When you work in a corporate environment, it can be easy to fall into the pattern of dressing the way your co-workers do, especially if you haven’t quite wrapped your head around the concept of “business casual.” For a long time, I felt the need to basically be undercover as a “normal person” at work to avoid raising eyebrows, and because I felt I needed to dress a certain way to be respected.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret I’ve learned after 7ish years working in offices: this just isn’t true. There are plenty of ways to express your creepy side in a work-appropriate manner.
1. Play by the rules
Read and understand your employer’s dress code. This is not the time or place to be rebellious — these people are paying you to follow their rules. There is no need to lose your job over clothing choices. That said, all dress codes can be interpreted to fit in some gothiness. Your employer requires a uniform? Time to accessorize! It’s all about understanding what’s appropriate for the environment. That big meeting you have with the head honcho may not be the best day to test out a new black lipstick, just sayin’.
2. Be polite
Speaking of propriety, leave the brooding persona at home! Being courteous will help your coworkers and employers overlook your eccentricities. I’m not saying you have to be best friends with your team, but try to get along with as many people as you can. Bonus: this effort on your part helps make big steps toward changing the public’s view of goths as scary, mean people! Think of yourself as a goth ambassador, if you must. You represent all of us.
Accessories are one of the easiest ways to goth up business attire, but keep them tasteful. Silver jewelry, even when shaped like skulls and bats, can oftentimes go undetected by non-goths. Skulls have even been on-trend the past few years, so embrace that trend! Tights are fun and fantastic during the winter, especially in the gorgeous lace patterns that have been so popular the past few seasons. Granny boots and Mary Janes fit right into the workplace, but it may be best to leave the Demonias and New Rocks at home on weekdays. Remember, your goal is business attire with a gothic twist, not necessarily club-ready.
Your cube/workspace is your home away from home. You spend 40 hours a week here, so make it cozy! Halloween snowglobes, pens, bobbleheads and figurines can help spice up any desk. If you meet with customers face-to-face, your employer may want you to tone things down, but you can almost always get away with a few little fun trinkets scattered about.
5. Paint your face
No, not really. However, you likely can get away with grey or black eyeshadow (or even brighter colors like hot pink and purple if you limit them to your lids) and simple black winged liner. The workplace is not usually the place for eyeliner swirlyboops or Siouxsie-eyes, but a simple smoky eye never hurt anyone. Lipsticks are fun as well, but black is typically frowned upon (even if not explicitly stated in your employer’s dress code). Dark fingernails don’t typically raise any eyebrows in the workplace either, especially if kept neat. If you are lucky enough to have an employer that will allow unnatural hair color, color away!
6. Stick to basics
If you’re still having a hard time wrapping your head around business casual attire, at least keep your basics on hand (in black, preferably, but any color you wish is fine as long as you enjoy it): button-ups, cardigans, slacks, pencil skirts, tights/leggings, maxi skirts, blazers, vests, heels, and flats. Embellish little by little until you are satisfied with your look. Plan your outfits the night before until you get really comfortable with this style of dress. Always remember that less is usually more, especially when easing your coworkers into your new office look. Don’t shock them.
In closing: be nice, dress spooky (but not too spooky), stay neat, and you’ll start to feel more like your creepy self at work soon!