Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dark Fashion in the Workplace

You know those news stories where a kid gets suspended because he or she colored their hair pink or whatever? It's so that kids would be "prepared" for the real world. Or those ridiculous "employee dress codes" they make you read when you get an hourly job? It's so customers won't be distracted or brand image or whatever.

Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I've found that all that conformity BS was a lie. I've never had adverse reactions to what I wear or how I look. Well, I suppose if I wasn't hired at a place because I had a second lobe piercing, I'd never know. If that was the case, I dodged a bullet.

Actually scratch that...I had plenty of adverse reactions...when I worked shitty jobs. I used to sell professional hair products and colored my hair purple. While they didn't fire me, they reduced my hours to about 4 hours a week and told me rudely to change it to a natural shade. This was at a store that sold the haircolor I used to color my hair.

No, I haven't had many problems since I've gone full corporate. There were a few memorable conversations though:

1. My manager closes the door and tells me "Look. I don't have a problem with what you wear, but if you want to be a publicist, you have to look the part. I keep a pair of heels under my desk. I hide my tattoos." What happened? both of us left the department to better things.

2. "I thought you had great style and you just looked like you'd fit in." when I asked one of my hiring managers why they chose me over the other candidates. Of course I was insanely qualified too. I wore an all-black outfit with leather pants and green hair done in victory rolls. The place was at a art gallery/publisher...obviously not typical.

3. "You can wear anything you want...just shorts" Ok fair enough! This was my favorite manager and we're still friends today.

4. "I don't have a problem with your appearance." from the worst manager ever. It came out of nowhere, which makes me think that she DID have a problem. She did have a problem with me not laughing at her manager's bad jokes. I can't even...

The people who hire me tend to be oddballs and outcasts themselves. Managers hire the right person for them...chances are, they're going to hire someone similar to themselves. My current manager is a season-tickets-holder sports fan who works out at the gym and is pushing 50...Nope, we aren't similar on a superficial level. And I've never gotten the "dress code" talk from him. I thought I saw his eyes linger on my giant pentagram earrings once and was sure he was going to say something. But then later when we got our assignments, I noticed he assigned all of the witchcraft/paranormal/occult/vampire stuff to me.

Unless you're in high school, working at the mall, or are a juggalo, you don't really have to worry about what you wear, after the interview anyway.  Your manager picked you for a reason, and it probably had nothing to do with what shoes you were wearing. When things go bad and your manager starts attacking your wardrobe choices, chances are there are other areas more serious that aren't working out between you and them.

Bottom line is no competent manager is going to lose a competent worker because of a few fashion choices. So might as well stay true to yourself and let the right person find you and work with you, instead of trying to change yourself to meet some kind of conformity standard.

That said, I DID do a dark fashion workwear post a while back...

Goth and Work

How about you guys? Any adverse reactions from your managers re your style choices? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


  1. Haha, it always makes me laugh when people post about the goth work wear dilemma and how toned down you should go, because my jobs and future employment are bound by strict dress codes which are actually there for a reason (uniforms for care home nursing, infection control policies for medical students). That said, it is an important issue to decide where you stand on.

    1. yeah... uniforms sure make it easy! i don't know how many times I just wanted to roll out of bed and not think about what to wear and if it matched, etc.

  2. A friend of mine that works in a major company is constantly being called to the human resources because either her hair color - even red is not acceptable - or her work attire - you can't wear other clothing besides a suit. It's ridiculous! She's incredible smart, a hardworker and they give her this bullshit... People are simply stupid - they will probably because of her individuality but the dumb blonde (sorry for the stereotype).

    Sorry for the rant. But this really get's in my nerves!

    A Strangeness in me Blog

    1. ugh. companies who risk losing a great worker over stupid reasons like this deserve to fail. so they'd rather harass someone until they leave so they could 1) put work on hold while they search for a new worker 2) train that new person... all of which takes time and resources and costs the business. Hope your friend goes to a place that deserves her.

  3. Aww, your current manager sounds sweet :) I´ve actually never had any problems, not even in Israel, back when I worked at a call center. At first I´ve toned down myself a bit, but shorty I began bombing with outfits which intimidated the coworkers only, not the managers at all. My own manager back then used to joke on me for my crazy outfits, but in a kind manor, not in a mocking way at all :) There were other coworkers at the same call center who dressed worse than sluts, so yeah..

    1. haha I won't tell him you said that. He's the manliest man's man who's ever manned he certainly doesn't have feelings and doesn't care for nice things. ;) nice to hear you haven't had problems...and your manager seemed cool too! and those crappy jobs have the worst managers for some reason.

  4. Unfortunately, in many professional situations, you really do have to be concerned with what you wear and how you are perceived. I've worked in ad agencies, retail, schools, and libraries (and many more). In every instance, while I could certainly express myself, I did have to tone it down quite a few notches. I paired a mowhawk and lilac hair with dress slack and office-appropriate blouses. I save my dress-up for the weekends/evenings/nights out :)

    1. yeah definitely. you should do a workwear post one of these days!