If you can't wear the clothes you love to work, get a new career.

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If you can't wear what you love to work, you're in the wrong career.

About fifteen years ago, I was helping a beautiful young woman (one of my semi-nieces) apply for an apartment. She was very young and people often make snap judgments about age, so we decided she needed to look trustworthy, respectable, tidy, a suitable applicant. Seems reasonable, right?

We went to a thrift store and found her an ensemble which made her look like an extremely trustworthy young woman. i.e. business casual. She got the apartment.

Because she is trustworthy, responsible, reliable, and has a great work ethic, she was a wonderful tenant.

The thing is, the outfit she wore had nothing to do with who she really was.

She hid her tattoos, took out her nose piercing and her bright blue dreadlock hair extensions, and Doc Martens with studs on them, and wore a "very sensible" outfit instead. I think the owner got a shock when he turned up for a house inspection and she looked like her usual self, but she was such an exemplary tenant, I think his previous attitudes were altered for the better.

We also talked about outfits she could wear to job interviews. She was about 18 or 19 at the time, a glorious a mix of goth and punk, nearly 6 foot tall in her boots and resembled Uma Thurman. She has always been a magnificant and colorful sight to behold. But we dutifully modified the way she looked so that she could apply for jobs in the finance sector. She was hired and slowly started reintroducing parts of her true style.

I'm ashamed to admit, it took me a year or so to occur to me to realize she had always looked exactly right - the problem was the company she was applying for.

And the same goes for you.

If you are not able to express who you authentically are at work, start your own business, switch careers, or find an work environment where they think that you are the most incredible person ever, exactly as you are.

I had a client who was deeply unhappy in her job. She was bullied, she was belittled and it was evident they were trying to get her to quit. But she hung on because at the time she felt she didn't have any other options.

Eventually I managed to convince her that she was a unicorn in a zoo and should be prancing around happily in a forest. She took the incredibly brave leap and found another job where they realized how incredible she was. She's risen quickly through the ranks and she couldn’t be happier.

So, if you can't wear the clothes you love to work, rethink your career.

Oh, and my semi-niece? She's a fashion designer now.

Let's talk about your transformational style in my new members Facebook Group. 

Aroha, Erin.

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

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