Monday, May 16, 2011

rebellion of the victorian undergarments

Today, for the first time in my life, I wore a corset to work as my own form of passive-aggressiveness.

One of the great things about working for my boss is his lack attitude on defining a "proper" dress code in the workplace.  If I was a full-fledged follower of any subcultural fashion I would probably take full advantage of this.  But I also do part-time work with the law firm with whom we share offices and, even though they don't require me to dress any particular way either, I try to respect the fact that they have clients who may be more judgmental about clothing. 

I try to dress rather casual All-American office girl for the most part, throwing in some unusual pieces whenever it fits.  I've worn steampunk-inspired jewelry and my masculine pocketwatch to the office, knee-high boots with fishnets to go with a striped black and white top and a long pleaded skirt, and neo-Victorian blouses and skirts.  If I plan on wearing something considered to be provocative (as fishnets usually are) then I pair it up with something very conservative to balance it out for the office.

I wish I had a photo to show to explain what I meant, but I haven't been taking photos of myself after I've put these outfits together.  I will have to start doing so, maybe so you all can tell me whether an outfit is work-appropriate or not.

Before last week no one ever commented negatively about my "odder" clothing choices to my face.  In fact, I usually received compliments on my outfits.

The reason for my donning a corset today was due to this realization: judging someone based on their clothing is not really about the person who is being judged, but is more of a statement about the person doing the judging.

Me and my "skimpy clothing"
This past weekend an individual who is neither a coworker, nor a client, nor a friend of mine commented to me about my lack of professionalism due to my "provocative dress" at the workplace.  He obviously did it deliberately to hurt me, not because he thought it was true.  We were discussing a serious problem with potential legal consequences.  The individual was trying to defend his actions by attacking mine.  He couldn't find any noticeable flaw in my work ability, so he chose to go after my wardrobe instead. At that point I realized that any intellectual discussion on the topic at hand had gone down the drain, so I simply told him that I was done talking with him and I walked away.  What made it funny was he continued to yell after me, making himself look even more foolish in front of others. 

The incident got me thinking, however, about prejudice towards people who dress differently.  I have to wonder if it's really because these people are so insecure about themselves that they have to justify their own selves by attacking others who appear to have the traits that they themselves so sorely lack.

Unless my boss has an issue with my clothing I will not change the way I dress in the office.  

To reiterate this statement to the one "hater" in the office I wore a red brocade corset to work.  Paired up with skinny jeans, knee-high boots, and covered by a boyfriend jacket, I did not break my workplace rule of pairing up "provocative" clothing with more conservative. And yet, despite the constraints of the steel-boning and tightly laced strings, I felt so free inside and out.

Vive le corset!!!!


  1. Yes! That's how you do it! Class, elegance, and wit. When you keep your true feelings/emotions inside and walk away, it leaves him the emotional, irrational one. He's a jerk, and you handled yourself very nicely. Good job! <3!

  2. It's a standard reaction of people, if they run out of intellectual ammo, they go for your looks, or personality. They'll try to judge you in stead of your actions and words.

    A few years ago, I'd have been a soppy mess, these days, I just laugh at them and walk away, but there still is a risk of me going somewhere out of view to cry afterwards, since although I've come to realise that it's the clearest sign there is of them having lost a debate, it also hurts my feelings to be judged for being *me* rather than my words or actions.

    I'd claim that because of your reaction, you won your debate hands-on. Congrats, Girl! :D

    Especially now, that I'm back to my natural blonde hair colour after being a brunette or redhead for a good many years, I've come to notice more and more, how godawfully judgemental people are of "pretty" girls in my culture (Finland). If you're different, or have the guts to be, they assume you to be a bimbo, or just stupid.

    Thankfully, when I was at the U.S. consulate this week, although I was dolled up to the nines in a lawyer-esque business attire (with a neo-Victorian flair in my accessories) on both visits, they treated me with respect, and didn't underestimate my mind - although the locally hired security guys got frustrated, since I had no idea I can switch my iPhone properly off. I've never had to before!

    The difference is stark, when you notice how some people try to bully you into fitting into what they perceive as your "box", while others decide to let you soar.

    I have a theory, that that's why Sarah Palin got so much - pardon the expression - crap from the media during her VP campaign. She is good looking, Christian, a mom, and has a better career than her husband. Doesn't fit into the standard "Republican woman" box... So the media chewed the poor woman up.

    (I wouldn't consider her to be presidential material, but she could have remained a good governor in her own state... Could haves and would haves are a little moot, though, so I'll just drop it...)