Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Like a miserable but hot librarian

That's what Josh said I looked like after trying on my new interning clothes for him. I have become a person who owns pinstripes. I didn't even know what that meant before this weekend.

All my skirts go down to right above my knees. Laurie swore she wasn't being an old fuddy duddy (I immediately-but-silently disagreed as anyone who would use that term is one) by saying anything higher at this kind of company would be considered inappropriate. A lady working at the store nodded in agreement, and so did a normal-looking girl, so I am now outfitted in fuddy duddy clothes for the summer. Plus hopefully, for after I graduate. Because wouldn't it be a terrible shame if I only needed these clothes for just the summer and then never again?

Laurie also swore that my shoulders have to be covered, so she insisted that sleeveless tops were okay, but tank tops can NOT be worn with my fancy clothes. "Even if I'm wearing the suit jacket over it?" NO. I don't mean this in a cruel way, but Laurie is ... not an office worker, and I couldn't figure out a nice way to say it but I wanted to ask where she got all her information from. She was saying I can't dress just on the right side of the dress code, but have to dress like the people who've worked there for a long time, so they think of me as someone who should work there a long time.

This seems dishonest or disingenuous or something. Pretending to be something you're hoping you might one day become? You want to become part of a company that lets you in because you wear their unofficial uniform? Didn't I spend all of my entire life being told how you look isn't what's important, but how you treat people and the work you do is what's important?


Anonymous said...

Actually you might want to wear tops with sleeves, to protect the jackets from underarm persperation.

Just Me said...

I think it's best to be on the conservative side in how you dress initially. You can always push the line later once you've been at a job a while and know the culture better to know how it would be accepted. This is a crucial time for your future... even if it makes you squirm a little (and it definitely would make ME squirm), you probably are best toeing the line.

Unfortunately... clothing and looks DO matter, even if they shouldn't.

Monica said...

First from your summary - you should always dress not for the job you have now, but for the job you want. People make judgements based on what they see and until they have a chance to see your amazing work ethic the only thing they have to go on is your appearance. It's not dishonest it's more demonstrating what you're capable of.

With the same issues in mind dress very conservatively for the first couple weeks until you have some first hand knowledge of the office.

Kizz said...

I work in finance. She's absolutely right. It's not fuddy duddy it's just the way it's done. It sucks and I hate it but I do it because it's the job that pays me enough for food, rent, and vet bills. Depending on where you wind up working their specific rules and customs may be different and you'll get to know that and work within it once you've been there a while. Think of it this way if it helps: If everyone dresses the same it's a way of eliminating any factors for deciding to hire you except your work and your communication skills. It actually evens the playing field in some ways. You wouldn't want the job to be based on something bogus like visible cleavage or hot legs so you put that away to make it clear what things about you are perfect for the job.

When I interview I generally go with pant suits and express myself with my shoes.

Nina said...

She's right, even though it sucks. It is disingenuous, but it's the way it is. If you don't dress in an "acceptable" way, like you want what they are offering you, then they will be disinclined to see you as a serious prospect.

And she's right about the tank top thing too. Sleeveless is okay, but tanks are not. It makes no sense, but there it is.

Suzanne said...

I second Nina. It's sad but true.
Once you get your dream job you can dress more in line with how you like...

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

She's right. And she knows that stuff from 40+ years of interacting with those types of people--even if not working in those offices, she has hired those services and has expectations for how people providing those services are dressed.

You are aware of what the appropriate uniform is for other areas of your life--you wouldn't wear fuddy duddy clothes to a nightclub, or slutty clothes to school--you wear what you have learned is appropriate for those situations. It is merely a different situation with its own set of rules to be learned. Follow the rules when you are on the bottom rung; you can't make your own rules till you get higher up.

btw, you'll never go wrong wearing fuddy duddy clothes to interact with rich people.

I have an informal interview today--its a long and involved explanation, but I am briefly meeting someone who might want to interview me (its not a full on interview at the workplace, just a "hey, let me introduce you to this person" for a few minutes). So my previously planned sundress and sandals to meet my friend will be a no-cleavage, longer sundress, suit jacket and close-toed shoes. Even though meeting that person will probably be ten minutes, tops. My toes will not be exposed, my chest will be covered, my upper arms will be covered, my dress will cover my knees when I sit down. That's just the way it is. (I draw the line at pantyhose--I hate them and if I worked in an office that required pantyhose I would wear pants and close-toed shoes every single day.)

Treat the clothes as one more tool you can use to show how serious you are. Its not fair, but sexism still exists in the workplace (especially in highly paid, big name places that attract ambitious men).

Anonymous said...

There's nothing disingenuous about adhering to the dress code for a job. Think of it as having good manners. There's a certain way the company wants its employees to dress, and by following the dress code, you're showing your respect for the company and also showing that you have the good judgment to realize what's appropriate.

When we conduct interviews for my firm, we're told to observe the candidate's appearance and manners and think how they would reflect on the firm at a client meeting. Inappropriate dress, bad table manners, etc. are red flags because they make the candidate a worse fit for the job, as well as showing the candidate's poor judgement and implying that he/she doesn't take the job seriously enough to have researched what's appropriate beforehand.

My advice would be to treat your first month or so on any job as a sort of interview. First impressions count. As other people have said, once you've established yourself at work, you can think about relaxing the rules a little.