The Workplace

Why I Dress the Way I Do: The Real Corporate America

By: Charlene Chinn

It’s 5:30 am and the workday begins. After I take time to pray and meditate the next thing I focus on…what to wear? Sometimes before I even get out the bed I am already mentally scanning what I have in my closet and dresser drawer to create the best outfit.

Sometimes I think to myself “How am I going to build off of what I did yesterday.” “ What color combination can I put together today?” “ Which statement necklace have I not worn in a while that I could wear today?” “ Flats or not? “ “Heels or not? “ All of these questions flow through my head before I have completely laid out my outfit for the day. I know…it’s a lot.

“Charlene you are always so put together.” “You’re so fashionable”. “I love how you dress. “ “Love that necklace Charlene.” “Your hair is always so put together.“ These are just some of the compliments I may hear on a given day which primarily come from my white counterparts. I smile and say thank you of course.

As much as I appreciate the compliments they will never truly understand why I take so much pride in how I look. By no means is it because I am so into myself. Never that. There are not many women of color at the asset management firm where I work. Currently, I am only one of three women in my department. Needless to say I stand out primarily due to the fact that I am black.

My company has an unspoken rule…dress to impress. There is no shortage of buttoned up suits and designer heels. I have even seen a few red bottoms and Jimmy Choos walk through the office floor. On the flip side there are definitely those who come to work on the more “casual” side.

This is especially noticeable in my department. Naturally, those in senior leadership are typically wearing suits, much more on the formal side. For those that fall into the junior-mid career level where I fall I see the biggest difference in appearance.

The white women I work with seem to take the casual route with their basic white buttoned up collared shirt layered with a colored sweater of some kind. Depending on the season you could probably see them in cropped pants and possibly a pair of flats. Their hair is usually down and flat. No body no volume. This is the norm.

The mediocracy is accepted because they are not me. They do not have to put much emphasis on how they will be perceived because they are white. As a black woman my appearance equates to the fact that I will be perceived on how educated I am. Can she speak well? Can  she articulate her thoughts? Basically, do I know what I am talking about. They say first impressions are everything, well for a black women this is even more true.

My coworkers will never understand that I take so much emphasis in my appearance because this demonstrates my seriousness to excel in my career as well as my own life. I have been taught to dress for the job you want not the job you have, and that I will have to work twice as hard to get half of what they have. That, ladies and gentleman is my reality and I am sure the reality of many other black women.

Yes, we like to look nice and dress accordingly, but deep down there is a deep reason for our attention to detail with respect to our attire. I noticed the discreet “surprised” looks when they see a well-dressed, and articulate black women put together. I hear the responses when they see black women in interviews who can clearly and succinctly articulate her thoughts.

Several weeks ago a black woman came into our office to interview for a very senior level Investment Director position. Her skill set and capabilities to do the job were of course discussed. What I found interesting was the number of times her hair and overall attire were referenced. I have to admit myself, her style was impeccable, but to hear the amazement and almost utter shock over how well put together she looked you would have thought they had never seen a black woman dressed let alone a black woman at all.

I have accepted the fact I will have to spend that much more time and effort on how I look because that effort translates into much more than “Oh Charlene you look so put together”. The time and effort into every creased shirt and ironed pair of slacks, from keeping every strand of hair intact to the most appropriate shoes to wear, equate to me being a woman that understands I will have to work that much harder to get to where I need to go. In the end I know I am more than my appearance.

Leave a Reply

27 Comments on "Why I Dress the Way I Do: The Real Corporate America"

Leave a Comment

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
1 year 7 months ago

Love these stories, very true!


patagonia jackets womens sale

c00l article will be back

1 month 29 days ago

hunter store

Many thanks for spreading the following excellent content on your site. I discovered it on the internet. I will check back again once you publish more aricles.

1 month 28 days ago

coach cyber monday

There is apparently a lot to identify about this. I assume you made certain good points in features also.

1 month 25 days ago

hermes mens shoes for sale

Exceptional Stuff, granting I would be in possession to assert that given the number of views this has received it may be desirability thinking about trying to sharpen the spelling and the english! Made a really good read though, excellent matter.

1 month 23 days ago

patagonia on sale

Hi!Im looking for Silver Bracelets do You know any cheap Jewelers?

1 month 13 days ago

buy Mountain Hardwear

Ciekawe naklejki na cian to dobra ozdoba do kazdego domu! naklejki na cian naklejki cienne dekoruj

1 month 12 days ago

belstaff clothing sale

Thank you for the great info! I would never have gotten this by myself!

1 month 11 days ago

pierre hardy for cheap

Glorious data here. This interesting post made me smile. Possibly should you throw in a few pictures it would make the entire thing extra interesting. Anyway, in my language, there usually are not much good supply like this.

1 month 9 days ago

cheap jimmy choo

Many thanks for posting this, It?s just what I used to be researching for on bing. I?d a lot relatively hear opinions from an individual, slightly than a company internet page, that?s why I like blogs so significantly. Many thanks!

1 month 6 days ago

Factory Michael Kors Online

I have bookmarked this blog because I discovered it distinctive. I would be really interested to know more information on this. Thanks!

29 days 21 minutes ago

balmain jeans womens

Im impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a blog that is both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is important; the issue is something that not enough people are talking intelligent…

27 days 4 hours ago

barbour sale

I got a lump in my throat when I thought of that.

25 days 2 hours ago

ugg clearance boots

Starting a site kind of like this one forced me to do some research and I found your post to be quite helpful. My content is centered around the idea of knowledge, fun and sharing. I wish you first-rate luck with your site in the future and you can be…

23 days 11 hours ago

roger vivier shop

Site Map

21 days 17 hours ago

where can i buy birkenstocks

Very nice site you have here, has useful information that can apply to anyone 🙂

20 days 31 minutes ago

mulberry outlet store

Get two plants, and set both of them in two different locations. One plant should be put in a box with a light so it can grow. The other plant should be put in a dark box so it will not grow.

18 days 5 hours ago

marmot down coats on sale

Nice article, thank you! I really love it!

16 days 12 hours ago

cheap ugg boots

Nice commentary. Last Month I stumbled onto this site and wanted to let you know that I have been gratified, going through your sites posts. I will be signing up to your blogs feed and will wait for your next post.


used callaway golf clubs for sale

Great Share! After study a few of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Pls check out my web site as well and let me know what you think.

13 days 3 hours ago

Factory Michael Kors Outlet

I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

10 days 12 hours ago

… [Trackback]

[…] Find More on|Find More|Read More Infos here|Here you will find 51822 more Infos|Informations on that Topic: […]


north face outlet store online

Just to let you know, this content seems a little bit strange from my android phone. Who knows perhaps it really is just my mobile phone. Great post by the way.

7 days 11 hours ago

discount birkenstock online

Valuable info. Lucky me I found your website by accident, and Im shocked why this accident didnt happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

4 days 19 hours ago

canada goose online canada

Good Stuff, do you currently have a twitter profile?

1 day 23 hours ago

Millet outlet store

I love your website.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself or did you hire somebody to do it for you? Plz reply back as I’m looking to create my own website and would like to know where u got this from. thank you

1 day 2 hours ago

sale keen sandals

Good post. I be taught one thing more challenging on different blogs everyday. It would always be stimulating to read content from different writers and apply a bit of something from their store. I’d desire to use some with the content on my blog whet…