I don’t usually read blogs about dressing for corporate jobs–luckily, most of my work experience has been in government and higher education administration, which tend to have less strict dress codes. But when I came across a link to a post titled “When Do Girly Clothes Become Unprofessional?” on Corporette, I couldn’t stop myself from clicking through, even though I knew it would piss me off.
And piss me off it did.
Some of the advice is good, like keeping the office culture in mind when picking outfits. But the concept that femininity = childishness/incompetence/lack of professionalism just makes me so angry.
I hate the idea that it’s ok to take someone less seriously because they wear bows in non-sedate colors or lacy headbands or–heaven forbid–vintage dresses.
I understand that sometimes, women have to dress a certain way to be taken seriously at certain jobs, and I don’t have a problem with individual women dressing however they need to in order to succeed. I don’t even have a problem with them passing along practical advice on dressing for those types of workplaces–hell, we all make compromises in order to get by, and there’s no shame in that.
But I do have a problem with failing to critique the standards that posit masculinity as “professional” and femininity as “unprofessional.” I have a problem with passing them along as if they’re truth rather than a set of beliefs that are unfortunately still prevalent in some workplaces.
And I have a major problem with this double standard:
That said, it’s a bad idea to wear very girly things exclusively — Elle Woods was comical because she wore pink ALL THE TIME. If you only wear one color and it’s bright pink, yes, there does seem something childlike about that to me. (Yet, for some reason, wearing almost any other color exclusively just seems creative to me, perhaps because of this old NY Magazine article.)
Personally, I can’t imagine going permanently monochromatic–I love so many different colors! Limiting oneself to one color just seems so, well, limited. But the idea that it’s creative if that color is blue, but childish if that color is pink? Blehh. Just blehh.
I’m just so sick of the idea that women who like to wear “girly” things are somehow less mature, less smart, less worthy of respect.