Saturday, July 2, 2011

Work clothes

As I write this, I'm watching a DVR of "So You Think You Can Dance." It's the results show where they decide who's going to be voted off for the week, and I've just noticed that everyone's dressed strangely. Like in loose pants and leotard-sort of things. Then it occurs to me that they all have to be ready to dance in case they're among the 3 couples who got the lowest vote totals. Duh! These people dance for a living, so they have to be dressed to dance.

This is the first season that I've watched the show, and I'm used to results shows for American Idol where everyone dresses up. After all, they're singers so I guess they can wear whatever as long as it doesn't keep them from breathing.

This made me think about work clothes for other jobs. These dancers look pretty comfortable, as long as they don't mind showing some skin on TV. But uncomfortable, impractical, or just plain ugly clothes can make the time spent at work so unpleasant. When I was in high school, I worked for a huge fast food chain. This was years ago when the uniforms were made out of 100% stretchy, nasty polyester and there were stupid little hats. Sure, the work itself was hard and I made minimum wage ($3.35 an hour, seriously), but wearing that goofy outfit made my job so much worse. I mean, just because you're at work, do you need to be uncomfortable and look like a goon?

I heartily approve of improvements in work clothes. Like nurses today often wear comfy scrubs rather than those starched white uniforms from decades ago. And how working in a lot of modern offices no longer means business suits and high heels.

I have two jobs, both of which feature good clothes. My day job is teaching at a college. I pretty much wear what I like there as long as I don't look like I just crawled out from under a Dumpster. And as for writing, the wardrobe is the best! Pajamas, sweats, jeans, underwear: anything goes because a lot of writers work in the privacy of their own homes. Sometimes I attend writing events like book signings or conferences, in which case I dress up a bit to show respect for the readers and other writers and the event's hosts. Plus it's fun to choose outfits that are a little different and creative for those events. It's an excuse to look like an artist.

When I was in school, I never really thought about choosing a career where I could wear clothes I'd like, but fortunately it worked out that way. Actually if I had been thinking along those lines, then when I was very young I probably would have pursued "princess" or "bridal gown model" as career options. So maybe it's a good thing that I didn't realize at the time how important work clothes would be.

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