Grown-up clothes

Okay, people, here's a question:

Now that I'm director of a WGS Program, how important is it that I wear grown-up clothes to work?

On the one hand, I want to be myself, and I am usually most comfortable in jeans, some sort of slouchy top, and Birkenstocks or Chacos, depending on the weather. On the other hand, I want to be taken seriously as an administrator and colleague, a goal that may already be complicated by the fact that I'm young and female.

What do you all think?


Kevin O'Mara said...

Well, They say that one should always dress one step above one's position if one intends to give the impression that one possesses the desire to move up the ladder. I say that They are probably talking about some boring corporate ladder, not the fast-paced high-octane academic world. Therefore you should continue to dress as you do already. Or ... maybe only on certain days of the week. I mean, closed-toed shoes couldn't hurt, right? No suits, though! No suits! Or suit pants. Nice slacks, maybe. Shit, I dunno.

What am I even doing here?

Walter said...


"fast-paced high-octane academic world"


interestingly, my verification word for this comment is "jickofh."

Walter said...


i wasn't thinking about "jickofh" in terms of you, kevin. i just thought it was funny.


sneeeeeeeeeedge! said...

If you saw another dept head wearing "non-grown up clothes" would you go, "Man! I wish I could wear that!" Or, "That's so cool that they can wear that to work!"?

if so, then you should wear whatever you feel like wearing, "kid" or "grownup".

This is coming from someone who wears jeans that are sometimes clean to work...but I'm cool, and other business owners (old grownup ones) ask my advice and take me seriously(or at least seem to).


Miss Meghann said...

I think if you were to show up to the office in say, pumps and a blazer, I would not know what to do with myself.

Please tell Kevin O'Mara that yes, closed-toe shoes can hurt.

Our office isn't that high-octane is it?

Kenneth said...

It's fun to get dressed up.

Cate Bush said...

Hm. I'm torn. I really like Aaron's comment (at least I think A is Aaron). I also think there are ways to maintain your freedom, flexibility, and comfort, but also notch up your "professional" wear when needed (or overall) if you found things that you liked. Let's talk more.

Heather Bailey said...

my natural state of dress is comfortable jeans, crazy socks, birkenstock knock-offs, and a t-shirt or crazy hippy top. that's not the kind of dress that was expected for the job that i took...so i decided to do some shopping. to get stuff that looked professional, and yet was something that i could have fun with.

the result has been surprising. i've really liked getting comments on how cool my new wardrobe is. it's still not mainstream, but i certainly look at it as playing dress-up. although, i've never given up my crazy sock collection.

and i carry a hippy bag. and still no make-up.

i still think of jeans, tie-dye shirt, and braided pigtails as the real me, but the professional version of me where i'm doing a version of heather fashion has actually turned out to be fun.

Anonymous said...

real charleston sheeple don't wear closed toe shoes. no one. it's too hot, even in the wintery/rainy 65 degrees i had on open toed shoes today. okay - they were fake snakeskin heels - but still... open toe!

anyway, as a student i heart teachers who wear whatever the eff they want. makes you approachable, not distanced! :)

- The Marge.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Catherine and Heather--I think you can notch it up (particularly since you are the Director of a new program that you're trying to grow and you'll have to impress certain donors, old Cha'lston folks, deans, etc. for) and still be true to yourself. I can see you in some really cool, funky clothes that send the "I'm a professional grown-up" message while still saying "But I'm relaxed, approachable and way cooler than you." :-) Be yourself while impressing those you need to.

Alison said...

This is some VERY interesting feedback.

Meghann and Kevin: I wouldn't characterize our office as high-octane. More like radical-feminist-Laverne-and-Shirley..

Cate, Deandra, and Heather: I hear you on the "professional but still funky" possibilities, although I have no sense of what that might look like for me. The problem is, I really need to avoid the 2nd wave feminist muu-muu/caftan look, but I don't really have other models of feministy dress up.

Perhaps I'll wear seersucker, in honor of Kenneth. Or I could dress as a coffee-stained Wookiee, in honor of Sneeeedge.

Miss Meghann said...

Which am I? Laverne? Shirley? SQUIGGY?

Please let me be him.


Cate Bush said...

Luv the santa hat on the Deez!

Scout said...

Wow. I didn't know that there were women who truly only had one style they were comfortable in. For instance, I am most comfortable and feel most myself in ball gowns. Trust me, I have shoulders made for that look. Unfortunately, I find them not to be in keeping with my role as stay-at-home mom. I'm a big believer in the staying true to who you are, but still dressing professionally. So, where to shop? If we were both still in Nashville, I could really help, but seeing as that's not the case anymore. I don't really have any good suggestions. Darlene Panvini always liked Chico's, but I find it a might too tall for my tastes. My mother (who prides herself on being fashion forward) loves the place, but that is damning with faint praise being that she is in her low 60s (not that she looks it). Search and ye shall find. Or we could nominate you for one of those self-loathing makeover shows. Now there's a feminist thesis waiting to happen!