“Fishnets are for whores”…especially when they’re red. That’s what my mom always told me. “A proper lady wears dark stockings in the office, modestly-sized earrings, and has her hair neatly pressed.” So, naturally, I picked out my ‘fro, dyed it pink, and found the most crimson colored fishnets I could. I was determined to prove her wrong. Well, I’m not being entirely honest. I was conducting somewhat of an experiment.
For the past decade, I’ve embodied somewhat of a Clark Kent / Superman double-fashion life. Like a good little girl, I followed my mom’s advice and wore what was commonly deemed “appropriate work attire” by day. At night, I ripped off that costume and put me back on. It was the same style of stuff I’ve worn all my life: mismatched patterns, bursts of color, vintage accents, and lots of ME. Sure, I got teased a lot in high school for not wearing the latest cookie-cutter styles. But, ask me if I cared.
OK. I’ll admit. I held back a little on my creative expression through the years. High school kids can be pretty mean and I doubted myself for my unique sense of style. I don’t exactly know when it was or how it happened, but suddenly, I didn’t give a shit. I figured, hey. This is New York City. If I can’t be creative here, I can’t be creative anywhere. So, weary from living my double-life, I began to slowly introduce my real self to the corporate world.
Not wanting to scare folk, I hit them with a cool pair of shoes one day then an interesting set of earrings the next. No big deal. Once I got ’em all lubed up, I went all out and gave them 100% pure, unabashed FLY. The trick is, y’all, to maintain the basic shapes of classic office-wear, but to jazz it up with interesting patterns, colors, and textures. My mom, bless her heart, had the best of intentions. She also didn’t raise no hussy. So I knew better than to walk into work in a mini-skirt and halter. My desire was to be me. Consistently.
My reputation at work wasn’t impacted by what I wore. My colleagues still knew I was still the same intelligent Nikiesha that I’ve always been. My mannerisms didn’t change. I was still me. Just less filtered. Compliments on my new attire came in from the lunch lady to the VP. In time, I noticed more ladies around the office decided to set their true selves free. More and more, I saw afros, funky earrings, cool shoes, and good God Almighty…pink hair! And its all good.
It’s essential to be you at all times. It’s what makes the world interesting. It’s what inspires enhanced creativity. Wear what your heart tells you. Reclaim fishnets from the ho-stroll. Be a little quirky and weird. Don’t be a robot. Set the trends.
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