11 June 2016
This past Monday I intentionally used dress to my disadvantage. Here’s why and how:
I was attending an annual meeting that I’ve been running for the past five years. The dress code is business casual. This year, due to a change in job responsibilities, I wasn’t going to be leading but assisting. (If you are concerned that I have been demoted, have no concern. I have not.)
Wanting to communicate through my dress that I was second fiddle, I played with the three rules. Yes, I wore two things on top and yes, the focus was on my face but I didn’t dress for equal power. I dressed a notch down.
How did I do it? Did I wear clothing made of cheap cloth? Did I wear delicate florals? Did I wear something ill-fitting or soiled? No.
I wore a sweater.
I wore an ikat printed blouse, slacks, and a sweater. Not a substantial structured like-a-jacket sweater, but a wimpy long beige sweater. (Beige!)
Perhaps I felt less powerful because of the sweater or perhaps I was viewed as less powerful because of the sweater or perhaps both are true. What I do know is that women who choose a sweater as a second item on top should do so carefully.
On Tuesday, I repeated my power-down dressing, this time with a white linen jacket, an Eileen Fisher-style jacket, the kind of jacket that could pass for karate wear. It worked.
And that is the end of wearing clothes like that for work. They were too effective.