Several jobs ago I wrote about a fashion crisis that I was seeing around me each day at work. The female managers seemed to have difficulties deciphering between club wear and what was appropriate to be wearing in to work. I felt like they were using Ke$ha as their style icon 24/7. Sitting in meetings I was looking across the table and frightened to think the gals though they could be taken seriously as a manager in what they were wearing. I appreciate that this isn’t a problem in my current work location, however I’m concerned that this team of female managers is pushing their style in the polar opposite direction.
There is this strange phenomenon going on with the gals I work with now. It appears they have all chosen Drew Carey as their style icon. I haven’t found it anywhere, but somewhere in some secret handbook there must be some guideline that encourage the frumpy style most of them have embraced. They all have the same look and I’m trying to figure out the purpose behind it.
Chunky dark flats, wide leg dark pants that aren’t necessarily the right cut for their body type, and a blouse that in general is not the right choice to flatter them. I understand that we’re on our feet a lot and comfort is often chosen over style, but there are options out there that meet in the middle. Wide leg pants are meant for certain body types, but not every one of them so it’s time to do some research and find what is best for you instead of conforming to this unofficial uniform that seems to be taking over. If your buttons are pulling, the blouse borders on being a mumu, or it doesn’t allow you to raise your arms without falling out of it in some way…your shirt doesn’t fit you properly.
I’m not saying that we all need to dress as if we are in some beauty pageant when we go to work, but I am saying that you should look on the outside as if you have some self-respect for yourself on the inside. I believe they think their outfit choices say that they are serious, should be taken as such and all of their focus is on their job. However, people aren’t taking them seriously because they don’t appear to take themselves seriously when their look is thrown together haphazardly. I understand as a female manager it can be difficult to be taken seriously, but the start of it all is presenting yourself in a professional manner that others will immediately look at you and know you have your $h!t together.
When I returned to the company I’m with now I vowed that I wouldn’t let myself fall into this style trap. I’ve always gravitated towards wearing dresses more often then traditional suits or pants. My counterparts wake up every morning and put on any of the various pairs of wide leg dark pants they own to pair with an ill fitted blouse and I make the choice to pick a dress instead. I actually find dresses to be much more versatile and less constricting when I’m working outside in the Central Florida heat. Weather I pick a pair of flats, kitten heels or stilettos doesn’t really matter. Either way, I’ve already set myself apart from all the others just by picking a dress. I’m just as active, and in some situations even more so, then my counterparts so that’s not an excuse to not pick a dress. All I need is a skinny belt to clip all the radios and phones on to and possibly a cardigan or jacket for when I’m indoors then I’m ready for the day.
I worked on Independence Day this year and everywhere I looked there were gals in navy slacks and frumpy tops helping to set up cookouts for the employees. I knew I was destined for a whole day outdoors and a trek across property with all the fresh baked goods I brought. The easy choice for me was to put on a white Calvin Klein sheath dress, my navy ballet flats with red tipped toes and head out the door in my festive red, white, and blue attire. I’ll be darned if all the other managers didn’t comment on what I chose to wear. “Oh no! Be careful in your white dress. You could get dirty.” So what if I do get dirty? It’s not going to keep me from doing my job while dressing comfortably.
Despite working a full shift outdoors, carrying baked goods that could have stained me several miles across the property, and helping to clean up multiple different areas that day; I walked out of work without anything on that white dress and achieved another day of not giving up my style to conform to some senseless self-imposed uniform the rest of the gals have chosen to wear. I go to work each day with the idea in mind that I want someone to be able to look at me and know right away I’m prepared and equipped for whatever could come my way. If there is ever day when someone from higher management bumps into me while searching for an individual who can handle a project with class, at least I know I’ll be looking the part and will catch their eye while standing in a sea of my fellow female managers.