Friday, June 09, 2006

At Work With Style ~1~

Until I find a "real, grown-up" career-type job (I've heard tell of such things), I am working at two restaurants, bartending and serving. A girl's got to pay back her college loans somehow, right?

I wish I could give you lofty, carefree narration on this page, full of high-end purchases and anecdotes about the endless soirees I attend (believe me, I do), but that, my friends, is called fiction. In real life, there is tedium. But even work has room for individuality and style. So, because I myself was fretting over style in the workplace, I thought I'd try some entries about little tips and tricks to spruce up work. There's a lot of room for style- your wardrobe, your environment, your mentality. If I can do it in your everyday, casual, Americanized restaurant, then certainly anyone can add stylistic flourish to their own job.

Today I'll start with the basics: uniform. Uniforms at work come in all shapes and sizes- there are those that are mandated and provided by your company in exact (think USPS), those that have regulation but room to flex (teachers), and then there are those that you whittle out of your own wardrobe for your workplace, keep in a separate section of your closet, and would never wear out on the weekends (you know who you are). Mine fall somewhere between the first and second example. I have a little wiggle room in what I wear, but not a ton.

Naturally, I want to look good and put-together at work. Especially when bartending, looking neat and pretty can be a huge bonus, and your effort is reflected in your tips. Besides which, I'll swear by the mantra that looking good makes you feel good, and that sense of confidence is a bonus in any career where you interact with people all day. But being that my shirt and pants have color and structure limitations, I've decided that my main loophole has to be found in my jewelry and makeup and hair.

So my challenge for myself is to find new ways to wear my hair (back) and short, simple necklaces to make me stand out and retain a sense of individuality. Some restaurants encourage this; some call it "flair." You can see in the image from Office Space what Jennifer Aniston's character thinks of "flair" (seriously, if you didn't already know that reference, you have weekend homework - no really, stop reading this, go rent it now - welcome to the 21st century). But I'm not doing it for anyone but me, and my restaurants don't actually harp on this detail. I have before worked in places that did - and as you've hopefully derived, I no longer work there. I'm doing it because the clothes that are practical are also frightfully frumpy, and I care about how I look at all times. It's a restaurant, yes, and it's physical labor and it can be messy, but it's a public space and anyone can walk in. My friend E. worked in a typical restaurant in L.A. and she had celebrities stop by unannounced. I'm sure she felt much happier about the blush she'd swept across her cheekbones as she sprinted out the door when she walked up to the table only to realize she was waiting on movie stars. Not that I expect any here, but that's an extreme example of the point. I'd merely be pleased to know I looked good if it came to serving one of those Mean Girls from my high school (again, if you haven't seen the movie... or Heathers, I'll let you by with Heathers - but just this once).

So the tip for today: utilize accessories to highlight a boring workplace outfit. Unique belts, shimmery makeup, cute hair styles, pretty nail polish, and chic jewelry are some examples that I believe will do the trick in almost any workplace- as long as you don't overdo it. Some general pointers for accessorizing: have one focal point, and before you walk out the door, take one thing off.

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