Friday, January 25, 2013

Dressing For .........

Dancer Serena Cuevas, whose adorable short
style I loved from the first time I saw it.
I got a text this morning from a woman I've really been looking forward to spending some time with. We met the first time last spring when I walked into her salon with a Nike commercial on my smart phone, showed her the video, and then said "I want THAT".  She spent the next hour transforming my very long hair into very short hair and had such a good time that I could hardly believe it when she said "All done" and spun me around to see my new 'do!  She not only did an amazing job on my hair (a miracle in itself as I can count on two fingers the number of stylists in my entire adult life who have been able to do to my hair what I's just that thick and hard to cut), but I left feeling like I'd spent an hour in the presence of a kindred spirit and I found that I looked forward to the time every few months that would find me in her chair catching up on gossip of our kids, our jobs, and the men in our lives.

So this morning I get a text. . . of those times where life has given her a basket of lemons, and she's really doing a truly bang-up job of making lemon curd (I like lemon curd better than lemonade myself, so we'll go with that).  She's feeling the need for some girl time outside of work, without the scissors in hand, and a change in her habits along with her change of circumstance.  And I of two jobs don't get out often, so any extra time that I do find for myself, I tend to like to spend sleeping or hanging with My Person.  And other times we've tried to get together something always comes up.  This is a frightfully long ramble on its way to an entirely different topic: For Whom Do We Dress?

Picture courtesy of:
Mentally going over my closet in my mind on my drive back from lunch today, I was looking for that perfect "Girls Night Out Without Trying To Pick Up Men" outfit, and once again started thinking about for whom it really is that we spend so much time and money looking good.  Most women will tell you "I do it for myself!"  But if they're being totally honest, it's quite a lot more complicated than that.  

Men think we dress for them (we don't really).  In my experience, especially as a younger woman, I tended to dress for other women; they were, after all, "the competition".  Being the one who turned heads when they walk in the room was the ultimate goal when you're a young woman, and I'm not sure that really entirely changes as the years progress.  Our outward appearance is almost exclusively our first impression, whether that hinges more on our attire or on the general personality and overall attitude we exude at a first meeting isn't clear.  But appearing put-together gives the impression of confidence, and confidence has always been the big winner no matter what the packaging.

Picture courtesy of
As the first person people meet when they come to my workplace, how I dress and present myself was literally discussed in my job interview with quite the emphasis on appearance and professionalism as a couple of their top priorities, using phrases such as 'Face of the company', and 'First point of contact', and I was reminded more than once in the following interviews that my initial meeting and vetting of visitors is the foundation on which the rest of their meetings will then take place.  We can poo-poo this as irrelevant all we want; but it is a valid point nonetheless.

Appearance is a loaded subject and one to which many can take immediate offense. Just the things I've said to this point can be interpreted as sexist, elitist, or just downright in poor taste.  But at least in my office, the woman who came in for a job interview nicely dressed in a conservative suit, hair and nails done, tasteful makeup applied, and got the job, but then came in on her first day in jeans and a ponytail, got a talkin' to.  She came in the following morning looking more like the package she initially 'sold' than the one it appeared the hiring manager had 'purchased' the day before!

And that's just workplace impressions.  Dressing for social occasions can be even trickier when attempting to strike that balance between relaxed and stylish, not overdone, but making sure you look as though you cared enough to prepare with thought before arriving at the event, not even taking into account whether the information you received -- or didn't receive! -- beforehand was accurate in that you're dressing appropriately for the occasion rather than showing up to something semi-formal in jeans and some ballet flats!

See what I mean?  A little more complicated than it first appears! :)

Of course, it could totally be true that I', just be really over-thinking the entire subject altogether considering the brain damage I experienced surrounding clothes growing up as mentioned in my earlier post The Closet.  I may entirely over sensitive to the real or imagined implications that appearance entails.

Thinking of our outing tomorrow night to a local watering hole not specifically a notorious pick-up type place, women my age think more in terms of 'tasteful' than 'attention-getting', and I wonder if the holey jeans, t-shirt, black boots and jacket might be a little much or just right?

No matter what you decide to wear this weekend, have a good one!       ~M