I started my first ‘proper’ job when I was 26. The office was a chic, caffeine fueled sort of place. People worked long hours, had dark rings under their eyes… when asked how they were, they claimed one of two things.
Either they were ‘UP THE WALLS!!’ or ‘UNDER PRESSURE!’
I watched, I learned.
Nowadays, I would identify the prevailing dress style of my colleagues as designer casual. At the time, I just felt it was all a bit nondescript. Boring even. The one thing everyone had in common was spectacles and those dark rings.
I drank lots of coffee and worked on my own dark rings. After a while I was asked to attend an evening meeting with some colleagues from another research centre. It was a Friday night.
After the meeting, I planned to hit the pub with my buddies. The pub we frequented was a biker joint. Lots of loud music and long-haired bikers. My usual pub attire consisted of Dr Martin boots, black leggings and a mini skirt. On this occasion I decided to tone it down, on account of the meeting. I settled on a black vest and harem pant- probably the most respectable outfit I possessed at that point in my life.
I wasn’t exactly late for the meeting, but I wasn’t early either. When I walked in, everyone looked up. My immaculately groomed and dressed boss beckoned me to my seat and introduced me to all the other immaculately groomed participants as his research assistant. Needless to say, they were all wearing suits….
After that episode in humiliation, I was consumed with longing for a BRIEF CASE.
I located, ‘the one’ after much searching. Of course it was beyond my budget. A small obstacle, I threw caution to the winds and blew my savings. Then I blew some more savings on shoes and a suit. The shoes were a novelty. Proper lady shoes complete with little heel.
By the time the next meeting came around, I was ready.
OH YES. Never again would I turn up to a meeting in harem pants. How ridiculous! What could I have been thinking of?
This time the meeting was about drug prevention.
I had to fly to Amsterdam. ON MY OWN
It was a big deal. The stuff of stomach ulcers (sadly, I kid you not)
After a sleepless night in my hotel bed, I got up. Showered. Put on my spectacles, and sombre black suit. Stuffed my paperwork in to my new briefcase.
Ah the gravitas of that bag! Seriously grown up. Deep breath.
LOOKING GOOD, GIRL!
I strolled into the meeting room, intentionally early and fiddled with my paperwork.
Twenty minutes later, there was no sign of anyone. More deep breaths.
Eventually my colleagues filed in. They were assorted youth workers, night-club owners and people recovering from addiction.
This time,the only suit in the room was my own.
Everyone else was pierced, tattooed and colourful. Mega cool. In fact, they’d have fitted right into my pub of preference back home.
Personally, I’d never felt so uncool in my life. Wrong footed AND those bloody lady shoes were killing me.
I would like to tell you that was the last time I got it wrong, but I would be lying. On a more positive note, I don’t have to worry much about transgressing dress codes nowadays as I live on a farm.
So that’s it for fashion friday. Have you ever made a fashion faux pas?