Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Final Word on the Work Wardrobe

Adelaide B left a very thought-provoking comment on my last post...

It seems to me that a lot of things that you describe as being not appropriate for work (even though they do not violate HR guidelines) are things that could be considered "only for women." Girl colors, loud colors, prints, and full shapes are all things that read feminine. I'm not stating anything new by commenting that professional clothes for women must mimic menswear in order to be taken seriously. (Muted colors and shapes. This was especially exaggerated in the 80's. Ugh.) I get that you gotta do what you gotta do, but it's a shame. You've made some lovely things.

I thought about that for a bit, and while there's some truth to that, it isn't quite perfectly true. At my workplace, while the senior echelon is predominantly male (an unfortunate reality that persists to this day in corporate North America), at the low-level rung I sit, there are just as many women as there are men. And these women dress in a variety of colors and styles.

As do I. The pink dress is - well - pink. It doesn't get more feminine than hot pink, I don't think.

I think the dress that set me thinking about all this was more girly than feminine, and that's an important distinction. I'm entirely too old to look girly at work. And it is hard to be girly and to be taken seriously.

Additionally, what was important was my personal discomfort with the way I was dressed. At the heart of it, I prefer to dress in a relatively conformist manner. (Hopefully, with style as well.) And at the end of the day, it is all about being comfortable in my own skin.

And that's my final word on the wardrobe (not yours though! talk to me!). I leave for Montreal in 4 hours. I won't be back till late on Sunday night. I will try not to buy too much fabric, but I'm not entirely sure how much restraint will be displayed. Thankfully, I won't have too much time to shop for fabric, I'm going to Montreal's beer festival, and will be otherwise distracted.


Clio said...

I've been thinking about this series of posts a lot. I agree with your point about girly vs feminine. I like to convey confidence and professionalism in my career, and I don't think I have to dress like the boys or downplay that I am a woman to do so. A fitted sheath is ultra feminine, but in a grown up way. Perfectly fine for my professional life. But anything flouncy, full/gathered or that could be described as "sweet" is not something I would wear to work.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Learning what works for you at work is a process. Exactly for the reasons you want to be taken seriously, you want to conform because then you appear to be a team player, you want to look professional so that you will be promoted.

I understand all of this because I went through this. You will be able to figure out what works for your position in your firm and still hold onto who you are. It's just a journey...enjoy it!

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