What Do You Wear to Work?
Cleaning out a closet here at home the other day, I stumbled upon a couple of lab coats, lurking in the back of the closet. One is jacket length, the other is three-quarter length. I can't remember the last time I wore either of these. But supposedly, wearing one of these white garments, made me look "professional", at least that was what I must have believed at the time. I can't imagine I would even wear either of them ever again. It may be time to pass them along to my pre-teen grandchildren to be used as part of a Halloween costume!
When I was finishing my occupational therapy training and doing my clinical practicums (c. 1974), white uniforms including white shoes was the required dress code in medical and rehabilitation settings. Work in mental health and related settings involved simply dressing like the other therapists who worked in these places. Keeping white clothes and shoes staying white and looking pristine is not something that comes easily for me; I seem to be a sort of magnet for stains and smudged that have no obvious source. So, you won't find many white garments in my closet these days.
When I started working as an OT in the mid-1970s, therapists at my work setting, typically a nursing home, wore white blouses, the style that resemble the top part of a uniform, and navy blue pants. Navy blue shoes completed the ensemble. Some wore lab coats, too. Those giant-sized pockets were actually quite handy for holding a pen, small goniometer, a little container of therapy putty, or some other OT tools of the trade.
In the 1980s, I worked as a subcontractor for various companies as an OT and wore what I guess is called business casual attire, not a business suit, but not blue jeans or a T-shirt either. And I always wore closed toed shoes, mostly because I am so darn practical, and that seemed safer to me given that I move quickly and am often clumsy.
More recently I've worked in schools. I see that the therapists typically dress like the teachers, so I take the cue from that. Students, especially the younger ones, think of me as a teacher, but I see that as a non-issue. Some school professionals wear name tags, but many don't.
Something that concerns me is school professionals, often student teachers, wearing clothing that, in my sixty-something year old stodgy opinion, may be a bit too revealing. I see them bend over to assist a student, and I'm seeing more skin than I think I should. That especially doesn't resonate well with me when working in a middle school and especially in high school, where the students, especially hormonal adolescent males, are not much younger than their soon-to-become teachers. Yes, call me old fashioned, intolerant, close-minded, or whatever.
I looked on some web sites of universities offering OT programs, and see little reference to dress code. So what do you wear on the job?