Friday, August 10, 2012

In a Rut

I am in a rut, a wardrobe rut. Every morning I throw on a pair of jeans, a shirt of some sort, shoes that somewhat match, and I head out the door. That is my uniform and there is very little variation to it. My office is casual so this attire is perfectly acceptable there. However, dressing this way makes me feel unprofessional. I also think it makes me appear younger and less experienced than I am which sometimes causes people not to take me seriously.(I once had a co-worker tell me he thought I was 22 which is why he was shocked I had a master's degree. I was 32 at the time.)

So I am trying to figure out a way to get out of my rut. I think that requires a history of my wardrobe post college. My early career (1 year post graduation...we will skip the 2 jobs before this) landed me doing bookkeeping work at a local CPA firm in Mobile. I worked there 4 years before leaving to finish my degree and move to Texas. It should come as no surprise that a CPA firm had a pretty formal dress code. They relaxed it a bit in the summers but I still don't remember ever being able to wear jeans except when we worked weekends during tax season. So dresses, suits, hoses, and heels filled my wardrobe. I loved dressing like a professional. It made me feel like an adult and no longer like a college student. This wardrobe continued over the next couple of years as I continued to work in other CPA firms even after moving to Texas until I decided I needed to make a change because I hated working in CPA firms.

That is when I got into government contracting. I was initially hired to be an assistant to a friend of mine who was writing proposals for the company (I had interviewed for an accounts payable position but was passed over for someone who later became my coworker). Two weeks later the comptroller pulled me into her office and asked me if I'd be interested in the accounts receivable position. A job in my field and higher pay, heck yeah! Now, this company was still a little more on the formal side. They had moved to Texas from the DC area and the DC companies were known to be more put together so to speak. So our CEO was trying to bring the DC atmosphere to Central Texas. I am not sure it worked so well. They moved back to DC a couple of years after I quit (and after the CEO died). It was during my time at this company that things with south in my marriage and I decided I needed a change of scenery.

Enter Austin, Texas. If you have ever been to Austin, you know it is a pretty laid back city and many of the business here carry that attitude over into their atmosphere. So a casual workplace is more the norm. The company I worked for when I first moved to Austin was pretty casual (we could wear shorts). However, the BusOps team, as those of us who weren't engineers were referred to, was expected to dress more professionally. Our CEO expected us to look the part since we were the ones who "ran" the company. Imagine my shock when I left that company and showed up for my first day at my new job in a dress only to be told I was overdressed. Instead of looking professional and trying to make a good first impression, I was just embarrassed. My wardrobe has only gone downhill since then. Throw a pregnancy in then and shifting to my maternity wardrobe and now I just feel like I have lost all sense of style.

I have been enjoying EBJ's posts about her wardrobe. Her "uniform" idea is fantastic and many of the outfits she wears are ones I can see myself in. Now if I can figure out how to make something similar work for me than I would be set. Can I have a wardrobe that consists all of houndstooth and crimson?


Becky said...

I think the most important thing is to figure out what shapes and styles look best on you. Get good well-fitting staples, and then fill in the rest.

aubieangel said...

I was in a similar rut back in January/February. I used pinterest fashion selections to build a "how I want to look" portfolio and then I went shopping with "rules" like on the show "What Not to Wear." It worked! Most days I'm pretty happy with my selection and how I feel about my working (and casual) wardrobe. Maybe you could do something similar (and share pics on your blog, of course).

Jessica said...

I wish I could wear jeans to work just for the variety! I suppose I’d probably end up wearing them too often, but right now I alternate between two pairs of dress pants (every other day laundry, sigh) and really wish I had more options. Flattering dress pants are really hard to find. I’d love to wear more dresses, but have crappy feet and my super-supportive shoes don’t really go.