The Image of a Working Woman

I did not set out to save money this year, but it is fairly clear to me that my total spend of less than £90 a month on “myself” is pretty low for a working woman of middle years in a middle-management role. OK, I also bought things like nail polish (4 bottles, not used since the summer) and coffee (a cup a day 5 days a week, 44 weeks of the year) but the £1050 annual spend already documented is pretty much the whole story: my total “selfish” expenditure. Most of my reading this year has been from library books.

As a few people commented on my  post about Ready to Wear, it might be time to cut myself some slack and live a little. I haven’t “suffered” by any means, and my love of sewing and knitting has carried me through all the low patches. But yeah, there were some low patches and I sometimes felt like treating myself but didn’t “give in to temptation” because the potential guilt felt worse than the non-specific sadness that sometimes washes over me. Hey – I’m a girl, OK?!

The Financial Position

I am currently earning more than I ever have. I squirrel away as much as possible into my savings account, because I have a plan to move back to England once I am on my own (I’m just being realistic, don’t get all soppy on me!) and I know that will be an expensive move.  The house is in a poor state of repair and I will be depending on the sale of the farmland to finance my next home.  I reckon I should raise enough funds to pay for a small terraced house in Hebden Bridge :)
But yes, I can afford to be kinder to myself in the here and now.  That too is an investment in the future!



House for sale in Hebden Bridge.  One day!

The Workplace Wardrobe Quandary
I live in the muddy sticks and have a very hairy dog. But my job is in a fairly formal environment in the Corridor of Power. My appearance is not always entirely appropriate to my role. I find it hard to balance my inner impulse to rebel with the demands of my job.
I have a wardrobe of quirky hand-mades and a navy cardigan of ill-repute, no social life and no professional network.
Is this a sustainable position? I don’t think so. I am rapidly reaching the stage where I will be labelled “eccentric”. FL chuckles and says I am already there, but I think I still retain sufficient gravitas in the workplace to step off the slippery slope.
Right now, I am in distinct danger of self-sabotage.  The knitting demo interview was a shock.  I simply don’t know how to be a “career woman”.
We are in the midst of restructuring at work and I don’t want to be the one who takes on extra low level tasks just to make themselves indispensible – oops, I already did that!  Quality not quantity should be my aim!
I have agreed to attend a professional conference in March and I am consciously “building my portfolio” so that nobody can deny I look serious on paper.
But I know I that if my job was advertised now, I wouldn’t have the necessary skills / experience / qualifications to meet the Person Specification.  It is a classic case of staying too long in one place.  I can do what I am paid to do, but I don’t feel like “the specialist” I am purported to be.  Its not just an issue of self-confidence, but I’m sure that’s part of it.  No male of the species would admit to this scenario!
So what to do?

What I wore to work today…

Power-dressing
I hate to say this, but it might be time to act like a Grown Up… if only at work.
I refuse to become one of those women in black boxy-jacketted 1990’s trouser suits.  My workplace is full of them.  H*ll, I used to dress like that myself… in the late1990’s!  Some career advisers say you should dress like your boss:  to make clear your aspirations for promotion.  But I am not seeking promotion.  I just want to ensure I look like the person I am already supposed to be.
In case you were wondering, my Boss definitely power-dresses.  Her working wardrobe would not look out of place in one of those group photographs of International Heads of State, or a posh wedding.  People on the same grade as me are either boxy-suited or Boden-ed, or both.  I have relied on the ubiquitousness (ubiquity?) of the Boden-look as my license to stay quirky.  But my interpretation may have strayed too far into what others would consider to be Weekend Wear… or just plain weird :S

So what’s the plan?
As long as I have to live here, I need to hang onto my current job / employer, so I need to pull my socks up a bit.
I do have my good days, when I make the effort to look smart for serious meetings.  I need to do that more often, if not every day.
Scarves are amazing things.  So is jewellery.  Clean shoes should be a priority (a quick glance at my current footwear reveals a tide-mark of mud from walking from the front door to the car this morning).  I need some alternatives to the saggy navy cardi… which probably entails shopping.
For goodness’ sake! I simply need to take more care about my appearance:  get my hair cut more often than once every 6 months;  smarten myself up at the edges;  sew more career-appropriate items; and accept that this is probably not the right time to dye my hair purple and wear Doc Marten’s. 
Or else… start digging my escape tunnel with a bigger shovel.