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Does anyone get mocked for over-dressing at work?

post #1 of 128
Thread Starter 

Context: I'm a junior-level employee at a government office where it is EXTREMELY casual. Hardly anyone ever puts any effort into how they look. Those that do, wear dress pants and a shirt. While I typically abide by this silly idea, I, on the other hand, enjoy dressing up, in a suit and tie.

 

I chose to do this today. Consequently, in a way, I was mocked for taking pride in wanting to look nice. I had to make an excuse for dressing up instead of just being able to look good.

 

Has this ever happened to you?

 

Could it be me over thinking things, and actually in the wrong for going "out of the norm"?

 

Edit: Btw more clarification, jeans are rarely worn, more trousers and button down shirts in the workplace.


Edited by NeedStyleHelp - 7/24/13 at 12:27pm
post #2 of 128

Uh.. given the audience, pretty sure everyone here has been.

 

The advice I gave to my brother (who was experiencing something similar) was that the haters just wanted to knock you back down to their level due to their own insecurities.

 

The response I recommended him in the face of mockery was to slowly eyeball the mocker's outfit from top to bottom, don a sht eating grin and simply say "Okay."
 

post #3 of 128

I would not wear a suit and tie when nobody else does.  Try to be a part of the company culture.  You can dress in trousers and a dress shirt, have very nice shoes, and still be on top of your game while fitting in with everybody else.  Save the suits for special work events, etc.  

post #4 of 128

I think this is my first post on this forum since the last one appears to have got lost somehow :)

 

I work in an environment where good dressing is encouraged and recognized. So it's easy for someone who likes to dress well, to blend in, without feeling too self-conscious

 

However what I have also seen is someone who is "overly fashionable" can attract attention in a wrong way. I say this from having worked in a corporate culture for close to 20 years, of which the last 8 have been in senior management positions where I interact with people who pay attention to their overall appearance and spend good money to accomplish it.

 

But there are a few that stick out for the wrong reasons and tend to get ridiculed (not to their faces, at least not in my workplace). The general perception that others have of these folks is that of being snooty, perhaps due to their fashion sense, but mostly due to their tendency to look down on others who don't share similar refined tastes. 

 

The way I look at it is, if you are good at what you do and confident in your abilities then you could give 2 hoots to what others think about your dressing style. However if you are a newbie, still learning the ropes and hope to climb the proverbial ladder, then try to blend in with your co-workers without sacrificing too much of your fashion sense. You can still take pride in what you wear but if the rest of them are in jeans and t-shirts then perhaps a nice khaki and a button down shirt is more appropriate, than a bespoke suit.

 

This is just my advice to someone new to the workforce, like yourself. It's obviously just my opinion and I am sure others would beg to differ :)

 

Good luck!

post #5 of 128
It sounds like most of the people who pretend to care about their appearance where you work are wearing dress pants and a dress shirt. If you're wearing a suit and tie, you are basically three levels of formality above them. Think about it like this:

Dress Pants + Shirt -> Dress Pants + Shirt + Odd Jacket Sans Tie -> Dress Pants + Shirt + Odd Jacket + Tie -> Suit and Tie

You're also young and trying to prove yourself early in your career. A lot of people try to knock others down since it's easier than actually making more of an effort oneself to look better. This is going to happen when you wear a suit in a casual office and may even happen if you dress a bit less formally.

Try investing in high quality and well fitted trousers and shirts, taking pride in things like fit and quality. Add the occasional odd jacket to your wardrobe rather than a full on suit and tie. Once you've been there awhile, see how far you can push the envelope. It's great to want to dress nicely and look good, but you also don't want your clothes to distract from your professional accomplishments. There are ways to look good in a more casual context and still care about clothes.
post #6 of 128

Hey! This is my first post on SF but I've been lurking here and there...

 

I'm 20 years old and currently have a summer job as a paid intern at an engineering company. I'm one of the few people in the relatively small company (<50 people) that dress well. Although I don't go for more than a button down and slacks people still consider to me well dressed because the clothing that I wear fits me well. I've actually gotten numerous compliments from co-workers on how I dress but I believe I've only gotten this many because I try to make small talk with as many people as I can (networking!).

post #7 of 128

Hi! Government type here as well. There are two considerations here, as some others have noted: formality and how well you dress. You can dress well at any level of formality.

 

My office has a range of people who dress well or poorly, but the ones people joke about (the nickname for them in the office is "the Mad Men extras") are the ones that dress far too formally. It's not insecurity -- I consider myself to be someone who dresses well, and on one level I appreciate their fashion sense even if it's a bit conservative -- it's laughing at their self-seriousness, which is reflected in the everyday-suit-and-tie thing. Do people ever describe you as tightly wound? Or even "uptight"? Do you have a haircut that screams "Young Republican"? If not, then hey, I don't know you, you may not be. But be aware that that might be the image you're projecting, and laid-back people love taking the piss out of tightly wound people, it's just our nature. :)

My office isn't much for suits and ties, so I wear very slim-fitted dress pants, custom-made shirts that are very slim-fitted and tailored to my ectomorph body type (all of which cost less than $20 a shirt to make, yay for travel to developing countries!), and so on, no ties. Some of my co-workers, the sames ones who'd crack jokes about the Mad Men extras, have asked me where they can buy clothes like mine, so it seems to be going over well. A three-quarters roll of the sleeves works well for the look.

Style that doesn't shout -- style that's relaxed and confident in itself without needing to self-consciously announce "here I am and I'm trying really hard" -- will help you blend with your co-workers on both the sartorial and personal levels.

post #8 of 128
Thread Starter 

I see both sides of the spectrum. However, what bothers me, most, is the notion that I need to fit into somebody else's idea of what is "appropriate" for the work culture. I understand it's important to conform, but the question we need to ask is why. Why lower our own standards to appease others? Aren't we on this forum to go against the "norm" in terms of dressing; not dressing like a slob, owning horrible shoes, wearing fused suits that are too long and too big, etc., why must we still conform to this archaic approach of "everyone is dressed like this, so you should fit in." It's frustrating to hold back dressing a certain way just because others don't.

 

Btw, I got a million compliments today. The head of the government agency stopped midway through an important briefing to compliment me, after glancing at me several times, proceeding to say that this should be the standard in our workplace smile.gif

 

Also, I'm not disagreeing with other's opinions and saying your wrong. They are quite valid statements and probably true.

post #9 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedStyleHelp View Post

I see both sides of the spectrum. However, what bothers me, most, is the notion that I need to fit into somebody else's idea of what is "appropriate" for the work culture. I understand it's important to conform, but the question we need to ask is why. Why lower our own standards to appease others? Aren't we on this forum to go against the "norm" in terms of dressing; not dressing like a slob, owning horrible shoes, wearing fused suits that are too long and too big, etc., why must we still conform to this archaic approach of "everyone is dressed like this, so you should fit in." It's frustrating to hold back dressing a certain way just because others don't.

 

Btw, I got a million compliments today. The head of the government agency stopped midway through an important briefing to compliment me, after glancing at me several times, proceeding to say that this should be the standard in our workplace smile.gif

 

Also, I'm not disagreeing with other's opinions and saying your wrong. They are quite valid statements and probably true.

I definitely feel you on the notion that we shouldn't have to fit into others' ideas of what is and isn't the right sort of "professional attire" -- this is the price we pay for not living in California. :) A friend of mine in California is now grousing that after a big promotion where he's now responsible for millions in accounts, he's now being forced to wear pants to work instead of shorts. And I kind of feel for him! But compared to what we have to go through on the East Coast in terms of fitting in, it's nothin'. I haven't been able to wear even nice, non-faded jeans to the office for almost a year now, alas.

You're sort of missing the point entirely, though, when you talk about "lowering standards". Again, greater formality does not mean you're holding yourself to a higher standard of dress; you can dress poorly and with great formality and dress well with less formality, and dressing well with greater formality rather than lesser formality doesn't win you any bonus points.

post #10 of 128
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Televangelist View Post

I definitely feel you on the notion that we shouldn't have to fit into others' ideas of what is and isn't the right sort of "professional attire" -- this is the price we pay for not living in California. :) A friend of mine in California is now grousing that after a big promotion where he's now responsible for millions in accounts, he's now being forced to wear pants to work instead of shorts. And I kind of feel for him! But compared to what we have to go through on the East Coast in terms of fitting in, it's nothin'. I haven't been able to wear even nice, non-faded jeans to the office for almost a year now, alas.

You're sort of missing the point entirely, though, when you talk about "lowering standards". Again, greater formality does not mean you're holding yourself to a higher standard of dress; you can dress poorly and with great formality and dress well with less formality, and dressing well with greater formality rather than lesser formality doesn't win you any bonus points.

 

That was my fault for how I phrased it, Televangelist. What I was trying to say by lowering standards, is not standards of looking nice in terms of formality, but my own standards of what I feel is appropriate and how I would like to dress, in order to fit in.

 

My only deviation to looking nice is when it is hot outside. If it's hot, fuck it: all is lost.

post #11 of 128

Fair enough -- I agree that it's a shame we can't all just show up in whatever clothes or style of clothing suits us as long as we're getting our job done well. FWIW, when it's hot outside (and DC summers are brutally humid), I just walk to my office building in an undershirt, carrying my dress shirt with me, and get dressed before I head up. Same principle as women heading to work in trainers and then tossing on heels when they get into the office. :)

post #12 of 128
Years ago I found myself working in a discount suit store.....yes, for about 2 months. One of the lads there came up to me and stood on my highly polished shoes on purpose. I picked him up by his lapels and moved him over to the rails overlooking a three floor drop. I looked at him in the eyes and said if you do that again your going over next time you c#%t! He looked startled and quite sweaty.

Had no trouble after that, that's a true story. Just stick up for yourself, obviously I really lost it then but a simple "shut up yer prick! What's wrong with you?!" will do the trick in most instances.
post #13 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Reeves View Post

Years ago I found myself working in a discount suit store.....yes, for about 2 months. One of the lads there came up to me and stood on my highly polished shoes on purpose. I picked him up by his lapels and moved him over to the rails overlooking a three floor drop. I looked at him in the eyes and said if you do that again your going over next time you c#%t! He looked startled and quite sweaty.
Had no trouble after that, that's a true story. Just stick up for yourself, obviously I really lost it then but a simple "shut up yer prick! What's wrong with you?!" will do the trick in most instances.
that's bad a$$ fistbump.gif...reminded me of this thread
post #14 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Reeves View Post

Years ago I found myself working in a discount suit store.....yes, for about 2 months. One of the lads there came up to me and stood on my highly polished shoes on purpose. I picked him up by his lapels and moved him over to the rails overlooking a three floor drop. I looked at him in the eyes and said if you do that again your going over next time you c#%t! He looked startled and quite sweaty.

Had no trouble after that, that's a true story. Just stick up for yourself, obviously I really lost it then but a simple "shut up yer prick! What's wrong with you?!" will do the trick in most instances.

 

I don't recommend either of these responses in a government office.

post #15 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedStyleHelp View Post

That was my fault for how I phrased it, Televangelist. What I was trying to say by lowering standards, is not standards of looking nice in terms of formality, but my own standards of what I feel is appropriate and how I would like to dress, in order to fit in.

My only deviation to looking nice is when it is hot outside. If it's hot, fuck it: all is lost.

OP, are you an OPSer by any chance? If so, I feel your pain.

That said, as long as you don't peacock, it's ok. I brought a 3-piece suit today that says "London banker/James Bond" (not my words, but of my colleagues), instead of Austin Powers.
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