As a guy, I’m lucky to have one of those jobs where I don’t have to wear a uniform. We have a loose dress code,which means casual clothes are fine most of the time.
Yet, each workday, I get up, walk into my closet, and stare at lots of guy clothes that I just dread wearing to work most days. Instead, my mind wanders over to my collection of dresses, feminine jeans, cute tops, and the neatly stacked boxes of heels, flats, wedges, and a small collection of purses.
I reluctantly get dressed for work, only to find myself always carrying an extra pair of shoes, often flats, complimenting the rest of my guy outfit, for some unexpected chance to wear them. Often, this pair of shoes is the excuse I need to stop my car, swap out my guys shoes for them, and wander around shopping for an hour or two in some store or another. A quick stop at one store results in stops at several stores. Eventually, I get to work and walk sadly into my office wearing my guy shoes, wishing I could have just kept my feminine shoes on for the rest of the day.
For months, this daily ritual was the same. My mind would begin to tire at the confusion and battle of wills.
Then one day, a realization. My work does have a uniform in that men are expected to dress a specific, professional way. This has brought some comfort and finally resolved the daily mind battle.
My female coworkers have no idea how much I admire their cute blouses and coordinated skirts, skinny jeans paired with conforming heels, colorful tops matched to flats, and fashionable purses accenting jewelry. They might complain about how hard it is to get ready for work each day, but they at least have so many exciting choices of what to wear without needing to calculate the risk the way I do. They do have other challenges at work with equality that I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with.
To fit in, to keep the stress a little lower, to fund my CD wardrobe, I wear the uniform while fantasizing that I’m wearing something more feminine. For some unknown reason, maybe a future hope, my thrift shopping usually focuses on putting together outfits that define the real me. Even if I could or had the confidence to dress feminine every day, I think I would end up facing new closet challenges.
(1) Finding enough decent fitting styles that are also appropriate for work would take some time. I’ve realized that longer tops look better on my body shape. Revealing tops with low cut fronts or no sleeves probably need a sweater or scarf over to fit in with other women at work, who always seem to wear layers at the office. Jeans and pants are safe, skirt and dress hemlines need some extra thought.
(2) Shoes. Stilettos are attractive, fun, sexy, and all the wonderful adjectives. They’re okay for a day or two in the office, but definitely not practical. Flats are extremely practical, can be cheap, and come in countless shades and cuts, making them versatile for many outfits from pants to skirts to dresses, and even shorts. Wedges are a nice balance between the beauty of stilletos, and the comfort and stability of flats. A pair of sneakers with pink or purple hightlighting would be good for luchtime walks, or just to give those calves and feet a break.
(3) Winter wear. I recently bought my first women’s jacket after realizing one cold winter day that I needed one. Hoodies are great for that really casual, or didn’t spend any time getting ready look. I would prefer cute sweaters, lace or crochet, thinner ones that could be layered with tank tops under and jackets on top.
(4) Purses. I love the look and feel of purses, from hand bags to crossbody purses. The only issue, I really don’t like leaving my wallet, keys, and phone just sitting at my desk – maybe that’s because I’m used to carrying everything I need in my pants pockets. I noticed one days that many of the ladies at work carry a purse, a lunch bag, a briefcase, and some carry a gym bag. Four bags, I’m guessing 40 lbs in all, slung over both arms. I have seen some really nice totes and large purses that can be both a purse and carry most briefcase items. The other challenge with purses is being able to easily switch between them – that’s where investing in a nice wallet is worth the convenience.
(5) Accessories. Yes, finding jewelry from necklaces and bracelets to go with all those outfits for work. Fashionable women at work seem to never wear the same accessories more than a few times a year. I don’t know how they keep track of all that jewelry, I have a hard time keeping a few bracelets and chains organized. I’m not much into Fitbit, so I tend to wear a watch, which I realized lately that I needed a nice feminine one.
Ideally, I just want some social flexibility to pamper myself in womens outfits some days and blend feminine looks into my guys outfits most days. It would be so mentally productive to get rid of this distracted feeling of wanting to wear what I feel like isn’t welcomed in the workplace. In the meantime, I “dress” outside of work and wear the “uniform” to work.