I have the Monday blues. It’s a rainy day and I struggled to get out of bed this morning. The work day ahead looks like a fruitless attempt to appear busy for the next six hours. So, I have been thinking about how to cheer myself up, and decided to do some shopping after work. The idea of shopping always cheers me up. I am such a stereotypical girl in that fashion, and I got excited about buying a few new additions to my work attire. Then I started thinking about why the idea of expanding my work wardrobe was so appealing to me.
I currently work at a business formal workplace. And by that, I mean the dress code is business formal- suits and ties and all that. Luckily, for women, the formal part in business formal is a little more flexible. I feel very fortunate that I don’t have to wear a tie every day. And working in this kind of environment has changed me in strange ways.
Directly after I graduated, I worked at my college campus with college students. The dress code was college style, so I wore jeans and t-shirts every day. Unlike most new graduates, I never had to transition out of my days of college wear, although I did stop wearing pajama pants to work…most of the time. And I totally loved the relaxed clothing atmosphere of my first job.
When I interviewed for my current job, I didn’t even own a suit. Unlike most of my friends, who were business majors and thus had to have suits for job interviews, I was a history major. Wearing a suit as a history major is a little ludicrous, unless you happen to be a cute old man in a three-piece with a bow tie, or Indiana Jones in professor mode. Since I am neither of which, I had to borrow my roommate’s suit for the interview. Luckily, the awkwardness of being in a suit for the first time in my life did not hinder my interview skills and I got the job. It was then that I learned that Japan is a full-blown suit and tie society.
Making the move into that kind of society was not easy for me. As I read over the dress code requirements and looked at the limited amount of space in my two suitcases, I had to make some difficult decisions about my wardrobe. I had to sacrifice so many of my comfortable t shirts and jeans to make way for button down shirts, dress pants, and suit jackets. But the hardest compromise was my shoe collection. I really love shoes and I had to leave so many pairs of shoes at home so that I could pack sensible, conservative business heels. It was a depressing time for me.
But now, nearly three years later, I have really gotten comfortable in my business wear. In fact, I actually enjoy dressing up every day for work. When I’m shopping, I spend a lot of my time browsing for new dress shirts, or searching for the perfect pair of black pants even though I already own two pairs. I only wear t shirts when I’m sleeping or exercising. And when I do buy new clothes, I almost always buy new business clothes instead of cute, casual wear. And I actually get really excited about buying new clothes for work.
Now, you can see the huge change in thinking that I’ve experienced. If you would have told me all of that while I was packing my suitcase three years ago, I most likely would have stared at you like you were a crazy person. Even now, I can barely believe it myself. But I will say that my shoe preference has not changed. I cannot help but buy very cute, totally inappropriate-for-work shoes whenever I go shoe shopping. But that is an entirely different problem; one that I’m actually sure has a solution. And as the saying goes: some things will just never change.