Size Does Matter: Appropriate Interpreter Dress
Thursday, April 21st, 2016
The temptation for many of us sign language interpreters is to think, “What can I get away with”. For interpreters who have been in the business for many years, we are sick to death of the all-black clothing that fills our closets and dresser drawers. We like to switch it up, with fun trendy, hip apparel, shoes, boots and accessories in great wonderful colors.
Depending of course, where you work, that is typically a borderline-dangerous attitude. Safe choices, sensible, classic and quality should be our watch words. Boring? Well yes it is.
However, being taken serious and also having on going work will be the result of good choices, not just in our professional clothing, but also our behavior. Boring? Maybe. Wisdom? Definitely! Non-working hours, and weekends are the time to let your ‘freak-flag fly’ so-to speak.
There are SO many blogs written on the internet that tell you how to dress appropriately, but it is very time consuming to research, so hopefully this blog will be a ‘down & dirty’ explanation of the do’s and don’ts for the wearing of professional clothing in the interpreting situations that we find ourselves in, on a day to day basis. Proper fitting apparel is the most important consideration for us as sign language interpreters. Buying quality clothing is important. Undergarments that are the RIGHT size is just as important as suitable outer garments; suits, dresses and coats.
No more Mr. Nice Guy, I’m switching from Third Person to First and Second Person, because it IS getting personal.
In the times we are living, fashion, styles, trendy and otherwise, seem to have crept into the professional arena as far as dress is concerned. The Walmart people are sometimes US. Wearing clothing that is two or three sizes too small looks just as bad on a size 5 junior as it does a size 5 plus. Muffin tops just show no mercy. PLEASE, wear sizes that FIT you. Don’t think…well, I can get into a size 20 blouse. So THAT is my size. NO its NOT. You probably wear a size 22 or 24, but you don’t like that number. SIZE DOES MATTER. When you go shopping, take your most honest critical friend with you. Don’t make the mistake, thinking that a dress or top fits you just fine when you are standing up looking at yourself in a mirror. From personal experience, I can tell you that, once you sit down in a chair in front of 300 people at a conference, all that room you thought you had in that dress or top is now going to be VERY tight across your stomach. And everyone will notice it too.
Should people judge us? Well, no, they SHOULD NOT. But they will and it reflects on the deaf person you are interpreting for, the speaker, the agency who sent you and interpreters all over the USA. Are you happy in your skin? Do you have a positive self-image, even though you are very fat? GOOD for you. But please don’t force your beliefs on others. They have to look at you (me too, since I’m a PLUS myself) while you are working and they WILL judge. Folks just will. Its human nature, and while its mean, tough cookies, get over it. You cannot change how people think. But you can keep their perspective of you in a positive light, if you will dress conservatively. After all, this isn’t about YOU, or your self-expression, or your rights. Drawing attention to yourself on a platform, in a dress, or a skirt or top that creeps up every time you lift your arms and sticks to your rolls of fat (and mine too), just ain’t a blessing ya’ll. When I see a woman in a dress like this…..I’m counting how many rolls she has and wondering what size she ACTUALLY wears. If my words are hurting your feelings, I’m sorry.
I wish someone would have said this to me, instead of me having a Janet Jackson moment with a costume malfunction right in the middle of something very important and then ALL the attention was on me. Accidents happen sometimes, that cannot be avoided, but many problems CAN be avoided if you will just take care with your wardrobe choices and preparation.
Some of the things I do, while shopping and trying on clothing, is, look in the mirror and lift my arms up and turn around..(Love those 3 paneled mirrors) so you can see what’s going on 360°. I always pick a dressing room with a chair so I can sit down and see how everything looks in that position. If you have any doubts. Just DON’T, as my Daddy used to say. Another consideration is fabric. One of my favorite fabrics to wear especially for interpreting is Georgette Crepe. It flows and drapes so nicely and doesn’t stick to your body in an unflattering way. It seems that two or three layers are all the rage now.
I almost die from heat when I have to do that. Plus every time you have to go to the bathroom, you have all those layers to straighten out and smooth down before pulling the final layer down. Is anybody else worn out here by all that stretching and straightening? Garments currently are made of clingy sheer cotton that is not actually flattering on anyone, but ARE apparently good for getting a date. (wink-wink).
Plus size ladies….these fabrics are NOT your friend. Why do I KNOW this? Well because stupidly I have purchased them. The cute sheer top that costs $45 and then the matching cami with the lace that give me the length I want, which is only $30 more. Wow. Ain’t nobody got money for this! If you do…please send some my way.
Another important consideration when purchasing interpreting outfits is BODY SHAPE. Here is a website that helps you shop your shape http://shopyourshape.com/body-shapes/ The basic shapes are apple, pear, hourglass and inverted triangle…I believe there are 8 shapes. This is a great help, if you don’t know your shape you can get very frustrated buying the wrong cut for you. Once I realized I didn’t have a waist and Levis 501s men’s fit me perfectly, my shopping started being lots more fun. I love skinny pants and tunics SO much right now, because they are the most flattering to my shape. Figuring out your shape will set you free and let you dress OUR shape instead of what fashion says is popular. FYI, the store clerk is NOT your friend. They WILL lie to you. They want to sell you stuff. Study what your shape is and what pieces fit it. I know for myself, a waist band and zipper…NEVER fit my body and I look like a dumpy mess when I wear the wrong style for my shape.
While these women apparently have a good body image of themselves, I submit to you that they are wearing clothing that is too small. For after hours or club wear; party on Garth.
The only one close is the one to the far right, but it’s hard to say with her arms crossed in front of her. The others the 3 or 4 piece suits are apparently a wardrobe staple for the professional interpreter. Wow. I seriously HATE suits and suit jackets especially. Once I found out that all suits and suit jackets are NOT created equal, I was SUCH a happy girl. A suit jacket does NOT have to be fitted with 4 buttons, a notched lapel and buttons on the sleeves. It can be gathered at the shoulder and back, that gives more room and is flowy and flattering for a plus size. The other option is dressing with separates, which is my personal favorite since it’s a wardrobe extender and makes your money go farther and looks like you have more clothing than you do are lovely but they are all attention getting/get a date clothing in my opinion. Just a tip right here….if you are a PLUS size woman which most of the “better” shops only go up to a size 3 and you WEAR a size 3, they will probably not fit you.
I buy lots of my clothes on line, where a size 3 does fit me, from Lane Bryant, Catherines, Roamans, Avenue, which go up to size 7 in most of those stores…not the brick and mortar, but the online stores. Some final points, buy good shoes that fit you well and go well with your outfit. No tennis shoes with your little black dress. If your behinder is on the large size and your pants are too tight, wear a tunic style top or a dress. Nobody wants to look at that mess. Just cover it up please.
I live in Central Oregon, and we have the very BEST Goodwill store I have ever been in, and I’ve been in MANY…. ask Ruann if you don’t believe me. Apparently the rich folks over here clean out their closets pretty often. I have found some amazing clothing in my size here, including shoes and boots and most of them brand new. It’s not really that I’m saving money, since I have so many clothes, but I’m saving money if I were to buy them brand new. Consider second hand stores, thrift and consignment stores…just get it in your mind what you are shopping for and pop in and out of a few of them every week only takes a few minutes if you stay on task (black dress, jacket, boots and leggings) and you don’t have to look at every freaking thing in the store that way.
Most stores stock fresh daily!
Know, that even though we have not met, I want you to be your VERY best dressed, classiest you.
The insides are between you and God!