A few weeks ago, I wrote about a few key pieces that you should have in your closet during this interview season. While writing this post, it seemed like a no-brainer. I believe that every professional woman should have a work appropriate outfit that screams, “I’m the boss.” Yet, I failed to unpack something extremely important. Since we live in an unfortunately patriarchal society, the way a woman dresses professionally is always political. I recently read an article featuring the lovely Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer. If you haven’t read any of her books, you have probably heard her drop knowledge on Beyoncé’s Flawless. Entitled Why Can’t A Smart Woman Love Fashion?, Adichie discusses switching up her wardrobe to be “taken more seriously.” Instead of wearing the bright oranges that flattered her skin tone, she opted to wear clothes that she found uninteresting and bland. Another article I came across discussed female lawyers who bear “too much cleavage for the courtroom.” From state to state, the dress codes all vary for women who have chosen to pursue their law degrees. In both cases, we find women who have to sacrifice what they want to wear in order to reach their professional potentials. Of course, this isn’t limited to clothes. Women of color who choose to rock their Afros on a daily basis quickly reach for their straightening irons when called in for an interview. Women of graceful age dye their grey hairs to appear younger to future employers. Women with Senegalese twists and box braids fear that their protective styles will be deemed unprofessional. Constantly, we are told to strip ourselves of our identities to reach our career goals. In male dominated spaces, such as the courtroom, women are told to button up, loosen this, and cover that. Or, we are told the opposite. There was a time when female lawyers weren’t even allowed to approach the bench if they were wearing a pantsuit. The rules thrown upon us are dizzying, stressful, and outdated. Yet, we are still talking about them today. So, what do we do about it? Play the game smart. Always look classy when walking into an interview. But, don’t stifle your personal style so much that your confidence doesn’t shine through. Always wear an outfit that makes you feel like you are your future employer’s only and best option. If you believe red is your power color, incorporate it into your outfit. If you hate skirts, wear some beautiful high-waisted pants with a belt. If your gold studs make you feel like a queen, rock them. In short, do what you need to do in order to get what you want. Don’t worry about all the “rules.” They’ll only hold you back from being the boss and, with all these regulations, we need a few more ladies in the top spots.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Brown chapter.