As a relatively young young professional, my work wardrobe is somewhat lacking. It lacks volume, but it also misses the mark for the exacting standards of office specific work-appropriateness. I am, however, very aware that dress plays a massive role in professionalism. Tardiness, manners, appearance, addressing others — it’s all part of the how-you-present-yourself package.
Luckily, dressing for work is relatively laid back in the tech industry. Right off the bat I have it much easier than a young lawyer or banker who would have to splurge most of their first salary in advance to look the part and then parade around in suits and stilettos until retirement. The other perk of working in tech is that in both of my serious full-time positions so far (very young professional), I’ve been one of only two females. This means I can pretty much write the precedent of how I dress.
Wait — The perk of being one of only two females? I don’t think so. Let me rant quickly: When entering the working world, one must observe, adapt and advance. How does one adapt to and improve upon something that doesn’t exist? I’m referring here to the elusive female tech mentor. The unicorn of the tech industry, if you will. I yearn for a more gender-balanced senior team to learn from. I wish I had both male and female mentors.
Right. Mini-rant done. Let us continue.
At this point, I would like to apologise for my click-baity title. While my wardrobe is anti-feminist, I disagree with its (clearly incorrect) views. I am a fiercely independent individual who strongly believes in empowerment and opportunities for both genders. I also happen to be female.
I’m quite a feminist, but my feminist opinions are even stronger in the workplace. Especially in tech, inequality is alive and well. I would love to say otherwise, but I’m speaking from personal experience here. My point is that I do not take gender into consideration at work. The same stands for sexuality, race and all the other factors that have nothing to do with how good you are at your job.
But yet, I dress like a 1950s housewife.
Not literally of course, but my wardrobe is far too feminine for my androgynous views. My cute pointy high heels, my flattering A-line skirts, my tops with the slightly low Vs. The bows. The ribbons. The lace.
It’s all quite girly.
And yet, historically my wardrobe has always been that way. Since I’m quite young, my personal wardrobe overlaps with my work wardrobe quite a bit. It’s full of ribbons and bows because I like these things. I like the feminine silhouette and I like to feel dainty and glamorous and empowered. But suddenly I’ve started feeling quite guilty about my choices. If my views are so androgynous, shouldn’t I have a wardrobe to match?
Especially in such a male dominated environment, shouldn’t I be trying to blend in instead of accentuate the traits which mean I’ll be treated differently? If nobody notices that I’m female then maybe I won’t be punished for it — as I have been in the past, like the rest of the females in this industry.
This is all starting to sound a bit melodramatic, but I believe my concerns are valid. I’m at the start of my career and I’m lucky enough to have a meta-awareness of where I am and where I’m going. I have the foresight to know that the decisions I make now will impact what I do years from now.
I’m also lucky enough to have enough self-confidence to do just as I please without fussing too much over general opinion. I’d like to think that this is the key, that as long as I am confident in myself and my image then everything will be hunky-dory. Unfortunately, this assumption relies quite heavily on the hope that the industry will treat me with equality and respect – even though I am a woman.
I really shouldn’t have to doubt this assumption.
Since slight melodramaticism is the theme of this rambling, I’d like to put forward a fitting analogy: Should a woman stop wearing short skirts to avoid being raped by a man? No. The man shouldn’t rape.
So there. I will wear my high-waisted A-line skirts and high heels with the bows on them because they make me feel great, and this girl can.