Each morning as I decide what to wear, a few thoughts go through my head: what’s the weather like? Do I have any floor groups today? Am I going to be lugging instruments and equipment around?
As a music therapist, my job duties and work environment changes on a daily basis depending on which clients I’m seeing and in which setting I’ll be seeing them. I spend most days in multiple settings, going straight from my job at a school (where I need to adhere to a certain dress code) to my private practice (where I can keep my outfit a little more casual). So the key is finding a good balance.
There is a list of rules I follow during the school year that make getting dressed a little easier, no matter what I’ll be doing on any given day. Here are some things I stay away from:
- open-toed shoes
- uncomfortable heels
- short skirts
- shirts that are too short
- pants that are too low
- sleeves that don’t let me lift my arms easily
- overstated jewelry
In other words, I pretty much stick to the basics. My wardrobe feels pretty boring at times, but it’s better than being uncomfortable!
In the summer I can be a little more lax, since I work mainly in my home studio and don’t have to do any hauling or walking around. I still need to look professional enough, but I want my students and parents (who most often are dressed down during the warmer months) to feel comfortable and “at home” in my studio.
There’s so much more you have to take into consideration when you spend your days with children. What rules — whether your own or a strict dress code — do you follow when you get dressed for work?
Thank you for this post! I have been thinking about the same thing a lot lately. As a traveling music therapist, I go in and out of facilities throughout the day… and every facility has a different climate. But, I have a personal clothing rule of no sleeveless shirts in front of clients. Thin, short-sleeved sweaters work great.
You’re welcome! And I completely agree; I’m almost embarrassed to admit how many thin cable knit sweaters I have hanging up in my closet. Same goes for khakis and polo shirts for summer.
Thanks for this! I like to always make sure my mid section (even if I have an undershirt on) doesn’t show if I lift my arms. I don’t have an issue with sleeveless, so long as its not a “strap”. But, I always keep a sweater around for changing temperatures!
My pet peeve would be shirts w/ advertisements on them (unless its a related cause). I dpnt care how you dress it up, a shirt with “old navy” across the front isn’t professional.
This is such a great post…thanks!
I have THE most boring wardrobe ever and it works for me as I work! It’s not because I don’t love fashion, it’s because I work on the floor and am face-to-face with people all day. I haul equipment every single day. I move all the time. When I was a classroom teacher it was so easy to know what to wear. There were dress codes and I wore shoes.
About 15 years ago I hired a consultant to help me figure out what to wear! (don’t laugh too hard). She helped me figure out that knit tops worked best. (Shirts with collars just looked kind of funny after a few minutes with me)
She helped me find trousers with modern fabric that had stretch that looked like normal clothes. These days that’s easy…in those days you ended up looking like someone’s old auntie or a strange kind of work-out addict if you tried to dress comfortably, yet professionally.
Recently, when I hired a blog designer to make my blog look better she created an illustration that had me in a skirt. I never wear skirts for all the reasons listed earlier. At first I thought I better change that…it doesn’t really reflect the work. Then I realized how satisfying it was to see a pretend me in a skirt! I decided to keep the illustration as is and whenever I have skirt-envy I satisfy it with a look at that illustration.
A wardrobe consultant? That is the coolest thing I’ve heard all day :) I wish I could wear skirts all the time, but I avoid them for the same reasons as you…I love that the illustrated version of you is wearing a skirt. It’s fun to pretend that we can be fashionable while doing our jobs!
Here is my schools practicum dress code list:
-Wear your gold nametags
-Clothes must not be tight or worn looking
-Wear your gold nametags
-No short skirts (just below the knee or longer)
-No sweat pants or shirts
-No shirts with provocative logos
-No piercing jewelry (a nose post is ok)
-No dangling ear rings
-Keep necklaces and bracelets small and to a minimum
-No exposed midriff skin
-Pants must cover your bum completely
-Conservative use of perfume and colognes
-ALTRU PLACEMENT requires that students wear socks or stockings, no -open-toe shoes
-WEAR YOUR NAMETAGS!!!!
..As you can see we have name tags, they are gold and I guess we are supposed to wear them? LOL
I have also learned from experience when working with some clients with ASD that scarves (I had one try to pull it off my neck!), or things with a lot of patterns can be a bad idea, and can be distracting.
Good post Rachel
Thanks, Tyne! Wow, your school’s dress code is strict. One question, though: do you have to wear nametags? Ha! Great point about scarves and busy patterns.
Because I love fashion, this is the hardest part of the job! The one thing I learned is not only am I representing the facility where I work but I am representing music therapy and myself! I usually wear slacks, corduroys, or “professional” jeans (no holes or cracks…if you know what I mean!). Layers are also a great concept…start with a cami, add a cardigan and accent the outfit with a cute (not loose) necklace. The best accessory to personalize my wardrobe…shoes! We all need to wear them, why not buy a cute pair of red ballet flats. Don’t go cheap in this area! You might have to spend a little more for better quality clothing, but its worth it in the end.
Thanks for the post, Rachel!
SUCH great advice, Jennifer! I love fashion as well and completely agree that the wardrobe limitations are the hardest part of being a music therapist. I am a sucker for cute flats — the easiest way to add pop to an otherwise conservative outfit. Thanks for the input!
Thank you for this post! Finding the right wardrobe has been such an struggle! I work mainly at a hospital, with a clear “no jeans, no open-toed shoes” policy. Other than that, we can wear pretty much what we want. I usually wear slacks with a nice shirt in neutrals or earth tones, and I almost never wear jewelry. I see my client after my hospital hours so I always go over looking nice and professional :)
Sketchers are the best shoes I’ve found for working! You can get the little flat ones in a variety of colors and prints to match your outfits or make them a little more interesting, and they are sooooo comfy and look so professional!
You’re welcome, Justine :) I’ve not tried Skechers yet, but I’ve had my eye on a cute pair for a while now. Because of your recommendation, I just may break down and get them. Thanks!
I work mostly in my private practice and have days that I do my home-visits. During the flu and cold season, I like to wear light-weight jackets or sweaters for layering. If I do a home-visit, I change my outer layer as not to take any un-necessary germs in. (even though I disinfect like crazy). This also allows for changing in between clients for those younger ones and others that “mouth” more.
I love drawstring uniform pants or long capris in basic colors. You can find them in trendy cuts now-a-days. They allow for movement and floor sitting. Pair with layering tops and no one knows they are uniform pants. For a good share of my tops I embroidered my business name for home visits or community events. I also wear a ballet flat in the therapy room.
Comfort and Style!
I have found that while a shirt may look fine when you are standing in front of the mirror at home, it’s not necessarily a good one to wear. If we were sitting at a desk or computer all day, it may be different. So, I now have a policy where I have to bend down to the ground and make sure I’m not flashing anyone before I leave the house. Also, I wear jeans on fridays but they’re nice jeans, no holes, frays, etc. I don’t wear flip flops but will wear sandals in the summer, and open toed shoes are okay if they’re nice; and, I try to have my feet looking good (nails trimmed, painted, etc). I don’t wear shorts, but will occasionally wear capri pants if they’re dress material (not denim) in the summer. I sometimes wear shorter skirts in the winter with full leggings, but that’s it. I wear skirts a lot, actually, but not when I know I’m working with clients who are all over the room or who are on the floor. Also, if I wear jewelry, I typically remove it before working with the kids, as it’s a distraction.
Oh yeah – tshirts are out of the question, as are spaghetti strap tang tops without something over it, but I do wear sleeveless if weather requires it. I always have something to layer, though, because my office is an old building and it’s either burning up or freezing.
Great additions and input, Jessica! Thanks! I wear open toed shoes at my private practice, where there are no rules against them. It gives me a good excuse to get regular pedicures ;)
I am not fashionable, nor shall I ever be I fear. I know, I know…it’s different for guys. I’m pretty basic when it comes to wardrobe…mostly polo shirts and cargos. I work in a hospital and the dress code states that shorts are never acceptable. This is unfortunate because summers can be quite hot and humid here. It is also unfortunate, because I don’t get to show off my killer legs.
Technically, the dress code prohibits cargos unless your department manager approves. The EMTs all wear them for logical reasons, but to be honest I’ve never cleared it with my manager. I typically carry an iPod Touch in one cargo pocket and rhythms bones in the other…an occasional shaker or two or set of zills upon occasion.
I pretty much have set environments that I work in, don’t have to consider floor groups (especially in the rooms where patients have antibiotic resistant infections!) and as I stated before…I’m a guy. My cleavage is covered by the polos, and I do look great in them anyway.
The gals in the marketing office, who have been selling special edition hospital polos (heart health awareness, autism awareness) noticed most of my polos have pen pockets on the sleeve. They are hinting that they might investigate that option for the music therapy advocacy polo I suggested they offer. They order clicky top pens with the hospital logo on them at my request, so who knows? Only thing is, the pens are a very snug fit inside the pen pockets…
Personally I recommend Keen sandals for all non-snowy days…they can be worn with socks, are close-toed and make me less likely to lament the lack of shorts in the summer…just remember to keep ’em clean! Nobody wants a whiff of your sandal funk!
It’s so nice to have a guy’s perspective on this subject! Quite a few people at my school wear those Keen sandals…and thanks for the tip about avoiding sandal funk :) LOL!
I’m currently in the process of replacing almost my entire wardrobe on an Intern’s budget (…nothing). I lost 35 pounds and now nothing fits! I’m on the floor pretty much every day, so pants are a must. My favorite are the Lee’s Ultimate No Gap Waistband. They’re actually super comfy, come in a variety of colors (I have khaki and brown), and I never have to worry about my backside showing when sitting on the floor. I also do the “bend over” test with any shirt I’m wearing. While I wear a cami almost every day for layering, I’ve found these things called Cami Secrets that snap on to any strap under your shirt and you can slide them up and down without worrying about them falling down like camis tend to do. =)
Ok, Stephanie…I’m totally going to hunt down both the No Gap Waistband pants and the Cami Secrets. Thank you!!!