Date posted: 02/06/2017 3 min read

The corridors are your catwalk

Emily Plummer CA has quit her PwC role and devoted herself to inspiring women to look better – and get ahead – at work.

In brief

  • Emily Plummer is a digital influencer who uses Instagram as a platform to share trends and advice in dressing for success.
  • With an Instagram following of nearly 23,000, Plummer's Corporate Catwalker blog is inspirational.
  • A pencil skirt, pair of pants and blazer should be in your wardrobe but not on high rotation, mix it up with colour, accessories and shoes.

Photography by Pran Kositthanakorn.

Do you treat the office hallways like a catwalk, or are they just a conduit from your desk to another meeting?The fashion blogger behind Corporate Catwalker, Emily Plummer, believes women should walk the corridors as if they are walking the catwalk. This is not only in order to have fun with fashion at work, but to help them get ahead in the corporate world.

The 30 year old is a firm believer personal appearance influences people’s perception of someone’s capability.“If you care about what you look like and how you dress on a daily basis, then it is perceived that you’ll invest the same level of effort and care into producing high-quality outputs,” she says.

Plummer is a digital influencer – her Instagram blog @corporatecatwalker has nearly 23,000 followers who view her inspirational workwear ideas for women aged 18-45.

“When clients or colleagues are presented with someone who is well dressed and put together they translate this to your ability to deliver.”
Emily Plummer, fashion blogger, Corporate Catwalker.

The Brisbane woman, who describes her own workwear style as corporate chic, was a risk assurance manager at PwC for seven years. She admits it was a big decision to leave her role in March when Corporate Catwalker demanded a full-time commitment.

Plummer studied accounting – specifically auditing – on the advice of her parents.

“Dad is a qualified accountant and runs his own business, and my mum is a high school business studies teacher so there was a lot of influence from an early age to become an accountant.”

Unsure what she really wanted to do after high school, Plummer won a visual arts scholarship but decided instead to follow her parents’ advice.

Meanwhile she had a long-held interest in fashion – as a child she modelled for her mother’s clothing brand – and says in Brisbane she was regularly stopped in the street by women asking her where she had bought various clothing items.

“I’m going to be a fashion blogger”

The concept for Corporate Catwalker came about as the result of a New Year’s resolution as 2015 dawned.

“I was with my work colleagues and I don’t actually know what came over me, but I said to them in that moment ‘I’m going to be a fashion blogger – that’s going to be my New Year’s resolution’.”

So Plummer made her first Instagram post.

“I took a risk and within three days, 125,000 people had seen my Instagram. It was then I really had to evaluate the landscape and understand what exactly a fashion blogger was, because I’d somehow become one,” she laughs.

That first post was a “re-gram” whereby her photo was re-posted by a couple of big accounts. She says “ironically” it was a bikini photo, redistributed by swimwear companies which made it go “a little bit viral”.

“Within a few days I had to get an ABN [Australian Business Number], I had to get some business cards together, I had to figure out how to build my own website – it all went a little bit crazy at first.”

Even at this early stage Plummer realised she had a brand and a trademark she wanted to secure.“That was important to me, to make sure I had it all set up in case things were going to turn into a legitimate business, which it has since.”

Plummer reveals at first she didn’t know how Instagram worked, thinking it was simply an application to edit photos before posting them on Facebook. She was forced to learn in a hurry, spending about ten hours a day on the social media site for a fortnight, learning the complexities of being a social influencer and a blogger.

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Quickly, Plummer identified her niche in a busy market.“When I first started the blog it was what I was wearing that day, what I was doing that day and that was over the Christmas holidays.”

When work resumed she realised that while there were numerous fashion bloggers detailing casual wear, swimwear and lifestyle items, “there was no one out there showing what it was like to actually be in the hustle and grind of the 9–5”.

“So I started taking photos of what I was wearing on a daily basis. I identified this corporate fashion niche and from then it has evolved to corporate lifestyle and inspiration.”

The photos are now taken by a professional photographer and companies approach Plummer wanting to collaborate.

“Brands want to put clothes on me, or put makeup on me, or put shoes on me.”

She selects what she wants to wear and charges a fee per post to cover her time and the photography. The items in the photo are then tagged, meaning brand information is displayed when viewers tap on the photos.

As a fashion blogger, Plummer strives to maintain authenticity.

“There are a lot of bloggers out there who get sent a lot of clothes and they just wear anything.”

The photos feature a mix of her own clothing, and brands that she works with on an ongoing basis.

“I’ll select the pieces of clothing that they’re offering in their range and I’ll style them myself to make sure that I’ve got my own twist on it and I’m not just a method of advertising for them.”

Building the business

Corporate Catwalker has evolved to include fashion journalism, social media consulting, brand ambassador roles, public speaking and even fashion design. Plummer recently released a range of corporate clothing in collaboration with Brisbane fashion house 400co.

She plans to keep growing the business and is happy for it “to get as big as it needs to get”. Currently, she is focused on making it sustainable.

“Fashion changes, social media platforms change. It’s about building a robust business and something that I can see will have a positive influence on the community.”

“Brands want to put clothes on me, or put makeup on me, or put shoes on me.”
Emily Plummer, fashion blogger, Corporate Catwalk.
So to what extent does Plummer herself (cat)walk the talk – does she feel like she has to look “camera ready” whenever she walks down the street?

“Absolutely… I think I’ve worn heels every day since I started the blog,” she laughs. “I pop on that red lipstick pretty much every day and put on my game face.”

What to wear for work

Plummer believes the way women dress for work is important because it reflects their capability.

“When clients or colleagues are presented with someone who is well dressed and put together they translate this to your ability to deliver.”

She stresses the importance of first impressions and of having a personal brand, saying women need to ditch the mentality that work wear is a uniform, that “it’s just work, it doesn’t matter”.

“There really needs to be a shift in women’s minds that this is important. Would you go dressed to a party wearing something that you’re not really proud of, or uncomfortable in? No. Would you go to a wedding doing that? No. So why would you rock up at work in something you’re not proud of?”

As for the biggest clothing mistake women tend to make, it’s not looking in a full-length mirror before leaving the house.

“Often they’ll look good from the waist up, but they haven’t considered how the outfit works from top to toe.”

Plummer says women often have inspiration for weekend clothes and fill their wardrobes with casual clothing that they can only wear two days a week. “Women working 9–5, they don’t have that inspiration for five days a week.”

She suggests buying pieces that can be worn to work and on weekends. The goal is a capsule wardrobe, adaptable for a range of functions and circumstances. While Plummer is not big on rules, she does advise women to keep clothing workplace appropriate regarding hemlines and necklines.

“And I try to avoid spaghetti straps, unless it’s teamed with a blazer or a cape.”

She advises being smart when shopping and investing in a few key pieces.

“Make sure you do have your pencil skirt and your blazer and your pair of pants, but that should not be on high rotation. It should be about mixing more fashionable items in with your wardrobe. And more colour.”

She recommends colour, accessories and statement shoes.“Not necessarily mixing them all at once – but something to give you a point of difference, so you do stand out.”

Top Tips

Corporate Catwalker Emily Plummer reveals seven fashion secrets.

  1. I always wear… high heels – they improve posture and boost confidence.
  2. I would never wear… cardigans or tights.
  3. A great work outfit is characterised by… pieces that represent your individual style and personal brand.
  4. When travelling for work, always… pack accessories to style different outfit combinations. No need to pack the entire wardrobe.
  5. When shopping, think about… work and play attire. Versatile pieces are key to a capsule wardrobe.
  6. A good classic item should last for… years. Suit jackets will never go out of fashion, so invest in a good quality tailored jacket.
  7. The top wardrobe items for every professional woman are… capes, long pencil skirts, statement shoes and red lipstick, plus feature belts and necklaces to mix and match with suit basics.

This article first appeared in the Jun/Jul 2017 issue of Acuity magazine.