Since I was a teen, I envisioned my adult life being made up of fancy lawyer attire like that of the movie Legally Blonde. I planned on having designer everything — a Gucci briefcase, Ferragamo heels and a Louis Vuitton pen.
I was obsessed with image and I was barely out of middle school.
Enter a decade later or so, I abandoned my lawyer dreams and I opted for a more creative profession — creative director.
By nature, I was a very creative soul. I wrote, I painted, I illustrated and produced films on the side.
Now, in a place like New York City, this article may seem irrelevant. There, one may be able to have pink hair, wear neon clothing, skull rings on every finger and still be seen as a professional if not a creative ‘genius’ for not only working in a creative field but living in a way that embodied their creative field.
However, in the Midwest, that’s not the case. Creativity is not as celebrated outside of the Metro areas like Minneapolis or Omaha.
There is more of a ‘traditional’ attitude. Hell, remote work and unlimited vacation is still met with “I don’t care who says that’s a good idea…..reason#1,2 and 3 why I don’t believe it is in spite of the results.”
And so as I entered the workforce, I dressed like I thought I should. Conservatively. Masculine. Because men are the ones in power, right?
I bought pants from Banana Republic, work blouses from JcPenneys and some sensible shoes online; a pair of black loafers which were met with mixed opinions.
Since then, I had always been a bit uncomfortable, counting down the minutes until I could change out of my ‘work’ clothing. I would become anxious, irritable and it made me resent my job as silly as that sounds.
This year, I went on one of my only vacations to the Caribbean. I went to Cuba with my family on a cruise and marveled at their culture. Their lack of judgment was infectious. They didn’t seem to take anything too seriously.
For my entire vacation (almost two weeks) I never once put on a pair of pants.
In fact, I never wore a bra!
The freedom was amazing.
No tight waist bands, nothing tugging at my shoulders. My booty wasn’t disrupting my fit.
I never wanted it to end.
When I returned home, I began to unpack my vacation clothing and pull out my work clothing.
I looked at them side by side on my bed and wondered why I wore these boring black pants.
Why did I wear restrictive shoes?
Why did I wear work shirts made from a material that seemed to trap my body odor into every fiber near the armpit?
Did I think I would be respected more because of it? Why? My ability to do a job has nothing to do with my clothing.
I should be able to express my creativity. It is the thing I was hired to do.
So I shoved my pants back in my closet and reworked a few outfits to look professional and comfortable at the same time.
I stopped caring about this idea I had regarding women in the workforce. Like that I had to look tough to show that I could do a good job. That I must display obvious masculine qualities to prove I am qualified.
Imagine never feeling so constricted again. Imagine never wanting to take off your clothes right when you get home from work.
Imagine being yourself and not putting out an image that is what you think you should look like.
If you like that type of clothing, then more power to you.
But I know for a long time I’ve tried to get clothing that seems made for a man, to fit my body type. I’ve tried high waisted pants, flowy ‘this’ and flowy ‘that’.
What’s that saying? “If you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em?”
Why was I ever trying to be anything other than myself?
Goodbye pants and hello skirts.
Goodbye loafers and hello pretty sandals.
Goodbye masculine facade and hello me.
Since I’ve become more ‘me’, I (surprise) feel happier, feel more genuine and am able to product better work that resonates on a deeper level.
What are you doing that may not be in line with your authentic self, my friend?