Thursday, May 19, 2016

What to Wear: Your First Day at Your First Job

(I'm a solid midlevel employee at a multinational media corporation that has a whopping 117,000 employees worldwide. One person reports to me and we have about 20 people in our dept, with very strict decades-old workflows and hierarchies. So, my office is very corporate. This post is going to cover working in a corporate environment...not a cool edgy startup or a fun art-related field.)

Good job selling out, poser! Now you're one of the sheeple, working for the Man. You're just proving your parents right that the goth thing was just a phase. Too bad you've colored your hair and had gotten those piercings and tattoos! Should have listened to your high school dean about all those dress code violations...they really WERE trying just to prepare you for the working world.

Of course, that's all bullshit. I think the whole "selling out" stigma was more a thing in my age group--people starting their careers now are a lot more worldly about this sort of thing. But obvs, having a career and supporting yourself are wonderful things. Changing yourself for the company you work for is also bullshit. Having virgin skin and hair is also not a stigma. And your high school dean was probably a pedophile.

workwear by featuring a slim-fit shirt

Congrats on the new job. Now it's time to get dressed for it. Despite whatever HR told you, you don't know what the office culture is really like yet. Unless your entire wardrobe is pentagrams and pot leafs, I suggest you wait until you buy work clothes. HR tells you it's "business casual" but in your particular department, everyone wears suits. HR tells you jeans only on casual fridays, but it's monday and everyone's in denim, and you're the weird one in a suit. Or you buy conservative officewear, and everyone at work dresses like a chic gallery owner, and you end up being the frumpy one.

So, don't waste your money beforehand. Sorry, you're going to have to go through some "baby office bat" days. Look inside your closet. These are ok:

  • that really subdued piece you never wore because it was too boring
  • black stuff with zero embellishments (like skull buttons or other stupid bullshit.)
  • jewelry made with real stones, real metals. 
  • Basically, the plainer, the better.  
  • cotton, cotton blends, linen, wool, suede 
  • color: sorry, but people respond well to color. (Don't know how to incorporate color without losing your soul? I've written a number of posts on colors)

It's the first week. Don't let people judge you for what you're wearing. Let them know you for you.


  • any taxidermy stuff. People are grossed out by this, and they'll be grossed out by you. 
  • lace or anything else romantic-looking: the opposite of casual isn't formal. Don't look like a total noob by wearing a cocktail dress to work. You don't want everyone to know this is your first job. 
  • goth brand versions of workwear. OMG no. Save that Lip Service pencil skirt for the club.
  • Vinyl, PVC, pleather, vegan leather. You want to be comfortable at work.
  • no licensed gear ever. ever ever. Let them know you for your professionalism and competencies, not your fandoms. 
  • T-shirts with slogans or ironic stuff on them. This is usually on the dress code. You don't want your first impression to be that you think this job is a joke.
  • If you have gauged piercings, do not wear anything in a clashing color (this usually means acrylics). One person said she was "grossed out" by my tunnels, so I don't recommend tunnels for the first week either. If you have nontraditional piercings, wear retainers or nothing if you can.
The first week:

  • First day, get a sense of what people wear in your department. Wear something similar the rest of the week.
  • Pay attention to the color palette your manager wears. It's a weird subliminal trick to wear what your manager wears (in your style of course) so they like you more. It's probably going to happen anyway--Lol there was one day in the office when everyone in my dept wore maroon.
  • Let your work ethic shine, not your wardrobe.  
  • Do your best to make a good impression. Once you've made your first good impression, then you can express yourself a bit more.
  • Don't apologize for things you can't or won't change about your body. Don't be combative or mean if someone makes a comment--this isn't a random person on the street...this is a colleague--but don't apologize. Ever. Offices have a pecking order, and if you let them push you around over your hair, your tattoos, your whatever, they're going to think they can push you around during your day-to-day tasks as well. 
Anyone want to share tips for the new grads getting their first job?


  1. Good post. I'm really happy I'm not in that kind of work environment. I want a better job but I sincerely hope I never end up in an office setting. I'm very expressive through fashion. I can wear the boring "norm" clothes I just hate it. When I worked in retail I was given uniforms that were grotesquely oversized, so I cut into them and made them smaller so they'd fit properly lol. I joked to my fiance that I'd do the same thing if I worked as a cop or janitor. I can't not look good! I think it's bummer that in the corp goth world a lot of people aren't allowed to wear skulls, even in a little stud earring or barely visible accessory. People are such turds. You don't see me going out of my way to be like "Your giant stone necklaces are tacky as hell, they gross me out! Your wearing fuchsia offends me." Maybe some day our rights as individuals will help bring changes to the workplace dress code. I've already seen some progress with tattoos (you know, provided they aren't boobs or swears). I suppose if I had to dress corp goth I would go for the Neo Victorian look, and somehow find a way to throw some sexy in there lol.

    1. I don't mind the corporate world, and it felt limiting at first, but it's not any more limiting than the clothing requirements of any job. And besides, once you're established, you can wear whatever you want!

  2. awesome post!!! "baby office bat" - I laughed so hard XD
    This was really helpful, even for my casual self. Love the way you wrote this!

    1. Baby office bat is exactly what it felt like. I cringe at some of my early work outfits. Glad you found it useful!

  3. Very good point. I gradually worked my way up and I often consult with my supervisor and upper management about things. I do get a way with a lot of things I would have never in a million years would have in previous jobs but it took time and patience to get there. Excellent post

    1. Yeah you are lucky you work at a place you can wear goth brands. I think that's kind of the main difference between super corporate and just a regular office job

    2. Probably. The company I work for is a multi national but since its in the fashion industry, I guess they are more tolerant. The weather is nice here today and so many people are wearing flip flops, its kinda funny. I remember when I was pregnant for my son. I got pinged on wearing flip flops and I got pissed. They were the *only* shoes that fit. My feet swelled up so much LOL Enjoy your job and have fun being creative with sneaking in goth articles!

  4. I kinda wish I had such experiences. All of my jobs were physical work, so on one hand I usually could wear whatever the hell I wanted (as long as it were comfortable pants and t-shirt, since anything else would get caught in the machines), and on the other I wore most frumpy clothes I wouldn't miss if they would get damaged somehow - and this excluded everything black.

    1. Yeah that is the nice thing about this job. I won't damage my clothes. When I used to color hair, I just assumed anything I wore would be bleached.

  5. This is a really good post, thanks for sharing! I'm currently working in retail which means that our dress code is not that strict (half of my colleagues wear fandom shirts) but some things are still off limits because we have to help the customers, preferably without offending them. I tend to wear black jeans with neutral tops or a black dress when I want to feel a bit fancy. An extra difficulty is that my work vest has to 'work' with the rest of my outfit, though.

    1. Oh I remember working retail and how everything could potentially offend the customer. Hope you have some reasonable managers!

  6. All I have to say is that I always love reading your posts.

  7. Love it :) but I'm happy I work at a start-up and I can be much more myself there than at workplaces I had before in my life. If you see fashion as a way to express yourself it is hard to supress or reduce your style.