Thursday, July 25, 2013

out of step

One of my friends, a young local, had a conversation with an expat that so infuriated her that she phoned me.  I probably should have known better than to pick up the phone after 2am but she's not usually one of those friends who goes on a bender and drunk dials.  I answered just in case she was in trouble and got an earful for my effort.

The aforementioned evil expat compared Hong Kong office workers unfavorably to Singapore office workers.  His entire reasoning was based on how people dressed.  I guess that some people never need to get past first impressions and perceptions.  So my friend then went on a rant about how she thought that Hong Kong people were more accepting of various styles and asked me if I thought that fashionable people were unprofessional.  Well, if you put it that way...

I should have known better than to let SB pipe in.  2am was not a good time to tease her about the fashion disasters that occur at every wedding reception that we have gone to.  There are always a group of people in T-shirts, a couple women dressed like they are going to work the streets of Wanchai later on, a couple old ladies with glitter in their hair, and one dressed like the bride. But who am I to complain when the bride and groom don't mind.  ...And I digress, as did SB.  My friend was not happy but magnanimously conceded his point while I apologized for her hurt feelings.

A few days later she phoned me and broached the subject again.  She was clearly more bothered than I thought and since she was sober, I told her this: If you work in a more traditional office environment, for a conservative firm, then you would be perceived as unprofessional if you didn't conform to the white shirt/black suit formal dress code.  On the other hand, showing up in a traditional suit would look silly if you worked in a more creative, "organic" environment.  SB has commented on several of my clothing choices (there is a fuzzy top that looks like I killed and skinned Elmo that comes to mind) but he also appreciates my uniqueness as long as I remember that he is boring when I go shopping for him. I work in an open office (no walls with everyone sitting together regardless of rank) and while everyone dresses nicely, black suits would look out of place.  We are more of a beige, linen suit with knit tie and green socks type of environment.  The only times we pull out the black suits are when we meet with developers in traditional offices.  You know those offices, the ones with marble entries that boast large, glass sculptures.

My friend was happy with my admittedly neutral response and I was happy that I was on the phone so she didn't see me staring at the dress style of the woman in front of me as I was walking down the street.  It was a toss up between snapping a photo of her off-the-shoulder pink mesh top with yellow bra, or the shoes.  Then I got closer and saw the yellow toenails peeping out of the front of the shoes and I had a winner.

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