I know that your advice is usually “know your workplace,” but is it ever okay to do something that a female superior isn’t doing? For example, I regularly wear bold red lipstick (with very minimal makeup otherwise) in my personal life. I know that I pull off the lipstick – I often get compliments on it, and I’m usually assumed to be older than I am by the way that I carry myself, lipstick or no. However, I’m the youngest in my workplace by a large margin, and most of my coworkers are either men or women significantly older than myself who tend to dress on the frumpier side.
My question is this: should one always strive to fit into the office culture? And do the circumstances change if I’m in a lower-level position and much younger than everyone else?
I think this is a great question because for me, it gets to the heart of what everyone’s wondering: what might be questionable at your office. There are some items of clothing — peep toes, bare arms, bare legs — that are so often on the “what not to wear to the office” list that I think for those items you should really wait to see what your female superiors do, because they help set the office culture. I would not put red lipstick on that list, though — and in fact I’d tell you to rock it out — so let’s explore some more. [Read more...]