“I don’t know what to wear!” – said every woman ever
This post was written by Elena Ruan ’14, CCD Peer Career Ambassador
As a senior who is about to transition into the workforce, one of my number one concerns is that I now have to restock my entire wardrobe. The days of ripped jeans, crop tops, and baggy sweaters are over, and the time for ill-fitting, awkward corporate wear has begun. This might seem like an exaggeration, but the truth of the matter is that women have to worry about their attire on a daily basis and entering the workforce makes every woman hypersensitive to the issue. Imagine this scenario: it is the night before your first day at work. As you sift through your wardrobe, you realize that the suit you had picked out was too formal and droops around the shoulders. You pick up several blouses, but they are too transparent, too floral, too tight, or too dark. Picking out shoes becomes the choice between painful, pinching, and numbingly painful (which could be a real blessing). So why does this process even matter? Or does it?
How you dress on your first day of work says something about you: whether or not you are an open personality, friendly, and most importantly, competent. That impression can carry throughout your time at a company and is crucial to establish properly on the first day. Clothing requirements within the company itself also say a lot about the company culture and the values that it exemplifies. If you are required to wear a formal suit every day, the company could be catering to mostly financial clients and the atmosphere tends to be more work than social oriented. If everyone in the office is wearing jeans and bouncing around on exercise balls (which was the atmosphere at one of my clients’ offices), the employees tend to be socializing more and the office layout tends to be more open. The combination of these two factors can determine whether or not a company is gender balanced, not only in appearance but in roles. If women are required to be more subdued in dress and have more physical restrictions (makeup, skirt lengths), this could translate into a company asking women to be more subdued in their mannerisms as well. Though this is not always the case, these kinds of company norms permeate throughout all of the company practices. So next time you are slipping on that blazer and pencil skirt, take a second to consider whether or not you are just making an outfit choice.