The Deeper Means and Uses of Fashion at Work

At the start of our career as working women, we plan what we will wear to office meticulously even if they are casual pair of jeans and t-shirt. Yet as our career grow, sometime we are just too busy to really plan on what we wear, especially when our children is still young, there is even space to breath, let alone dress well. I am one of those who drown and dress without thinking to work. Here I am sharing my reflection on what dressing at work means for me over the years I am working and what others dress means for me as well over time.

Looking back, I realize that I dress for work as an armour agaisnt the potential bullet coming my way in my difficult battle – even when it is virtual meeting. In the past, in the most challenging meetings, I put on my traditional Indonesia clothes and accesorries to remind me what inspire me most and my ambition (i.e to contribute to the Nation and make Indonesia superior and comparable nation where I work). Color that bring me confident such as red also help inspire me to be fiery. 

I also dress to make me happy, good fabric that spoil my skin and color that please my eyes. Even when I put together clothes that raise my confidence level in difficult circumstances, I still try to find option that makes me happy too. Kebaya (traditional Indonesia clothes), while it raise my confidence, also makes me happy as they are typically made in a cooling soft fabric with bright colors. 

Clothes also a way for me to connect with others. Appreciating how one dress to work, asking questions and making connection, it is a way to appreciate life. There are, among others, those who wore bright lovely colors to work, those who wear rock-inspired tech people-inspired monochrome black or those who wore all kind of batiks. There are stories behind the dress people wear to work, even those who are barely thinking about what they wear because they are too busy to do so, it is still a story and observation, to help you connect and work with them knowing some of our colleagues have a harried life. 

Trading tips and tricks on what one’s wear to work also is an ice breaking conversation that never fails, whoever and whatever the gender is. It is similar with food-related ice breaking conversation. It is a way to create bond, for example knowing that Batik is a culture inherent in a certain workplace and we came wearing Batik, it is a respectful nod to the culture of that particular workplace. Equally workplace where the culture is smart casual and not formal, wearing one instead of formal dress avoid putting a wall in the get go to the workplace with smart casual dress code. 

Having once in a while costume day at work, even if it is just t-shirt on jeans on bright colors, already make what might have been a difficult day, become a bit easier and a bit fun, hopefully will reduce a little bit stress. 

As a woman, dressing to impress has been something I brought up with but later on I realize that dressing for oneself happiness and dressing to make connection help me maintain my well being. Seeing myself in Kebaya which can be unusual and has always invite people to ask question, never fail to bring me happiness. Thinking what to wear itself sometime is a small oasis to relieve stress and take minds off bigger and more difficult things, it is one small but potent stress relief for me. One can say that we can find happiness in little things and to me fashion is one of them. I hope that one can feel less guilty thinking about what to wear to work given there are many benefits to invest in our fashion at work. 

Happy Internasional Women’s Day !

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