A False Dichotomy

Boots+belt+necklace = trendy and fashionable
Boots are "in" this season, and so are brains!

Black pants: JC Penney

Ruffle Tank: Old Navy

Cardigan/Bracelet: Target

Necklace/Earrings: NY & Co.

Belt/Boots: Charlotte Russe

Like the outfit? Click here for more details!


Do you want to competent or fashionable? I feel caught in this false dichotomy sometimes, and I think it’s possible to be both competent and fashionable.

I wore several “cute” outfits to work last week, and a couple of my co-workers commented that I looked trendy, fashionable, and otherwise “cute”. Now, “cute” is not what I’m going for in the workplace, I’m going for smart, hard-working professional. It’s interesting, because I think my colleagues were trying to give me a compliment, but it made me wonder if I was dressed appropriately.

And, that’s the problem! I’m still the same smart, hard-working professional in trendy clothes as I am in boring clothes. I’ve talked before about my style always leaning toward function over form, but I recognize that many women are able to combine the two. I can dress up a plain gray dress with something other than a plain black cardigan. I can wear a necklace without it meaning that I’m too “girly” to do my job. I think it’s all about the perception that trendy equals incompetent. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but it’s also partly due to my experience. In high school and college, all the people that dressed in trendy clothes were not nearly as smart or hard-working in academics as all of us dressed in boring clothes. And yet, I see plenty of smart and successful women in trendy clothes all over the web!

I think I’m changing my mind about the dichotomy. I can show up to work in a colored dress, instead of a black dress. I can wear fashionable boots, instead of plain black pumps. Do you ever feel constrained by this false dichotomy? Like the outfit? Click here for more details!

3 thoughts on “A False Dichotomy

  1. Interesting post. In the 90’s I took a communication class for women. My instructor told me I dressed too pretty. The class met twice after work. I had worn a purple suit one week and a fuchsia suit the next; both with hose and pumps. She suggested I switch to gray pinstriped pantsuits if I wanted to be taken seriously. I eventually changed my wardrobe to business casual, but try to wear a jacket most days. To this day I do not own a gray pinstriped pantsuit.


  2. Pingback: Your Feminism or Your Job « Design. Build. Play.

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