Your Work Clothes

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I have a pair of pants I wear to paint. They are covered with flecks and drips from all the painting I have done over the past twenty years; my husband has banned me from watering them in public because they are that ugly. I keep them because they are already ugly and covered in paint, and when I wear them it puts me in the state of mind to paint.

I have an apron I wear when working in the studio. It too has ink and stains but because the fabric is black the mess does not show up as much as my paint pants. I have not always worn an apron and as a result have ink stains on many pairs of jeans and some of my favorite shirts; even a few night gowns have ink stains. To avoid that happening in the future I wear an apron, and it puts me in a creative mindset the minute I put it over my head.

When I commuted to an office everyday I had work clothes. They were the portion of my wardrobe I wore most often to work, and getting dressed into those clothes prepared me for my workday. Over the length of my career office environments have moved from a business suit dress code to one of business casual, sometimes even casual. Over the years my wardrobe has changed to accommodate the different office styles.

I have noticed that as the dress code became more causal so did the mindset of the workforce. Sometimes people seemed to forget that they are in a work environment not hanging out with friends. Others had a hard time adjusting to the lack of transition between work life and non-work life. Because their wardrobe did not change they had a hard time thinking like an employee or manager in the workplace and then turning that mindset off once they got home.

There is something to be said for not having to own a wardrobe you only wear to work; being able to be your true self at all times. The more casual work environment lends itself more to collaboration and breaking down barriers. A casual workplace also means people talk more openly, use the same language as they would anywhere, and their body gestures are the same no matter where they are sitting. The challenge arrives when people do not realize that they are at work and behave like they do in a bar or at a picnic.  They tell the wrong jokes, say the wrong things, and forget to edit before they text or email. Most work places still expect people to conduct themselves according to the culture and guidelines of the company no matter what they dress code allows.

So what work clothes do you wear? How does getting dressed in those clothes prepare you for the work you are about to do? And what happens when you don’t wear work clothes? And what clothes do you wear when you are not at work? What do they say about how you feel about yourself, your life, how you spend your time? Maybe there is something to the old adage that the clothes make the man (or woman); what we put on our backs does prepare us for battle like an old suit of armor. So what clothes will you choose today to get yourself ready to do good work?

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