Monday, July 18, 2011

Social Work Summer Look Book

Summer provides a particular set of challenges for the housing worker dress code. As always, we must look professional enough for the office, but causal enough meet comfortably with clients in their homes.

Temperatures have been in the 30’s, and even hitting 40 with the humidity so we must try to stay cool. Getting in and out of the car is inevitably hot and sticky. Most clients do not have A/C at home. The office, on the other hand, as well as the many coffee shops, libraries and other public spaces we frequent are chilled to what I’m sure is minus 5 degrees, so layers are important. I’m toting cardigans with me in the middle of a July heat-wave.

We don’t get paid enough to maintain a particularly generous wardrobe which means I rotate the same 2 pairs of shorts and one skirt with great frequency. They are the only things that will allow me some relief from heat, while also allowing me to sit comfortably in some of the less than sparkling clean apartments and rooming houses I visit regularly.

And then there are the shoes.

I read with jealously when SocialJerk disparaged the social worker stereotype of wearing Birkenstocks, because frankly, I’d take any type of sandal right about now no matter how “social worky” they may make me look. But that’s a big no-no. Along with outlawing high heels (makes sense when we are entering all types of settings with a wide variety of health and safety disasters problems concerns) my agency has decided that a fully enclosed heel and closed toe are the only way to go. So the choices are sneakers and socks (which look AWESOME with my shorts and scrawny legs) or some type of flat dress shoes. Either of which leads to sweaty and stinky.

And the cherry on top of this sweaty, sweater-toting, scrawny legged mess? There are some clients who do keep a very neat and tidy home and want me to take my shoes off when I come inside. I’m not allowed to do this, and it’s too bulky to bring along “indoor shoes” so I end up popping on these babies:

Who ever said social work isn’t sexy, hmm?

1 comment:

  1. I used to work at a psych hospital with very limited air conditioning, but a rigid dress code - especially about shoes! I discovered that Softspots, along with some other companies, make shoes that are essentially sandals with closed toes and heels - very comfortable and a huge improvement over the dress flats I had before them!

    - Natalie (