Four years ago, I left stodgier corporate environments behind for hipster-casual, tech sector gigs. Gone were the days of heels, dress pants and dresses. Given my tendency to inhabit tiny spaces, and despite my tendency to cling to clothing under the “I might want to wear that again one day” clause, I finally realized my closet space was at too high a premium to be cluttered with things I didn’t wear. There was no turning back. Out went bag upon bag of perfectly good corporate attire (don’t worry, I donated it all), and I officially became a casually dressed employee.
Wearing jeans and t-shirts and converse all-stars to work is wonderful in so many ways. I’ve never believed that what you wear is indicative of how good you are at your work. But dressing casual 100% of the time is only great until you no longer work in the tech sector and have to face the harsh reality that not all organizations are so progressive with their dress codes. I have at least ten pairs of jeans and countless cute but not-at-all-dressy sweaters. I have casual, slip-on shoes for all occasions. I have leggings. I have t-shirts galore. What I’ve realized is that none of these are going to work for me as I transition, yet again, in my work life. Translation: Shit, I have nothing to wear to prospective client meetings.
Currently, in my possession, I have only the following assortment of clothing that is even remotely suitable for meeting prospective clients or employers:
–1 pair slightly snug dress pants
–1 classic black blazer in need of a solid dry cleaning
–2 black dresses that may or may not fit a this point, and which can only be worn with tights as they may be just a smidge shorter than my pasty legs can handle
–3 skirts with absolutely no tops of the style and shape that can be worn with the skirts, essentially rendering them useless
That is it. The rest of my wardrobe is awesome only if I want to run back into the arms of tech start-up environments (which I do not), attend a clam bake at the beach, or pop out to the grocery store to pick up that one thing from my list that I always seem to forget. It’s tempting to go out and restock my whole wardrobe and yet even this is problematic. For one, I don’t know what type of work I’ll land in and, therefore, what type of wardrobe is suitable. Secondly, being unemployed makes it less fun–actually, make that less possible–to go out and blow hundreds of dollars on new clothes.
Thankfully, for now at least, I can get away with wearing virtually the same outfit to meetings with different prospective employers and clients…assuming, that is, that they don’t all get together to hash out the best and worst dressed consultants that they interview. So if you’re frequenting Vancouver’s coffee shops and trendy lunch spots, I’ll be that girl in the same slightly-too-snug dress pants and well-worn blazer day after day after day (after day). Just don’t tell the people I’m sitting with that I only have one solid outfit. That’s our little secret.