women who work - maja, of maja huse
Pictures contributed by Maja
I know I promised this last week, but the weekend vanished so quickly! Better than late than never?
Anyway, introducing the awesome Maja, of Maja Huse (whose latest post on feminism is a must-read). I identified a lot of with this post, because I too, work in a casual environment, and it's always interesting to see how people work out what's appropriate and presentable when there are no real rules.
I sent Maja three questions - two being actual questions and one being a fill-in-the-blanks questionnaire, and while I do think I could have phrased my questions better, she did great answering them nonetheless.
I also really enjoyed the comments shared in the last "women who work" post and I invite everyone to email me replies to these three questions as well.
Well, without further ado...
1) Share one, two or three pictures of some typical work outfits that you wear for various work-related occasions, and 2) describe the elements of the outfit (in relation to work)
I work in telecom and my job title is graphic designer/web-coordinator/hardware-coordinator. Simply put I create graphics for web and print, I make sure they end up where they are supposed to end up, I help write and publish content for our company website and I help run our online store. This means that I spent 95% of my time in front of my Mac, either working with Adobe software, writing content, adjusting prices or answering questions from our call centre about the latest cellphone releases. I don’t spend a lot of time in meetings, but I do travel a little bit every now and then. We don’t have a dress code, but we work in an open office environment where both partners from other companies and representatives from our parent and sister companies stop by on a frequent basis, so it is most definitely a good idea to look presentable.
Outfit 1 was worn on a Monday. On Monday mornings we have the typical meeting where all the departments go over the previous week as well as our plans and goals for the upcoming week. There is no need to dress up for this meeting, but it is always held in a room that is freezing cold so the cardigan had to prove its worth. Speaking of, this cardigan was bought solely because it looked like something out of Cher Horowitz’s closet. It is ice blue and fluffy and people seem to want to stroke my arms when I wear it. The rest of the outfit is black - most of my outfits tend to have a base of either black or grey - and I always keep any jewellery and hardware silver-toned. This makes it so much easier to get dressed in the morning.
Outfit 2: This one was worn on an office day where I also attended a meeting with our advertising agency. The navy and white-striped sweater is one that I stole from my boyfriend, something that he still hasn’t noticed even though he has complimented me on the sweater several times. I cleaned out his closet for him as a surprise a few months ago and took the sweater as a trophy. It had been lingering in there unworn with the tags still on it for at least a year, so I was sure he wouldn’t mind. I love stripes. They never look out of place and they are always easy to wear.
Outfit 3 consists of a grey denim shirt, black high-waisted jeans, and my usual staple accessories as well as an evil eye bracelet that I bought in Greece this summer. I never wear jangly jewellery because I spend so much time typing. It would just make too much noise! The leather tote bag is from Diesel. I am a very recent tote bag convert and I finally see what all the fuss is about, although I can’t carry it on rainy days because of the unprotected opening.
If I had to point out any common elements in my outfits it would be dark base colours, simple stud earrings, shoes I can walk in (I always walk to work) and a need to be weather-appropriate. Bergen is one of the rainiest cities in Europe so I don’t buy suede shoes, and I hate to walk to work in heels so I usually wear flats. That said I do keep a few pairs of heels at the office in case of shoe emergencies, because if I have to walk to work in knee-high rubber boots then I am not going to wear those in the office if I can avoid it. Another important point about my outfits is that they would be suitable for any of my usual work scenarios, be it a long day by my desk, a meeting, or travel. They are also the same clothes that I wear on weekends or even on holiday. I don’t really dress any differently unless I am sick, going to the gym, or know that I am going to spend the entire day inside by myself (in which case I’m all about the sweatpants).
3) Please fill in the blanks
My style in 5 words, or less: Classic grown-up rock-chic
Uniforms are luckily not something you have to deal with as a graphic designer! I do have a uniform of sorts though, because it is rare that I have to spend time thinking about what I want to wear in the morning. If you tried to take my skinny jeans away from me I would cry like a baby.
Blazers always make me feel more professional, because they instantly make you look pulled-together (if the fit is right, of course). I have three: a cool one, a formal one and a preppy one.
I always wear/carry my Filofax to feel "me", even though professionally I am supposed to be very digital. I need a bit of analogue in my life. When it comes to clothing there is nothing I wear that contradicts my job, as we don’t really have a dress code except the unspoken dress-like-you-have-your-shit-together rule that I’m sure applies to most offices. There is very little separation between my work wardrobe and my off-duty wardrobe, and I love that.
I would never wear anything too “cute” to work, because I’m one of only four women among the three or four departments that share the open office space that I work in. I’m also one of the youngest people working there, so I avoid anything that could look too junior. This doesn’t mean that I would dress any differently if my work situation was different - I don’t have a secret wish to wear bows and frills - but it is definitely something that I keep in the back of my mind when I shop.
People often think just because I know a lot about makeup and run a blog I should fit into the ditzy blogger stereotype. It surprises them when they find out I’m actually a semi-awkward nerd who has buried herself in Adobe software since she was 16 and who could debate the pros and cons of iPhone vs Android until you fall asleep from boredom. As I help run our website and online store I have to know about all things web in general and cellphones and gadgets in particular, but you can do all those things and still know how to do cat-eye liner.
I would tell my younger self to relax more because I have always had an enormous good girl syndrome. If I had learned to be okay with “good enough” at a younger age it would have made such a difference to my well-being. There is no point trying to be best at something if it is making you a high-strung ball of stress and anxiety.
The idea of "dress for success" is great advice, in my opinion. I’m a firm believer in “dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”. This doesn’t mean that you have to be decked out in designer clothing or wear a pantsuit to work every day, but look like you made an effort. Even though you work in an entry level job it is good to look pulled-together, because you never know when an opening could become available or if someone might be considering you for a promotion. Make it easy for them to visualise you in a client meeting if that’s where you want to be! When I first started working where I am now I answered phones in the call centre all day, and I’m not so sure they would have been as eager to promote me if I showed up to work in sweats five days a week.
So that's one down! Look out for the second post with Marlene of Chocolate, Cookies and Candies next month.