Kitchener-Waterloo

Photo project tackles intersection between fashion and tech in K-W

The goal is to give people, women in particular, a guideline for what an open dress code in the tech industry could mean for them.

Caitlin Mulroney’s photo project, MyTechWardrobe, gives tips for no dress code workplaces

Caitlin Mulroney runs the Instagram account @mytechwardrobe. (Kate Buecker/CBC)

A new photo project by a Kitchener-Waterloo woman is helping people working in the city's growing tech sector answer the question: What do I wear?

Caitlin Mulroney runs the Instagram account @mytechwardrobe and posts a photo of her outfit every single day.

The goal is to give people, women in particular, a guideline for what an open dress code in the tech industry could mean for them.

When Caitlin Mulroney was hired as a recruiter at Thalmic Labs, she was told the dress code was open and casual. But that created more questions than it answered and answers about what to wear. (@MyTechWardrobe/Instagram)

When Mulroney was hired as a recruiter at Thalmic Labs, she was told the dress code was open and casual. But that created more questions than it answered about what to wear.

"I couldn't find a lot of resources online, and particularly, no Canadian resources," Mulroney said. "I still wasn't quite sure what could be appropriate. I knew what I felt comfortable in and I learned over time. One of the things I'm trying to do is provide that baseline."

So Mulroney created one with a series of photos and small tidbits of advice in the form of captions and Instagram stories.

Caitlin Mulroney recommends figuring out what you’re comfortable in and then finding staple pieces that will always work for you. (@MyTechWardrobe/Instagram)

"One major thing that I learned that is different than what I thought when I started out is you don't have to have a massive wardrobe to make something like this work," she said. "I'm a big proponent of the idea of a work uniform, even though it's a casual environment."

Mulroney said as a recruiter, she often gets asked, "What should I wear?" when the open dress code comes up.

Caitlin Mulroney pairs items from local boutiques with affordable picks from chains like H&M and Dynamite. (@MyTechWardrobe/Instagram)

"Once you get to a casual work environment, take a look at who is around you and you can sort of see how your personal style fits with that environment," she said.

She recommends figuring out what you're comfortable in and then finding staple pieces that will always work for you.

“I’m a big proponent of the idea of a work uniform, even though it’s a casual environment so for myself, I prefer a pair of medium to dark wash jeans, nice blouse-y top, and I have different versions of that and I mix and match," said Mulroney. (@MyTechWardrobe/Instagram)

"For me, it's dark wash jeans, blouse-y top, mix and match. But for someone else, that could mean a nice summer dress and a pair of wedges. For a man, that could be a pair of shorts and a polo shirt. That could be jeans and a T-shirt," she said.

"One thing that I've tried to do is use pieces of clothing differently — so if it's a button up top, maybe I'll wear a shirt underneath and I'll wear it unbuttoned — tucked, untucked."

And she said it's not always necessary to head to Toronto or online to find those staple pieces.

She recommends a number of local shops, including Harmony by Earthwinds for graphic tees, the soon-to-be-open Uni+Koncept and Andie's Boutique in Waterloo.

“Once you get to a casual work environment, take a look at who is around you, and you can sort of see how your personal style fits with that environment,” said Caitlin Mulroney. (@MyTechWardrobe/Instagram)