Some people enjoy wearing a uniform to work. They like the fact that they don’t have to think about what to wear each day. They like the fact that they can save time and use it that time to focus on other things. I am not one of those people.
As a child of Filipino parents, I was forced to go to Catholic schools where donning a uniform seemed to be a religious requisite. I was subjected to a green and brown school uniform in primary school that I thought was extremely hideous. The uniform designer must have been inspired by the Australian native landscape – the colours were horrendous!
In high school at least the uniform designer worked with an awareness of colour schemes. I wore navy, maroon and white (and then black, maroon and white when I moved to another school for Years 11 and 12). I tried to push the school uniform boundaries by wearing simple necklaces with cross pendants, experimenting with coloured hair dye and minimal make-up. And let’s not forget the shortening of the dress hemline!
I thought I was free from the monotony and banality of a uniform once I finished VCE. I embraced my imaginative side and spent ten years in fashion freedom, exploring the androgynous look, to romantic styling and everything else in between.
It wasn’t until I landed my current job that I knew I had taken my artistic freedom for granted. I have now been in work uniform enslavement for over a year now. Although I love what I do and working with the team I work with, wearing a uniform is subjugating me into a life of oppression. I may look professional and polished wearing a uniform, but I can assure you that this is no consolation given I could get the same result using my own aesthetic.
In the last several months, I’m sure I’ve managed to raise my manager’s eyebrow at least once a week with some of my fashion choices. I’ve been quite inventive in bringing my sense of individuality to the workplace each day. I’m teaming my compulsory collared work shirts with vintage black flip skirts with sequinned waist-band detailing; skinny black pants and red patent wedge heels; black trousers with platform patent stilettos and edgier make-up than I would normally wear. I’ve even shelled out a few hundred dollars to see the wonderful team at Heading Out in Melbourne just to dye my coarse Asian hair a golden brown!
So if you’re sense of style is muted by the dreaded work uniform, defy the urge to be complacent and banish the boring trouser and court shoes routine. It’s a bit of an effort but at least you can say you won’t look like just another rat in the rat race. You’ll be a peacock instead!