Getting dressed up.


Recently, I received an email from the career services at Cornell instructing me to bring formal, ‘business’ clothing to campus for graduate school. A graduate of a liberal arts college, let alone an all-women’s New England institution, you are likely to have a few business clothing here and there. We did get J. Crew to name a cardigan after us.

I have never been completely comfortable wearing formal, business-y clothing. I have never worn a suit. I don’t like suits on women, except Jennifer Aniston. I love blazers, and I consider pairing dark skinny jeans with a nice top as formal (…as I will go). This time, I have been specifically instructed to purchase proper business clothing and this particular message has been in my head for two weeks now. A specific email from a specific department not asking, but telling me to do something non-academic-financial aid-housing-orientation related. I am actually going to be wearing formal clothing in a space that is all too natural to be formal. It will matter what I look like, but more will be judged on how professional I look rather than if I actually look good (which can happen, formal or no formal clothing).

Perhaps I am making this into a bigger deal than it is because it feels like a wake up call to adulthood or perhaps a reminder of my reality–grow up, and get a suit, wear it and embrace it, and no, you can’t get away with things that are imaginary-formal.

Things are happening, way, way too fast.

Also, I did purchase a suit and cannot wait to wear the coat-blazer part without the head to toe one color deal that suits force me to do.

One thought on “Getting dressed up.

  1. My heart is with you on this one – and I’ve been n trouble myself in the past over refusal to bow to the pressure to wear clothes that are ‘expected’ – especially when the opposite sex do not have the same codes pressed on them.

    Despite that, I think the idea that we should be judged on the work we do and not what we wear is just never going to happen. There is too much psychology going for that to work – much though it ought too. The fact is, how we look is 2/3rds of how people take us. I’m not sure we can ever get away from that.

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