Each type of profession will have it’s own range of tolerances and the key to success is to know, and never cross, those boundaries.
Creative positions, such as graphic or fashion design, tend to be more tolerable of stylish appearances of Corporate Goths. Although we may cringe at the idea of Gothic being considered a “stylish or trendy look,” this can be a plus when applying for such a position. We may be viewed as being more creative and spontaneous than someone in a suit and tie. Always take advantage of stereotypes that work in your favor and play along.
Young, “trendy” web and advertising designers have more appeal to companies looking to capture the attention of the younger population.
Many positions in the technical field can be quite tolerable of out of the ordinary appearances. Unix gurus, for example, are stereotyped as dressing less than professional and so are often actually expected to do so. In a conversation with a CFO, I was once told how he and the CFO of another company had compared the appearances of some of their IS staff to the point of it becoming a contest to see who had the odder bunch.
Technical related fields often have the added advantage of not being in the public eye and so the dress code is not as strict. A programmer who is locked behind a computer all day will have more freedom in appearance than a sales person who visits clients.
Of course there are some positions where your dress will help determine your success. Anyone who works in sales, especially when working for commission, should be dressing for the client. Show the clients what they want to see. The more they relate to you, the better the chance of making a sale.
Law firms are not known for their flexibility, nor is the stock market. Success in these fields is based not only on one’s work, but also on one’s ability to conform.
In such cases, it is best to leave your gothic look at home and play the corporate game. If it makes you feel better, think of yourself as being undercover. Can’t wear earrings? Well they can’t see much below the neck, eh???
Location is another big factor. Someone working in New York City will probably get away with more than someone working in a more rural area.
Here is what some fellow Corporate Goths have written over the years…
The Evil Chemist shares:
Scientists are an odd bunch, and they are generally less judgmental about superficial things than the business sector. In the scientific whttp://corporategoth.com/professions/orld, a person (ideally) is appreciated for their mind and not for their fashion sense. Geeks generally do not pay alot of attention worrying about fashion.
Madame Archel shares:
I have found that it is much, much easier for a woman to be gothed out in the retail/fashion industry. I have worked in clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics (my current position) and most people are not surprised to see a woman glammed-out in black eyeliner and red lipstick.
Madame Archel adds:
My fiance is a computer network consultant, and he experiences no hassles from his gothness at his job. We have both found that if you keep an open mind toward the people who are different from you, that quite often they will do the same for you. We have learned *not* to get by on superficial things such as appearances (after all, you are not what you wear), and let our true selves determine our professional and personal relationships with others.
Mistress McCutchan shares:
Teaching! On the high school and university level, students have a lot of respect for me and appreciate seeing somebody different in the front of the classroom… Someone who dresses as they like and knows what they’re talking about and is enthusiastic about what they teach. Fellow faculty realize that you are an appealing asset with whom the students can relate. I genuinely care about my students and they’ll remember me and say hi semesters after they’ve sat in my class.
Mistress McCutchan adds:
Web designers! You sit behind a computer all day and don’t have to deal with the general public, which makes your style of dress ‘safe’… Your dressing style should be well-put together (clean, not held together in random places with pins or ripped) and there’s a lot to be said for attitude that you hold. There are many freaks who work in the internet, especially in pornography/fetish.
I teach 7th and 8th grade special education in a small town in Massachusetts. Not the most open minded of places, and certainly the idea of my being a Goth has raised eyebrows, particularly in light of the numerous and poorly researched articles by the media. So what do I do? Like many in law firms, I am forced to ‘go undercover.’ I do manage to get away with all black once or twice a week- black dress pants, shirt & tie, but any more than that begins to push it around here.
The music business is very flexible about fashion. If you work at a record label you are usually allowed to dress however you like. I am an executive assistant at a record label and have been able to dye my hair every color under the sun, as well as wear anything from cut off jeans and fishnets to long velvet dresses, and my boss (a senior vp) never blinks an eye.
I happen to know a few programmers and more and more they are having to deal with the clients directly. Make sure that if you are applying for a programming position, you ask how much contact you will be having with the clients. You don’t want a client going off about your appearance and getting you fired.
I am a bank teller in Salt Lake City. There isn’t a day that goes by that I change the way I dress. I don’t have that “gloom and doom” attitude about life, and my customers appreciate that. They like to ask me questions about my lifestyle, especially since there is so much controversy presently about goths. I don’t think it is as hard as it seems to get a professional job with the way you look, just be sure to portray the “I am going to do what I can for your business” attitude. It has worked for me for two years now.
Evangeline S. Ghost shares:
I work in a group home with people with developmental disabilities and I have found that I am able to dress however I want. The parents of the residents even give me compliments on my clothes and makeup, as do my co-workers and even my boss. They have been extremely open-minded, I don’t have to tone my look down at all. I am known for being a great, creative, caring staff person, and that’s all that matters to these people. And just for the record, the clients are not afraid of me at all, they love it.
I’ve found that many government jobs allow for extreme hair/make-up styles because they are bound by EEO to tolerate “diversity”. Men have long hair, multiple piercings. Of course, we are required to look “professional” (as opposed to dirty, sloppy, messy, what have you). But thanks to the government’s over-efforts to create a “non-hostile” work environment, you can do just about anything but show up naked.
I’m a high school teacher in an upscale suburban community. I adore my job and the kids I work with, but I _have_ to fit in with the other teachers (at least until I’m tenured), or I could lose my job. Espcially with all the hoopla thanks to the Columbine incident. I don’t really mind fitting it at work. I’m not looking to impress anyone with anything other than my skills as an educator. It’s actually a bit refreshing to only take 5 minutes to do makeup in the morning. And by looking the way I do… but being the way I am… I can reach out to the freak kids who need a teacher to like them and understand them. I’m moral support for a lot of them…
I’m going to school to be a hairstylist and I feel that people want to see some one that is “in” with the younger generation. It makes people think that you are going to know about the latest styles and trends.
I happen to work as a high school art teacher in a moderately liberal college town. I consider myself to be very lucky to be where I am. I, like Mistress McCutchan am well-respected by students.I feel that I am very good at what I do, and, those who care to get past my appearance, appreciate my positive attitude and understand how much I love teaching. I wear “tasteful goth” attire- nothing see through, too tight or too short, mostly black and dark colors. I have lots of silver jewelry, and go between having deep red and black spiky hair. I’ve found that if you’re nice to people, do your job damn well, and look this way, respect comes quickly.
I used to work at an ISP in engineering. The nice thing about ISP’s is that they tend to be 100% Goth friendly. Or at least used to be. There the dress code was happy if we bothered to keep our shoes on, and changed skinny puppy tee-shirts every couple of days.
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2 Responses to Corporate Goth Professions
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Aviation is interesting with this. In General aviation and instructing, many scoffed as I didn’t fit the typical mold for a pilot. Once I found work in corporate and eventually the airlines I found it to be a mixed bag, becoming more accepting once I changed to airline flying. Yes, obviously we’re stuck with archaic uniforms but beyond that I’ve not had issues.
Any misgivings or raised eyebrows i receive are gone once someone spends time with me on the flight deck. Just as many other professions, if you’re going to be outside the norm you had better be good at what you do!
i’m actually trying to switch industries. i’m currently in Broadcast Media, working as a library coordinator. i became interested in the tech world, and am learning web design/development. there’s no dress code where i’m at now, and shifting to tech wouldn’t be much of a stretch since folks don’t get too dressed up to build websites (plenty of tech jobs are remote, so no one would know/care what you’re wearing unless you’re in a Skype meeting). i’m also in New York, so odd fashion doesn’t really freak people out (except maybe the tourists).
here’s an article i found with regards to appearance in libraries, though it could apply to any industry in theory: