Last night, I caught an episode of the TLC show, “What Not To Wear”. The subject, a former PhD candidate who was transitioning from Graduate school to Professorship. It was an episode that I could really relate to, not only because of the transition to the professional world part, but also because of the dilemma many of us face: how to look appropriate/presentable without looking like you tried too hard. We want people to like us for who are. Dressing up is seen as if you somewhat wanted to make up for your lack of substance. She “sololiquied” about it, and I totally knew where she was coming from. Which made the episode even more interesting.
She was all hippie skirts and leggings with Ugg boots. Stacey and Clinton were all, Young lady, meet trouser pants She was all, Umm…fashion is frivolous. Do you know how many baby whales are dying in Africa? and Fashion is about creating an image that may not be true by seeking to alter others’ perception of you”. Stacey was all, Shut up and try the clothes on! Of course, they didn’t use those exact words, but you get the point.
One thing I did relate very much to is sometimes our reluctancy as young people in transition periods to let go of our previous identities to embrace the new ones. She fought hard against “looking put together”, because I’m guessing “put together” is for old people. “Put Together” means “zero fun”. At the end, she was able to find a happy medium, that was good for her.
No matter how frivolous fashion may be sometimes, here’s what I’m beginning to realize in my own life. I am and act confident when I’m putting my best foot forward, sartorially.
I say “my”, not “someone else’s”. When I try to look like my 30- or 40-year old bosses, I feel uncomfortable like I’m trying too hard, then I get a little itchy. Don’t ask me why. When I go the opposite way and dress “young”, I’m fidgety and self-conscious and I just hang back and try to blend in the background. When I look like the best version of myself, I’m eager to initiate, which I found is the key to taking control of a situation: initiating handshakes, initiating introductions, initiating e-mails and phone calls.
If you’ve also thought about these questions: “how do I go from student style to adult style?” ” How does that change as I grow older?” and “How much of an impact does dressing appropriately have on my performance? Does it even matter?” maybe, we’ll have a discussion on here one day entitled “Is Fashion Frivolous?”.
In the meantime, check out this wonderful post at Already Pretty about evolving style and how our work environment impacts the way we dress.
P.S- Lesson of the day: How do you start embracing the next chapter of your life? You have to start owning it, starting with the way you put yourself together.