A friend of mine shared an article from CNN discussing what women wear to work—in particular, what female attorneys and potential attorneys should and shouldn’t wear. It referred to a memo that Loyola Law School recently issued to its students regarding what not to wear to work-study jobs—no low-cut shirts, stilettos, etc.
The key to this article is that the memo suggests women get judged on how well they do their jobs based on what they wear. So what you wear matters. However, for women, there seems to be so many more rules and opinions as to what that entails, and this happens in all industries.
As the article points out, “Look good, but not too good. Pay attention to vanity, but don’t be obvious about it. Be different, but about the same as everyone else.” I found myself upset and irritated as I was reading this, because it’s true. We live in a society obsessed with appearances, and memos like the one Loyola issued suggests that women cannot be both attractive and smart.
What we wear should exhume confidence and our personality. One of my friends is a very successful partner at a well-known law firm, and she’ll show up to a lunch meeting in a bright blue skirt with zebra print shoes, and neon green sunglasses in all her blonde hair blue-eyed bubbliness. So should the opposing party take her less seriously because she dares to wear color? Absolutely not. In fact, they should feel more intimidated, because she is that confident in herself. To judge her otherwise would be a fatal mistake.
Yes, it’s good to be aware of your hemline and neckline based on appropriate situations and venues, because you don’t wear cut-off jean shorts to the golf course, or a gown to a 30 Seconds to Mars concert. Beyond that though, fashion should always be a form of expression. I know when I put on certain pairs of shoes I mean business—fierce business. Those shoes add to my demeanor, and help me express my confidence and determination. I also tend to enjoy a pop of color in my outfits, but only because I don’t want to bore or depress myself. It’s all about your attitude, right? Why does one man wear a bow tie, while the other wears a skinny tie, or no tie? The only difference is that guys don’t get judged negatively for their wardrobe choices. As long as they get out of their basketball shorts and oversized t-shirts, we think they look good “cleaned-up.”
So, all I’d like to say about this is that what you wear matters, but it mostly matters to you. How does what you wear affect you? How does it affect your attitude, and your ability to perform? My friends sometimes laugh at me, because I will feel shitty and completely exhausted, looking ghostly with eyes that barely function, but if I have to go out, instead of allowing myself to be swallowed up by a hoody and baggy yoga pants, I’ll put on a pair of heels, and something that makes me look at least a little better than I feel, because then that makes me feel better. And then I’m not a walking ball of negative energy.
When I’m getting ready for a meeting, I do think about with whom I’m meeting. Is it a man or a woman? How old? Where are they from? What are we discussing? What is the purpose of this meeting? But then I choose the outfit and even the shade of eye shadow that I think will make me feel most confident in a room with that person. If you’re shoes are killing you, then find another pair of shoes, because cranky feet make for a cranky lady. But it’s not the height of your heel or your hemline that should convey your intelligence and ability to perform. It’s your intelligence and how you perform that conveys your intelligence and ability to perform.
BIG LOVE & HUGS