cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
Lucy ([personal profile] cereta) wrote in [community profile] agonyaunt2017-07-18 03:39 pm

Sense and Sensitivity: Reader Wants to Dress Above Dress Code

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work in a typical “millennial office.” We have beer in the fridge, a frequently used table tennis table and no dress code. Most of the employees are men in their mid-20s, so shorts and a T-shirt is the go-to work look for them. As a woman, I feel like I would look silly if I started wearing dresses and more formal wear to the office even though I want to, since I usually have plans after work. I don't want to look stuffy at work, but I don't want to look like a slob when I'm out with my friends. Is there any in-between? -- No Tees in the Bar, New York City

DEAR NO TEES IN THE BAR: Get creative. You can develop a personal style that stays casual but is more dressed up than the average guy at your office. Look around. There’s bound to be someone who dresses a notch above the norm. You can also choose to dress up on occasion when you have after-work events. If somebody ribs you, tell them you have an event to attend and leave it at that. You can also bring a change of clothes to work and slip into your dress just before you head out. Most important is for you to feel confident in your appearance and clear that you can make personal choices that extend beyond the casual norm.
adrian_turtle: (Default)

Re: This one was written just for meeeeee

[personal profile] adrian_turtle 2017-07-20 07:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I've worked in tech companies where the only people not wearing jeans were secretaries, sales reps, and people who have job interviews that day. Dressing up the wrong way can be a problem in that environment, even if the clothes are comfortable.

(I'm no longer working in labs. Now I'm freelancing, where actively performing femininity helps. I mean, it helps me get clients, not just letting me go downtown without pants when it's 90F.)
watersword: A sandcastle at sunset (Stock: summer)

[personal profile] watersword 2017-07-19 02:23 am (UTC)(link)
..... on the one hand, dress how you want to dress, feel awesome in your chosen clothes, other people's opinions about your clothes can go to hell.

On the other hand. If you're early-career, it can be really intimidating to buck the norm in your professional space. If you're a woman in a male-dominated profession, looking like you care about fashion can lose you some respect from colleagues who haven't quite figured out that you can care about fashion AND $otherthings. (They're not right, but if you need them on your side for office politics or future networking or whatever reason, this is something to take into consideration. Yes, you can get the respect back — probably — by being awesome at your job, but that particular poisoned pill involves a lot of extra work that should not be on you.) I don't think the LW's concern is misplaced.

[personal profile] cereta's suggestion of "casual dresses with flats, and dress them up after work with jewelry and other accessories" is an excellent one; an alternative might be to pick a uniform look (sheath dress, cardigan, and flats/low heels? trousers/dark-wash jeans, blazer, and flats/low heels?) and stick to it until it stops being a nine-days' wonder and is just "how Jane dresses". Alternatively, go over the top and take advantage of the lack of restrictive dress code and wear bling and stilettos and a fabulous hat; be the office eccentric who dazzles the eye with her outfits and the mind with her stunning ideas.

jadelennox: Judith Martin/Miss Manners looking ladylike: it's not about forks  (judith martin:forks)


[personal profile] jadelennox 2017-07-20 04:21 am (UTC)(link)
Funny story.

At my first professional job, I tried wearing skirts and dresses at first, but my screwdrivers kept ripping out the pockets, and I was required to climb under people's desks. So I switched to casual techie wear.

At my next job, which sucked, I got called into the CIO's office. "Jadelennox," he began. "You're wearing a lot of t-shirts with words on them, and running around the office barefoot. This has to stop."

"Oh, thank goodness," I replied. "There's a dress code? That will make my life so much easier. What's the dress code?"

"You use common sense!" said the CIO. "No t-shirts with words on them, for example."

I was confused. "But you're wearing a t-shirt with words on it right now," I said, nodding at his tech freebie polo.

He made a why me, god? face, and said "Look, just dress like the person with the job you aspire to have."

"But the shlubby t-shirts and bare feet is my dressing like the job I aspire to have," I said, as a mid-tier systems administrator.

"What?" he replied. "But [female middle manager 1] and [female middle manager 2] wear suits."

"Right," I said. "I dress like [male lead technical architect, who usually wore shorts and was barefoot in the office]."

And we stared at each other, at a loss.

So unfortunately, depending on the field, dressing how the LW wants could backfire. Maybe LW is a graphic designer or a programmer, and wearing dresses to the office will make people direct her to management or sales. Maybe it will make her male colleagues treat her as the dumb one. (Which in the office of my story above, happened to my prettier and thinner female colleagues.)

We can't win, in other words, and it's very difficult to get right.
watersword: Keira Knightley, in Pride and Prejudice (2007), turning her head away from the viewer, the word "elizabeth" written near (Default)

Re: agreed

[personal profile] watersword 2017-07-20 01:45 pm (UTC)(link)
I want to frame this comment. I want to carve it in marble.