One thing that made me really nervous about moving out of natural resources work and land management office surroundings was the idea of being in a world where people “dressed nicely” on a daily basis. In land management offices there are often some office staff who come in wearing slacks, skirts, necklaces, makeup, etc., but in my experience that is not standard practice. Some land management offices equip their staff with uniforms, so actually, nobody has to dress up. In the (2) low level management jobs I held over the past decade, I often felt that being too dressy would actually be detrimental, because it would mean I looked like a person who never left the office to do any on-the-ground work.
Yet here I am, leaving the fold of natural resources. I’m happy to be leaving, for the most part. It was not a family-friendly career path, a permanent job seemed to be a myth on the order of dragons and unicorns, and I was, for these reasons and a few less important ones, just done. But now I have to do something else. I chose education, and I am still working out what I think of this career field. But you know what? The whole work wardrobe thing? It doesn’t seem so bad, now that I am here. There are several reasons for this:
- Teachers don’t dress up nearly as much as I had imagined. Some women have the perfectly done nails, hair, dressy sandals, etc., but I have also seen a number of employees walking around in tshirts and tennies. I have to look dressier because, as a sub, I need to put my best professional face forward, but the bar is not as high as I once imagined it would be.
- Speaking of putting my best face forward, I don’t do makeup. Moreover, I no longer feel guilty or “less than” for not doing it. I think maybe Solo Mama wrote a post on this subject once? — Something about the freedom of deciding that makeup just was not her thing. There is freedom in that decision. Makeup has never been my thing; I have always found it an annoyance rather than an addition to my life, and at some point in recent times (truly, the 30’s are a great life decade to start realizing that you don’t have to build your existence around things you actually don’t give a crap about) I realized that I could still feel attractive without the stuff. My personal style is sporty and natural and that is okay. And it is, I have discovered, perfectly possible to look office-professional without conforming to all the gender-normative dress standards.
- Speaking of dress standards — Or rather, just speaking of dresses: I enjoy wearing them sometimes! Yes, I do. Actually I wear skirts. I have several lovely knee-length ones I found recently at thrift stores, and it feels great to have a reason to put them on sometimes. As for my hair? I keep it up in a practical ponytail. It’s a wonderful thing, deciding, for yourself, what works for you.