As I sit here typing this, it’s a brisk seven degrees outside and my space heater is going full blast in my office. This is my first winter in Maryland and I’m honestly trying my best to put on a brave face, but this weather is really bumming me out.
Another side effect seems to be that I have no desire to wear real clothes anymore … only parkas, long johns and lots of fleece. It’s so easy for style to become completely irrelevant when you can feel the icicles slowly forming in your eyelashes.
Cold weather makes me want to wrap myself in a blanket and do nothing but drink hot chocolate and watch HGTV.
Forget business casual … I would be so perfectly content to wear UGG boots and a snuggly sweatshirt to work. I almost did it one day until I saw my neighbor in the hallway, who apparently was thinking the same thing I was that chilly February morning.
We both looked like we were headed to Walmart at two in the morning for a Redbox movie and a pint of Rum-Raisin Häagen-Dazs.
We greeted each other with a long awkward head to toe glance before going back into our apartments to change. The irony is that I have plenty of sweaters and long pants, but it’s still a battle every morning to get dressed when you’re at the mercy of a never-ending polar vortex.
One of the main things that helps me get it together is the advice I received from my first civilian supervisor. I was fresh out of the military and used to only wearing uniforms. I looked around and saw people in both business suits and wrinkled blue jeans and t-shirts. I honestly didn’t know what to wear. So I asked and my supervisor smiled and said “always dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
I’ve heard numerous opinions on this advice, but for me it just made a lot of sense. Some folks agree, some don’t, but I believe each one of us deep down inside knows the “job” we want and what it’s going to take to get there (or stay there).
I’ve worked in a few other positions since then and I’ve never received any other guidance on the office dress code, not even during my new employee orientations. Not a word.
Regardless of how casual your workplace may be or how cold the weather is, fight the urge to show up in sweats or any material that could be easily converted into a pillow and snuggie set.
I’ve found in my own career that personal appearance matters… far beyond just your first week on the job. When I leave my house I not only represent little ole’ me, but I also represent my organization.
Besides, you just never know when you’ll be called into that unexpected staff meeting with a senior official or presented with some out of the blue opportunity that could propel you towards that next promotion. Always look the part … no matter the season.
Dijon N. Rolle is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.
Consider yourself blessed. It is presently 7 below zero, “American”, in my fair capitol (-22C). We *yearn* for 7 above. We pay for flights to whisk us away to somewhere that is 7 above, and show off pictures to our friends. And it’s been like this for a few weeks, save for a couple days when it actually went UP to 7 for an afternoon.
Nope, up here it’s not “dress for the job you want”, but rather “dress for what you’d rather not be found wearing, frozen to death in a snowdrift”.
Dijon, thank you for addressing an all-too-often-overlooked area that does matter, as you point out, here. — I have often said that a problem, not only evident at work, but at school involves a lack of a dress code. Of allowing ‘anything to be allowed’ I know that I do feel differently depending upon what I am wearing. – Again, kudos!