Why to Get Away with Dressing Like a Superhero at Work

Last week was Stealth Cosplay Week on tumblr (the first of many I hope!) and Monday it was featured on Wired. Including a picture of me, dressed in the style of Tintin, and with the caption “If there’s an expert on stealth cosplay, it’s Anika Dane” and excuse me while I go add that to my business cards immediately.

But that SQUEEE!!! aside, the article got one comment I’d like to address:

Could someone link to the first article in the series that explains *why* someone needs to dress like a superhero at work?

At first I was just going to reply with a link to an article I imagined I’d written way back when I first started doing and talking about this. But I couldn’t find a “first article” that addressed the question simply and succinctly. So I decided to write one.

me dressed in the style of Thor
Thor is one of my favourite heroes to dress in the style of.

I think a lot of people get fashion confused with the fashion industry. Stripped of presentation (shows, spreads, advertisements — marketing) which dictate trends (what the industry wants to sell) fashion is simply style. Your own personal style.

My own personal style is a combination of what makes me comfortable (layers and layers) and what makes me feel powerful (dressing in the style of characters I relate to). I work at a university and the dress code allows me to wear this fashion most of the time. Other places of work have more strict guidelines. Some occupations require a uniform but many of those allow some wiggle room:

Medical scrubs come in "Disney". Marie approves.
Medical scrubs come in “Disney”. Marie approves.

And even the ones that don’t, there are opportunities within styling (hairstyle, jewelry, cosmetics, shoes, bags, etc):

I wish my school had a uniform just so I could have played with it.
I wished my high school had a uniform just so I could have played with it.

And for the few that regulate even that, well, no one is always on duty (and one might say a soldier or police officer, for example, is already dressed as a hero).

Society and the fashion industry suggest uniforms for everyone. A lawyer wears a suit, a nurse wears scrubs, soldiers wear camouflage, a scientist has a lab coat, a librarian wears a cardigan, the label is more important than the model, students should wear skirts below the knees, everyone should want to wear what Jennifer Lawrence is wearing. Can the lawyer wear jeans and the teacher wear scrubs? Not if they want to be coded correctly. But finding ways to add personal flair (what makes you feel happy, pretty, powerful, comfortable, etc.) to societal requirements can be fun.

A lot of people like to say they don’t care. “I wear whatever is clean, whatever is close, whatever is available, whatever.” But those clothes didn’t just appear in your closet or on your floor. You chose them. Even if you didn’t purchase them yourself, someone chose them — for you, based on what you like or wear. And in some cases based on what they think you should like or wear but even then you made the choice to agree. Or to disagree and wear it as a statement. That’s what fashion really is.

A statement.

a photoset of me dressed in the style of Daenerys Stormborn

These slides were part of my presentation at GeekGirlCon 2013.

Dressing like a superhero is my statement. To myself and to the world. When I get dressed in the morning I put on my fashion, my style, my uniform because it empowers me. You wear whatever you wear because it empowers you. Whatever it is and whyever it was chosen, that choice is powerful. That choice is power.

No one needs to dress like a superhero at work. But if anyone chooses to, more power to her.

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