job, it doesn’t even feel like a ‘job’. I strive to do my best for every bride, because every bride deserves the best.

Even if some people would argue I am a business woman – maybe I can argue back that I’m a ‘woman in business’ doing it my own way, just like my brides do their weddings their own way?

I think back to a time in history when women didn’t have the vote, and they could only dream that one day women would have the opportunity to be in charge of their own livelihoods. I feel really proud that at the age of 27 I’m creating my own route. And there is an inner feminist in me that wants to high five every other woman that runs her own business – not to say ‘well done us’ but almost to say ‘we’re doing it for those women who couldn’t, and put their own lives on the line for us to be given the opportunity to give it a go.’

I guess that’s what being a ‘woman in business’ means to me – it’s grabbing those hard fought for opportunities with both hands and making the most of them, while being an ethically responsible member of a community. And if I can do that while wearing something far more interesting than a grey pinstripe suit and sporting fuchsia pink nails, then it will make me happy for a very long time!

Categories: Any Other Wedding, Money and Career, Politics and Feminism
13 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Anon
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    It very often feels like being a businesswoman, aka a faceless drone, rather than perhaps a woman in business (which I agree has connotations of owing your own which the former does not) means that your life will become one of constant compromise whilst getting royally shafted by all and pleasing no one.

    **Goes to sulk in loos**

  2. Anon
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I think there is a huge difference here to be a woman in business or even a business owner and what you are stereotyping as a business woman. The stereotype that you mention would usually be found within the corporate world, where the option to wear what you like, behave as you please and show your individual style is not an option, or appropriate.

    As a women in one of these corporate situations I would love the opportunity to show my own style, be creative and stand out on my own. However, that is not suitable for the career I have chosen.

    I think as a business women a certain type of attire is necessary to show professionalism and strength. First impressions do count and people do judge on these. However, I don’t think people should look upon this as a negative, which it seems to have been in this post. I think, Rach, that you are very fortunate to be doing what you do and to have the luxury of making your own decisions, which reflect who you are. Some people would love to be in this position but the career routes that they have chosen, which are just as significant as being a business owner, don’t allow.

    It feels to me this post is down grading the hard fought careers of women in the business world because of the professional way in which they have to dress! To become a director of a large corporate organisation is not an insignificant challenge and maybe we are not able to wear clothes that are individual to us or walk around the office bare foot but we are too making headway in taking advantage of the hard fought opportunities that our ancestors were not given.

    It’s the achievement of these challenges that will make me happy for a long time, not what I wear in getting there.

    • Posted November 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      HIGH FIVE ANON. Love this eloquent argument.

  3. kandra
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Love this, what a wonderful outlook, and although I had never really given it much thought is exactly how I feel, not a business woman, but a woman in business. Very inspiring thank you :-)

  4. gemma c-s
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    It’s something I find really interesting – the way that we can all conjure up an image of a ‘business woman’… I think anon, above, makes a great point about ‘business woman clothing’ being something necessary to convey professionalism – it’s basically a uniform and it’s not just ‘business women’ who wear it – unless you count civil servants and other office workers as ‘business women’.
    I realise that I’m taking this off topic, but as someone who works in a creative industry in a creative office, I actually wish I could wear the ‘business woman’ uniform – I once worked in a secretarial role in banking and I had a black skirt, a grey skirt and a few shirts and a blazer and could just alternate them. Now, I have a ‘smart casual’ dress code and find it hard to separate work and weekend clothes, and as ridiculous as it sounds, I think putting on a ‘uniform’ whatever it is, helps you separate the working day from relaxation time.
    Apart from repeating the words business and women, over and over, I think the point of my comment is that it can be dangerous to label people, especially to label women in suits we don’t know! I’ve been really enjoying Rachel’s posts and I would describe her as a business woman – but that would be entirely complimentary and it would have nothing whatsoever to do with what she wore.

    • Posted November 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      I always bang on about how I need a uniform. It would probably start getting a bit weird though. but I never know what to wear and sometimes I eye up George’s uniform like boom, that is what I need.

      • Posted November 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        Yessss. For me my uniform is the same few tops on rotation. Boring but so easy and practical.

        • Posted November 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          I work for the government and figured I should wear a semi-uniform. This usually means trousers (which I never wear outside of work!) or a shift dress with sleeves. I think it’s important to show your personality at work even in a little way…just so happens mine today is shown by my top, which has a squirrel print on it (like a magic eye picture you wouldn’t realise it was squirrels unless you really looked hard)!

  5. Posted November 27, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Hello, i’m honestly very sorry if you thought that my writing made it sound like a negative to be a business woman, quite on the contrary. I have nothing but respect for women in those job roles, and as I mentioned in the post I see women in those careers and think ‘wow – I wonder what must that be like’. I didn’t write this post to be a wrong or right, but purley from my perspective of how I see myself in the business world. Sorry if it came across in any other way. x

  6. Posted November 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    This post made me think of all the stay at home parenting compared to working parenting posts and articles. It didn’t mean to be divisive but just was because it’s such a big part of people’s lives and everyone is doing it so differently and finding their way without any right or wrongs. Just different.

    most mumbled comment ever.

  7. Posted November 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I was a little bit surprised to read the comments. I thought it was a great piece, about different ways of being a business woman/woman in business. I love reading these candid business posts, I think you inspire and make me a teensy bit jealous in equal measure!

  8. Posted November 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Lucy. Although I think there have been good points raised in these comments I didn’t get why your post prompted them…

    Maybe it’s because your post distinguishes between business women and women in business mainly by clothes, and the clothes people wear for work is a more divisive issue than I’d expected! Personally I’d say you’re definitely a business woman! Doing it your own way maybe and you love it, great – but still a business woman.u

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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