There was a brief story on the Today Show yesterday about the “meteorologist dress” that went viral. Apparently a female meteorologist shared out a photo of a stylish and flattering dress that she had purchased at a great price. Soon as many as 50 other meteorologists posted images of themselves in various color versions of the exact same dress. I certainly couldn’t blame them, it was a nice dress, with complimentary style points and a bargain price tag. What I loved about the story is the very real need of real women to look great, but who struggle to find flattering outfits at affordable prices. Which basically rings true with all of us.
The story was presented by one of my favorite newscasters, Tamaron Hall. She appears to be the perfect blend of personality, intelligence, beauty and style… and she wears killer shoes and would look phenomenal in a paper bag. Certainly not your average “real woman.” I’m quite certain she is not worried about finding a dress that will look good on her figure, nor is she concerned about finding something that costs $23 on Amazon.
However, it did make me think about all of our various levels of style needs, especially for our jobs. Those women we watch on TV are required to have extensive wardrobes and look amazing. When I watched Tamaron standing there in her designer dress and her stiletto heels, I giggled at the thought of her showing up one day to work and going on air in sneakers, baggie sweats and no makeup. Never gonna happen.
As for the rest of us, our professional attire is as variable as our careers. Some of us must wear uniforms, some wear scrubs, some dress comfortably to care for children, others of us spend our days in corporate suits. Many of us work for companies that have embraced the “business casual” style.
I remember as a girl in my early teens, I looked forward to some day being able to dress up for work. I was enamored with the “glamour” of a career in a professional environment. I remember seeing the movie “9 to 5” with Dolly Parton, and thinking that some day I’d be in a busy office environment in my high heels and fancy suits and dresses. (Clearly at the time I ignored the movie’s basic message of sexism in the workplace and focused only on the fashion.)
For many years I did don the corporate look, and in those days had the youth and figure to pull it off. I still recall one of my favorites, a raspberry double-breasted dress. (Yes, guys, we women remember some of our favorite outfits 20 years later. ) Of course, being a shoe-aholic, my mantra was always: the more awesome the heels, the better.
A funny thing has happened in recent years, however. I, like many of my female peers, have been more than happy to adopt the business casual look, sometimes with an added emphasis on “casual.” The other day, one of my coworkers found herself low on clothes that were not in her dirty laundry pile, and she arrived to work in a skirt, and uncomfortably wedged into nylons. This prompted a discussion among a couple of us. I for one don’t remember the last time I actually wore nylons. I go from summertime bare legs to wintertime tights, if and when I choose to wear a skirt or dress – which, in and of itself, has become an increasingly rare occasion. We started talking about the “old days” when we bought L’eggs nylons in those little plastic eggs, and how we all were pro’s at stopping runs with nail polish. Postscript: by noon, my co-worker’s nylons were in the trash.
Gone too for me now is any outfit that is uncomfortable to wear all day. I used to put up with confinement and pain in the name of fashion. Kind of like Tamaron in her sky-high heels and tight-waisted dresses. But no longer. If I put something on in the morning that feels at all constricting, I not only say “ugh, no way” and take it off, but I throw it in the donate pile. Life is too short to be worried about wardrobe malfunctions, the inability to take deep breaths, or the growth of blisters or rashes.
Don’t get me wrong, my goals have not declined to the point of looking like a schlub, or wanting to go to work in my pajamas and fuzzy slippers. (well, ok, maybe sometimes I have that fantasy.) After all, we women may like to be more casual, and we may want to be comfortable, but we still want to look good. We still have a professional and public appearance that requires a shower, makeup and no bed head.
At home, of course, all bets are off. That professional woman comes home and slides happily into yoga pants and pulls her hair into a sloppy pony tail (sorry, guys). But, never fear, we do still know how to clean up in time for special days and family gatherings….. just don’t expect the stepford wife look. As a matter of fact, for my Thanksgiving celebration, I’m thinking cozy flannel with stretchy pants. But I’ll put on some makeup.