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NSFW: the S is for suitable

Mel: NSFW or rather, Not Suitable for Work. This usually refers to racy website content that “the man” probably wouldn’t be down with. But let’s discuss NSFW work place attire shall we?

As somebody relatively new to the whole office work game, there are many, many things that I have been leaning over the past months. For instance, sitting down = good thing and nobody cares when you go to the bathroom, you can schedule your own breaks and in fact are supposed to take them. The list goes on.

One thing I think I have had some difficulty coming to terms with is the concept of workplace attire.

I work in a fairly casual office; it’s not a 3-piece suit kind of place. However, it’s not a ratty jeans and t-shirt kind of place either.

Some of the dudes in my office wear jeans on a daily basis, albeit with a snappy blazer or a dress shirt and nice shoes. And they still manage to look professional.

When I wear my version of that outfit (skinny dark jeans, nice boots, a blazer and a nice shirt) it’s only appropriate for Fridays.

source of both blazers

What’s up with the double office standard?

Why should the clothes I wear even matter? Should it not be about my ability to do my job and interact with people on a daily basis?

Conversely, when I wear a skirt or a dress, I feel like I am overly dressed up. Because I work in a more intellectually-based industry, I also feel like “looking too nice” will not get me taken seriously. I had my first experience with this a few weeks ago. I was wearing nice pants, a sweater and a scarf. I had grey nail polish on, and my hair was down. I had a meeting with two guys about my dad’s age.

I walk into dude #1’s office and he greets me and I sit down. Dude #2 arrives and before I even get a hello, I get a “Oh Uhh.. umm.. I ahh.. oh. I somehow thought…. Uhhh….. you would be umm…… of the uhhh….. different…. Persuasion…what I mean is…. With a name like Mel……..”

He thought I was going to be a man. How could a twenty-something blonde haired GIRL have a job in MEDIA RELATIONS?! Sound the alarms.

Choosing to brush this awkward encounter aside and get on with my job, I pressed on only to be interrupted several minutes later.

“You know, I just don’t think I would ever think of painting my nails black….” Surprised, I looked at him and said “to be fair, it’s grey” and kept going.

It was clear that dude #2 was just a little too stoked by the fact that I was a young woman talking to him about serious science stuff.

Ok… so maybe that rant is a little off-topic. But the crux of the thing is this, with society moving the way that it is, and formalities are going out the window left right and centre, why do I still feel societal pressure to simultaneously dress up while I try to hide the fact that I still have youth on my side?

To be clear, I’m not trying to make this some sort of feminist thing by any means. I’m just really trying to figure out what is “work appropriate” and what is NSFW.

So, I’m interested: Jeans for work for the ladies (and the boys)? Do the clothes make a difference? What is work appropriate in your opinion? Is this age dependent? Should it be?

I think I have to go file some TPS reports or something…. Where is my stapler….

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