Dear Suri, There is a group at my work that organizes events: holiday parties, potlucks, and other things. Usually, the stuff they plan is actually pretty fun. But for this year’s holiday party, they’re doing an “ugly sweater” contest, and that is where I draw the line.
First of all, I don’t make a habit of purposely wearing something that would be called ‘ugly.’ I’m not a fashionista by any means, and I don’t really focus on clothing labels, or a certain designer, or what have you. I do like to look good, and I do put in the necessary effort to be able to look good, and I am not ashamed of it one bit! So, why should I throw all that away and try to be tacky?
Next, I’m not really into going out and buying a sweater that I’d only wear once. I think that is a waste of time and money, especially at the holidays! It’s actually unfair, I think, to ask employees to do this.
Also, I know someone is going to get a bit too tipsy and take some pictures, and then post them all over Facebook! I just don’t need those images to be available for everyone to see until the end of time!
My fiancé says I need to “suck it up” and just wear the sweater. I think he’s wrong. I think your advice might be better. So, I am writing to get a second opinion! — Amalie L. | Shoreline, Washington
Dear Amalie, Workplace politics can, admittedly, try even the most patient among us. How we choose to conduct ourselves around our coworkers and superiors, however, can have lasting effects on both our professional and personal lives.
Most office parties last only a few hours. Could you not endure wearing the sweater for this short amount of time? Following the festivities, you could simply slip it off and return to an outfit you’re more comfortable in. You may also choose to bring the garment to work and find a place to change just prior to the party. This could keep to a minimum any potential embarrassment or awkward feelings you may experience.
I presume you will not be the only person wearing an “ugly sweater.” You may, however, find yourself the only one not joining in the fun. Next month, many people will forget all about the party. There will, however, be a group that will remember those who chose not to participate.
Your decision has the potential to create lasting perceptions that could translate into less than desirable consequences. Choose wisely. ~ Suri
About Suri Says™
Suri Syrtauwnya is the resident advice queen at Residential Life Magazine. Her unique insight into “pickles and predicaments” (as she puts it) has helped many of us sort out even the most difficult of decisions. Now, we’re sharing this valuable resource! Submit your questions for Suri.