Why so serious?

All photos from Mrs.O

It’s nice to know others are contemplating the ridiculous balance (age old beauty vs. brains) woman must maintain as well.  Noel Duan (aka misscouturable) has written about her acceptance as a finalist for the Asian American Journalists Association’s 2010 Convention News Project.  [See her post here] And as a result her editor for the convention has advised her to dress very conservatively because “that is how investigative journalists for politics, social issues, and economic affairs are expected to dress.”  Now I don’t know about her, but I bristle at the thought dressing a particular way just because others think it is directly correlated to my intelligence.  That may be some residual teenage rebellion rearing its head, but I think that this is a bigger issue than simply what to wear.

Look! Polka dots and above knee length :)

I wasn’t aware that investigative journalists were so confined.  While there are levels of appropriate for work and certain events, I don’t understand how wearing something cute conveys an exclusively frivolous personality.  I can still debate and investigate politics, social issues, and economic affairs just as well as if I were wearing a business suit.

I believe in the right to freedom of expression.  Fashion is just that.  My freedom to change what “look” I’m portraying at the drop of a hat is does not impact my abilities to be a chemical engineer.  Being capable of intelligent thought and discussion is not exclusive to conservative dress.  That’s wrongfully limiting people who choose to care about art, culture, and fashion.  People are perfectly capable of caring about both substance and style.

Flowers and metallics

Now, I’m not saying to have at it with the leather miniskirt and 6 inch heels at work or convention.  However, I can still be taken seriously while wearing a polka-dotted corset bubble skirt.  Take a look at Michelle Obama.  She’s an excellent lawyer in her own right and yet manages to pull off high fashion with aplomb.  No one would say that we could not take her seriously.  She wears Jason Wu and Isabel Toledo with great flair and grace.  And color! Polka dots, prints, ruffles….Or take a look at Nancy Pelosi.  She wore an excellent purple (with matching purple pumps!) on the day of the decision on Health Care.

So let’s let go of those archaic notions that we can’t have it all ok?  With so many excellent role models, we know better than to believe having a flair for fashion denotes inferior intelligence or lack of seriousness.  Being serious about one’s ambition and career does not directly equate to conservative or uncaring of the way one looks either.  Because let’s face it, who doesn’t want to look good?  I do not mean that you have to overly care about the way you look, but looking polished and put together never hurt anyone.  It makes you feel good.  So go ahead and wear your ruffles and your prints.  Just don’t mistake the office/boardroom/convention for the club and it should be fine.  Be creative and be smart.  Because you can have it all.


One Comment to “Why so serious?”

  1. Ah, thank you for this! I was also told that broadcast journalists get to dress more “fashionable,” but not print journalists. I say, too bad — I’m stubborn and I’m not ready to dress dowdy. If ever.

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