It’s Day 286 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and preparing a proposal for a presentation reminds me how our professional packaging either supports or sabotages us. When I did my student teaching at a small uber conservative Christian school, despite having always used fashion as a form of self-expression, I began packaging myself similar to the other teachers. Dresses to my ankles, long hair pulled into a bun and little to no makeup. Even though I conformed a bit, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in something with the alphabet, animals or the Ark on it! Still, we teachers didn’t make much and I wore the least expensive items I could find. That is until my mother’s threat if she ever saw me carrying another ratty handbag from Walmart scared me out of buying any more! Imitating the fashion choices of others didn’t work for me then, and as I’ve matured, it really doesn’t now. Rather than following trends, I own what works for my personal sense of style – and pocketbook. Today I understand the truth of quality vs. quantity and dressing your best now – no matter your budget, body, busy schedule, or even beliefs. Though those women’s hearts were in the right place – they believed they were being modest and good stewards – however, their dowdy attire did nothing for them. In fact, I suspect it hurt some. Those ladies worked hard. All Pink Collar Swans work do. Why not invest in purposeful packaging? After all, it either supports or sabotages us – personally and professionally.
The reason I suspect those women were hurt by the seeming lack of effort they put into their packaging is that most of them were viewed and treated as doormats. More together on the inside than their male counterparts, they also functioned at a higher level overall. Yet somehow they were looked down upon based on their outward appearance. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this in other workplaces. While men usually stick to a standard uniform of at least a button down, khakis, and loafers, women show up in shapeless dresses and skirts, stretchy pants that could double as fitness wear, and shoes that are only a step up from house slippers. With hair scraped back in a ponytail and faces devoid of even a bit of lipgloss, it can appear as if they just rolled out of bed. And although women who work hard full-time on the home front may not need to go to the extreme of business casual attire, those who don’t bother to at least get dressed aren’t doing themselves any favors. In both scenarios, what women sometimes don’t really get is that rather than supporting the positive image they wish to project, their packaging sabotages it. Lest I sound overly critical, there have been times when I was that hot mess woman myself!
As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Life Coach, one of the Ds (challenges women face) I coach around is Dressing. Consequently, I am excited to have been contacted by the sponsor of this women’s event. The participants will be women who have reached a certain level in their careers but who have hit a wall – because of their packaging. Having recently faced more of my own dressing barriers (a full hysterectomy, pelvic floor surgery, and a lumpectomy, all of which resulted in hormonal weight gain and significant body changes), I’m learning to let go of my old super skinny body to embrace and properly fit my new super shapely one. It’s an ongoing challenge! But I’m minimizing those barriers (Olga makes some great minimizer bras – HaHa!), and am maximizing the ability to relate to the women I coach in order for them to maximize their beauty. Overcoming my own obstacles has equipped me with the experience needed to not only dress these women, but to address their issues…I’m looking forward to doing that so their packaging no longer sabotages them but supports them living their best professional lives.
How Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose are you about your professional packaging? Is it supporting or sabotaging you? I’d love to help. If you’re interested in a complimentary Image Assessment, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, with Image Assessment in the Subject Line. Thanks!
Be savvy & chic,
~Pink Collar Coach