Is it Bad to be like Elle Woods in the Office?

by Emily Jasper on April 14, 2009

When I lived in DC, there was another woman in the office similar in age who had also been a sorority girl. We were in two different chapters, from two different schools, and yet we were like-minded in our fashion choices, social habits, and work styles.

Some might have called each of us a ‘mini Elle Woods.’

At the time, I didn’t see it as a bad thing. We were in a small office, and two of us provided strength in numbers. We far exceeded expectations, both of us hitting astronomical sales numbers for our levels, and the boss didn’t hesitate to put us in front of senior leaders at the client organizations.

At the same time, we just happened to wear pearls, love pink, and between the two of us, have a shoe collection similar to that of SATC’s Carrie Bradshaw.

But then both of us moved on. In my new office, I’m the only “sorority girl.” Sure, there may be other women who had been Greek during their collegiate lives, but I don’t see anyone proud to wear her lavaliere or talk about the Alumnae Tea from this past weekend. There are a couple reasons that this might be:

· Social Greek systems are traditionally found in Southern universities…There isn’t one collegiate chapter of my own sorority in the whole state of Minnesota.

· Due to the economy, there aren’t as many Gen-Y hires as had been when I lived in DC. People around me are older and may have grown past sorority life.

· I run with a different crowd in the office. In DC, my peers had all been within my age range (give or take a few years). In Minnesota, I work with senior leadership…many of whom are X-cuspers or well into being part of the Boomer generation. Separation of personal and work life is still a huge trend for these generations, and bringing up alum activities from the weekend could be a no-no.

This isn’t to say my whole life revolves around a sorority, because it doesn’t. But when I say “sorority girl” in combination with “Elle Woods,” I’m assuming you pull together a mental picture.

So when I wear my black-and-white skirt, Naughty Monkey peep-toes, and my pink jacket, do I run the chance of being perceived as the dumb-blonde sorority girl?


But even Elle Woods saved the day at the end of the movie. She really was smart under all the looks, and where it wasn’t natural, she worked hard.

And I think that’s the lesson: Let the smarts show, and when in doubt, do your homework.

You don’t have to look like a school marm to earn respect in the office. Especially depending on your environment, that could even hurt your credibility (people may think you don’t care about your appearance). And beyond looks, think about the energy you bring when you feel like you look good and are confident.

Even a black suit with a splash of color brightens the board room.

The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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