Many of us work in a stale, dank, bordering on depressing, office. Every day, we drag ourselves into work hoping for a glimpse of excitement, an ounce of dynamism, a tidbit of color. But instead, we’re met with a cubicle that feels more like solitary confinement and an underwhelming outfit that fits right in with the dull surroundings. It’s easy to feel like you have to act and, ultimately, dress like the people you work with in order to be taken seriously.
It’s actually the opposite. Expressing yourself differently in an environment where the majority dresses the same can be a great way to start a conversation and break the ice. It’s even possible that, through your style bravery, you may be giving someone else the courage to express themselves as well.
Here are some ways to liven up your wardrobe and feel confident in your work environment:
Maybe you’re not quite ready to wow your colleagues with your pattern mixing abilities, so instead opt for a neon-colored lipstick. There’s no need to showcase a full face of make-up if that’s just not for you. A simple touch of mascara and a bright lip color is more than enough to add some color into your wardrobe for the day. In the winter, instead of a dark red lip color, grab a dark green, or a dark gold color. These lip colors will keep your colleagues guessing and give you a reason to talk more at meetings.
Shun the Boring Shoe
There is no better conversation piece than a funky shoe! Shoes have been known to start lasting friendships and spark newfound obsessions. Slipping on a pair of fun and attention-getting shoes will immediately give you a pep in your step. Just make sure you feel good in them. Wearing a pair of six-inch stiletto heels that you can’t walk in may be attention-getting, but it won’t act as a confidence booster and will absolutely become fodder for the naysayers.
Dress to Shock
For those of you that just want to blow your colleagues out of the water, this is the phase for you! No more beating around the bush. You love turquoise lipstick, patterns, feathers, fringe, lace, and emoji shaped purses. And you’ll be damned if any workplace inhibits you from shouting it from the rooftops. If you fall comfortably into this category, then you know about the naysayers and couldn’t give a flying Fendi monster baguette about them. But for those of you who have just gained free admission to the “Express Yourself” cruise, sailing daily you should know that there are petty, passive-aggressive piranhas in your midst…
Beware of The Naysayers
Most people are too afraid to represent themselves honestly because they are worried about the repercussions, and rightly so. It’s scary to show yourself so openly, to then receive what feels like a vicious verbal attack solely because you chose to express yourself. Just be aware that these reactions are inevitable and have nothing to do with you. Any snide, passive-aggressive, or blatantly obnoxious remark flung your way is really just the flinger’s way of repositioning their understanding of the “normative.” In other words, you’ve just blown their minds and they’re trying to make sense of it all. Unfortunately, something as simple as a neon pink lipstick can lead to demeaning comments being hurled your way. My advice is to come up with a sound bite that you use in these situations like,” I can see that my [insert fashion-forward item here] makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, but when I wear it, I feel like a million bucks! “ Then execute your best catwalk strut back to your cubicle. They’ll get the point. And you’ll be standing up for what you believe in– freedom of style!
Encourage the Style Curious Colleague
Although you may hear some negative responses, you may also hear some that exhibit an eagerness to follow in your footsteps. These feelings can be disguised in comments like, “I love that on you, but I could NEVER pull it off.” These are the moments when you can help your colleagues build their own style confidence. Recommend some items they may feel comfortable trying and if they are brave enough to try them, shower them with compliments as soon as you see them. Your workplace, although maybe not your happy place, should at least be a place where you can be yourself and feel happy doing so.