Fashion advice for the lesbian professional

From the SPG Fashion desk

Dear Peggy,

I have a job interview coming up for a professional job in a large bureaucracy. I have no idea what to wear. I know I need to buy some new clothes, but what? and where? I am a  younger woman on the butch end of the fashion continuum. I am good at t-shirts, jeans and hoodies. More formal than that and I get confused. Please help!
Confused in Oregon

Dear Confused,

Panic not, I have confidence that with a bit of guidance, you can understand and execute this mission.

First some general rules about job interview fashion.  You need to do your homework. At the interview you want to look like you fit in with the organization.
Most workplaces tolerate a reasonable range of styles. You want to know what that range is. You want to aim for the upper middle end of that range.  You really want them to notice you, not your clothes. So you want to be comfortable and have them be immediately comfortable with you. Visit the workplace if possible, talk to someone who works there if you can.

Next: Some do's and don'ts

Do be yourself - within reason.  There are almost no jobs in the Pacific Northwest that require a woman to wear a skirt. If you never wear them anywhere else, you don't have to wear one now.  If you never wear make-up, don't put any on now, you will just be uncomfortable and that will show. But you do need to look professional.

Do find someone who cuts hair well. Get a haircut about a week before the interview, unless you have exceptionally unruly hair - then get it done on the day of. Be 'out' to your hairdresser. Ask your hairdresser if you need to tweeze your eyebrows, let them wax them if they will - This simple thing can make you look five years younger.

The fashion challenged should stick with solid colors.

Wear pants that are not denim. Khakis, non-industrial Dockers, natural fabrics, solid dark colors. You can buy pants in the men's departments, but large department stores have multiple sections of women's clothes, most of them have a section of  work clothes for women, they will have racks of pants. If you are slender, you can have pleats, if not, a flat front will look better. Buy the right size, most women wear their pants a size too small or a size too big. If you feel the waistband when you sit down they are too small, if you NEED a belt they are too big. Your pants should just settle on the top of your shoe when standing.

Buy a jacket/sports coat/blazer in a color that is harmonious with your pants color. Navy or tweed over Khaki, black over dark green.  Not too much black - Johnny Cash is not what you are going for.  Darker blue above slightly lighter blue- ok. Never lighter on top unless you are in the tropics ( I know you are not big on pastels).  Buy your coat in the women's department. Men's jackets will not hang right, even if you are small busted.

For the shirt under the jacket, nicer-knit shirts in solid colors,  this is where to add color. Collars optional, you will look smoother without one. Matching  the color of your eyes is almost always a good idea (except bloodshot) A good woven collared shirt is always acceptable. No one looks bad in a crisp, clean, white shirt - one button open.  Again, something that fits - not too tight or baggy. Do not fear the salespeople - they will tell you if you are wearing the right size. Woven shirts tuck, knit shirts do not.

This is your basic professional outfit. Jacket shirt and slacks, leather shoes.

Belts are optional.

Wear dark socks, but if they can be seen,  you pants are not long enough. (Do not cross your legs ankle on knee. Your knees should stay within six inches of each other when sitting)

Lesbians rarely make jewelry mistakes, a watch, a ring and simple earrings if you normally wear them - if you don't, that is fine as well. If you want to soften your look a bit, a simple small pendant or string of pearls will do that.

Some absolute "No - don't even think about it" rules.

Do NOT wear athletic shoes to the interview or the job.  You need to invest in a pair (or two!) of sensible leather shoes or short boots. If they fit right they will be comfortable. You always get what you pay for in shoes. You do not have to wear heels, but you need shoes that can and should be polished - probably in black. West of the Mississippi you can wear cowboy boots if you are so inclined, but dude ranch boots, not clodhoppers. Again - polish.



Do NOT wear your keys, phone or any other appliance on your belt. Only batman gets away with this. You are not that cool.

Your watch should not look like it was designed by the US Army Rangers or NASA. 

The part you aren't going to like:

You will have to commit some time to shopping. Shopping and buying are two different things. You will have to go into multiple stores. You might have to talk to sales people. (woefully hard to find at times) You MUST try clothes on. You should plan to spend half a day looking, then buy lunch and make a list and then go back and make purchases. If you can get someone to go with you for moral support, do so. A straight ally with time on her hands is a great resource.

Once you find a source for clothes that work for you, you can become a loyal customer and shop much less.

Do the best you can with this, and then don't stress about the wardrobe. They will hire you or not based on you, not your threads.

Good luck!

dear spg,
what about my favorite good luck
charm, my vagina earrings? Can I wear them to the interview?
confused in seattle
Dear SPG,
What about my favorite tie?
still confused in seattle.
Dear Seattle,

Your ears already look like vaginas, so vagina earrings are redundant. Leave them at home.

SPG fd
Ties, for girls straight and gay, went out with Annie Hall. You don't own any overalls, do you?

Dykes actually in. not merely from, the states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona may were bolos only on formal occasions.
What about my wallet on chain?
and my leather & spike wristbands?
I never take them off... well, almost never.
Chicago Dyke
Ouch! Chicago, please be considerate.

Unless you are applying for a receptionist job at the local Ink emporium - NO.

And a word about wallets from your Chiropractor. Don't sit on them.

If you wallet has file cabinet divider or is organized by the Dewey decimal system, you need some sort of satchel (I won't alarm you the P word)

For the interview lock your stuff in yout rig. At other times a messenger bag serves as a combo briefcase/p****.
See all of the above for reasons I:

a) Am not a girl anymore, and
b) Only do jobs I can wear jeans to.
Good thing I never accepted a wallet from my chiropractor! :~)

Editorially yours,
you didn't mention polos or henley's for under the jacket?
@ Luke - polos ok - if you must - Henleys - NO

@ JB It is a well know fact that Chiropractors so hate the unbalancing effect of fat wallets in back pockets that they have been passing out booby-trapped ejector wallets, made by the Acme company that go "SPROINNGGG!!!" and bounce you right off you butt! srsly. At an angle, of course, depending on which butt cheek you put the wallet under.
Peggy, am I allowed to skip the live in-person and repair to my fave mail order sites?

Do you have any good Bible verses either to help steel one for the world of retail or just to help cope with the need to clothe oneself consistent with the environment one hopes to be paid to inhabit?

What about some extra Bible verses for everyone who comments on this thread and maintains Quaker silence for all that other weighty stuff you post?
But what if i AM in fact comfortable in make up heels and a skirt? even if i do not normally wear these things.
@ Laura - there is an whole different advice set for pretty, femme, straight girls who wear their pajama pants under their sexy polyester work pants at the bank.
@ rantwoman
Yes you can order from a catalogue if that works for you.

Here are your Bible lessons.

Isaiah 61:10
I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law so as to win those not having the law.

1 Timothy 1:6
Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.

1 Timothy 6:20
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge,
Okay, all that is well and good, I think I may check out the online shopping thing, because when I go into stores to shop, I think I sorta scare off the clerks that work in the stores. It is like they evaporate into thin air.

Yeah, I do have overalls, and my friend has overall shorts. What's the problem?! They have great pockets.

You may wear overalls anytime you have a hammer in your hand. But short or long they are not for wearing about town.

Which brings up the topic of those pants that zip off at the knee. My goodness. If you are hiking in the woods and expect a temperature change of twenty degrees or more, OK, otherwise - detachable pants - not a good idea.
Oh Come on! Can't you imagine ANY job interview situation where pants with zip-off legs would be just the ticket?

Dunno about zip-off pantlegs in a large bureaucracy though. Bureaucracies in my experience attract people whose legs I ONLY want to see fully clothed but I am always open to surprises.
wow - didn't know there were so many rules. Makes me really appreciate my jeans and athletic shoes. How does one ever make in and out of a store with their sanity.What happened to just plain comfortable and multi functionality
And Finally - A Fashion extra -
"What to wear to the apocalypse"
I object to the overall comment. I love my overalls! I don't wear them to work but I love wearing them at home and if I go out to the coffee shop, movies, or to a a store. They're great!

-Overall Lover.
I object to the overall tone of this conversation!
Most important!!!

Whenever you go in for a job interview, find the restroom and pee before you identify yourself to the person at the fron desk.

There is nothing that can make your job interview more trivially stressful than trying to be perfect in front of a stranger with your legs crossed and your fingers drumming on your portfolio.

It doesn't matter what you're wearing if you're leaking all over it when you stand up.
Quaker Long Haul Trucker Kevin, signing in on a post on lesbian fashion, has just pushed this post to the highest # of comments of four hundred and some posts. Some of those post have actual wisdom flakes in them!

I refer people back to Paula and Timothy
This isn't meaningless talk!@! We are talking JOBS! Income! FOOD!!! Some people may already know this stuff, but some don't. Sheesh.and who says my ears look like vaginas-- EXCUSE ME!!??
"You may wear overalls anytime you have a hammer in your hand" There is another job they suit well. I wore overalls most of the time when my children were tiny. All those pockets and a top that made it easy to nurse.
1) Are Carharrt's OK if they are not the classic Carharrt brown color?

2) Are there circumstances in which it is unacceptable to wear my White's boots? They are the Ladie's hips kill me and these boots make life bearable.

3) Is it OK to (very gradually) revert to more comfortable clothing once one has landed the job??

I see that you are in Idaho. Northern Idaho. All of the things you ask about are ok in Idaho. But please, GET OUT OF IDAHO!!!!!
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home