Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dressing For the Job I Have


Earlier Drafts:
I showed you this bag when I went out to eat with the girls, I love these skinnes, I talked you through my purchase of these sunnies, and these wedges have become my official shoe of the summer.

Ray-Ban New Wayfarer sunnies (via Zappos)
white and purple print top (H&M)
cream leather bag (Kate Spade via ebay)
dark wash skinnies (American Eagle)
white canvas wedges (MIA)

For the past two years, my job as a graduate assistant has been to assist in the office in whatever capacity I'm able.  It would have been easy to show up in jeans and a cute top every day, and I'm sure no one would have thought twice about it.  But I've always believed in dressing for the job you want, not for the job you have.  Since I want the job of an English professor, I've been dressing like one for the past two years.  You guys know this.  You've seen the type of outfits I put together.

But this past Friday was my last day of work in the office before I got to switch over to a teaching position, so I thought I'd celebrate the end of my office responsibilities by dressing for the job I now have rather than the one I'm working toward.  As of Friday, I'm officially a PhD student on summer vacation until the end of August, so I wore exactly what I felt like wearing.  I resisted the urge to think about whether I looked professional enough or whether I'd be taken seriously in my outfit.

I don't think anyone in the office really noticed that I was dressed any differently.  But thinking about dressing for the job I have was a fun way for me to celebrate how excited I am to start teaching again as a funded PhD student.  It's generally against my nature to go out of my way to pat myself on my back, but I've been working on taking ownership of my accomplishments ever since I completely crumbled under the pressure of receiving praise during my Master's defense.  I know I'm lucky to have been admitted to the PhD program-- but if I continue to act like it's only luck that got me here, I'm going to have a hard time convincing people to take my ideas seriously.  It felt good to get dressed with the attitude that what I wear doesn't matter much because I've already earned my spot in this program, even if it was just for one day.


  • How often do you dress for the job you have versus dressing for the job you want?
  • Have you managed to strike a balance between being thankful for the opportunities you've been afforded while also taking pride in and ownership of your accomplishments?  If so, any tips?


Katie from Interrobangs Anonymous said...

The shoes are perfect for that outfit - love, love, love!

I'm in a funny place regarding dressing for the job, because there's no set style for what I do. I know museum curators who wear jeans and t shirts, ones who wear suits, and ones who look like they just got back from the Renn. Fair. So I dress for the type of person I want to be seen as - creative, accessible (at any moment I may be asked to dissect a squid or explore someone's attic), and polished. It's a funny balance, but I dig it.

lindsay said...

I am also in transition from office job to graduate school in September. Most of the clothes I've acquired the past year lean towards business casual (basically anything but jeans) though that's not really my preferred "style"... This gives me something good to think about as I get ready for school, about what kind of image I'd like to portray.

I also struggle with taking ownership of my accomplishments; I tend to just brush them off as happenstance or luck. I also feel like since I become so familiar with whatever I'm working on or have accomplished, that it doesn't seem like such a big deal. So, it's definitely something I have to work on, recognizing and acknowledging the weight of things I've done... not always easy, but necessary!

Iris said...

I love the action shot of your puppy!

Sara said...

Those jeans look amazing on you, especially with the cuffs and those awesome shoes. They would be my official shoes of summertime, too! Great print in the blouse, and I love how you left it untucked. Love this whole look!

annie said...

I'm the director of my agency, so I have to attend meetings and say smart things and be taken seriously, and then right afterward, toilet train a preschooler. I just figured my only hope was to learn to run in heels and buy only machine washable professional looking clothes. Its the hardest to dress for both in the same day.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks Katie! I definitely agree that your wardrobe choices articulate your individuality while staying multi-functional. Dressing for a job where there's no traditional "uniform" must be more fun but also sometimes more difficult.

Lindsay, good luck with grad school! I hope you'll enjoy going back after being in the working world as much as I have. And I appreciate your feedback r.e. accomplishments. A professor told me earlier in the semester, "Just because it's obvious to you doesn't mean it's obvious to anyone else," which seems like common sense but is easy to forget.

Iris, I can't keep him out of the photos! I'm glad you find his appearances amusing rather than distracting!

Thanks Sara!

And Annie, my hat is off to all you stylish working moms. I think your point about choosing washable fabrics is a great one!