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Who, What, Wear of the Workplace

Last summer you hardly knew – just how much work went into my outfits and appearance. I was certainly not working in retail or any glamorous job that entails wearing high heels or having manicured nails. On the contrary, I was working a 9 -5 job, sitting in a cubicle, taking up to a hundred calls a day from policyholders – definitely not glamorous.

Yet, a girl’s office job does not have to restrict her personal style.

As a summer intern, I learned a lot about the insurance industry in my 4 month stint there, but, I also learned a lot more about the way people market themselves. Unfortunately, people grow comfortable – too comfortable – in their cubicle, week after week, so much so that they neglect their clothing and forgo the opportunity of marketing themselves and being their most presentable. Dress to impress passes over their heads.

All those apathetic dressers think: Who do I have to impress when I’m stationed in this cubicle all day?

Certainly, there are perks to dressing fashion consciously. It’s comical reflecting back on it now, but I probably would not have become friends with one of the guys in the neighbouring department had I not taken notice of his style. Nor would I have bonded with the petite strawberry blonde sitting in the cubicle beside mine if we had not shared the same penchant for dress wearing and fashionable self-expression.

Friendships formed over appearances may seem superficial, but it’s only a superficial beginning leading to a more intimate connection with others. We shared bold critiques of Miley’s new pixie cut in August. We complimented each other’s outfits of poignantly paired dresses and shoes. We online window shopped on our breaks. Dressing presentably opens the floodgate to other similarities, other connections.

My long going conversations with a guy whose whole wardrobe seemed to consist of plaid and flannel begin to dwindle. There may not be an universal definition of fashion, but frumpiness all around is unappealing. I strongly encourage people to take a little more time in front of the mirror.

Prioritize that extra five minutes. Run a comb through your hair. Spritz on cologne.

With all the impetus I am putting on looks and beauty, you just may be wondering: How frail and insubstantial am I to have my self-esteem bended at the will of others? This is certainly not a case of choosing looks over everything else; I am not encouraging girls to privilege their external appearance.

Instead, I challenge others to reflect their personality in their clothing. Be outrageous, fun, and bold. Be classy, effortless, and magnetic. Be you, but the best version possible.

I still remember this one slow afternoon when my co-worker came rushing back to our cubicle aisle describing a bomb-shell beauty that had walked out of the elevator: “She had a Michael Kors bag and wedges, manicure and pedicure, oversized sunglasses, amazing hair – no idea who she is.” A description such as this was far from the norm. My friend’s sporadic, high-energy observations fascinated and mystified us. We poured over the details admiringly and inside admittedly, I was jealous.

As much as we would not like to admit it, appearances and wardrobe have the power to hold others in awe and inspiration. I only hope to be that mystery girl the next time around.

Yours Creatively,

Jessica Chong, Online Contributor 

Collage by Jessica Chong