As I was getting ready for work this morning and fumbling through a pile of junk jewelry looking for the perfect piece to accentuate my jeans and cardigan, it dawned on me how different this office is on how the women assess each others status and tastes in this office. Your jewelry is the indicator of fitting in….of course no one ever says to you “that necklace is really tacky” or “why do you wear such cheap jewelry?”
In this office they are into those big, chunky statement necklaces. Strands of beaded, baubles, colorful, clashing, pair-shaped, plastic, rarely real or realistic ornaments hanging around their necks.
I am a pearl-girl. Simple and classic.Today I tried branching out. Mixing sparkles with turquoise- no one will ever tell me if they liked it or not…they just notice and go on. Whatever, I do it for me and dangnabit- I need sparkle today!
I worked in one office where the measure of success was your handbag. It was a law department and the size of your Coach bag was everything. Lawyer-mommies carried Coach saddlebag style. The lesser Compliance people carried Kate Spade or Dooney Burke.
Even going into some stores, I became dreadfully aware of how clerks priced you by your purse. Walking into a store with my mom one fall, all the store clerks wanted to get me a dressing room while ignoring mom. She was a little annoyed with the lack of attention to the armful of clothes she had pulled and no one to help her.
“I’m carrying a Kate Spade mom….they are pricing me.” as I pointed to my very small, black, plain purse with a small label stitched to the side of it. “Well my bag came from Montana!” as she held out her red leather slouchy bag….much more fashionable for the times, but no obvious label. We both chuckled- I asked a store clerk to get my mother a room.
They behaved better after I pointed out that she was with me.
Yet another office I worked in preferred you to be more fashionable- dare I say trendy. I was seen as the stuffy office worker with my banker-style clothes, primarily Brooks Brothers wrinkle resistant shirts for that constant pressed look. My boss at this company was a former model and it showed. She always dressed perfectly, haute couture.
One day, I walked in with knit, over the knee boots, tights and a much shorter skirt. Wow, did that ever get some comments. I didn’t care. I just liked what I liked….and I love those boots so contrary to the rest of my wardrobe.
I loved listening to Simon Doonan on the radio last week who is a fashion guru at Barney’s and use to be a window dresser. He was so outrageously flamboyant but right on the mark about the fashion industry, stating that they were all a bunch of idiots.
In his book, Eccentric Glamour, he decried porno chic in Western society in general. Interviewed for an article for the New York Daily News, he said, “There are two horribly worrying trends! Celebrities are becoming so gun-shy that there is no diversity, no sense of fun on the red carpet. There’s no experimentation – which is incredibly important to fashion.” On “porno chic,” (the second trend) he said, “Imagine if you said to people 20 years ago that, in 2008, a significant number of women would be going around dressing like porno stars with fake hooters and butt cracks showing? No one would have believed you”
I will paraphrase his comment about personal style, but it went something like this…. Whatever you choose to wear, no matter how crazy or silly it looks to others, but own it and make it yours.
I still wear my banker suits, carry a designer purse and some funky jewelry at times. I guess the key takeaway from this lesson is to adapt to survive but still look for ways to be you.