Monday, October 19, 2009

Defensive Dressing

I'd love to be able to regale you with stories of the adorable cheekiness of this dress and how wonderful I felt wearing it, but the sad fact is that I'm going through a really unexpectedly rough time at work right now and am only dressing as a defense against feeling thoroughly shitty. I won't bore you with the details, though I assure you it has all the classic features of a horrific reorg: epic acts of favoritism, wholesale disregard of employees, spectacularly bad decision-making, and a shock wave throughout the department that will certainly claim many casualties before it subsides. Under these circumstances, dressing well simply becomes my way of saying, "Fuck you" to the people in charge.

The events of the last week have led me to think a lot about the sorts of ideas we convey with our style and appearance. There's a particular message suggested by coming to work looking disheveled and slovenly, but is it really the message I want to send? Is it better to say, "I've given up all hope and submitted to my miserable lot" or, "I care more about myself than I do about this job?" I've used defensive dressing in the past when I've felt bad physically, and these days I'm using it to combat feeling bad emotionally. No matter what ridiculous decisions are made around me, I'm still doing my own thing stylistically and certainly don't look the part of the downtrodden, miserable corporate drone.

It's important to remember that style is one thing we have complete control over in our lives, and it's a tool we can use to influence the way others view us. Whatever the outcome at work, and whatever action, if any, I decide to take as a result of it, I refuse to give off the impression that anyone has gotten the better of me or that I'm not in absolute control of my own destiny.

Top: H&M
Necklace: Foxy
Dress: Orla Kiely
Tights: Sock Dreams
Boots: Bata
Jacket: Tulle

29 comments:

Sara said...

Good luck, Audi.
Your absolute refusal to be anything but yourself is always an inspiration.

Lemondrop Marie said...

I agree, I feel better when I look how I want to and not how some idiot I work for dresses. Oh my, does that sound bitter?
Rock on- love the tights and the dress, amazing.

Alison said...

Hey Audi, I'm sorry to hear about your work situation. But, I can totally relate. My hubby and I have just gone through the same type of situation. We are in the process of picking up the pieces and like you I still dressed up no matter what. I do have to admire your use of color though. I mostly dressed in black and gray. (learned from my junior high science teacher...dressing in mourning when our test scores sucked)

I wish you the best!!

LPC said...

"It's important to remember that style is one thing we have complete control over in our lives, and it's a tool we can use to influence the way others view us." Well, yes, and has ever been so. Good for you. The good do prevail over the long haul. The short haul can be pretty crappy. Especially in this economy.

Nadine said...

WOW, great post! Go you!

Anna said...

Good for you! Be true to yourself and good luck.

Kat Gregory said...

At times work culture can be so demoralizing; and sometimes the best armor comes in the form of a well conceived wardrobe. Your life is on a much bigger stage than the confines of your day gig. Most jobs rarely reflect our deepest aspirations or talents. Stay strong and keep your shit kicking boots handy!

Teeny and yet not teeny at all said...

Rock on! At least you look fabulous! Sounds thoroughly life draining right now..hope it improves soon.
Teeny

poet said...

I totally relate. I did the same today to fight against lack of sleep and bad weather, but of course your lot is much tougher than mine... good luck with it all, keep up your confidence!

WendyB said...

Sorry about work...I'm intrigued by your dress. Is that a self-belt with buttons in the front? I was just at the tailor today with a vintage dress with the same feature!

Sal said...

UGH! I had no idea things had gone to crap at work ... I'm so sorry, Audi. I hope they pull it together, and soon. And I think you've got your head on straight about respecting yourself, and showing everyone around you that you can't be held down by cruddy circumstances.

Deja Pseu said...

Ugh, I hate those types of work upheavals. I agree that making an extra effort at these times is essential.

The dress is really cute though, and I love the argyle tights.

Christine said...

I'm sorry work is the suck right now. You would never know it to look at you though - fabulous as always!

kateohkatie said...

Beautiful outfit and beautiful post. I'm sorry that work is being crappy, but I really appreciate your wise words.

Makes me wish I'd gone ahead and worn something cute today, myself (I'm feeling kinda down so just threw on grey tweed pants and a plain shirt. Blah.)

Sheila said...

Hear hear! I have been going through something similar for oh, about 5 months. I work for a large, multi-national company which replaced all of its top management and the trickle-down has been hell. Favouritism, brown-nosers, and people micro-managing when they have no idea what the people below them actually do (and they don't care enough to find out).

It's hugely frustrating, but you are so right: put on a great front and never let them know that you feel the stress.

Good luck, Audi! You look awesome.

Audi said...

Thanks for all your support, everyone! I'll get through it; I always do. The worst part is that I really liked my job before all this started.

WendyB: Yes, the 'belt' is just a fabric panel sewn around the dress with buttons attached. Very retro!

P said...

I can really relate to your post. I, too, work in a very uncreative workplace and upheavals happen a lot. I find that the people I work with almost seem jealous if someone has personal style. It's weird!!!

Mishqueen said...

I'm one of those "silent observers" --I've been reading your blog for a long time but never comment.

But I really wanted you to know that we understand how HORRIBLE work discomfort can be. We support you and hope everything passes soon and turns out all right.

You are adorable, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that outfit!

Lain said...

Insightful posting on why fashion is more than just a "frivilous" passtime. Keep your chin up and hopefully things will improve soon. You certainly look fab as always!

Hugs,
Lain

The Small Fabric Of My Life said...

Och - that description brought back some pretty painful memories for me too. Earlier this year I was goign through a very difficult time on the domestic front and had to challenge a very high authority. I used my clothes to say exactly what you said. It made me feel better. A little like the way I write shorthand in my notebook on purpose just to confuse people - being able to expres what I truly feel without spelling it out in a language they understand.

Sadie said...

I'm sorry work is so tough! I completely get the defensive dressing thing - I can remember a few years ago having an awful time with a bullying manager, and one day being completely certain that the only way I could get myself out the door and into the office was if I was wearing fishnets. So I did. (I'm an accountant, so that's kind of a big deal!)

Hope things improve soon.

Eyeliah said...

That sucks you are having these problems, hope it gets better!

Lorena said...

I love how in tough times personalities stand out.
It is evident you are a strong woman, no fear.
I am certain it will work your way.

SwanDiamondRose said...

nice post! sorry about your work situation. but i agree, that our wardrobe and outfits is something we have control over. though some schools and work limit that too! but dressing as me just brings some srot of reminder in my daily life as to why life is special. really.

Leonie said...

Oh, Audi, I feel for you! Your resilience is incredible.

Queen Michelle said...

So true! I feel that the way I dress is usually the only thing I have control over which is probably why I'm so precious about it. Great post Audi.

skapamusik said...

About a year ago I was working on a project, in a group that was great together when it came to being creative - but was disastrous in areas of communication. I was appointed leader and one of the members of the group was constantly undermining me. We had trouble communicating and I felt like everyday was such a struggle, like I was going into battle.

I got my strenght back with "power-dressing". I took inspiration from the trinny & susannah book "who do you want to be today" and dressed "androgynous" - black pants, long sleeved white top and a black vest, red lipstick and high heels. I looked amazing and I felt more in control - I think it helped me alot.

I hope things work out with your situation, but in the meantime you do look fierce!

Robin said...

What an awesome viewpoint to have! I'm having corporate drone work drama of my own, and I'm going to take this message and run with it. I have a demoralizing meeting tomorrow morning- I'll be sure to dress up.

HistorySpice said...

I'm sorry to hear about work suckiness, but I love your cheeky and sassy response to adversity. You look fantastic!