No, yes, hard to say: the Vardags dress code verdict.
Ayesha Vardag has said the criticism she received from online trolls for banning cardigans in the office was "like a public execution".
The boss of Vardags, which specialises in high profile divorce cases, revealed how in the aftermath of the story, “I didn’t know how I could go on living with the pain and shame, the self-hatred".
Vardag had sent an email to staff, leaked to RollOnFriday, which told them, “I am seeing cardigans in the office", which was bad because "Woollies are verboten".
"Hair should be executive and very long hair should be pinned up", the divorce diva had said. "Look like a pro, not a pretty young thing".
"Take yourselves seriously, so clients do too. Every day you should look as if you're capable of being President of a significant country."
In the complementary dress code, she told female staff they should aim to be “formal” (though looking "discreetly sexy and colourful and flamboyant at the same time” was permitted), which meant “a Chanel/Dior/Armani look”.
The handbook specified that men may wear cravats, but not “super-tight trousers".
Lots of young female staff at Vardags "have no idea how to dress professionally", Vardag told the Times in an interview this week, and so her advice was geared to help them appear less like club kittens and more like mistresses of the universe.
"Over the years, I saw one woman in a leopardskin miniskirt and one in a strappy boob tube; one in a stretchy, stripy miniskirt", she recalled.
"Never be tacky or tarty and at the same time never be drab. It’s a delicate balance which most of you know instinctively. The naked look, with lots of flesh, is not OK", Vardag instructed in one message.
Vardag said her light-hearted advice initially provoked healthy debate "about how people should dress for the office, and standards changing", which "is perfectly fine. But then it all turned sour".
Her recommendations were misconstrued by pundits who suggested she "wanted effectively to pimp out my female staff to attract clients", and she said the negative version of the story gained traction.
While the 52-year-old endured the difficult birth of her fifth child, Apollo, she said her husband, Stephen Bence, "was hit with this crisis" when he left the hospital.
"I just felt completely overwhelmed by the hate. I couldn’t deal with it", said Vardag, who suffered a confidence crisis. Outlets published the “ugliest, fattest photos of me they could find" to accompany their coverage, and the hit pieces drew "a shit pile" of comments from trolls, all of which were put in front of her by her press team, she said.
Vardag said the hurtful comments included, “She looks fat and old”, “Mutton dressed as pig”, “One of Peppa Pig’s best students”, and, “That woman looks like a sack of spuds”.
The law firm boss said a psychiatrist told her she was suffering from PTSD, and that it took a year and a relocation to the tax haven of Monaco to recover.
Some closure may have been achieved by taking the leaker to court, even after the employee had promised she would not disclose any other material. The firm said it had sacked her for poor performance, and that she leaked the dress code documents when it refused to settle her "spurious" disability discrimination claim at the employment tribunal.
Vardags has hit the headlines for other reasons this year: company accounts revealed that Vardag and Bence continued to charge it millions for consultancy advice via companies registered in Dubai, and that the firm claimed £295k in furlough grants.
Vardag said she was speaking up to raise awareness of the hurt that can be caused by social media pile-ons. "It happens all the time - to Billie Eilish, to Adele, to Meghan Markle, to Carrie Symonds, to Madonna, to Caroline Flack, whom it overwhelmed and killed. Imagine receiving these taunts yourself, she said.
What about all the pain, shame, self-hatred she’s inflicted on other people who unfortunately can’t take a year and a relocation to the tax haven of Monaco to recover?
"While the 52-year-old endured the difficult birth of her fifth child, Apollo, she said her husband, Stephen Bence, "was hit with this crisis" when he left the hospital."
So, a pregnant lady said something crazy. When are we going to all just admit that late stage pregnant women in the office can be a hand grenade.
You did it to yourself.
"... it took a year and a relocation to the tax haven of Monaco to recover."
Genuinely laughed out loud at that.
only question is, is she Clergs or Judo
Poor Ayesha. It must be truly harrowing to learn for the first time so late in life that actions have consequences. Thoughts and prayers
World's most minuscule violin.
Classist lady and firm.
She personifies a toff, but a version on steroids!
Oh dear, No cardies for goalposts , what about ripped jeans ?.......I wonder how the leaker got caught ?......Jolly hockey sticks.....
Yeah, a message about office attire is "like a public execution".
Same way working in a law firm is "like slavery" and an unwanted sexual advance is "like rape".
Get a grip people.
“It took a year and a relocation to the tax haven of Monaco to recover." excuse me while I take out the world’s smallest ever violin
c.50 and having a fifth child?
Good effort, I don’t think I’d have the energy
Her sartorial advice was maybe a bit old skool, but pretty sensible for the most part: "Take yourselves seriously, so clients do too. Every day you should look as if you're capable of being President of a significant country." Can't argue with that.
Except for "men may wear cravats".
No. Just no. You could wear a cravat if you want to look like the comedy bad guy in a Hammer horror movie but if you want to be taken seriously as a lawyer (or indeed anything else) cravats are most definitely verboten.
>her advice was geared to help them appear less like club kittens and more like mistresses of the universe
Is that so? I did a search for "mistresses of the universe" and my first thought was that thankfully I did that search from my home computer. Next I was wondered how some of those sling bikinis that Google dutifully displayed could hold together at all. Then comes this:
>pundits who suggested she "wanted effectively to pimp out my female staff to attract clients", and she said the negative version of the story gained traction.
Clearly I was not the only one to investigate what was actually meant by "mistresses of the universe".
Her public outpourings are an embarrassment to the profession.
WOW! What a control freak!
I'm all for maintaining decent sartorial standards, but that doesn't entail dressing like an Eighties yuppie. Much rather my solicitor wore a cardie to be honest.
This article is absolute rubbish - Ayesha is not a victim [redacted]
I see that we live rent free in your head, Sumo.
God she’s like Lydia on acid
PTSD? is this a joke?