Army of Mom

So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause.


Dress for success

I got to thinking last night about the little bitchy party hostess at the gymnastics place and thinking I was being sort of bitchy, myself, about her nose ring. I have lots of tattooed and pierced friends, so why would that nose ring bug me so much and then it dawned on me. It isn't that she HAS a nose ring, it is a combination of expectations and appearance.

When you go to a children's party, you expect someone who appears to be a role model to be directing children. Now, she could have a 666 tattoo on her backside, but if she is dressed and acting like Mary Poppins, we're good. Right?

It is a lesson I learned in high school while working at an AMC movie theater. The manager told all of us that he expected us to be dressed in a clean, non-wrinkled uniform when we showed up for work. We should look nice, too. It seemed really sexist to me at the time and I asked him about it and his response made sense. He told the girls that we should have our hair fixed nicely, make-up (including lipstick) on and our nails polished or else looking very nice and clean. His explanation: We are a destination for entertainment. People do not want to come to the theater and see some scraggly person waiting on them. They want pleasant, friendly, attractive and helpful people there. Makes sense.

In college, that lesson was further ingrained in my head. I went to work for a Gingiss Formalwear. The owner, TW, was raised in the business by her dad who owned most of the stores in the Dallas area. She coached us often on how important it is to look professional. We were helping people with some of the most important occasions of their lives - weddings, formal events, quinceneras, etc. These were events that they wanted to be perfect and they wanted to work with professional, competent people. Little things that she taught me included noting what people were dressed like when they turned in an application: were they dressed professionally or in shorts and sandals? This is important, she said, because it tells you about how serious they take this job. Another sexist-sounding thing to me, but later made sense, was that she preferred to hire women (and fairly attractive ones) because men tend not to want other men reaching around them, measuring their waist, their outseam, etc.). It is all about comfort of the customer.

We live in a free-market and businesses have to make tough decisions about who they're going to present as their public face. Do you want your business to be identified with someone whose first impression is a good one or someone who makes you wonder about the competence of your company? Now, I have to admit that I'm the first one to look for the atypical person when I'm looking for a hairdresser. The flashier and stranger the person looks, it has always been the better for me. Even at my age now, my hairdresser is an older guy with a ponytail. *shrug* Just makes me feel better about having someone who appears to be a creative, thinking out of the box person, doing my hair. Now, would I think twice about having someone with purple hair doing my taxes. Maybe or maybe not. Appearances, along with personality and attitude go a long way with me.

So, go ahead with the nose ring if you want one. Just make sure that everything else about you is professional and you'll probably be just fine.

Now, those big earring things that make holes in your ear lobes ... those are just plain stupid, but that is a whole OTHER post in itself.


  • At 1:07 PM, January 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think you are absolutely spot on. It also seems that work casual is slowly leaving the scene (praise God). When I was in college I worked at FAO Schwarz (yes, this was a very fun job), women were expected (but not required, it was MN after all) to wear skirts and there was a minimum length requirement as well. No jeans or tennis shoes either. I see absolutely nothing wrong with these things. In certain jobs it is utterly unimportant, but if you are doing business with someone and you go to their office, are more likely to do business with them if the employees are dressed nicely or sloppily? What does it say about their work if the can't be bothered to get dressed in the morning? Maybe nothing, but as you said, appearances are important.


  • At 9:47 PM, January 17, 2005, Blogger Army of Mom said…

    Yeah, I agree about the food-handling. The clerk at the record store can be as funky looking as he wants to be, but if he is serving me food, it just makes me a little queasy.

  • At 8:13 AM, April 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I cant speak for Mr.Gingiss but I have my own clothing company in London.
    Clothing can emphasize our caracter.It is a means of communicating visually.How one dresses says a lot about who and what we are.
    Frank Lipman
    Lipman and Sons


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