As is common knowledge, I struggle about what to wear fairly often. Most of the time, I probably am close enough to acceptable to only draw minimal comments, which is good. I have always erred on the side of being under dressed if there is doubt. I think a girl in jeans among trousers can fly under the radar much more easily than the girl in a sequin dress among girls in khakis.
Not everyone agrees with this, it is the worst fear of some to not be the best dressed in the room. One year at the pageant (the pageant is what I lovingly call the big annual meeting at my job), I saw someone way over dressed. Or actually, under dressed depending on how you look at it.
At the annual meeting, we have "formal" night, which is a big fancy dinner and awards, among other things. Now "formal" in business can mean lots of different things, and I always hate the men on this night. They get to put on a suit with a tie and they have instant appropriateness. For us ladies, it's a little different. Some go really fancy, others pretty casual, and in general it is prime people watching. I try to go very camouflage, like if someone actually looked at me they would think "well, that's fine", but hopefully what I'm wearing is not causing people to actually look at me.
It is pretty common on formal night to have before dinner cocktail parties, hosted by various managers. Since I dotted line report to multiple people, I generally try to make at least a brief appearance at multiple parties. One year I walked in, a little late, to one of my favorite manager's receptions. Now, unbeknown to him, he was being "honored" for a special award. Several people got up and spoke and it was very nice. Right in the middle of the honorees acceptance speech, in walks a woman. Now, she was not going camouflage. I will admit to you, I thought she was a "lady of the night".
Because I work with a bunch of inappropriate, practical joke playing people (myself included), I immediately assumed that they had hired a stripper for the poor man accepting the award. I was immediately furious. I walked over to them and hissed, "Are you crazy? This is actually nice, do you guys have to do this?? He is not going to be amused at all!".
Well, they were extremely confused because, dear reader, this was a fellow employee. She had apparently gone for the deadly mix of formal and inappropriate. A horrible combination. Thankfully she did not interrupt the touching ceremony. Or did she? I will say she stole the spotlight, but not in a good way.
I've reflected on it several times, and at the end of the day, who am I to judge? I've certainly caught my own reflection at times and been horrified. Maybe she has male room-mates, who assured her this was a great outfit. Maybe it just looked different in front of the full length mirror in her bedroom? I can't say, but I do fall back on this memory from time to time. Most of the time when I look in the mirror, my thought is "well, that's as good as it gets", but sometimes I think "well, you probably won't be mistaken for a hooker".