I covered this in my first post to some extent already, but that post was more about not dressing provocatively, whereas this one is more about maintaining a certain image in the office so that people take you seriously. I’ve known many women throughout my life who treat the workplace as a safe space for personal expression – and it’s not. Not if you want to be taken seriously. Even at my current office, I come across younger ladies who seem to think that they’re special little snowflakes, and have/do things that I presume help them feel like they have unique identities. For example, I often see women with brightly colored phone cases that have cartoons, band names, and such things on them. The office is not a place for expressing your identity – at least not if you’re on a serious (non-creative) career path of any sort. If you’re in a meeting with a client, and you pull out your phone and there’s a design of a marijuana leaf on the phone case – well, that sends a signal that you’re a certain type of person to the client, and this can damage both the client relationship and your standing in the office.
Another common faux pas I see (or rather, hear) is the huge variation of ringtones that people have – particularly if you’ve replaced the ringtone on your work phone with a song or something ‘expressive’ that you feel says something about you. This is a true story – I was once at a client lunch, and my colleague’s phone rang – and the ringtone was just an expletive, over and over again. Anyways, this is a bit off topic, but basically, it’s another application of common sense.
The same thing applies to jewelry – don’t wear your favorite bright orange cat-shaped earrings to work. Save that for the weekend! the weekend, and after work – those are the appropriate times where you can express yourself freely and showcase your identity to the world. I don’t get women who complain about these kind of common sense suggestions – it’d be unusual (and unprofessional) if you saw a guy at the office wearing a Batman belt or a tie with a picture of a dog on it (unless there was some specific reason for it), so hold yourself to the same standard.
Anyways, I was originally going to talk about using fashionable tech in the office, so this post has gone off the rails a tiny bit – I’ll bring it back to the main point now. There are plenty of fashionable/stylish smartphone covers that don’t cross the threshold into being too casual for the office. There are plenty of distinguishable and distinct ringtones – you don’t need to use your favorite song or something that’s intentionally attention grabbing.
It is possible for a woman to have it all – you just need to know the correct timing and situations the have each thing in. Your personal life should not bleed into your work life – save your cat headphones and your amusing-but-explicit phone covers for brunch with the girls at the weekend.