Suited, booted, and muted? Why how you look at work really matters.

I love, love, love this article is on Blue Notes. I find delving into the depths of human nature (and our inherent judge-a-book-by-its-cover reaction) an interesting way to think about our everyday professional and personal lives. And how the way we present ourselves to the world then charts our paths forward. Oh Casual Friday, I love and loathe you!

Why? Well, firstly I work for ANZ (a big bank) which means that (if I’m honest), some of my initial fears and stresses about moving from my last job (which was a bit more laid back) to my current one weren’t about skill level or the ability to climb the corporate ladder, but about what was lacking in my wardrobe. Yep, at a time when I should’ve been contemplating career growth, ways to enhance the business with my contribution, and other (more important factors), all I could think about was how much time and effort I’d have to put into my appearance to be taken seriously in such a corporate world.

For years, I’ve worked in an area that is seen more on the fringes of “creative” which means I don’t need to don hose, heels, or wear screeds of make-up daily to be taken seriously or to do my job well.  But, was that about to change? Would I need to buy shoulder-padded power suits and topple from high-heels each day just to be able to prove my worth?

So far, the answer has been “nope!”

That said, there are still times when I feel like I need to play the game and “suit up” – times when I’m definitely seen before I’m heard. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need to look the part. I really do. Looking good enhances confidence levels and makes us feel good and more comfortable in our own skin. Especially when it comes to brokering big deals and living up to the expectations of managers, clients, and customers. We’re all human, and we all judge others based on their appearances at first glance. But it’s the good stuff boiling just beyond the surface that really matters most.

As a woman, though, I feel the lens under which we’re seen is still uber focused on how we look. Can you imagine a woman getting away with wearing the same thing everyday for a year??? Yeah, me neither.  That said, I think all people should be presentable, clean, etc.

We all have the freedom these days to create our own “personal brands” at work and away from the office. But it’s the changing of long-held beliefs that women need to fit a certain corporate brand and stifle their own ‘zhuzh’ that is still a while off yet.

Just having this discussion on a big corporate website means we’re all heading in the right direction though. Now…what to wear to the office tomorrow.

:o)

 

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