Sunday, February 7, 2010

Power Suits Are a Myth

In honor of Love Month ... and going along the same theme as Teaching Working Girl's last post (nice one!) here's what I love most about my job:


"Eeets tha baste!" (Nacho Libre? Anyone?) Is PR typically like that, you ask? Hmm, not necessarily. It really depends on the agency, each one is so different. Although, the smaller boutique-y type of agencies tend to be more casual. Since I work in-house at a large company vs. at a PR agency, we follow the overall company's dress code guidelines. Luckily our brand skews the younger demographic and is super laid back, so our office environment embodies this great "come as you are" philosophy. I highly dig. Employees are encouraged to wear what's most comfortable to them, because at the end of the day what matters is that you get your work done, not what you wear.

My last job, however, was at a very large PR agency in Chicago where the dress code was business casual every day and formal business attire when clients were in the house. I would often tell myself that I enjoyed dressing up for work, but man, when you have to stop by the grocery store after work or run an errand at CVS, heels and nice clothes were a major pain. Finally, after a lot of prodding from employees, "casual Fridays" or "jeans Fridays" was born. But there were still really strict rules. There was even a secret dress code enforcer person who made his/her rounds through cube city every day policing the entire office to make sure no flip flops, sneakers or T-shirts had entered the building.

Ironically, this ended up not being such a good thing for me.

One Friday, my team had a big client in town, and I showed up to our meeting in jeans. I was still very put together and professional looking, mind you. My jeans were of the dark and skinny variety, I had on black peep-toe heels and a very nice well-taiored top. My boss, oh yeah, she came into the meeting with a full-on suit, a silky fucia top and big jewelry around her neck. As soon as she saw me, her eagle eye that never missed a thing looked me up and down. I could tell she was not happy.

After the meeting, she pulled me aside (oh no, please please please tell me I'm not fired) and tersely whispered that even though it was "casual Friday" we always dress up for the client. No ifs, ands or buts. I was mortified.

But you see, the tables have now turned. When folks from our PR agency come into the office for meetings all dressed up and dapper-looking, I can't help but smile at how ridiculous and uncomfortable they look while the rest of us, the client, are dressed in jeans, sweats and Uggs.

*OK, OK, OK guys. It's a day later and I realize this post makes it sound like I come to work each day looking--and smelling--like a homeless slob. Haha. Not true. It's the option to wear something very loose and comfortable (such as on a Friday before a long holiday weekend) or a cute, planned out outfit (which I shoot for most days) that I love about not having a dress code. Cool? OK. Now get back to work.


Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

The agency I work at is business-casual. I will wear slacks and a nice top during the week and dark jeans on Friday. I usually wear flats but I have a pair of heels that I keep at work so somedays I will wear my uggs to work and then my heels around the office.

I do agree that getting TOO dressed up can be uncomfortable. But the last line you wrote "jeans, sweats and uggs" made me go "UGH!"

Personally, I would think someone in a professional setting was very UN-professional for wearing something like that! I think dark jeans, a nice blouse and flats are fine. Heck, I even wear my black UGGS UNDER my slacks *sometimes* but sweats??? NEVER!

Katie said...

My first job out of college had a lax dress code, even though it was a top-notch communications firm. Although, I don't think they were keen on me wearing flipflops, jeans and hoodies. Every. Single. Day.

Now I mostly work from home ... and I hardly leave my pjs! So, dressing up for meetings at the office is actually a rare and fun treat. :)

miss esther said...

I switched over from corporate to education a few years ago. I had to tweak my wardrobe to fit the casual culture-things are a lot slower paced and every friday is denim day. I'll still dress up for meetings though since otherwise people still think I'm in college~

Twixter One said...

I agree with miss esther. My office has a VERY casual dress policy (as in my boss has often come in wearing a sweatshirt and sneakers). But my new resolution is to try and dress up, even when everyone doesn't. As the youngest person in the office it helps people see me as more than "that young girl right out of college." But I'll admit, I love my converse and flip flops - it's a hard habit to break.

Seattle Kim D said...

I can relate - my old agency was casual dress unless you had a client meeting. Despite this I really liked dressing up but on occasion (pretty much any day I was running late, I took full advantage). You can imagine my shock one rainy Friday when I showed up in jeans, chucks and a hoodie. This would have been fine as I had a long ten hours at my desk ahead of me, however, my boss had a childcare issue that was making her late, so in the interim I had to entertain some VERY important clients and let's just say I was mortified... At least your outfit sounds cute and stylish. :)

Elle said...

I would PAY to go into work with jeans. Work clothes looks nice, but it's so pricey and you need a decent variety to look like you're not always wearing the same thing. It's so limiting :(!!

Lindsay Vastola - Your trainer said...

When I used to work in a company in NYC dressing up everyday got pretty old (mostly because I worked so much that I didn't have time to go shopping for new, fun clothes!). Now I own my own fitness company and have a home office - now I love every opportunity I get to dress up since most of my clients see me in my workout gear.

But I've realized that what I wear does affect how productive I am - when I work at home in my PJs (some women's dreams!), I don't always seems to get as much done - but when I'm at least somewhat dressed "up" it helps me focus and get more done! (but believe me, hanging out in my workout clothes and no makeup is definitely not a bad gig!)