Monday, October 15, 2012

The working life: The secretary sweater‏

I was so cold at work this morning that I was wearing my long wool winter coat (the one SH bought me as a Christmas present a few years ago, although I would have been better off to never have moved to someplace where I need an entire wardrobe of coats as opposed to My Coat)  and a blanket wrapped around my legs.

A colleague suggested that I had no room to complain, what with my bare legs. I told her that I had no intention of spending $5 a day on pantyhose as that would eat up most of my post-tax, post-insurance earnings. 

Oh, returning to the workforce in the whatever we call this decade. In the post-crash, pre-recovery period where employers are sitting in the catbird seat and employees take what they can get and are happy for it. Salaries are just not what they used to be, are they?

So I sat in my coat and my blanket. Then I went to a meeting. I didn't take my blankie, but I did leave the coat on because I was still so cold.

The admin for my group suggested that I needed to get a big warm sweater to leave at work.

I flinched.

The work cardigan: symbol of secretaries everywhere. Not that there is anything wrong with being a secretary. I think I would be a kick-ass secretary: I'm super organized and efficient and I can keep people on track. Plus I love knowing all the secrets. Everyone knows that the secretaries know all the secrets. If you want to go places, get in good with the secretary. 

But the secretarial path is more limited than it used to be. Used to be super-smart and capable women would start as secretaries and then move on up to take over the company. No, I can't think of an example, but I'm pretty sure it's happened.

Now there are not as many secretaries and there are not as many places for them to go.

At my old job, some of the secretaries were super sharp dressers. But there were a few who had their fluffy sweaters that they wore all the time. I don't blame them - it was cold in our building - but the comfy cardigan has never struck me as the "Promote me to vice president" look.

Although the VP of my group dressed like a Philadelphia pimp, in her purple crushed velvet pants and leather vest with the fur edging.

And that came from a professional shopper! She paid someone to dress her like that!

Maybe I should have worn the sweater. I couldn't have looked any worse than my VP.

But my point: the work cardigan is a symbol to me of lack of opportunity for advancement. Now I have to decide if I have any opportunity to advance here because if I don't, I might as well be warm.

7 comments:

Joy said...

What about a plain black blazer? Not as comfy as a cardigan, but adds warmth and looks professional.

Class factotum said...

Joy, that's exactly what I want. I have a B&W checked one that I wear at least once a week, but I need a plain black one. I have been haunting the consignment stores in search of one. I would even pay retail if I could find one I liked! But nobody ever has the basics!

Alicia said...

Pashminas! A nice wool pashmina can be draped comfortably around your shoulders or over your legs; they look nice when you walk down the hall, and they are simply elegant!

Gaylin said...

Screw being cold. I have a thigh length plaid polar fleece cover-up and a space heater!

Anonymous said...

I'm in Australia, and work at a university, so perhaps not comparable to corporate America.

But anyway... almost nobody here wears pantyhose in the winter. My friends and I all wear tights, usually patterned, and much more robust than pantyhose. Plus boots, ankle-, mid-calf- or knee-high. Looks stylish and we do stay warm.

And we all keep a pashmina in the office.

Enjoying this blog! Anne in Oz

Jen on the Edge said...

Why would pantyhose set you back $5 a day? Are you really so hard on them that you get runs every single time?

What about thicker tights instead?

I love the pashmina idea.

Class factotum said...

Thanks, Anne! Alicia, I love the pashmina idea, too. I have a few in various colors, although my orange one is my favorite. Orange goes with almost everything. Today, though, even the pashmina wasn't enough after my shoes and feet got wet in the rain at lunch. I had to take off my shoes and put on my socks to warm up.

Gaylin, it's that tension between fashion and comfort.

Jen, yes, I am that hard on them. I am convinced there is collusion between the furniture makers and the pantyhose makers to put chunks of hose-snagging wood under every work table and desk. Plus being on the bus is deadly. It's just too expensive! It will be tights for me.