Piercings in the workplace – be yourself in a way employers can handle
Alternative? Facing the grim prospect of an office job? We give you advice on work hairstyles, timekeeping, office dress and piercings in the workplace. Don’t hide your individuality – temper it.
Why would I take a boring and pedestrian job?
To make that cash, baby. Let’s be honest, making it in the art industry is hard and it would be fantastic if your hobbies could make you lots of money. For every girl who wants to dye her hair funky colours and get tattoos and piercings, there is someone with a cash register open. A steady source of hourly income affords you the ability to work on your real passions in your downtime and afford to pay for the expensive tattoo work. You just need to be prepared in order to survive the job. Survival means adapting and in this day and age you just gotta go undercover to make a living.
At least consider for a moment going for the “normal” job; it isn’t forever, after all. Whether it be for financial stability, health benefits or a stepping stone towards a bigger, more rewarding career.
So if you’re ready to sell your soul and go undercover like a corporate ninja then let’s get started!
Office job essentials
- Coffee! (or some other stimulant for those early mornings)
- Plenty of neutral clothes. Black dress pants are essential. They go with everything, are affordable and just plain easy. Buy them in pairs.
- A couple of other neutral pieces like a purse, shoes and jacket/coat. When I say neutral I mean a solid colour and rather plain design. They’ll make your life easier because they will match whatever you’re wearing and therefore make the mornings much easier.
- Watch the movie Office Space. No, really. You’re gonna meet these people at your job. (Better yet, wait a few months into the job THEN watch it.)
- Get retainers for piercings if you are, in fact, allowed to wear piercings in the workplace.
- Stick to relatively natural makeup, if you intend to wear any at all. Less makeup in flattering colours is easier to accomplish at 6 am. Go to the local cosmetics store and have an artist show you how to do a pretty but less dramatic day look then go home and put your little spin on it.
Make a good first impression on your first day at work
I don’t recommend walking into the office on your first day with black lipstick, neon fishnet stockings and a skull backpack. Not unless you want to get slapped with a stupid label that you probably won’t get rid of. Most people are narro- minded and simple and a first impression is sometimes the only thing they’ll associate with you. So let’s hold off on the teased hair and bat barrettes. For now.
The first thing to show the boss(es) is that you’re an earnest worker and an asset to the business. You’re here to work and that’s all they care about. They can see who you are as a person just by what you say and the references you make. There’s no need to clock in on your first day and jump on a desk, stomp your Doc Martins and scream “I listen to scary music, I wear black eyeliner, I hate TV and I think that you’re all sheep!!!” Save that for the annual office holiday party when you’re toe-up drunk.
Dawn of The (Not) Dead: Never be late for work
Oh yeah, this sucks. Getting up at the butt crack of dawn. I recommend investing in lots of coffee or energy drinks. No, it’s not the healthiest but it’s that or you show up looking like an actual zombie and not even a cute one. Resist that urge to stay up and check out that website or finish that sewing project. I still can’t totally adjust, I’m pretty much a nocturnal creature. Get sufficient sleep so you can at least function.
Infiltrate: Find your peeps and make friends in your new office job!
Chances are you’ve got comrades in disguise as well. Find common ground with coworkers. Making friends on the job is a perk but doesn’t always happen, so don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t say ‘Good morning’ or ‘Hello’ all the time. And if you’re not a morning person and someone complains that you aren’t a ray of sunshine at 7am, f**k ’em. You don’t need to be Susie Personality at the crack of dawn.
I have actually had some positive experiences and found out some interesting things to say the least. Just keep an open mind! You never know who polishes up their leather pants on the weekend or does the cyber bounce at the local industrial club. I’ve run into a co-worker in a mosh pit, true story.
Hairstyles for job interviews and office work
This one might be hard if you’re like me and live to experiment with colour. Parting with my purple hair was traumatic. What if I interviewed and didn’t get the job? I would have put myself and my already dye-sick hair through more dying for nothing. So I invested in some temporary black Halloween hair spray from the local party store. The purple was only part of my hairstyle so I could spray it black to match the rest just for an hour or two. If I got the job I would buy me a box of black permanent hair dye and seal the deal. If not, I was only one shower away from returning to my purple self.
Obviously, I got the job – but having a single colour forced me to look into getting a more interesting haircut than the long straight middle-parting hairstyle I had for years. I highly recommend a haircut that can be worn to work with just a wash and dry but after work can be teased, parted or flipped into your desired hairstyle. Play around with it; you’ll learn to be quite the transformation artist after awhile. Plus you may be able to get away with more than you think.
Piercings in the workplace
Ah yes, to pierce the lip or not to pierce the lip? That’s a sucky question. Tats and piercings may get you a dress code violation. I tattooed my wrist after I saw a co-worker that had very noticeable tattoos poking out of his shirt. Yes, it was a gamble because he had been there longer than me but my gamble paid off somehow. I also have a horseshoe ring in my septum that stays flipped up inside my nose when I’m on the clock which makes it a great work-safe piercing. A lot of these people don’t even know I have one piercing let alone 11. Some offices will not let you wear a retainer in your facial piercing while others couldn’t care less. Get used to getting body piercings and tattoos that are easily covered up if your bosses are strict and get to know your superiors in order to know what you can get away with. Don’t get fired over a $75 needle poke, you got this job to make money not lose it.
(WARNING: It’s a BAD idea to let a piercing heal with a retainer in it; your chance of infection goes up considerably. Talk to your local highly-experienced piercer.)
Office makeup in the workplace
Makeup is also a fantastic medium for experimentation. I am a total cosmetic addict and I love to experiment with colour. However I personally don’t wear makeup to work – it’s too damn early and I’m not a morning person. Plus that’s an extra 45 minutes of sleep I could get.
Outside work my makeup is quite… Heavy. I have run into countless coworkers/managers on the street only to have them walk past me because they don’t recognize me. However, if you look completely different outside of work and choose to say “Hi”, be prepared for stupid questions on Monday. If you’re going to wear makeup to work, it’s a fantastic way to experiment with colours or styles that you normally wouldn’t touch.
What to wear for job interviews
Dress to Depress? Probably the most painful part of the “normal” office job is the office dress code. At first I rejected it with absolute disgust; I thought it would be less painful to take a bullet. But with some tweaking you can actually learn to adjust and maybe even like it. I chose to see it as a way to challenge my self-expression, since strict guidelines can actually force you to think differently in order to find a solution. ‘Work you’ and ‘everyday you’ will just be 2 versions of the same awesome person. Find a way to express yourself and let your personality shine through, you’ll be a breath of fresh air in a stuffy little cubicle.
If you’re gothic, or a fan of the colour black, then you’re in luck – most of the professional wardrobe sold in stores contains basic black. This makes choosing your clothes easier. Get a good amount of black staple pieces of clothing; it always matches, it’s slimming and there is something to be said about simplicity and a little mystery.
Accessories will become your bread and butter especially if you favour mostly black gothic clothing. Sneak interesting pieces of jewelry into your outfit – but nothing that you could get written up for of course.
I happen to be deeply in love with 1940s style. Pencil skirts, cute blouses and pretty pumps are definite office apparel. Use this as a chance to channel Audrey with a little Marilyn, Jackie O or Jane Russell.
Do adhere to the basic principals of office dress.
Office dress: no exposed boobage, short skirts, or anything tight or revealing. It’s not classy and no self-respecting woman wants to catch the title of ‘office floozy’. Study your employee handbook and dress code down to the letter. Know your rights. If you ever get called into the office, you need to know exactly what is right/wrong according to the dress code/handbook which will protect you against ignorant folk who only want to give you a hard time. Which brings me to my next point:
Best Accessory: A Thick Skin
You’ve probably noticed that the world isn’t a kind place and that some people live to be cruel and narrow minded (Quel surprise!) I say this because the average office is full of older folks who still think that the earth is flat and megabytes are a way to eat your lunch faster. Or worse, younger ones that can’t think for themselves. Let negative comments or snide remarks just roll off your back. You’re the cat’s pajamas and don’t you forget it. Resist the urge to deck these people in the face and trust karma, kids. I could give you a list of remarks I’ve gotten. Just remember that they are sad and pathetic and if brains were dynamite, they wouldn’t have enough to blow their noses.
Fellow office workers may expect you to act a certain way based on the notion of some movie or TV show. I was expected to be a combination of dumb kid and slacker. Now I have people coming to me with questions about their work. As my supervisor said to me “It’s only because you’re the first pale chick with black hair and tattoos that they’ve ever seen outside the TV.” It’s scary but true.
Beware of office politics, gossip, drama queens, favouritism and grown women acting like they’re in high school. You can kill them with kindness, reminding yourself that obviously the bosses trust you to do your job and that you’re happy and paid. But don’t get me wrong, I am a rotten and nasty little person when I choose to be – and I have let some of these bitches have it. You can’t always eat sh*t with a smile, you know.
How to be alternative at work and get away with it
After all the adjusting, tweaking and transformative hairstyles it starts to sound like you’ll be living a complete Jekyll and Hyde life in your first job. Think of yourself as a kind of sexy sphinx or secret agent. I love the feeling of “I know something you don’t know”. Learn to embrace your adaptibility. Become a money-making chameleon.
By day you’re a hard-working office damsel. If only they knew who you really were when you clock off for the day…