Monday, September 18, 2017

Dress code rules

The more someone tries to nail good taste, common sense or judgment to the floor, the more ridiculous the effort becomes.

"Ensure no lingerie shows at any time."
Does that include the camisole peeking out to hide my cleavage? Because frankly, I'd rather show off the girls and not be tugging down the cami every hour as it rides up my rib cage.

"Hemlines should be below your fingertips."
Because all our arms / torsos etc. are a uniform length and being able to not touch one's hemline is a true measure of worth and respectability.

Over the years, dress codes have and will change. If there is a need (e.g. safety) for a rule, then follow it. If someone is simply trying to dictate a view of a workplace that does not include diversity (in thought and expression) then question it!

Aside from the fact that women are often urged to dress in a way that men can contain their primal urges (reflecting badly on both genders), until they issue me a comfy fleece onesy uniform, here are my 'rules to dress at work.'
  • Don't wear clothing that you'd wear to the beach or for gardening, etc.
  • Don't be spilling out of either the top or bottom of your outfit (or middle)
  • Ragged holes usually are a no-no 
  • Start the day clean, unwrinkled and stain-free
Yes, that's all common sense but not everyone can find sense when they're tired or on a tight budget. 

There are 3 guidelines to consider:
1 - Know what's appropriate for the situation.
Usually that's set by the tone of the event, meeting or workplace. Often there are suggestions "Business Casual"... sometimes there are specific items listed "No clamdiggers"  (I'm not kidding). 
When I work with not-for-profit administrators, I point out that when relationships first form we need to put folks at ease. Since we first connect on the visual, mirroring body language and dressing to loose business guidelines is a quick and easy way to say "I get where you're coming from" off the top. The differences will emerge soon enough.

However, do not limit your creativity or put yourself in a uniform if that's not your thing. Think of 'appropriate' as the polite manners of the workplace, like adding "please", "thank you" and "may I call you by your first name?".  
2 - Know your personal style and don't give it up, just adapt it.
Ask yourself - what image do I want to project?
If you're not sure what your style is, stick closer to the suggestions the event/workplace offers around #1. Play it safe. If you are aware of your style - use it. Graphic print wrap dresses or beautiful necklaces keep me sane.
Those who tell women to dress in conservative colours and cuts are trying to downplay gender. No one tells guys not to wear crazy socks, ill-tailored pants or cool two-tone wingtips. Feel good in what you wear, including heels if you can actually walk in them (have a friend follow you to check).
If you don't feel happy in what you're wearing - shoes that pinch, pants that pull, an itchy sweater or feeling like you're wearing a disguise - you won't have as good a day. Our image inside and out should be confident, comfortable and in control and reflect how we wish to be seen.

3 - Ask someone you trust if you are not sure.
Don't just go to folks who dress like you and look for validation. Pick someone who has a style you admire and ask for their opinion.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Personal rules - use your mentor

We all have personal rules: colours we will wear; foods we will eat; household habits; social outings. When we think about breaking rules, we do not often consider breaking our own. However, our personal rules are created from a mix of necessity (e.g. allergies), fears (e.g. discomfort) and habit... which means some of them are open to being challenged.

Personal rules can get in the way of your professional career. From how we choose to present ourselves visually, to how comfortable we are in sharing our successes or goals, we can get in our own way.

This is where a mentor can help. Mentoring is not about creating new tasks and rules; it is about helping you identify strengths and long-term goals. A mentor can then challenge habits and choices that might be hindering or outdated and support us in selecting new options to try.

Remember, every rule can be challenged except this one.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Break rules

Break your own rules.
Break the rules of others.
Break rules.
Make guidelines that respect choice and independent thought.
Break every rule except this one.

Sounds like a poem for chaos and anarchy?

With amazing posts like Phoebe Holmes on her blog Herding Cats writing about fashion faux-pas based solely on age to amazing books like Break Your Own Rules (2011), it is apparent that there are many rules that bind us.

Hidden rules like who gets up to make the coffee. Overt rules like 'cover your grey hair.' Silly rules like older women shouldn't wear mascara on bottom lashes.

I am tired of rules. Yes, we need some guidelines as sense and judgment require support and experience. Yes, things that are physically dangerous need to be called out.

I would like to ensure the 'why' of the rules serves a purpose beyond telling me to be docile and accepting.