Fashion / Personal

What My Former Boss Told Me About My Wardrobe

{Westlake Village, California}

Though my social media name has the word “fashion,” my fashion sense during the initial stages of my professional career most definitely did not reflect any sense of the word.  During college, I apparently believed that it was appropriate to wear flip flops, cut off jeans, and a hooded sweatshirt as both a research associate/front desk clerk for the research center I worked for.  Even the more junior researchers wore slacks and pencil skirts, but I’m not sure why I didn’t put two and two together.  I vaguely recall the manager asking if I could possibly dress more conservative, but gave her the excuse that driving directly from class to work allotted minimal time for me to change clothing, therefore I promised to at least change my shoes.  I honestly thought that I was a rockstar for upgrading my flip flops to the more conservative tennis shoes, but apparently even that wasn’t good enough.  And if that wasn’t enough to get me to change, imagine how I responded when I overheard several of my more senior coworkers having a rather loud conversation within earshot discussing the importance of ‘implementing’ a dress code.  And yet, I still didn’t realize their words were directed towards me!  It wasn’t until my research supervisor had a one-to-one conversation with me that I finally got the message about my wardrobe.  He kindly informed me that the center would like for me to not only dress more conservative, but to also dress more professional.  He emphasized the fact that since I worked at the front desk, I also served as a representative of the center, and therefore it was important for me to dress professional.  To be honest, I was shocked throughout the entire conversation and thought “why didn’t they just tell this to my face sooner?”

The moral of the story is an important note about communication.  Oftentimes, we indirectly communicate our thoughts and assume that the person we’re communicating with should understand/comprehend exactly what we’re saying, but that’s not always the case.  I talked to one of my patients today about the importance of directly communicating how she feels about her teenage daughter on a deeper level rather than engaging in their usual angry conversations with one another (anger tends to be a secondary manifestation of deeper emotions such as hurt and pain).  I truly appreciated my supervisor for having such an honest conversation with me.  To this day, I still think about the conversation almost each time I contemplate what to wear to work.  Needless to say, that was a pivotal moment in my style transformation and marked the beginning of me discovering and cultivating my own personal and professional wardrobe (yes, I no longer wear cut-off jeans to work).

Photo by Alex M & Jen F

4 thoughts on “What My Former Boss Told Me About My Wardrobe

  1. I probably err on the side of being to casual when I dress for work. Glad you were humble enough to receive that feedback. I would have had mixed feelings. utter shock, embarrassment, and maybe a slight tinge of anger…then buckled down and did it. DM

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