Dressing for work

Dressing for work

September 3, 2014
Last evening I had to avail the service of my driver to attend a Toastmaster’s meeting. His first words upon me entering the car were, “Mashallah, make-up, aaa!”  As is my wont, I blurted, “So what the heck…” when I heard him ask, “Why don’t you go to work dressed like this?”

If the same point made by many, several times over, warranties your attention, then he deserved my dignified silence.
My mom was the first to say this more than a decade back… “Put on something nice.” My husband has wondered aloud [I’ve lost count]… “You shop like crazy, but when you go to work, it’s the same tattered ones. Why are you collecting all these for?”
A senior acquaintance once sat me down, when I complained that I was over-looked for an internal promotion. “Why do you wear these worn-out jeans to work? And you go in these flats!! Dress smart. When you walk in, people should turn their heads towards you.” I’m yet to figure out the connection between dress and promotion, though.
In my first job [as a CSR at a logistics firm], my colleague, who later became a good friend, had all heads turning towards her each time she walked out of the cubicle. There were rumours of warehouse operators  fined for misplacing and damaging cartons while they ogled at her from atop their cranes. She was always in chiffon, halter-neck & strapless, knee-length dresses accessoried with 5-inch-and-above stilettos and her basic two-piece inner.
Since I left her to join the media industry, I’ve been editing others’ words to keep the wolf off my door. A desk job that requires me to use only my upper compartment. The most I interact is when I ring up reporters – who go out into the world meeting, greeting, collecting stories – to check on facts. Else, I’m tapping away at my keyboard 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, editing and re-writing articles for people to read, ignore, appreciate or criticize, in no particular order.
I’m invisible. So how does it matter, if I’m in my birthday suit earning my living. Journalists are one casual breed!  Also, my workplace is a freezer. My first task every morning is to top myself up in multiple layers of winter clothing even before I log in.

My work station, with three pieces of winter clothing on the chair

Well, I believe in being presentable. But I’m a strict minimalist. Hence, I adorn comfort and decency with a touch of Issey Miyake. I can’t have cat paws on print-outs and stained coffee mugs on my desk. Clutter and dirt stain the brain – whose clarity is the PIN for my ATM.

I salute women who are productive sitting squeezed in hip-ripping skirts, breathing through bosom-gaping tops, balancing atop ladder-like shoes, managing to keep their tresses off their eyes while checking files. Not me!
“That’s dressing smart, mama,” exclaimed my pre-teen daughter.
“I’m not ubiquitous as the furniture, either, else the cleaner would have dusted me,” I said, to which she replied… “Mama, every morning, after you so-call dress-up [with her four fingers curling in air], why don’t you take a selfie and post on FB? When you get yucky comments may be you’ll change your mind.”
I remember my childhood days. Whenever mom made anything special, she would offer the first piece to Ganesh [The Hindu elephant-deity] and only then was the dish open to the family.
Today, Lord Ganesha has rivals in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…
I wonder how obsessive can people get to post every activity of theirs… post the vegetable before they cut; the food before they eat; the pajama before they pull it up; the child’s first nappy…
Well, I’m happy the way I dress as long as my work speaks louder!
How do you dress for work? Do you ‘dress smart’ ; ‘dress-up’ or ‘dress casual’? I would love to hear from  you.

You may want to read: The search for my friend ends 

Nisha Sanjeev


  • Corinne Rodrigues
    September 3, 2014

    I'm a casual dresser too and since I work from home, I can 'go to work' in my jammies! 😉

  • Jayanthi
    September 3, 2014

    Hey .. i could not agree more. I have a colleague who doubles up as my image consultant and spruces up my wadrobe and my make up accessories. But she does have a tough time getting me to keep up with it because i just cannot bring myself to dress up or shop for myself. Good to hear someone who thinks the same. After why should a woman's promotion be dependant on what she wears and hoe long . short a hair she sports when men can pretty much get away with it. Good post ( the title of your blog is what got me cloicking 🙂 )

  • Nisha Sanjeev
    September 3, 2014

    thank you Jayanti, I thought I was the only weirdo 🙂 Good to connect

  • Nisha Sanjeev
    September 3, 2014

    Honestly Corinne, there are days I wish jammies were made 'official'

  • Lorraine Taylor
    September 3, 2014

    Corinne. .fun…jammies. since I now work from home I am in work out clothes sandwiched between an early morning dog walk and the gym. But if meeting with someone…enjoy rustling through the wardrobe to mix and match an outfit…dabbing a bit of make up to fend off the wrinkles. 🙂

  • Nabanita
    September 4, 2014

    I'm a lazy dresser when it comes to getting ready for the work place…I just don't find the interest you know

    Random Thoughts Naba – Your Birthday Or Mine?……

  • Nisha Sanjeev
    September 4, 2014

    Hi Nabanita, glad to connect. Good to know Im not the only lazy one 🙂

  • Anonymous
    September 10, 2014

    Hi Nish, I dress the way I feel and want to depending on my mood. Sometimes sexy, sometimes comfy, sometimes casual but it should be comfy.

  • bluvian
    September 11, 2014

    comfort is the most important factor for me… from under clothes to shoes. i can wear high heels or strappy dresses as the occasion may demand but not for office! i prefer jumpers or anything next to it… and have got away with that everywhere i worked. whenever i have to do power dressing… i always carry a change… cos i donno how along i would last in them… usually i change to my sneakers/flats soon after their official needs/ art opening etc… i.e. after the photos are clicked… it is another thing that sneakers don go with a dress… n i will never go in front of diya like that :p… but for rest of the world who cares. lol!