I haven’t brought you a non-fashion-orientated post for a while, so I thought I’d skip the trendy stuff today and talk about work. I’m still talking about clothes. But I’m more talking uniform.
I don’t work in a uniform-wearing profession, but — even after (gratefully) disposing of the blue blouse and tartan kilt that I wore to school every day — I’ve done several jobs that have had very specific stipulations about what I need to wear. And sometimes it’s been a proper headache.
A few weeks ago I was asked to talk about a new shoe brand on a shopping channel. Trouble was, the shoe brand in question only went up to a size 8. And — given that I was going to be talking about how the shoes felt, where I’d worn them to, and why they were so ruddy lovely — I needed to actually wear them.
I had to admit to the shopping channel lady that, while I was more than happy to do the job, there was a fair possibility that I wouldn’t fit into the shoes. And while she was very sweet and agreed to send the shoes for me to try, if they didn’t fit, I didn’t get the job. Simple as that.
Luckily the shoes just about fitted, were rather lovely and had closed toes so that I didn’t need to expose my alien-toes to the viewing public. But, it got me thinking about all the times when my big feet and long limbs have given me issues in the workplace. (And yes, I am now on a bit of a campaign to get said shopping channel to extend their stock and at least carry size 9s. It seems only sensible in this day and age).
I work primarily in the television industry, but after initially going freelance from my nice cushty Channel 5 job four years ago (at the start of a recession… I am that clever), I did some… um, very un-TV jobs to pay the bills in between. Giving out samples of chicken outside Westham football club while dressed in a catsuit? Yup, that was a low point. Particularly when said catsuit was super short in the body. That day was painful for a whole number of reasons…
Now I split my time between telly work and modelling assignments — and yes — I’ve lost out on modelling jobs because of my height, and because of my big feet. But that’s modelling, isn’t it? People miss out on jobs because they’re too fat, thin, black or white… it’s the nature of the beast. And it’s a beastly beast. If the face don’t fit (or the clothes), you don’t get the job. Unfortunately that is just something that I’ve had to learn to deal with. But that damn well shouldn’t be the case with every profession.
While I was studying at university, I worked a gym sales job. I was required to wear a specific skirt that — on my 6-foot frame — just looked indecent. After spending a whole shift grappling with the hemline and feeling the eyes of men boring into the backs of my thighs as I walked around the lesiure centre, I gave the skirt back. I wore smart black trousers and refused to take them off until they finally brought me a skirt that fitted.
Last week I threw open a uniform discussion on Facebook and WOWSERS… we’ve all been there. (Not sure any of you have done anything as unglamorous as giving out chicken in the street, but you’ve had your fair share of uniform wobbles).
Katie works in a supermarket, and has been waiting for a blazer to be custom-made. Currently her uniform looks too big and baggy because it doesn’t fit properly. Clothes are a very important aspect of your work; if you feel smart and well-presented, you can conquer the world. If you feel scruffy and awkward, then you don’t feel that sense of pride that should come when you put on a uniform emblazoned with the name of your company.
And school uniform has proved to be a bit of a nightmare for a lot of us leggy lovelies. Rebecca had to wear a blouse at school instead of the ill-fitting shirt she was supposed to wear — cue raised eyebrows from unsympathetic teachers. Louise’s mum had to make her school trousers and knit her a plain black cardi because the school blazers didn’t fit.
Lots of us have actually been criticised for our sizing issues. When Claire was working in a clothes shop, she was expected to wear the products sold in store. Because nothing actually fitted, she wore her own long trousers to work and ended up on the receiving end of complaints from management. Sam worked in a bar where she was expected to wear a black body t-shirt… and was told off because she couldn’t fasten the poppers. I mean… purlease!
Now… you know my blog is all about the positive. Even when I’m having a bit of a rant (like now) I still try and find a solution. It’s here that I become a bit unstuck. Because a uniform is a uniform. And we’re not created in a uniform shape.
But, one thing I will say is that IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT if the damn uniform doesn’t fit. As Lady Gaga will testify, you were flipping well Born This Way (Yes, I pulled out the Gaga. Needs must). Your work is lucky to have you, so they should provide a reasonable clothing substitute. I used to get so flustered if I turned up to a job and was expected to wear something that didn’t fit. A few times I’ve been made to feel as though it’s my fault. Which is completely ridiculous.
If your manager hands you a uniform and then complains about the fact that you’re too tall for it, then that is discrimination. Plain and simple. I’m not a litigious person. I can handle the odd sexist comment here and there and I’m all for a bit of office banter. But if anyone makes you feel like you should fit the uniform, then that person is a bully. And a moron. Kindly explain to him/ her that while you’re happy to wear the required clothes, you’ll need them in longer lengths. If your bosses are making you wear a uniform, then it’s their responsibility to find you one that fits.
And if all else fails, calmly deliver unto them the wise words of the Gaga.
P.S. Anyone else had a uniform-related mare at work? Not been able to use your staff discount in the clothing store you work at? Hospital scrubs not keeping you covered? Rant away girl…