do I wear too much black at work?

A reader writes:

My current office’s dress code is business casual, and I wear black, knee-length dresses almost every day. I typically wear a neutral, light colored cardigan with the dress, and I always have a navy or black blazer on hand in case I need to step up the look unexpectedly. I don’t wear bright colors because I don’t like how I look in them.

My coworkers usually make snide comments about my clothes like “there goes Morticia, wearing all black again,” and it’s getting to me. My makeup, hair, and jewelry are tasteful and in line with what others in my office wear, so I can’t understand where this is coming from. Its not like I’m a walking Hot Topic advertisement—I just like professional looking black dresses. These comments come every day, though, and I’ve even overheard people gossiping about me and taking bets on what I will wear to off-site work functions because I wear a lot of black in the office.

The culture at my company has gotten so bad that I have gone home and cried almost every day for the past month. I am actively applying out, but I’m also worried my attire is a professional blind spot. Is this a case of toxic work culture getting to me, or do I really need to reconsider wearing a black dress every day going forward?

Your coworkers are jerks.

It’s really not terribly unusual to wear a lot of black. It’s an incredibly common color, especially for professional wear. It’s not like you’re wearing hot pink from head-to-toe every day; you’re wearing a really normal, neutral, business-y color. And you’re not even in all black — you’re wearing light-colored cardigans.

And you know, even if it were something like daily head-to-toe hot pink, your coworkers’ behavior would still be crappy. It’s one thing to give you a little good-natured teasing, but this sounds well beyond that. They talk about it behind your back and take bets on what you’ll wear to events? These people are seriously asses. They sound like the type of people who would make snide comments about someone’s boobs not being to their liking.

So yes, this is a case of a toxic work culture. (Although is it possible that this is just a small handful of jerks, and no one else in your office notices or cares?)

Now, in general, it’s true that if the way you present yourself doesn’t fit in with your office’s norms and culture, you might need to make some adjustments if you want to be taken seriously there, get higher-profile assignments, get promoted, etc. But I really don’t want to encourage you to change to please these snots, especially since you’re already working on leaving. However, if you wanted to stay there, I’d say, “Okay, this is silly, but since what you’re wearing is standing out as odd there, there’s some benefit to shaking it up.”

But really, it sounds like you’ve found yourself a work uniform — a basic outfit combination that works for you that you can replicate every day, so that you don’t need to spend much time thinking about your clothes. Men have been doing this for decades, and an increasing number of women are starting to do it too. So I say good for you.

{ 661 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Justme, the OG

    *Looks down at black pants, black boots, and patterned shirt that is mostly black.*

    Nah, you’re fine. But even if I weren’t also business-casual goth, your coworkers are jerks.

    Reply
    1. Amber T

      90% of my work clothes are black – which pairs extremely well with a fuzzy, shedding-loving white cat.

      Agreed, your coworkers are jerks. Best of luck getting out of there!

      Reply
      1. Justme, the OG

        I have three sheddy pets of multiple fur colors so they show up on everything. It;s like that comic about why witched prefer black cats.

        Reply
        1. Collarbone High

          One of the best things about being a tuxedo cat is that there is NOTHING your human can wear that won’t show at least some of your hair.

          Reply
            1. valentine

              OP, you cannot please people like this. If you wear less black, they’ll make up stuff to feed their gossiping and bullying needs. It’s why I never understood the argument that school uniforms would decrease bullying.

              Reply
              1. Quandong

                This, exactly. OP, if you did go the expensive route of buying non-black dresses, these dreadful people would choose a new thing.

                I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. It’s not okay, it’s unacceptably mean. If you want to go to HR to make a complaint about workplace bullying and how it’s affecting you, please go ahead.

                Reply
              2. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw

                When I went to Catholic school, the fashionable thing was rolling the waistband of the uniform skirt so the hem was hiked up (gasp!) above the knee. I have short legs, so I physically couldn’t have a skirt that short without essentially folding it in half and having a weirdly thick waistband – even when my skirt was regulation, it was more mid-calf length than the standard slightly-below-knee length. XD

                Reply
                1. Just Elle

                  My mom let me get my skirt hemmed at a *gasp* non-approved tailor to above my knees, as I was also a calf-length sufferer. My mom was a supremely cool mom.

          1. Kelsi

            Growing up we had a dalmation. Visible dog hair for every outfit! (You’d think short hair was easier to get off, but no. His hairs were stiff and would like…embed themselves into fabric, making those lint roller things completely useless.)

            Reply
              1. Anita Brayke

                +1!!!
                Packing tape works wonders! I discovered this when I worked in shipping (among other departments) at a magazine. It’s great!

                Reply
          2. Quoth the Raven

            I have an Australian Cattle Dog (blue) and it’s totally the same — there’s white, black, and tan hair everywhere. My sister has two Huskies, too, which makes things even more interesting.

            Most of my “dressy” clothes are black, too.

            Reply
        2. SignalLost

          This is why I have a tuxedo cat. Light hair for my dark clothes, dark hair for my light clothes!

          OP, your clothes sound fine. Your coworkers sound like buttheads.

          Reply
          1. Asenath

            Or you could get a calico cat, which provides an even wider range of colours!

            As for the letter – I’ve been wearing black slacks with something coloured on top as work-wear for years – except in the warmer weather when I wear skirts or dresses. Your co-workers sound like they have far too much time on their hands, and are the kind of jerks who like to spend time being unpleasant to people.

            Reply
            1. Michaela Westen

              He wants you to stay home with him! My cats used to sit on my clothes when I was packing for a weekender. <3

              Reply
            2. Jadelyn

              It’s been very helpful in motivating me to hang up my clothes as soon as I take them off/take them out of the dryer, because I know if I don’t my furbeast WILL find them and will fur them back up for me.

              Reply
          2. RUKiddingMe

            One of mine is half Tuxedo and half Maine Coon. With all both of those entail wrapped up into a fluffy ball of Evil. <—Her actual name.

            Reply
        3. Cassandra

          Bonus for longer-haired cats whose fur, once shed, turns into little felt pills that get on EVERYTHING and are challenging to get rid of.

          I would glare at my multicolored tabby, because ARGH the furring of my entire wardrobe, but she’s too sweet for that.

          Reply
          1. Amber T

            YES. This happens with my furry beast. And it’s always in either places you can’t reach easily (middle of your back) or in awkward places (oh look, I have a little cotton tail on my butt!).

            I’m linking my cats’ instagram account to show the furry beast (and his brother). I go through many, many lint rollers a year because of him.

            Reply
            1. RUKiddingMe

              I invested in a regular lint brush. I actually bought a few (home, car, office), but started with one to test it. Well worth whatever I paid for it. Ten years on and they’re like new.

              They have to be cleaned but that’s really easy and ther are no sticky roll things to replace.

              https://www.walmart.com/ip/Libman-Two-Sided-Lint-Brush/23327093

              Reply
          2. CanuckCat

            One of my parent’s cats – who was an orange Maine coon – passed away about two years ago and I’m still finding the little felt pills of his hair stuck to things.

            Reply
          3. CanadaTag

            Yes! I have a mid-hair blue tabby – which means dark and light grey and white/cream fur everywhere. And she has kitten-fur – for some reason (likely genetic) she never developed the slightly coarser fur of an adult cat (weatherproofing, etc.). So there are little pills of fur everywhere, and on my clothes no matter the colour. (My gravatar photo is her taken in a sepia mode photo.)

            Reply
      2. Snow Drift

        I highly recommend pointed cats, like Siamese or Himalayans. This will allow you to look a mess no matter what color you wear!

        Reply
        1. But you don't have an accent...

          Or Egyptian Maus – they’re shadow cats so light on the bottom and dark on top! The only thing his fur doesn’t show on is my grey/white/black sweater.

          Reply
        2. AKchic

          I have a Siamese/Ragdoll mix that is Siamese colored. Fur for daaaays. Add in the black Norwegian Forest and our lab/coonhound mix (all black) and we have so much fur. I gave up trying. I accept the purrfurred treatment that they so lovingly bestow upon us.

          Reply
        3. Kittyfish 76

          I have 8 months old sister kittens. They were orphaned at 3 weeks, but anyhoo, they are pointed. And let me tell you, the short haired one is SHEDDING her kitten coat EVERYWHERE!

          Reply
      3. The Other Geyn

        Sometimes I look at the state of my black cardigans and wish I got two black cats. I’ve been really liking charcoal gray cardigans for this reason — there’s enough white mixed in to camouflage the cat hair.

        Reply
      4. Headshrinker Extraordinaire

        I also wear a lot of dark colors, and my husband’s wardrobe contains very little on the light end of the spectrum.

        When I first saw my cats (in the rescue adoption display at Petsmart) I remember thinking “oh they’re so cute… but they’re mostly white, that would be a bad idea”. (Littermates, one 70/30 white/gray, the other 60/40 white/orange&black).

        Did I listen to my clothes-preserving instincts? Of course not. We’ve been picking white hair off everything we own for 10 years now.

        Reply
      5. Works in IT

        My parents have one black cat, and one grey ticked cat. The black cat is actually good about only nesting on black clothes, but the grey one… since her fur is ticked it is IMPOSSIBLE to find clothes that her fur won’t show up on.

        Reply
      6. Clever alias

        A friend of mine (good naturedly) complains a black sweater she wore to my apartment three years ago that still has white fur on it despite multiple dry cleanings. White cat life.

        Reply
      7. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

        I’ve purposely shed all not black or black compatible clothing from my work wardrobe. It started when I started to travel more for work, because I didn’t want to fool around with different color shoes. Now I don’t have to think about what shoes I pack outside of ‘will I pack my summer heels or my winter heels’.

        For the OP:
        As for the coworkers.. this is one of those times I think you just need to own it. Next time you hear them talking or making bets stick your head around the corner and say something like the following:

        -“I want in on that action! I’ve got a good feeling Morticia’s going to be wearing orange at the off-site… what odds are you going to give me?”
        -“Jeez… you guys are awfully invested in my wardrobe… you’re not planning on trying to get me on one of those what not to wear shows… fair warning, if you do I’m going to make sure I show pictures of you in that mustard yellow sweater that you wear. That should earn you a seat right next to me”
        -“haha… yep, you caught me wearing black again. You’d think you’d have gotten past it since I’ve been wearing similar colors for the past X years/months/etc.”

        Reply
        1. A tester, not a developer

          I’d say something like “I love how you all manage to be surprised every time I wear black! It must be great to have such a childlike sense of wonder and amazement about such simple things”. :)

          Reply
          1. Carol Pilbasian, The Notary

            This is amazing. I’d go with this (well, probably not, but imagining it makes me so happy….)

            Reply
      8. Letter Writer

        OP here! The comments about business casual goths and their cats have warmed my heart. I have a tabby and have made a habit of hanging my mostly black wardrobe back in the closet or laundry before holding her at the end of the day. Thank you, everyone. I needed the smiles.

        Reply
        1. Jules the 3rd

          Tabby too – I am currently wearing black shirt / pants / shoes and a black+earth tones blazer that matches my tabby very very well.

          Hugs if you want them, your coworkers are foolish. Check for scope and other symptoms – it’s probably 1 – 2 who are really ‘in’ it because they are unhappy and want to take it out on someone else, and everyone else is not really listening.

          Reply
        2. RUKiddingMe

          Glad you ferl better.

          Seriously, wear black if you want to. Many of us do.

          I don’t have a single pair of non-jean or jammie pants that aren’t black including both work and casual ones.

          Dresses and skirts are pretty much black or grey with only a couple of others thrown in just because. Except for that one red dress … but it is NSFW.

          Reply
        3. Aitch Arr

          I’m a corpgoth and have 2 cats.

          My wardrobe is mostly black, charcoal grey, dark red, purple, and teal (one of these is not like the other!), with a healthy side of gray cat hair.

          No one has ever commented on what I wear.

          Reply
      9. Bagpuss

        Yeah, I change out of my work clothes soon as I walk in the house, because if I sit down they will get cat hairs. And current cat is black and white, so can shed with equal visibility on dark and pale coloured clothing!

        My work wardrobe is mostly black (I often wear black trousers and jacket or cardigan, with a different coloured shirt or blouse. ) It’s a good work uniform.

        Reply
        1. RUKidding

          Yup. I wash my hands (because germs from outside) and change immediately. Work clothes get hung up or put in either the laundry or the drycleaning basket, bra off, jammies on. Now cats can talk to me.

          Reply
      10. I’m actually a squid

        Dh and I both wear a lot of black so that was part of the reason we looked for a black cat. We found her and, when we went to pick her up at our local shelter, a beautiful, humongous, silver-grey cat in the cage behind her begged to come home as well. So his fur shows on every but at least not as badly as white would. Then one of DH’s coworkers found an injured calico kitten on the road… so now we’ve given up.

        Reply
      11. greenlily

        My roommate owns/is owned by a large fluffy silver-haired green-eyed cat. We’re pretty sure he’s a mix of Russian Blue + something else that fancies Russian Blues. Gorgeous kittybeast. His fur gets EVERYWHERE.

        Reply
      12. Marion Ravenwood

        Owned by two black cats here. I wear a lot of black for work, and can confirm the cat fur still shows…

        Reply
    2. Lynca

      Currently wearing black pants and a black/white striped top. Nothing the OP describes would be weird to me or worthy of snide comment.

      I sometimes end up wearing the same color shirt as other people in the office! We generally just laugh and find it amusing. The co-workers are jerks.

      Reply
      1. Autumnheart

        We have a bulletin board for “accidental twin day” when people coincidentally wear super-similar outfits. It’s in good fun, e.g. the people themselves take the photo.

        Reply
        1. Not Australian

          I wish we’d had one of those the day three of us turned up in red jumper/floral skirt combinations!

          Reply
        2. Indigo a la mode

          The best one of these I ever saw was the first day my mom had to wear a walking boot to the office. She wore a grey striped sweater, olive jeans, a black boot on her right foot, and the walking boot on her left foot.

          Imagine the hilarity when she encountered her coworker in the SAME outfit – right down to Day 1 of wearing a left-foot walking boot!

          Reply
        1. Jaid_Diah

          + 1. Bonus points if it’s multiple co-workers in the same unit wearing similar colors. Bonus bonus points if half the floor has a matchy color scheme.

          Reply
        2. Relentlessly Socratic

          Yes, our department leans heavily towards the purple end of the spectrum. Good natured ribbing ensues when we all are purple-wearing. Also good natured ribbing at whoever didn’t get the memo.

          OP your coworkers are asses.

          Reply
    3. Dragoning

      I am also business casual goth–but after the first time I inadvertently showed up in solid black and someone asked if I was going to a funeral in genuine sincerity, no one has ever commented on my color choices again.

      Except one time, I think, but only as an aside of thinking I had intentionally dressed in all black to look “badass.”

      Reply
      1. Nea

        I love the phrase “business casual goth”!

        For OP – I’ve got I don’t even know how many black dresses, skirts, trousers, tops, cardigans… it’s a neutral! It’s professional! It goes with almost anything! Your co-workers are children and I wish you the best of luck getting out of the daycare and into an office with grown ups.

        Reply
          1. GreenDoor

            There’s a lot of highly paid laywers and bankers that spend most days in conservative black clothing. Why on earth is this even an issue worth mentioning, let alone taking bets on?

            Reply
            1. RUKidding

              Because most of them are male. Women’s clothing…hair…makeup…jewelry…etc., etc., etc…are a public concern!

              Must control those out of control females dontchaknow!!!

              Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        I, too, am a proud member of the business casual goth club. I tend to have a little variation in my top half – mostly greys, with the occasional inclusion of some blue or turquoise – but, for example, wearing literally the only non-black dress I own (a bright orchid-purple) has actually made people stop dead in the hall when they saw me because it was so out of the norm. There was a nearly 2-month period of time where I was going through Some Shit in my personal life and was in a kind of personal mourning period, so I literally did wear solid black for two months straight. Nobody said a thing, though, because my coworkers aren’t jerks.

        It’s actually a little sad, because I’ve been dying to break out that one Wednesday Addams line from the movie on someone –
        “Why are you dressed like somebody died?”
        “Wait.”

        Reply
      3. Zennish

        I go for business casual Zen. I don’t actually own anything that isn’t black, navy or dark grey/brown, because I don’t want to have to change on the days I head straight to the Zendo after work. Is it religious or just lazy? A question for the ages…

        Reply
    4. Hallowflame

      *Looks down at nearly identical outfit*
      Definitely fine. LW’s co-workers are immature jerks, and obviously don’t understand how awesome Morticia Addams is.

      Reply
      1. MCMonkeyBean

        I have a (really awesome) black cape-dress and when I wore it once someone told me I looked like Wednesday Addams. Well actually, they told me I looked like “Tuesday.” So after a minute of figuring out what they heck they were trying to say I just looked at them blankly and said “Because… she also wears a black dress? Even though the style of her dress is completely different than the one I’m wearing???”

        Reply
    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      +1 Whatever slacks I have that aren’t black are gray. I do try to have a bit of color in my blouses but then I just go and cover them up with a black or gray cardigan.

      Reply
      1. Justme, the OG

        For m, it’s the Ian Malcolm method of dressing. I know everything will match when I pull it out of my drawer or closet in the dark.

        Reply
        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

          Exactly. I actually got dressed by flashlight just the other day because the power was out. No problem.

          My only suggestion for the OP is to lean in to the role of Morticia. Really goth it up for a bit with hair and accessories (just not actual Halloween costume stuff). When you suck the wind out of their sails by being amused by their barbs instead of embarrassed or demoralized, they’ll move on and you can go back to being totally normal.

          Reply
          1. SpiderLadyCEO

            This cracks me up. But I WOULD do Halloween costume accessories – spider earrings, snake bracelets, cobweb lace details…it’s where my username came from!

            Reply
          2. It's that girl

            I was going to make the same suggestion. I’d totally play it up. Ramp up the black – shoes, jewelry, etc. Don’t go full goth makeup, stay within the confines of professionalism, but do enough that shows you’re embracing Morticia Adams, just because that will annoy them even more.

            Also, geez, you’re dressing professionally. Who cares if it’s always the same colour? (Though going hot pink all the time worked for Elle Woods, it might work for you too. ;) )

            Reply
            1. Troutwaxer

              Watch the Addams family movies made in the nineties with Angelica Huston as Morticia. She has some awesome lines (and so does Wednesday.) If nothing else, when someone calls you Morticia, just smile and say “Oui?”

              “Look at Morticia, dressed in black again!”
              “I’m waiting for someone to die.”
              “Uh, and who would that be?”
              “Does it matter?”

              Reply
          3. Chaordic One

            Would it be possible for a coworker to dress as you for a Halloween costume? And would people know who her costume was?

            Reply
        1. pope suburban

          I tend to have this problem where a shirt I like is available in, say, four colors. One of which makes me look deathly ill, and two of which I cannot stand (When mustard yellow was in fashion a few years back, I suffered). So, black it is.

          Reply
          1. Dragoning

            That’s also the problem: Not only is black usually available, but it’s my favorite color and I look fantastic in it.

            Oops?

            Reply
          2. Michaela Westen

            I’ve been buying only thrift store and vintage, waiting for the 70’s retro to be over. One day, hopefully soon…

            Reply
          3. Jennifer Juniper

            Ewww. That’s why I avoid fashion trends. I heard on the Today Show that neon was back. As a person of the pale and adult persuasions, I refuse to go around looking like a traffic signal with jaundice.

            What is it with fashion designers and ugly trends? Not everyone is a size-0 teen.

            Reply
            1. swingbattabatta

              Haha when I hear that something “is back”, I think of it like a horror movie: “it’s baaaaaaaack”

              Reply
        2. Amber T

          SAME. Every time I find a cute business dress, it’s in black. I’ve purposely gone out of my way to find the same thing in red, pink, blue, other colors in general… and I always end up wishing I got it in black.

          Reply
          1. Kitryan

            I only now have a bunch of non black dresses because I found a few styles that worked and bought multiples in different colors. Even so, I usually follow either the same format of black dress/colored cardigan or the reverse, colored dress/black or gray cardigan. I still don’t have to do much matching because 1 color + black or gray is always going to work.
            OP sounds like she dresses fine and these coworkers would be finding something else to pick at if it wasn’t this.

            Reply
          2. Bagpuss

            I have one business dress which is dark red, but I bought it in black as well, and wear the black about 4 times for every time I wear the red.. I don’t own any work trousers or skirts which aren’t black.Unless you count pinstripes as a differnt colour. I’ve got one pair of black pinstriped trousers.

            Reply
        3. LizB

          Me: I need more variety in my wardrobe, I have too much solid blue or blue/black/white patterned tops!
          Also me: *comes home from thrifting with only four more blue or blue/black/white tops*
          …why am I like this.

          Reply
      2. Anna

        Same for me with pants. I do like colors and do include things like green (which I look great in), but mostly it’s black, gray, white with black, dark, dark, dark.

        Reply
    6. MusicWithRocksInIt

      My work wardrobe is 60% black and 30% the exact same color of dark wine red that I have collected from 5+ stores and always makes me worry people think I’m wearing the same shirt, when I just have a bunch of slightly different sweaters in the exact same color. The last 10% are other colors I bought because I worried I wear too much black and dark red, but then never really want to wear until I am at laundry day and desperate.

      Reply
      1. Bostonian

        Hahaha yes. I have a bunch of colors I bought so that I wouldn’t have quite so much black, but they all sit in the back of my closet until I get desperate!

        OP, I hope you are reading all these comments and seeing how normal it is to wear mostly black in the workplace. It’s classic and stylish and goes with everything! I’m currently wearing black slacks, a black cardigan over a shirt that is mostly black with red/white pattern.

        Reply
      2. RUKidding

        I do that with other stuff. I will naturally buy the red colored -whatever- so I have to purposefully but stuff in other colors so that I don’t have a sea of indistinguishable red stuff.

        Reply
    7. Something Clever

      Yep, I wear mostly black, most days. It is simple, elegant, and very, very practical. I have ruined countless light colored clothes with a single drop of spilled coffee or salad dressing after only 1-2 wearings. Black is a classic for a reason.

      Reply
    8. WhoKnows

      I wear (non-see through) black leggings and black boots every day to work and only the top varies. This will be my uniform from approximately October-April. In May and June, the shoes become flats. In July and August, sandals. And then in September, flats again.

      IMO, wear whatever is (a) appropriate for your office and (b) gets you out of bed and to work. Those are the only requirements.

      Reply
    9. AFPM

      Exactly – I wear the same black boots literally EVERY DAY and typically the same generic-looking black pants multiple days per week if they’re clean. I’m in a business casual environment, but a lot of traditional office work clothes tend to be more basic looking. The OP’s coworkers are total jerks.

      Reply
      1. AFPM

        And to clarify – I am female, and no one has ever said a word, at least not to my face. I feel like I’ve worked with people who are too busy to remember what I wore the day before to compare.

        Reply
    10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Seriously. The coworkers are assholes.

      OP, I, too, am a work goth, and no one cares. If I want to switch it up, I do it with my accessories (jewelry, sunglasses, scarves) or cardigans.

      Anyone (or group) who’s making daily cracks sounds like they’re insecure and deeply unhappy, tbh. And you can’t do anything to make someone else happy—they have to do it for themselves. Don’t change yourself—people like this will start joking about your new attire. You do you. Pretend you’re surrounded by a forcefueld and they’re monkeys throwing poop, because that’s how they’re behaving.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        This might be a good situation for the “pretend you’re Jane Goodall studying the native primates” approach.

        Reply
    11. Cacwgrl

      Right? This is my outfit nearly every day. It’s most of us except the one who’s very quirky and lives for ModCloth quirky dresses, which she openly admits aren’t the best choice but she loves them so you do you boo. Literally no one cares except when we have higher level meeting and for those, the quirky one defaults to black. Basically our whole office has a wardrobe that resembles the color of a bruise in some form. I’ve worn black pants or black top or maybe both, every day I’ve worked this year, which isn’t much but it’s the trend. Sometimes you’ll see us with maybe a scarf or necklace or brighter colors for like one day but in the end, we were a lot of black and no one would dare say a word.

      Reply
    12. AKchic

      Yup. Business-casual goth here too. She sounds like she dresses how I do. I have *never* been told I dress inappropriately, and I *do* occasionally find some decent nerd-wear from Hot Topic that I like (if not in my size, silly insistence on not sizing with my dimensions in mind. Oh well, I still rock some majorly fun socks).

      I’d be tempted to play the game back and win.
      “How original. You do realize you say the exact same thing every day, right? I can’t change my style until you mature, that’s the way this works.”
      “If you truly thought I was Morticia, why on earth would you ever antagonize me?”
      Just a subtle, knowing smile; as if she isn’t in on a secret.
      “It’s okay if you haven’t found a look that suits you yet, dear. Maybe you will after you’ve matured a bit.”
      “You must not have much to do if you’re tracking my wardrobe. Maybe we should go ahead and talk to HR/Boss about it.”
      “Why are you so obsessed with me?” (oh yeah, drop the Mean Girls reference)

      Reply
      1. Traffic_Spiral

        Yeah, or respond to “there goes Morticia, wearing all black again,” with “there goes _______, making bitchy comments about my clothes again.”

        Reply
        1. HarvestKaleSlaw

          Or you could go for, “Thanks! I know that’s not how you meant it, but Carolyn Jones and Anjelica Huston were both dead sexy in that role.”

          Reply
        2. HarvestKaleSlaw

          Or the classic, “I’m not sure I got that. Could you repeat what you just said?”

          It’s a great tactic. You can just alternate between asking them to repeat their words and then echoing those words back to them in a flat, neutral way. With anyone with an ounce of shame (some don’t have this), it can be super effective:

          “I said you look like Morticia Addams.”
          “You said I look like Morticia Addams.”

          “You know, because you’re wearing all black.”
          “Because I’m wearing all black.”

          “Yeah, I mean… your dress.”
          “You mean my dress. Is black.”
          “Yeah!”

          Reply
          1. pancakes

            I feel like people who are tedious in this way are hoping someone will playfully engage with their tedium, though. I’d rather ignore it, or turn it around: “You say something similar daily — aren’t you bored with repeating yourself yet?”

            Reply
        3. HarvestKaleSlaw

          Or or.. if you don’t want to do Karen Smith, super chipper, or mirroring, you can always go with kindergarten teacher. “I am wearing black! Good noticing, Regina!”

          Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        “If you truly thought I was Morticia, why on earth would you ever antagonize me?” LOVE THIS.

        Because seriously, what kind of idiot would want Morticia Addams as an enemy? Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc, after all.

        Reply
      3. Workaholic

        I am so glad somebody suggested commenting about them not having enough work to do! That was one of my first thoughts.

        Reply
    13. Ama

      I wear a lot of color (I’m infamous at my office for my coats, which are bright and/or patterned) and I’d still say the vast majority of my work clothes are black. I have four pairs of black work pants, my best suit is black, the dress I usually wear to our annual fancy fundraiser is black and tan. Today I have on a black and gray striped turtleneck and black pants.

      I got into a conversation with a woman from another office in our building in the elevator just yesterday about wearing mostly black and gray because it is the easiest option.

      I suspect your coworkers just want to be jerks to you (not because you did anything to deserve just because *they* are jerks) and if it wasn’t your wardrobe it would be something else.

      Reply
    14. Engineer Girl

      So OP, you’ve created the classic capsule wardrobe which is frugal and lovely. French women have been doing this for years. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your choices and they are enjoyed by professional women everywhere.

      I think the one problem is that you aren’t confronting them on their sexist bullying. The next time they make comments you should ask them “Why are my clothing choices so important to you?” Then wait, forcing them to answer. They’ll likely give you some whacked out answer. Then ask them “Why is that important?” Keep asking why while giving the cold stare. If they ask you why you dress that way you can say “Because I like it and it is professional.” Then ignore them. Also be aware that they will increase their bullying (for a time) trying to intimidate you back into your “proper place”. Don’t let them.

      They are doing this because you look professional. And remember that there are many successful women on this website that dress the same way.

      Reply
      1. Consuela Schlepkiss

        I like this. Icily professional and yet still allows you to push back. I sense powerlessness in the OP’s letter, and this seems a totally doable way to get some power back.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          Yup. Own it and take control.

          Some bullies will escalate so much that everyone notices and then they get caught.

          Reply
    15. A Very Smart Airhead

      Another voice for the OP: I’m wearing all black! And I do often. It’s easy and requires so much less thinking in the morning. Your coworkers are jerk, and probably pretty immature… I think the last time I was nagged about wearing all black I was in my early 20s and being nagged by very immature people. FWIW.

      Reply
    16. hayling

      Yep, wearing a black dress, black cardigan, black tights, and black shoes today with a green scarf (that has French Bulldogs on it!). LW, your coworkers are assholes.

      Reply
      1. Comms Girl

        Black boots (and wore pumps while inside the office), black trousers, a dark purple blouse, black coat. And most of my work dresses are, guess what, black!

        You’re good to go, OP :) your co-workers deserve, as Ser Duncan the Tall would say, “a good clout in the ear” for being such immature idiots.

        Reply
    17. Accounting IsFun

      Justme, the OG, I think we are wearing the same thing today – except I’ve got a black cardigan on too.

      OP – your coworkers sound really immature. I’m sorry you work with what sounds like junior high school behavior (though, honestly, most junior high kids are pretty cool – and you can correct junior high kids).

      Keep wearing what you like and feel confident in.

      – hugs from someone who almost always wears lots of black too because it is easier.

      Reply
    18. Singin in the Rain

      I have black hair, dark eyes and a pale complexion, so I will actually look like Morticia if I wear a lot of black. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But I like color and it’s honestly a small joy of mine to play with color theory in my wardrobe, both casually and professionally. My colleagues are more neutral-oriented and have noticed my color schemes. And they’re really nice about it because it doesn’t matter what color(s) I’m wearing as long as it’s professional!

      That said, I think your colleagues are just jerks. If it wasn’t the black, they’d find something else to be jerks about because that’s what jerks do. I hope you find a better work environment soon. In the meantime, keep your head up and know that decent people don’t behave that way.

      Reply
    19. The Other Geyn

      My wardrobe is 90% variation of black, gray, and cream. Makes it so much easier to get dressed in the morning.

      Reply
    20. lammmm

      Another in support.

      I wear all black pretty much 4/5 days at work. I have about 7-10 black dresses I rotate (3 of which are the exact. same. dress), and a couple of black cardigans. I have exactly one bright blue dress (that I get a lot of compliments on, so maybe my coworkers are trying to tell me something lol) and one gray cardigan I’ll rotate in just to mix it up a bit.

      But my standard work uniform is black dress, black cardigan if dress is sleeveless and black boots (pumps for summer/traveling/important visitors).

      Reply
    21. Essess

      Same here… I’m in black dress pants (that’s 99% of my pants wardrobe), black tank, and black/white pullover artistic blouse. Tomorrow’s outfit will be different black pants, black shortsleeve shirt and fancy belt. Next day is another pair of black pants, different black tank, ooooh…. and a GREY pullover.

      I worked in a toxic environment where one coworker was always nasty to me. She got really snarky about the fact that I always wear black flat shoes. My mother stopped by to go to lunch with me one day and snarky coworker said “I knew she was your mother because she was wearing black flats.” Another time Ms. Snarky informed me that she would buy me lunch if I wore something other than black flats. At that point I told her that if MY shoes had that much of an impact on HER life, then it wasn’t my shoes that needed changing!

      Reply
    22. EddieSherbert

      Right? At least 75% of my wardrobe is black. I’m currently wearing black pants with a very dark green (almost black) sweater. I can name like 6 other female friends and/or coworkers whose wardrobes look the same.

      You’re totally fine!

      Reply
      1. RUKidding

        Non wirk day today. Dentist instead (ugh!). Still I wore black jeans, black tshirt, and a black/grey/red flannel shirt over the tshirt and black boots. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Reply
    23. Not Rebee

      My clothing exists primarily on the grayscale, mostly on the black end. Som color pops exist, mostly in emerald or purple, but only as tops and never as pants. Back in my actual business attire days I’d sometimes wear patterned pants (but a black and white pattern like a windowpane-check pattern), and I do own like one pair of shoes that are not black or some neutral skin tone shade (I’ve got flat nude but also a kind of shiny gold champagne type color that makes nude a little better). That said, the bulk of any outfit I wear is black/gray, unless the bulk of it is denim colored (I’m big on jeans).

      Reply
    24. Bunny

      I have worn black almost every day for 25 years because my mother dressed me in hot pink for the first 20 years of my life.

      You, OP, are tres chic.

      Reply
  2. ten-four

    Can you imagine anyone complaining about a man wearing black suits with different colored shirts every day? Your coworkers are jags.

    Reply
    1. AK

      A few years ago Karl Stefanovic made news for wearing the same suit on The Today Show (Australia) for a year after seeing the hassle his female cohosts were getting, no one noticed until he made an announcement. I feel like there’s a decent number of businessmen who could do the same and no one would every say anything

      Reply
        1. irene adler

          As a juror, I saw that the prosecutor wore the very same suit every day (navy blue, if memory serves). Different colored shirt each day. Trial went on for 5 or 6 days and was then thrown by the judge.
          Guess that shows how boring the case was.

          Reply
            1. Anna

              And even so, maybe a private practice attorney would prefer not to spend all their money on suits when barely anyone would notice.

              Reply
          1. Jessie the First (or second)

            I’m attorney. My suits: one black dress with black jacket, one black and wine colored dress with a black jacket, and one all-wine colored dress with a black jacket.

            Also, it’s the same black jacket. So I mean, I have next to no variety here.

            On my non-client days, there is more variety because we are super casual (so jeans are fine). Even then, the color of most of my tops? Black or wine colored. Every once in a while something blue (which is then covered by a black cardigan).

            Reply
          2. The Other Geyn

            Eh – most lawyers I know (including myself) tends to buy suits in neutral colors such as black, charcoal, or navy. The legal profession is still pretty conservative and certain clothing (even like a big black and white houndstooth pattern skirt) can be considered too “loud” for the courtroom.

            Reply
        2. Something Clever

          Women’s clothing is expensive, too, and when you figure the cost of 10 or more work outfits and compare them to what a man spends, women are spending more.

          Reply
          1. Mimi Me

            Expensive and not consistent with fit….so when you find something you like? You stick with it! My go-to colors are black and grey with a nice denim jean. (casual dress office here!)

            Reply
          2. Anna

            Also the Pink Tax. Women’s clothing and accessories are more expensive than men’s (usually) for no other reason than they are.

            Reply
        3. Antilles

          Correct. Many men wear the same suit regularly. In fact, it’s common to not even *own* multiple suits, particularly if you’re in a career where ‘business casual’ is the standard. In the rare cases where you need to wear a suit a couple days in a row, you just wear notably different shirt/tie combos and it looks different enough that nobody even blinks.

          Reply
          1. Lord Gouldian Finch

            When I used to work in a suit-heavy environment… I owned two suits. And changed my shirt every day. And almost all my shirts were white in the same style. I looked the same every dang day and no body every said a word. People really need to stop judging women’s business attire as long as it’s within professional norms.

            Reply
      1. Sarah Peterson

        My Dad actually had an outfit for each day of the week – Monday through Friday – and in over 30 years, no one noticed or commented. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with these ridiculous people.

        Reply
        1. MusicWithRocksInIt

          I kinda do this. I have about 6 work tops I like and cycle through them in a different order each week – and I feel so self conscious about it! I shouldn’t have to because 80% of dudes I work with do the exact same thing – but man the pressure is on when you are a girl.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            There’s an Ellery Queen mystery that gets solved because of the color of a tie that a color-blind person wore.

            Reply
      2. Amber T

        All the men I work with have a “wardrobe” – gray or black slacks, blue, white, or pink dress shirts. Any of my male coworkers could wear the same thing for a year and I wouldn’t notice. But when it comes to women, we must be FASHIONABLE and MAKE STATEMENTS and BE UNIQUE. So yeah, agreed.

        Reply
        1. Michaela Westen

          I don’t care about fashion. I see it as a scam to make people spend money. I wear appropriate clothes I like and if that’s not good enough for an employer, I’m not working there.
          I don’t remember much criticism of my work clothes, ever.

          Reply
    2. Arya Snark

      Exactly. I would be tempted to come back with a retort like this the next time I heard anyone mention it.

      “If I were a man wearing a grey or black suit everyday, would you even notice or care? No, of course not, please stop.”

      Reply
        1. Slow Gin Lizz

          Both of these are brilliant. Also the above comments about “office-casual goth” are appropriate. OP, if you feel up to it, you should use one of these comments!

          Reply
    3. GiantPanda

      I used to have a male coworker who looked the same every day. Black shirt, black jeans, black shoes. It took me months to notice and nobody ever commented on it.
      These days he works at a slightly more formal place and has added a black jacket.

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Wasn’t that Zuckerberg’s thing? And maybe even Obama’s? They picked out their “uniform” and would wear that every day so it was one less thing to think about/concentrate on. Zuck always wears black tshirts and jeans, while Obama only wore blue suits (or something like that).

        Reply
        1. Light37

          Yes, Obama always wore blue or gray suits because it eliminated decisions for him. Remember his infamous tan suit? That was enough to put him off ever trying that again (I’m not sure if I’d have been willing to leave the house after that!)

          Reply
          1. Bagpuss

            Although it does mean that if you unexpectedly meet him at a friend’s home, and he’s wearing a grey shirt, you get freaked out for 2 separate reasons…!

            Reply
        2. Bagpuss

          Daniel Radcliffe did it to cut down on paparazzi I think his was blue jeans, grey or blue hoodie, and baseball cap. It meant that it was difficult to date pictures, so it was less worth their while hounding him on a daily basis.

          Reply
        3. SusanIvanova

          Steve Jobs wore black turtlenecks and jeans. Silicon Valley is not a place where “dress like the CEO when you interview” is any sort of useful guideline.

          Yul Brynner always wore blacks and grays.

          Reply
        4. Safetykats

          There are many studies on decision making that show that you have a limited number of high level decisions you’re capable of making each day. Eliminating decisions that don’t matter – like what to wear or eat for breakfast – makes the rest of your decision making more effective.

          Reply
      2. teclatrans

        I had a geology teacher who wore the sane thing day in & day out — blue t-shirt & tan shorts. The big excitement every year came when the weather got cold enough that he came in wearing tan *pants*, and again when he moved back to shorts in the late spring. He bought those shirts in bulk, no doubt about it.

        Reply
    4. Mpls

      Well, he might get crap because typically black suits on men are reserved for formal occasions (tuxedo) or funerals. So he might get the “who died” comments. (Strangely enough, the same black suit constraints don’t seem to apply to women).

      But the same charcoal suit day in and out – no one would even notice.

      Reply
            1. Engineer Girl

              Disclosure – it’s not true at the lower levels. But the higher you go the more likely you’ll see black as a base color.

              Reply
        1. Not A Morning Person

          That reminds me. A few years ago, the department I worked in had photos taken and everyone was told to wear something professional and dark because it would look good in the pictures. Every single person, both men and women, wore a black suit and most wore white shirts and blouses. The group photo looked like everyone had coordinated and no one believed that we hadn’t. It just worked out that way. Black works for work.

          Reply
          1. SusanIvanova

            I’ve heard that when the Oscars first started getting televised in color, a lot of women picked white dresses to show off their tans, much to the dismay of the network who wanted to be able to show off the rest of the spectrum.

            Reply
        2. Lora

          Heh, in my field it’s blue shirts and a fleece or starter jacket with the logo of a company you worked for at least two jobs ago. Blue stripes, blue checks, always blue shirts though. On Suit Days usually grey rather than black. You are ranked by
          1) the prestige of the company logo on the jacket
          2) the prestige of the university logo on your backpack. The backpack may be several decades old and held together with string, this is fine, as long as the logo is MIT or HBS or some such.

          At CurrentJob, one of the senior managers is Texan and you show your rank by wearing expensive boots.

          Reply
    5. Lady Kelvin

      My husband got compliments because I would buy him brightly colored shirts to wear under his suits rather than blue or white. It was different enough that people (especially the women who worked with him) noticed. Same 5-6 suits, but different shirts. I also bought 3 pairs of pants and ~10 tops and just rotate those. Once I got pregnant I bought 2 pairs of pants and a few shirts and they all happen to be black pants and black and white patterned shirts. I also wear a black cardigan every day because our office is freezing. Since I work with all men, no one notices.

      Reply
      1. CanuckCat

        My sister’s husband is known for two things at his work, outside of his professionalism – his funky shoes (he’s a big fan of the oxfords that comes with colored soles) and funky socks because it’s the only way he can ‘express’ himself within the confines of his work wardrobe. Personally though I am all for men being more creative with their clothes – look at Chadwick Boseman and Taika Watiti!

        Reply
    6. Slow Gin Lizz

      So much this, ten-four. Black suits are pretty much the standard, are they not? So why would a woman get called out for wearing a lot of black the way many guys do??? GRRRRR.

      OP, I just want to reassure you along with everyone else here that your coworkers are total jerks. I really really wish you well in your job search so you can get away from them ASAP.

      Reply
      1. pleaset

        “Black suits are pretty much the standard, are they not?”

        Not for men. Gray/dark gray suits are the standard. Black is associated with food service, funerals, music performance, and perhaps certain arts/design professions. In other fields – like law, general business, general office work, etc, black is often thought of as in special and/or in bad taste.

        I’m not objecting to your overall point of why women get called out on dress more than men. You’re spot-on.

        Reply
            1. pancakes

              I’m from CT and have lived in NYC all my adult life. This is not a business or old money thing. This is young guys, quite possibly transplants, fretting about being confused for livery drivers.

              Reply
              1. pleaset

                I think it’s both.

                My dad was in Brooks Bros constantly, worked on Wall Street, and I’ve been around that crowd in New England and NY, and black is not a traditional suit color. For decades as far as I can know.

                Except for drivers as you suggest, and undertakers, waiters etc.

                Reply
                1. Tigger

                  I grew up with old school New Englanders for parents and I can confirm the black suit rule. My Dad wore suits every day and he had navy and charcoal suits for everyday wear. He had 1 black suit for special occasions, a pinstripe suit for when he was feeling ~out there~. I don’t think the rule applies for dress pants though, he had a few pairs of black slacks he would wear on days the office was closed but he would go in anyway.

          1. VelociraptorAttack

            My husband used to own a custom suit store, he has very strong negative opinions on black suits.

            I don’t get it, I will proudly wear my black pants with a black blazer.

            Reply
          2. General Ginger

            I don’t know about bad taste, but it’s much easier to find a cheap sportcoat in a pattern, or in grey/navy and have it look pretty decent, whereas a black one is much more likely to look cheap.

            Reply
        1. Slow Gin Lizz

          Ah, well, I work in an office of all women so we don’t have any black-suited men. Heh. I guess I should’ve said that having only one color of suit is pretty much the standard for men.

          Reply
        2. Susan Calvin

          I’m guessing that’s relevant in about the same circumstances that “skirt suits over pant suits” still applies?

          Reply
        3. pancakes

          The idea that a color favored by people in art & design would be considered “in bad taste” is odd. I’ve never heard of any such thing and would presume it’s regional.

          Reply
        4. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw

          Speaking as a lawyer, I’ve never heard that wearing black is special or in bad taste. Some of the more conservative firms and federal courts, according to every bit of lawyerly fashion advice I have ever been given, pretty much only allow black, with navy or grey being allowed but on very thin ice. And I’m from New England.

          The only time a colorful suit was allowed was when I worked in Tennessee, and that was because, according to my boss, “Oh, honey, don’t worry about it, this is state court!”

          Reply
    7. n

      Exactly. I work in an office that’s mostly dudes, and they all pretty much wear the same outfit every day. No one cares. Thankfully, the women get away with it, too. Because, again, no one cares.

      Reply
  3. Kheldarson

    My god, your coworkers are petty. I can see making the comment *once*, but I love Morticia and would be following up with asking you where you got your outfits. (My wardrobe is a haphazard mess.)

    Get away from the petty!

    Reply
    1. AnonEMoose

      If you ask me. Morticia and Gomez are total relationship goals, and the Addams Family is one of the most supportive, loving, and healthy families in popular media.

      Reply
    2. Drago Cucina

      Yep. They are petty with no taste :-D. I don’t wear that much black, but one staff wears nothing but. It may be black with white polka dots or black tunic with black leggings and zombie unicorns. Not my personal style, but she rocks it. We do make jokes about my addiction to peacock blue. I was thinking of doing a slide show of me through the decades wearing various shades of this color.

      Reply
  4. Loopy

    Myself and another coworker have this exact same uniform! I definitely don’t get snide or nasty comments, so I promise it’s totally not normal to be getting that reaction!

    A few times I’ll get a comment if I decide to a white sweater but it’s never mean or over the top.

    Really, other women are out there wearing similar amounts of black and are just fine. These coworkers sound like they are stuck in high school.

    Reply
    1. Doug Judy

      I really don’t notice what my coworkers wear on a daily basis. Even if I comment “cute top” I doubt if they wore it the next day it would register with me, and if it did, I wouldn’t care.

      Reply
      1. Peachkins

        Same! I only noticed my manager’s socks yesterday because she was sitting next to me in a meeting, and they had cats on them. So cute! I couldn’t tell you about the rest of her outfit, or any of my coworkers’ for that matter. It’s so ridiculous that anyone would care what you wear as long as it’s work-appropriate.

        Reply
    2. It's a Doughnut morning

      I would never think it was odd to be in a black dress or black slacks every day, that seems to be everyone’s uniform. The oddities that stick out at work for me are the full sequined tops, necklines coming down to their navel, 6+ inch heels, and neon underwear showing above your waist line.

      Reply
  5. Cassandra

    Ugh, why are people.

    OP, I have a strong suspicion that if your nasty, inappropriate coworkers didn’t have your work uniform to pick on, they’d find something else, because they bond by picking on people. Your work uniform is COMPLETELY FINE.

    I hope you get out soon.

    Reply
    1. Où est la bibliothèque?

      I agree. Bullies will always find something to bully about. I suspect that, whether they’re aware of it or not, to them your wardrobe represents your professionalism. And, being completely unprofessional themselves, they resent that and want to sneer at it.

      Reply
    2. xarcady

      I agree. At one point my work wardrobe contained only the colors black (and a lot of black), gray, white, and red. And some people still commented on my wearing the same colors all the time. And that I wore skirts all the time. I wore a slightly shorter skirt once (knee-length instead of mid-calf length) and someone pretended to be shocked and exclaimed, “OMG you have legs!”

      Petty people will always find something to be petty about.

      Reply
        1. miss_chevious

          Hi, do I work with you? I wear skirts or dresses almost every day — I hate pants — and when I do bust out my one pair of work-appropriate pants, I always get a comment. It’s good-natured, though, not mean.

          An ancillary benefit of my work attire is that no one can tell if/when I’m interviewing, because me showing up in a dress or skirt suit is normal.

          Reply
        2. Allonge

          I had a coworker once just about fall out of her chair in the cafeteria, pointing (!) at another woman, saying “she is not wearing thights!”

          Some people are weird.

          Reply
      1. Essess

        I never wear skirts. I did get that comment from a coworker once (“you have legs!”) but to be fair it was the first time in 3 years I’d worn a skirt to work and it was meant in a good-natured way.

        Reply
    3. Kella

      My immediate thought when I read this letter was, “Geez, if she dared to wear a brown dress one day ALL THEY WOULD TALK ABOUT would be how she’s *not* wearing a black dress, and does this signal an existential crisis, or a personality change etc.” Same if she switched to a different dress color each day, it would be “what, you don’t wear black anymore? what happened?”, or if she dared to alternate between black and other colors, it would be “oh no, you’re back to the black, I thought you stopped that silliness.” People who scrutinize you, scrutinize *everything* you do, not just the specific thing they happen to be criticizing you for right now.

      Reply
      1. AKchic

        Okay, the brown comment reminded me of a quote.
        “Steampunk is when goths discover the color brown”.

        So accurate, it burns.

        Reply
    4. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)

      Yup. You could say the black clothes are a red herring!

      (I’ll show myself out).

      But seriously, it’s a them problem. Change your clothes and they’ll find something else.

      Reply
    1. Sloan Kittering

      They seriously don’t even sound like Morticia / goth wear to me! (Which would also be okay, for the record). A light colored cardigan over a black dress is so neutral as to be completely unobjectionable. I would wear that outfit to the ground.

      Reply
  6. cheesesticks and pretzels

    I agree 100% they are jerks. The are probably also jealous they can’t get a work uniform together like you have.

    Reply
    1. AKchic

      Yes. 100%. Or “I’m in mourning for coworkers with a modicum of fashion sense, tact, or any semblance of what’s truly their business.” and then stare pointedly at her until she looks away.

      Reply
  7. Zip Silver

    Work uniforms are great. I’ve got 10 shirts to pair with 3 pairs of pants and it’s ezpz to get ready every day and I’ve only got to do laundry once every 2 weeks.

    Personally, I don’t like wearing black-on-black though. Makes me feel like a waiter. I pair my black button up with grey pants.

    Reply
    1. Bunny Girl

      I hate clothes shopping, so I tend to find something I like and get a few different colors of it. Target used to have really great V-neck shirts that came in a variety of different colors and I think for years I just wore a different color of those with two different pairs of plain black pants and a cardigan every single day. My work style is dramatically different from my personal style that I really don’t want to have an insane separate wardrobe.

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        I have about a dozen of those Target v-necks, I think. They’ve been a wardrobe staple of mine for ages — with jeans, with a cardigan, as a color-contrast layer under a sweater, tucked into a skirt… my wardrobe is basically Adult Garanimals and anyone who gave me sh*t about it would get my most Liz Lemon eyeroll.

        Reply
        1. Bunny Girl

          This is slightly off topic but can I just say how mad I am that they seemed to have changed the material? When I first started buying them they were reasonably thick and durable. Now when I buy them they last one wash and then they are so thin I have to wear a tank top underneath them at least.

          Reply
          1. AnonEMoose

            I like the t-shirts from Eddie Bauer. Comfortable, durable, and usually has a good variety of colors available.

            Reply
          2. miss_chevious

            Yeah, it’s frustrating that they changed the material for that and their cardigans, which are now paper thin, too. I’ve had decent luck at the Tommy Hilfiger outlet stores for durable t-shirts/cardigans, although their color palette can be limited.

            Reply
      2. Scmill

        Me, too. Before I retired, I wore black pants and a black cardigan or jacket with a colored t-shirt under it every day. That’s pretty much my retirement uniform, too, come to think of it! It’s comfortable and easy to care for. I would just raise an eyebrow at them and then ignore them.

        Reply
      3. Rebecca in Dallas

        I think I have those same v-neck tees! Mine are starting to wear out and I can’t find them any more. RIP :(

        Reply
      4. Nea

        I tend to find something I like and get a few different colors of it

        My entire wardrobe has been based on doing that for years now, with a certain twist – all colors must go with black (office) or denim blue (weekend) and preferably both. Then everything goes with everything.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          everything goes with black, and denim blue (no matter how dark or light) is invisible, so absolutely every color can be worn over a pair of jeans, as well.

          Reply
          1. Nea

            Navy blue, though? I’ve always felt that navy blue and black look like you didn’t check your clothes when you got dressed.

            Reply
            1. Autumnheart

              It depends on the shade of each. If you have an obvious contrast between each (a deep black and a vivid navy) then sure. If they are extremely similar in shade, then it looks like you think they’re the same color. Different fabrics also make a difference, e.g. a shimmery silk blouse and matte rayon pants.

              I find that a lot of people also run into trouble with the hue of their blacks and navys. You get a bluish navy and a yellowish black and it doesn’t look good. This becomes increasingly obvious over time as the dyes in the fabrics fade.

              Reply
      5. TootsNYC

        Decades ago, the Gap had lovely T-shirts with a tailored neck edging, and I just bought four of them every season in whatever the new colors were that I liked.

        Reply
        1. General Ginger

          Their current iteration of the Men’s Classic Tee is surprisingly nice. IDK about Women’s, though.

          Reply
    2. Rebecca in Dallas

      Ha- I don’t like to wear white shirts/tops with black pants for the same reason, I feel like a waiter!

      I’m a mix-and-match dresser myself. Black/gray dress pants + v-neck t-shirt (I also have a couple of patterned shells) + cardigan. If I find something I like and it’s reasonably priced, I’ll buy it in every color it comes in.

      Reply
    3. tab

      I agree! The only thing I miss about being in the Navy (other than being young), is wearing a uniform to work. It makes getting ready for work so easy.

      Reply
    4. Just Elle

      Me too. I only shop at WHBM these days. Each season’s clothes coordinate, and they have lovely ladies working there who pick out the best ones for you if you ask.
      I just try on what they bring me, pick my favorite 10 shirts, blazer, cardigan, 2 pants, 1 skirt. Done. I’m free to resume dressing whilst half awake without anyone noticing.
      PS, wait for a 40% off sale before shopping.

      Reply
  8. Dame Judi Brunch

    Alison is spot on. These people are jerks. You’re fine and so is your wardrobe. I’m so mad on your behalf! What is wrong with people? Between this and the letter yesterday, I just want to crawl into bed.

    Reply
  9. SJPxo

    Why do these types of ‘mean girl’ transition from high school and never seem to mature in to the work place either!
    I say embrace the all black, it looks professional, clean and classic and you’re wearing other lighter coloured cardigans and blouses with them to so it’s not like you’re whole outfit is black. Which by the way would be totally fine cause all black is chic!

    Own it girl, don’t let them make you cry or get you down!

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      I wonder why these immature mean people don’t run into more “squelching” as they move into the work world!

      Why aren’t the grownups around them shutting them down?

      Reply
      1. SJPxo

        Very true, I’d shit this down quick sharpe. I know it’s easy to say that but hard to actually do but by standing up for yourself calmly and calling them out usually puts these people back in their box.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          Maybe us decent people need to practice our “Let’s not make fun of people’s clothes” mild squelching skills and vocabulary.

          “Be the change you want to see in the world!”

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            Especially if it’s someone else, it’s easier to be mild and yet make a point, since you aren’t feeling pressured to defend yourself.

            “Oh my god, there goes Morticia again!”
            *puzzled look* “Why would you call her that?”
            “Because she wears so much black all the time!”
            *puzzled look intensifies* “Okay, and…what’s wrong with that?”
            *sputtering* “Well, you know, it’s boring/she should lighten up once in awhile/etc.”
            *blinking at them with a blank expression, as if truly baffled by the conversation* “Okay but I’m still not seeing why that’s an issue for anyone else but her, and if she’s happy with it, why should the rest of us care?”

            Reply
            1. General Ginger

              Making them explain it is always a good tactic. When I could still get away with “I’m not from the US” (I’ve lived here too long at this point, and putting on an exaggerated accent would only work with strangers) I would absolutely say “Oh, I didn’t grow up here, I don’t understand the reference, please explain” to any number of unpleasant comments.

              Reply
      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        They tend to all find each other…they took over or heaven forbid literally own the place

        Sadly a lot of individuals never grow up. They love to bait and mock others for being “babies” and such. Bro culture extends to women, sickening enough.

        Reply
    2. NLMC

      This is pretty much what I was going to say. Mean girls will always find each other and they will always be the same (obviously not all mean girls, but the ones who never grew up)
      They make themselves feel better by ganging up on people and bond over their shared “superiority.”

      Reply
      1. Marthooh

        I’d be willing to bet* that most of OP’s coworkers are only going along with this because they know if they raise an objection, they’ll be picked on, too.
        _____
        * Smirk, smirk.

        Reply
  10. Be the Change

    I would like to know what dress you get! I’d love to find an all-purpose office dress and wear it every day.

    You sound very nicely turned out. Your coworkers are behaving like mean girls.

    Reply
    1. Lucy

      I managed to find an all-purpose work dress with 3/4 sleeves and bought two – one plain black and one navy with a narrow white stripe. I wear each one at least once a week, alternating with not quite as comfortable dresses which a non-dress-wearer would think were identical, plain and black.

      A friend spotted me in the striped version one day and said she had exactly the same dress and wore it to work at least weekly.

      We exchanged conspiratorial glances.

      It was from the supermarket. She had paid full price (7gbp) and I had got it on sale (1gbp). Even after probably 50-100 wears, they look brand new.

      For work comfort, the plainer the better. Nobody would even notice if you wore plain black trousers (pants) every day for five years with a black tank and a variety of cardigans. Goodness knows why dresses have to meet a different originality standard.

      Reply
        1. plainjane

          yep and every brand, store etc has a sheath dress like this – I have like 20 of them. Can wear plain, with a jacket, with a cardigan and in winter and summer – and 3 or 4 of them are black.

          Reply
    2. CurrentlyLooking

      I have a couple of dresses from Talbots – bought at end of season sale for a very reasonable price – that are perfect for the office or for life in general. One is a short sleeve black shift which can be worn on its own in the warmer months or under a cardigan or jacket. The other is a sleeveless knit shift that is massively comfortable and can be worn with a jacket or cardigan. I purchased mine three years ago but they have similar styles available today (on sale.) I will put links in a separate comment.

      Reply
      1. CurrentlyLooking

        I personally want to buy this – even though I do not need any more black dresses (and I am no longer working so I really don’t need it) – its on sale for $50

        https://www.talbots.com/online/sale/dresses/black/refined-ponte-sheath-dress-prdi46630/N-10598+10189+4294966776?selectedConcept=&akamai-feo=off

        This is pricier but seems very similar to the one I have that is so comfortable and versatile

        https://www.talbots.com/online/sale/dresses/black/italian-luxe-knit-dress-prdi46807/N-10598+10189+4294966776?selectedConcept=

        Reply
    3. media monkey

      i make clothes and i have about 5 or 6 versions of the same pattern in different colours and prints. no one has ever noticed that they are the same (and i would say i wear them about 2 x a week).

      it has a fitted bodice with a scoopy neckline and full skirt.

      Reply
  11. JJJJBBB

    You need to report this harassment to management. It is beyond unprofessional and is moving into legal territory. You have a right to work without being subjected to ridicule. If you are a good employee, they should help you. If not, you are definitely right to move on.

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I think the co-workers are jackasses, but I don’t see how they’re doing anything illegal. They don’t seem to be harassing the OP in a way that should send her to a lawyer. She’s the victim of snide gossip, yes, and I don’t want to diminish that, but I don’t think they’re doing anything that requires a lawyer.

      Reply
    2. Jessie the First (or second)

      IAbsent, like, a novels-worth of different and additional information, this isn’t any kind of legal issue. It’s just jerky people being jerks.

      Reply
    3. Not a Lawyer

      But what if there’s a male coworker who has a work uniform, yet he gets no snide remarks on always wearing the same suit? Why is OP being singled out by these coworkers for having her own work uniform (that happens to involve a black dress)?

      I definitely think there’s a gendered component here, assuming OP has male coworkers who have their own work uniform but don’t receive unwanted attention for it. And if that’s the case, I definitely think the daily comments, though not severe, are very frequent. Of course, I’m not a lawyer, and I know it’d still be quite a stretch to call it sexual harassment, but I don’t think it’s an insurmountable stretch? Maybe?

      Reply
      1. Jessie the First (or second)

        I agree there is a “gendered component” to this but that does not equal legal liability. Sexual harassment is a very, very high bar and daily snide comments about how a person is always wearing black just isn’t going to meet that – even if a similarly situated male employee also wears black daily and doesn’t get comments.

        It’s rude and gendered, but that’s not the same as harassment or discrimination in the eyes of the law. The bar is way, way higher (and not only higher – but just in need of an entirely different set of facts, frankly).

        Reply
  12. kristinyc

    Do you live in NYC? If not… I suggest you’d consider it. Your style would fit right in! :)

    Also, Morticia Addams is the best.

    Reply
    1. DAMitsDevon

      Haha, I was thinking the same thing. Wearing all or mostly black is so common here, even when it comes to dressing casual on the weekends/outside of work.

      Reply
    2. Olive Hornby

      Ha, yes, I was going to say–OP, come join us in New York! I can’t say we’ve solved the nasty coworkers problem, but your clothing choices will fit in beautifully.

      Reply
    3. ANon.

      The black clothing in my wardrobe increased like 200% when I moved to NYC.

      My aunt who has lived in NYC for decades will ONLY wear black. She wore a black dress to her wedding (second marriage, but still).

      Reply
      1. The Tourist

        The first time I visited London it was in the spring and I brought lets of brightly colored clothing, jackets and NO black shoes. It felt like a neon sign pointing to my head flashing “TOURIST!”.

        Reply
    4. jack

      A recent move to Southern California has let me know that my wardrobe trends a little darker than most people’s but no one’s said anything to me for god’s sake.

      Reply
    5. emmelemm

      Yeah, when I lived in New York, it seemed to me that everybody wore all black, all the time. I actually had a very chic, high-powered lady boss who wore mostly black. I remember one day she came to work in a black skirt and a very dark-drab olive sweater, and by around lunchtime she actually said, “This is just too much color.”

      Reply
    6. boo bot

      Ha, for real! I’ve lived in NYC for most of my adult life, and in the past couple of years I started needing to travel more, both for work and personal reasons. I didn’t understand why I was getting so many funny looks until a couple of people commented on my clothes… That said, no one was ever rude to me about it! (Also, “I’m from NY,” has been a full and sufficient explanation for everyone I’ve ever encountered.)

      This experience actually made me start buying some clothing that wasn’t black, and now my NY friends tease me (just because I always used to wear black, not because it’s mandatory here!)

      Reply
      1. pleaset

        Yeah. I had a friend from rural Ontario who lived in NYC for ten years and adopted our style in terms of a lot of black. Then she moved to Kentucky or Tennessee and people there thought she was a vampire or something.

        Reply
    7. Jessee

      “I’m just like any modern woman trying to have it all. Loving husband, a family. It’s just… I wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade.” – Morticia Adams

      Maybe have some fun with the comment at the co-worker’s expense.

      Reply
    8. Working Mom Having It All

      Yeah, I was going to take a slightly different tack and ask where this office is located.

      I lived in NYC for 12 years and started my career there. Basic black was the way to go everywhere. A few years ago I moved to California, and while black is fine here, in my experience people are more casual and at work there is more branching out to other neutrals. I also see more basics in bolder colors and more up to the minute fashion in general.

      I grew up in the South, and to this day my mom tries to get me to wear pastels regularly and in passive aggressive ways. I’m fairly sure that OP’s office uniform would get noticed there, if not commented upon. It’s still rude to say anything, though!

      Reply
    9. MP

      These co-workers are jerks to make fun of her clothing like that.

      However, I also want to say I don’t get why NYC is considered so fashionable – all they wear is black! I’m really into fashion and am always super disappointed at what actual new york city dwellers wear. So boring and monotonous. I remember the first time I visited in summer 2003, when bright colors were just the HOTTEST thing going at the moment – and all black. Blech. Maybe it keeps the dirt at bay?

      Please go to the south and see what gorgeous clothes are. The first nice day in spring I call “sundress day”. It’s like all the fashionable girls get the memo and we all wear pretty sundresses for the first time of the season :-)

      Reply
      1. Lurker

        NYC is considered fashionable because that’s where the designers who make the high-end clothes that inspire your off-the-rack sundresses live. The designer may wear black, but their designs aren’t always black. New York is where trends start. Remember that scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Meryl Streep’s character explains that the schlubby blue sweater Anne Hathaway’s character is wearing is a direct trickle-down result from the fashion houses? They choose which colors and patterns will be trendy for the next season and show up in retail for us common folk. Finally, I would point out there’s more to fashion than simply color. There’s cut, texture, pattern, hardware, etc.

        (Disclaimer: I am not remotely into fashion, but recognize its influence on mainstream.)

        Reply
    10. zaracat

      Melbourne, Australia, is the same. We have an ongoing love affair with black clothing. And why not? It is perfect for everywhere from the opera to the beach (or at least aqua fitness classes – seriously, about 90% of the women in my class have black swimsuits); and in a workplace where you are free to choose what you wear no-one would blink an eye if you wore black every single day of your working life.

      LW, your colleagues are being serious jerks about this. Black is classy and stylish – everything they are not.

      Reply
  13. WhiskeyTango

    As someone who regularly wears black, I’m dying to know more about this dress. Who makes it? My go to dresses are longer and I wouldn’t mind mixing it up with something shorter.

    And ignore them. My mom has been trying for years to get me to wear more color. (I was never goth either… but I’m in my 40s now and we still talk about it.) Finally I told her, “I don’t like what pink says about me as a person.” That put an end to it.

    Reply
      1. Kitryan

        My mom’s always had good taste and would say that black is slimming and classic. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, so in pictures from bar/bat mitzvah years, homecoming, and prom, everyone’s in these floral and/or frilly Jessica McClintock nightmares and I still look good :)

        Reply
    1. AKchic

      Saaaaaame with my mother.

      I *was* (am?) goth as a kid. I’ve grown up and still veer towards black as my signature color/look. My mother grew up in the 70’s and decided that since I was born in the early 80’s, I was her Barbie doll and pastels were the *only* thing for her darling girl children. Especially pink. I was a tomboy. I loathe pink. Her and my grandmother both were very much all about dressing me and my sister up like little dolls, complete with white gloves and patent leather shoes.
      My sister still likes to dress up (granted, she looks ridiculous and cheap, she’s like a racoon – anything shiny and colorful); but I still won’t do pastels, pinks, flower print, or wild/loud styles. Black is my signature look, and my mother and I, even though I’m nearing 40, still argue about it. We work in the same place and she tried to play the “we have a dress code, you need to wear X” in order to try to get me to conform to her fashion choices. (We have no dress code, and I made sure to confirm it before starting here)
      I have a feeling she will argue with me about my clothing choices until the day she dies.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        On my desk, I have the most adorable picture of my daughter. It’s her first Valentines Day, so she’s less than a year old, and she’s wearing a black dress. (Sadly, Zutano doesn’t seem to have the LBD for toddlers right now, but they do have a nice neutral grey – link in my user name.)

        Reply
      2. TypoCentral

        I kinda dig your sister :) I don’t have the courage anymore to wear the shinies, though I love them still.

        Reply
    2. Slow Gin Lizz

      Great line! I think it would work well in a myriad of circumstances. “I don’t want to [do activity]. I don’t like what it says about me as a person.” I plan to commit that line to memory and break it out whenever necessary!

      Reply
    3. Thursday Next

      I didn’t wear pink until I was 28. I think the pink clothes of my youth were very pastel, which didn’t appeal to me. Then I discovered that fuschia looks great with dark skin, and doesn’t seem to read as girlish as much as energetic.

      Reply
      1. Master Bean Counter

        Oh the pastels! As a petite woman I’ve had about 15 spring seasons in my life where I just stopped buying clothes. Just because I’m short doesn’t mean I like pastels.

        Reply
      2. pleaset

        If we’re going to make possibly offensive generalizations, I think girls and young women should wear less pink. Men should wear more.

        And more flowers. Men should wear more flowers.

        Which I did – had a bunch of flower and paisley print pants when I was a young man – but that’s not really office attire….

        Reply
      3. Hrovitnir

        Oh man, yes. I would say I’m not a fan of pink, except I certainly am a fan of intense “hot pink”. And I think intense colours look incredible against dark skin, it’s stunning.

        And re: women wearing less pink/men wearing more, I definitely think men should wear more colours that are coded feminine for sure (there are subcultures where men wearing a specific pink is totally A-OK, but that still has no impact on the overall negative reaction to men wearing any colours coded feminine, it’s just an exception). I don’t think pressure for women to not wear colours coded feminine is a net positive though – there are lots of reasons women are attracted or put off by a lot of pink and it’s really a no-win situation so I believe strongly in supporting what makes people happy. Even if I do sigh internally when kids soak up aggressive gendering.

        Reply
  14. sheworkshardforthemoney

    The next time you hear a comment about your clothes you could ask, “Do you have an issue with the way I dress?” Don’t say anything else, just wait for the response. Only a truly serious jerk would double down and try to explain their position.

    Reply
    1. Sunny

      Or maybe, a long slow up-and-down look at the offender and an icy, “You have an issue with the way *I* dress?”

      Emphasis on the “I.”

      Reply
    2. MLB

      I would go with “I don’t remember asking for your opinion on my outfit.” I don’t really like confrontation, but if someone were to feel the need to make comments about my outfits all the time, you bet your ass I would bite back. I guarantee if they were confronted they’d back off – it’s classic bully behavior.

      Reply
  15. new year, same me

    As someone whose wardrobe is 80 – 90% black clothing, your coworkers would pick on me too. You’re dressing just fine. *eye roll*

    Hope you get out of there soon.

    Reply
  16. Crow Taylor

    I wear all black to work and have for years. Your coworkers are jerks. No one has ever accused me of being unprofessional in my attire. Hell, I wear black business suits with patent leather Dr. Martens and no one has accused me of being unprofessional. You’re fine.

    Reply
    1. Everdene

      I’m slightly worried your actually Oak and I didn’t know you commented here.

      More than once we’ve met after work for dinner or cinema trips and I’m slightly embarrassed we are both in black suits and boots like a his’n’hers funeral to interview set. But, you know, we cope.

      Reply
  17. StressedButOkay

    This is 100% on your coworkers and not on you, OP. Which makes it hard, because there’s not much you can actively do about it except get out of there since it’s taking a toll on you. Wearing black, and pairing it with other colors!, is absolutely fine for office wear.

    With it being so bad, if you can talk to your supervisor or HR, I would highly recommend it. (Unless they’re in on it, ugh.)

    Reply
  18. Rezia

    I wonder what they’d say if you politely but pointedly said, “what’s your problem with my work outfit?” then waited until they came up with a reason (and hopefully realize how stupid this all is.)
    Your coworkers are not just behaving unprofessionally, they are being mean.

    Reply
  19. Peachywithasideofkeen

    What the heck? I wear almost all black all the time too and no one has ever commented on it. I either wear black tights with black booties and a dress (most of which are black with stripes or a pattern or just all black) or black pants with a plain colored top and a black cardigan. Your coworkers definitely are jerks!

    Reply
    1. Birch

      You just described my wardrobe exactly, just add in a couple of navy dresses too. Never have I gotten a comment unless I wear something more colorful, and then it’s a “ooh, what’s the occasion? Doing something nice after work?”

      Professional work uniforms are great! You’re presenting a consistent, professional appearance and professional black looks good on everyone and can be easily dressed up or down. OP, your coworkers are snarking not because of your wardrobe, they’re snarking because they’re jerks and can’t find anything actually wrong with you!

      Reply
  20. Lurker

    Move to New York City where black is worn year round (even in the dead heat of August)! I have a friend who only wears black for several reasons: she has black cats, so it shows less cat hair; it goes with everything; it doesn’t show dirt/stains as easily; it’s slimming; and it ages well (as long as you don’t let it get too faded). Every so often she might wear a crisp white shirt but 99% of the time it’s all black.

    Reply
    1. Lurker

      Also, sometimes in my office when we have staff meetings and there are a few people *not* wearing black, the Director will comment because it’s so unusual for most of us to be wearing something other than black.

      Reply
    2. Parenthetically

      “as long as you don’t let it get too faded”

      I’ve re-dyed MANY an article of black clothing! Couple bottles of Rit dye in a hot wash makes everything look brand new again!

      Reply
      1. Dr. Pepper

        Yup! When it gets faded, you can re-dye it easily and cheaply. Can’t do that with any other color and have it come out looking exactly the same as when it was new. Black is highly practical.

        Reply
        1. 30 Years in the Biz

          I redye my blue jeans, navy cotton cardigans, and slim fit cotton pants with Rit or procion dye. Also works really well. Navy is my black :)

          Reply
      2. Lurker

        Good to know, but difficult to implement in NYC where most people either send their laundry out, or have to use laundromats/shared laundry rooms. I would be really upset if someone re-dyed their black clothes in a shared washer and residual dye stained my laundry!

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          And many laundromats forbid it anyway. A decent, responsible person will clean the machine according to package directions, though — hot water, soap, and bleach the minute the black clothes come out.

          Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          I can’t remember where I saw the tip first but shoot it works so well (and then bonus: all your black clothes are the SAME BLACK)!

          Reply
    3. The New Wanderer

      Exactly what I was going to say! I lived in a NYC-adjacent area and my wardrobe at the time was probably 90% black and gray, because that’s what people wore. My mom used to complain about the lack of color, but she was the only one. #momsamirite

      However, coworkers complaining about a perfectly normal wardrobe that is well within professional norms should be considered weird no matter where you live. Incidentally one of my coworkers appears to have the same clothing style (black dresses, colorful accessories), and I bet I may be the only person who notices and only because I really like the skater style dresses.

      Reply
    4. Ginger

      I’m in NYC… black is a favorite in August because it hides sweat. And it translates into every office.

      OP – I wish I could give you a non-creepy hug. Workplace bullies suck. Keep your chin up, you’re fine. Your black dresses are awesome and good luck with the job hunt! I hope you get out of there ASAP.

      Reply
  21. Ruth

    As a consultant who travels, I pretty much do Black or Navy and that’s it. Makes it so much easier to pack!

    Also, capsule wardrobes are things to aspire to.

    Your co-workers are hopelessly behind the fashion times and enormous jerks!

    Proudly wear your black pieces, looking chic and put together. They’ll just keep being their unhappy, petty selves.

    Reply
  22. La Framboise

    What woman at work doesn’t wear black all the time? Black it up, girl, I’m betting you look great and they are jealous.

    Reply
          1. Temperance

            I don’t think this is even a little true. It’s a weird stereotype. My org has a New York office, and I regularly go to other New York offices, and this is not a thing.

            Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        Also moms of small children, because that’s the color that survives in our wardrobe through multiple drippy encounters.

        Reply
    1. Rebecca in Dallas

      This! I love color but my sister wears black almost exclusively. I always think she looks so chic! Plus it makes your accessories pop more, she always has a great scarf or earrings.

      Reply
    2. MissGirl

      I actually love colors and want to invest in more patterns. At one point I looked in my closet and all I owned was jeans and white shirts. I decided to start having more fun with my wardrobe.

      The point isn’t that either choice is wrong or right, it’s that to each their own. The coworkers need to keep their thoughts to themselves.

      OP should feel free to wear what makes her comfortable within her company’s dress code.

      Reply
      1. Jaz

        I appreciate you bringing this up! I work with kids with behavioral disorders, and wearing fun colors and patterns actually makes me better at my job! The kids are more interested in interacting with me when I can use my bright, colorful clothes as an icebreaker.

        I’ve been teased once or twice by coworkers, though, so I brought it up with a supervisor to make sure what I was wearing was acceptable. She reassured me that bright colors can be as professional as blacks and tans, if done tastefully, and complimented me on finding such a fun professional wardrobe.

        No need to follow OP’s coworkers example and start acting like only certain colors are acceptable in the workplace! Black is great, colors can be great too :)

        Reply
      1. Another worker bee

        +1! I don’t have the complexion where I can wear black (shirts, anyway) and not look like I’m deathly ill.

        Reply
  23. Anon, not in the US

    Okay, so first – your coworkers are absolute jerks, and you absolutely do not need to change your wardrobe to please them.

    But there are a couple of easy changes you could make, if you think it would make things easier for you while you’re trying to get out of there. You could try some non-black scarves, or big coloured necklaces, or even some funky shoes, if you want to brighten things up a bit. Again, you 100% should not have to do this! But it might be worth giving it a try, if you think it’ll get them to STFU about your wardrobe for a while.

    Reply
    1. Old Millennial

      The OP has already said she wears a variety of light colored cardigans and has a blazer on hand for more formal events. The idea to add pops of color/variety with accessories is generally good, but it sounds like she’s already got that covered.

      Reply
    2. SignalLost

      Why? The problem isn’t what she’s wearing and she’s not asking for advice on fashion. The problem is that her coworkers are jerks and have her half-convinced her clothing will be a problem at figure workplaces.

      Reply
      1. Jessen

        Eh, I think that fits into dealing with what you’ve got, not what should be happening. Her office mates have a ridiculous hang-up on clothing. She shouldn’t have to do anything about that, but if she’d like to because it’s making her life harder, it’s an option.

        Reply
        1. Matilda Jefferies

          That’s what I was going for, and I tried to make it clear in my post. (Forgot to change my name from yesterday!) Obviously she *shouldn’t* have to, and she also *doesn’t* have to, but sometimes there’s value in taking the path of least resistance.

          Reply
        2. Dr. Pepper

          Except it probably won’t make her life any easier. They feel compelled and entitled to comment on her attire, so what makes you think they’re going to magically stop if she wears something different? If anything, it’ll fuel their fire because now she has responded to their ridiculous taunting. It’s a power play on their part. Don’t fall for it.

          Reply
      2. Temperance

        Because, like it or not, she’s standing out with her choices to the point that people take bets on whether she’ll show up in all black. She doesn’t want to be noticed/singled out for her wardrobe choices.

        Reply
        1. SignalLost

          These are people who already feel like they can make comments on her clothing. Changing her clothing just tells them they have power over her choices. I don’t see any impetus for the coworkers to stop their crap if she concedes and changes how she dresses. They’ll just find another complaint to make about her clothes. And it will be tinged with the recognition that she already appeased them once, so how much do they have to do to get her to do it again?

          Reply
  24. Everdene

    I’ve shaken up my work clothes today, I’m wearing a grey dress with a black cardi – so daring! Seriously 1 probably have 4-5 black dresses and 3-4 blue dresses, all of which look good with the black jacket hanging next to my desk. Your colleagues are arsese.

    In a former job it took me about 3 months to realise my shopping addict colleague only ever wore white shirts and black trousers, she just had infinite combinations to cover any situation and temperature. Once I realised I was impressed rather than mocking.

    Reply
  25. LQ

    I made a concerted effort this year to change out all my clothes for a standard work uniform (all dresses, all the same cut, but different colors and patterns). A few people noticed and commented (nearly always positive, cute dress etc), and a few people noticed that I’d stopped wearing anything else. But aside from a couple close people commenting on how very me it was to take decision making out of the clothing process (which was what it was), they’ve all stopped (aside from the occasional “cute dress”). No one takes bets on if I’m going to wear jeans on Fridays.

    What I’m saying is, some comment on it if you did a big shift in the kind of clothes you wore is pretty normal, but if it’s been more than a couple months and people haven’t moved onto something else then you have a SERIOUS workplace problem. And those people clearly need more work if they don’t have anything better to do than gossip about what you are wearing! Where people are coming from is a workplace culture horror show that they got trapped in and don’t know how to escape. You can’t help them escape, but you can’t let yourself get sucked into it. This is 100% about them– and based on what you’ve said about your clothes– 0% about you because a black dress with a neutral cardigan is really normal (and quite frankly even if you were hardcore goth style Morticia looking at work it would still be about them).

    It’s not you. It’s them.

    Reply
    1. Arjay

      Mean girls are going to mean no matter what.
      Also, people make stupid comments in the name of small talk all the time. At one point in my life, I almost never wore skirts or dresses. On the rare occasion that I did, people would frequently say, “Oh my God, you have legs!” Yes, yes, I do. What did you think I was hiding in my trousers that whole time?
      Now I wear dresses most of the time, even though my company recently went to casual dress every day. People still comment, “Arjay, you’re wearing jeans! You never wear jeans!” And yet, here I am, wearing jeans.

      Reply
  26. annakarina1

    This is so frustrating, I’m sorry you’re getting so much crap from your co-workers. I tend to like to dress in dark colors, and I’ve also gotten crap from people for not wearing brighter colors, or not looking “feminine” enough in bright, girly colors. I got a whole bunch of pink and purple tops/sweaters for Christmas last year, and felt like it was a not-subtle push by my family to wear more colorful outfits, but I just like darker colors or muted colors.

    Reply
  27. Sara without an H

    You have a remarkably childish and immature set of co-workers. Ignore them.

    Your wardrobe sounds fine, is probably economical to maintain, and should work in a variety of industries. Go out and get a kick-ass job that will make them green with envy.

    And good goddess — do not let them make you cry! They’re not worth it.

    Reply
  28. Autumnheart

    As long as you’re applying out, why not make these people really uncomfortable in return? Start parting your hair in the middle and wearing it down, maybe some bold eyeshadow and red lipstick, and next time you hear someone talking about your clothes, just walk right up and say, “HI. How’s everyone doing today? What are we talking about?”

    Reply
  29. Allison

    When I was new at my current job, one coworker noticed that I wore a lot of red. He was not wrong. I wasn’t wearing bright red pantsuits or anything, no, just red, work-appropriate dresses. And my hair was red. It was pretty obvious I liked that color. Anyway, this coworker wouldn’t stop commenting on it – he commented when I did wear red, and he commented when I did not wear red, really every day he noted whether I was or was not wearing red. He drove me crazy. Please, people, never do this, it’s not how you become friendly with new people, especially young women at work.

    Reply
    1. CommanderBanana

      THANK YOU. I also wear a lot of red, mostly red and black, and rarely wear pants, and it’s super annoying when I deviate and someone has to point it out. Stahhhhp.

      Reply
    2. Not that Anne, the other Anne

      I used to wear a lot of blue, because blue in all of its shades looks good on me and it’s also my favorite color (possibly these two facts are correlated). I wasn’t self-conscious about it until an older male coworker asked if I was the Blue Power Ranger in disguise.

      Just don’t.

      Reply
    3. AnonyMouse

      Why do people feel the need to do things like this? I’m referring to the commenting on every little thing they notice about a person. I had a coworker who did this with my arrival time everyday. It didn’t matter if I walked in at 7:55 am, 8:00 am, 8:07 am, 8:15 am, etc. they ALWAYS had something to say about it. Something about it just made me really uncomfortable knowing someone was like… monitoring my behavior like that.

      Reply
  30. OITNB

    I propose that you wear all-orange one day, with a neutral cardigan of your choosing. When someone makes a comment, you can pause and say, “Haven’t you hear?” *lowers sunglasses to bridge of nose* “Orange is the new black.” And walk away.

    Reply
  31. Parenthetically

    “There goes Morticia again!”

    “Haha, oh gosh, thank you, I always loved Morticia growing up, such a fashion icon, amirite? You know, you look great in black, too, Jane! Isn’t it the most versatile? You are absolutely right, you can never have too many sharp black dresses!”

    Kill ’em with kindness. Confuse the hell out of ’em.

    Reply
    1. AKchic

      Or… “my, where *have* I heard that before…? Oh, right. You. Yesterday. And the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. My dear, have you never heard of originality? Well, I guess if you think calling me Morticia is insulting, I guess you wouldn’t be able to come up with anything clever and original, hmmm? I think it’s time to stop focusing so much on my clothing and start focusing on what you get paid for, okay?”

      Reply
    2. Rusty Shackelford

      With a HUGE, delighted smile.

      “There goes Morticia again!”

      “Oh, THANK YOU. That’s so sweet!”

      Reply
  32. TC

    Jerks be jerks. I’ve been told I wear too many colours. Your coworkers are just deeply unhappy people and you deserve to work somewhere where your clothes aren’t a focus.

    Reply
  33. knitcrazybooknut

    So sorry you’re going through this, OP. Not sure if you’ll get the reference, but when I wear all black, I’ll often step forward and offer my hand for a handshake, saying, “Hello. I’m Johnny Cash.”

    (Fewer people are getting the joke lately. I may have to start using a Wednesday Addams reference.)

    You’ll get a bunch of “I do this too!” in the comments. Here’s one more. Don’t change. You do you. Just know that those people are jerkfaces and there’s no way you could please them. So you might as well please yourself. Solidarity.

    Reply
    1. Kill ItWithFIre

      Ah Wednesday Adams. I want to dress like an adult, semi-business version of Wednesday Adams. Maybe borrowing a few pieces from Moira off of Schitt’s Creek.

      Reply
  34. Call me St. Vincent

    You should proudly tell them that black is the new black!

    Seriously though, I am really sorry. Black is the most chic color. In the fashion world, it is very common for people to wear all black all the time! Your co-workers are not only jerks, but they also know nothing about style. Rock on with the black!

    Reply
    1. Lucy

      Absolutely. My literal fashion designer friend wears black skinnies and black tank plus every single workday. It’s definitely a thing.

      Reply
      1. Birch

        This. Same as that annoying person who comments on anything just to get you riled up. “ooh you must really like oranges, you eat one every day” “yes.. I do like oranges…” “ooh look at you with your travel coffee mug” “yes, I like to bring my own coffee…?” It’s never about what you’re actually doing, it’s just them wanting you to feel weird about something that is not weird at all.

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          Yes! It’s “I’ve decided this person is weird, so my antipathy has to find something to land on.” It’s liquid bullying, and if OP stops wearing black, the comments will just pour themselves into the next container — OP’s makeup or lack thereof, speech patterns, etc. etc.

          Reply
        2. Kill ItWithFIre

          Heh, my response to those people is an uncomfortably long stare with a moderately aggressive eyebrow. They don’t talk to me about BS for very long. But I am also all-black-wearing and kind of famous for not giving a crap about co-workers yammering unless it relates to work.

          Reply
      2. AnonEMoose

        Yep. This. This is classic middle school mean girl behavior. Social isolation – nitpicking stuff like this is part of the pattern.

        Reply
      3. sourgold

        Thiiiis. If OP was wearing bright cherry red or leopard prints, they’d still judge her for it. It’s an ostracism technique.

        Reply
    1. Lurker

      Umm, I’m fairly certain Tea Earl Grey. Hot. was being rhetorical/sarcastic with her/his question. (As mentioned several times, black clothing is ubiquitous in NYC.)

      Reply
  35. Anon and on and on

    Shaking it up might not even help. These people are so rude they’ll just switch to snide comments about how she’s wearing something different.

    Reply
    1. Dr. Pepper

      This exactly. When people are overly concerned about what you wear (or any personal appearance choices), changing it up is just going to goad them into further comment. They have made it A Thing, and no matter what you do, it’ll remain A Thing because these people seriously suck.

      I had a colleague who thought the fact that I wore my hair exactly the same way everyday was worthy of comment. It was incredibly tiresome, and when I, for reasons completely unrelated to him (because of course it was a dude) decided on a different hairstyle one day, you’d have thought I had come to work in a clown costume for the fuss he made. Fortunately it was just one weird guy and not a group of them. Still, highly stupid.

      Reply
    2. Marthooh

      And if… I mean when OP leaves this poisonous place, they’ll find someone else to pick on, over some equally innocuous trait.

      Reply
  36. M. Albertine

    I may just be contrary, but I would start sweeping by the offenders’ desks first thing in the morning and saying “Just want to get the Fashion Police’s comments about my outfit this morning!” My guess is that it would take a lot of fun out of the “game” if you forced it on them on a time of your choosing.

    Reply
    1. Matilda Jefferies

      I would LOVE to see this! I mean, OP probably shouldn’t actually do it, but it’s lots of fun to imagine.

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        I actually think with the right amount of cheekiness, somebody could pull this off.

        “Whaddaya think of Morticia’s ensemble today, gals? Funereal enough for ya?” *wink*

        Reply
  37. Seal

    Your coworkers are jerks. Not to bring politics into this, but the first person that came to mind when I read the OP’s description of her wardrobe was Elizabeth Warren. She always wears brightly colored jackets and blazers over black pants and a black shell. Nothing fancy or fussy but always looks professional. Why would anyone get worked up over that?

    Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      Because finding a thing to be worked up about is their hobby. If LW were to teleport into a similar office without the emotional aspect of being trapped in this one, I suspect it would be very observing-ape-troop sociology: “Fergus is mad about the feedback on the Culpepper account, but his boss will give him a worse assignment if he complains, so he goes looking for a low status member of the troop to belittle for a while…”

      Reply
  38. Falling Diphthong

    The culture at my company has gotten so bad.

    LW, I suspect that if your coworkers suddenly stopped commenting on your clothes tomorrow (which they won’t) you would realize there were a dozen other awful things happening. If you update in a year, I suspect it will be a “So the comments on my clothes were a metaphor for the deep disfunction across multiple levels…”

    Reply
    1. LQ

      This is such a good point. This letter feels very much like some of the updates that ended up being, things got so much worse, or (hopefully for this LW!) I got out shortly thereafter and wow did I not realize how rough things had been, I’m so much happier in a workplace with mostly adults. (Because there will always be some jerks, but there is a difference between culture of bees and one or two jerks you mostly can avoid.)

      Reply
  39. AnonymousReaderNorthEast

    Your co-workers sound really mean and abusive, and you need to defend yourself. If someone makes a comment about your choice of color to wear at work again, call them out on it politely. Say something, “Are you telling me it’s not okay to wear a neutral color at work, and are you judging me for it?” and whatever else you think is appropriate enough to say to stop it.
    If I were you, I’d go to the HR immediately to file a complaint about hostile work environment and harassment.

    Reply
  40. Beehoppy

    I prefer bright fun colors. But every dress/top/pair of pants I like is almost universally offered in black and maybe a few other muted shades, but rarely anything fun. What this tells me is your look is far more common than mine. To heck with those jerks!

    Reply
  41. Lily in NYC

    My sister overheard my 4-year old niece telling her friend that her mommy (my sister) has to wear a uniform to work. My sister said “What? I don’t wear a uniform to work” and my niece responded: “You mean you don’t have to wear black every day?”

    Reply
  42. CatCat

    I’ve even overheard people gossiping about me and taking bets on what I will wear to off-site work functions

    I’m wondering if OP can also shut this down in the moment (if OP is comfortable with that.)

    Coolly, calmly,something like…

    “It’s weird that you’re so fixated on my professional attire. Please stop it.”

    “You’re taking bets about my clothing? That’s really bizarre. Please stop it.”

    No need to engage further or get into a discussion. Just walk away after delivering your message.

    Your coworkers are a-holes, but sometimes calling such people out will be effective.

    Reply
    1. Manchmal

      I would do a version of this with a big grin. “There goes Morticia again!” Response: “it is so funny how obsessed you are with my work clothes!” Look at them for a moment grinning in wonder. Then walk away. Don’t let them see you mad, annoyed, or unnerved. This way they have something to feel self conscious about and not the other way around. The OPs fashion choices require zero defense or explanation!

      Reply
      1. Jaz

        I used to work with a really horrible boss who loved to make fun of my weight and wardrobe with her assistant. At the time I was still very new to the work world and my only response was to cry on my way home. However, when it happened again several years later at a new workplace (special ed can be surprisingly toxic) I was ready. One day when I overheard a nasty comment, I turned with a smile and said, “Wait, didn’t you talk about this yesterday? Do you guys talk about me every day?” then laughed and walked away.

        Reply
  43. Annonomouse

    They have obviously never been to NYC where women wear black work attire all year long! Sorry they are so toxic..

    Reply
  44. Karmi

    OMG. I don’t comment here much, but I had to say that your coworkers are nasty jerks. I also wear lots of black to work, and if anyone made those remarks to me I’d be very upset. Those assholes obviously have too much time on their hands. I’m actually very upset for you. So sorry you have to deal with this!

    Reply
  45. Ruth (UK)

    I have a work ‘uniform’ and it’s great. When I started my new job which required smart/casual (my previous jobs had actual uniforms), I bought the same pair of black trousers three times and the same shirt (in a few different colours/patterns eg. dark blue, black and white check, blue with small white dots etc) 5 times, and the same cardigan twice, once in grey, once in dark green. I wear it every day and have never had a comment, and it makes mornings super easy in terms of finding what to wear. I have a colleague who wears mostly black, and mostly black dresses every day.

    Op’s co-workers are being jerks and as difficult as it is to ignore it when you’re the one being targeted, I hope OP can see that they’re not the one in the wrong, and let it affect them as little as possible.

    Reply
  46. Bday Girl

    Try challenging them in the moment. “What exactly is wrong with me wearing basic black coordinates?” Make them explain themselves. I doubt they could come up with a valid reason other than one related to their own preferences. Sounds like you have a very decent staple wardrobe. Own it.

    Reply
    1. Karmi

      Oh, I like this. Put them on the spot. They’ll have trouble coming up with an intelligent answer and they’ll feel like the idiots they are.

      Reply
  47. Doodle

    Wearing today: Black chunky heeled slides, black tights, black dress with some orange patterning, black cardigan with black beading, pearls, black victorian-ish earrings, black bracelet.

    My workclothes are mostly black pants, black tights, black pumps or slides or boots, black sweaters/blouses/tops, black cardigan, black suit jacket, black or mostly black dresses, black and black-with-red very long scarves (channeling Martha Graham). Plus some red dresses and tops and a slammin long purple/fuschia sweater shawl that lives in my office because otherwise I’d freeze. That’s what I wear for working in the office, giving presentations to an auditorium full of prospective students and their parents, running the U curriculum committee, meeting with deans…

    Your colleagues are gigantic A$$holes (jerk is an insufficient term). If you can, I’d say toss the awkward back at em. Or hand them some snark: If they call you Morticia, batt your eyelashes and say, yes, Gomez just adores me, don’t be jealous! Or if they make some remark about wearing black again, smile sweetly and say, “Bless your heart!” (this is not a compliment) or, “Why thank you! I love this dress, I’m so glad you do too!” Or, “Yes, I am. I see you’re wearing orange again, is it your favorite color?”

    Reply
  48. Indie

    “Actually I’m Wednesday” *gives creepy trademark smile*
    Seriously though: Morticia rocks, she is passionate, involved, has healthy relationships and is an absolute badass. I’d own it.
    People who think black is too severe are clearly too saccharine and Disneyfied even for Camp Chippewa. I would try to get as much entertainment value out of their oddities as you can in your remaining time there.

    Reply
    1. BadWolf

      Amanda: ‘Why are you dressed like that?’

      Wednesday: ‘Like what?’

      Amanda: ‘Like you’re going to a funeral. Why are you dressed like somebody died?’

      Wednesday: ‘Wait.’

      Reply
  49. DCompliance

    As an Italian from New Jersey, I cannot live without my black dresses. Anyway, these people sound like they are jealous of how put together you look.

    Reply
    1. CurrentlyLooking

      The LW said that the office is “business casual” so maybe everyone else is wearing khaki’s with a polo shirt – a la Jake from State Farm.

      Reply
  50. agnes

    hm….im wearing a black skirt, shoes, top, and sweater. Yesterday I wore black pants, black and white patterned shirt, and the same black sweater. Tomorrow I will probably wear another pair of black pants, maybe a white shirt, and a black blazer.

    Your colleagues are being jerks. Muster up a bit of indignation and call them out on it. I would be so tempted to say “yes I like to look professional rather than looking like I work at Buckle (or AF, or Hot Topic, or Apostrophe).

    Reply
  51. I'm A Little Teapot

    I’m the opposite of many people here – I very rarely wear black (white cat) or white (black cat + stains). But I don’t pick on someone who’s wearing all black! That’s just jerky.

    Reply
  52. CommanderBanana

    Your coworkers are jerks and it sounds like it’s a spillover from the generally toxic culture. They also sound like they don’t have enough to do. Godspeed to you getting out of there!

    Reply
  53. Akcipitrokulo

    Your co-workers are jerks. One of most respected colleagues here hasn’t worn anything but black for years and people know how good she is at her job. You’re fine.

    Reply
    1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw

      I bought a hot pink suit on eBay for a Halloween costume once (I was Elle Woods from Legally Blonde). At the time, I reasoned with myself that maybe I could reuse it as a work outfit.

      I have not, in fact, used it as a work outfit. Turns out that hot pink doesn’t jive with my coloring, especially if I’m not wearing the blonde wig.

      Reply
  54. Gwen

    We have opposite styles, but my go-to option when someone makes a snide comment about my clothes is an enthusiastic, “Thank you!” Someone calls you Morticia? “She’s the greatest, isn’t she??” Act like OF COURSE they intended to compliment you and they will generally be confused into submission OR be forced to actually say something rude, at which point you can say, “Oh, well, I’m the one who’s wearing it, and I like it, so that’s all that matters.”

    Reply
  55. AnonEMoose

    Very casual office. Currently wearing black jeans, a black and white patterned sweater, and black tennis shoes. I pretty much wear jeans, a plain t-shirt or sweater, and sometimes a jacket or scarf year-round.

    Reply
    1. SignalLost

      I dress like a Disney princess gone business punk. Today I am wearing an actual tiara with a hipster skirt-suit (the skirt is grey and black leopard print!) and corset-back boots because I was tired of all-black. Yesterday I wore black leggings, black studded boots, an oversized mostly-black marvel tee-turned-dress, and a black blazer. I work in an office with no dress code but it tends to be business casual for the most part. I can’t get over the idea someone thinks black is inappropriate! And that they have friends!

      Reply
      1. huskypunx

        Business punk is exactly what I describe my look as. My casual office attire is black jeans, an assortment of black punk t-shirts, black vans, and a fine layer of husky fur. When I have to look professional I have some dark Fred Perry’s (long sleeve to hide the tattoos) I tuck into black jeans with Doc Martens. I know what I like. Lucky enough to have this casual of an office

        Reply
  56. Guy Incognito

    Hi, OP. For starters, your co-workers shouldn’t say anything about what anyone is wearing, unless they love it and want to know where they got it. Honestly, I can’t tell you what the last co-worker who stopped by my desk five minutes ago was wearing, simply because it should be that much of a non-issue.

    Although to be completely honest with you, I’m against commenting on what anyone, anywhere is wearing. Let people live their lives.

    That being said, if they are saying “There goes Mortica” remember: She was a pretty awesome woman who was confident in her own skin and would respond to any and all insults with a withering glare, then go home to her fabulous life. If they’re going to call you that, then you own that confidence.

    Also: I’m sure you look great. Keep doing what you’re doing. Hater’s gonna hate.

    Reply
        1. AnonEMoose

          This. And she was just as deeply, passionately in love with him. And they were both involved and caring parents.

          Reply
      1. Dr. Pepper

        Quite frankly Morticia is one of my idols. She’s confident, elegant, inspires passionate devotion from her husband, and is the unquestioned head of her family. She doesn’t need to raise her voice to be heard. She does her own thing in grand style and gives no fucks about what anyone else thinks. Morticia rocks.

        Reply
  57. SheLooksFamiliar

    I have a mostly black wardrobe because I suck at coordinating ensembles. Whatever scarf or jacket I wear with black will match. I’m currently wearing a black sweater, slate gray skirt, black tights, and black boots. See? Slate gray works!

    OP, I agree with Alison: your co-workers are jerks. Wear your professional wardrobe and ignore them as best you can. I’m sure you look pulled together and smartly dressed at work!

    Reply
  58. What's with Today, today?

    You are fine! I know an attorney that rotates six black dresses, nothing else. I also know a fabulous and successful boutique clothing store owner (which offers plenty of hues) and she wears head to toe black. Always. It’s really okay!

    Reply
  59. Erin

    Oh my goodness, this is so ridiculous! At a previous job, an older gentleman commented about me wearing all black, but that dude was a total outlier. As someone who just got out of a workplace that made me cry every day, let me just encourage you to keep up your search. Very little is worth going to a workplace where you do not feel valued.

    Reply
  60. TootsNYC

    How do we end up with so many assholes who feel so emboldened to be so open about it?

    I often want people in the OP’s position to just feel flamingly fed up with it, and go on the attack.

    To just walk up to people and say, “I understand you are making bets or speculation about whether I’ll wear black to offsite meetings, and I just want to say: Grow the fuck up,” in their most scornful superior tone.

    Or when someone says, “Oh, here comes Morticia,” to just get icy-cold and say, “This is not a funny joke anymore–it’s pretty lame. And what sort of soul do you have, that you need to comment on my clothes so snottily so frequently?”

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      Clearly these people don’t have enough work to do if they have time to complain about/comment on coworkers’ appearances.

      Reply
  61. irene adler

    Reckon they’d be saying similar things if the clothes were white instead of black. Please don’t take their comments personally. These co-workers are pathetic.
    They need to find some worthwhile topics to talk about. And that’s the problem. They lack any depth of character to converse about such topics.

    I got razzed by the CFO because I wear a white t-shirt every day (I work in a lab where clothes can get ruined in an instant, so I’m not wearing anything expensive). But then, she doesn’t see the harm in letting her toddler grandkids play in the bath tub unsupervised. So I ignore her comments because… well, consider the source.

    Reply
  62. Iris Eyes

    Ok I’m solidly on team color (why yes I happened to pair a teal shirt with a cherry red blazer today why do you ask?) so maybe take this with a grain of salt.

    This should be entirely neutralized by the lighter cardigans but as universally flattering as black claims to be it isn’t at all for some people. Black + pale skin + florescent lighting can = corpse chic. Doesn’t change the inappropriateness of their comments or the fact that you can wear what you want but you might consider if black looks harsh. IF that is the case (there is the conventional wisdom that says as you age that very saturated color can work against you) you might consider rotating black out and charcoal gray in.

    Where are you located too? As other commenters are saying in NYC you would be 100% in the norm. But somewhere like Miami you would probably seem more out of place.

    They are bullies though and should be handled as such.

    Reply
  63. JS82

    I wear mostly black, with a bit of grey thrown in. I feel confident in it, it hides my sweat stains (I always run hot) and mixing and matching is solved. They are being jerks. Black is actually on the more professional side of the spectrum.

    Reply
  64. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

    I don’t wear all black to work, but now I want to! (At least, during the six months out of a year when I don’t have my part-time cats living with me.) OP, your work wardrobe sounds way classier than mine. Your coworkers are insane. Bets? Lord, how I hate that cliquey stuff.

    Reply
    1. nnn

      part-time cats

      This gave me the mental image of cats that are only cats some of the time, and are, like, dogs or humans or chickadees the rest of the time.

      Reply
        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          That would be so fun! But nope, it’s just two boring orange tabbys that my son, who lives with me, co-owns with his girlfriend (who lives separately). They are with her half of the year and with him/me the other half. I just got them again last month.

          Reply
  65. Vin Packer

    Don’t change anything you’re doing. They are going to such lengths to comment on such an exceedingly normal thing that it is not about your clothes at all — it’s specifically about being jerks. If you start wearing chonky jewelry and jewel tones to mix it up, they’ll pick on you for something else.

    Don’t try to satisfy them into silence; you’ll just find yourself playing whack-a-mole.

    Reply
  66. Kaybee

    Geez, as if picking a base color and creating a wardrobe around it hasn’t been the staple of cash-strapped (economical, practical, those not good at differentiating between colors before their morning coffee) people since the beginning of time. I love my work uniform and the fact that I can reach into my closet in the morning with my eyes closed and still pull out a professional-looking outfit.

    Not to mention some of us have extremely wintery winter coloring (hello ‘80s!) and pure black/white is legitimately the most flattering look on us.

    As so many others have said, these people would find something to gossip about regardless. You do you, OP, know you’re in good company, and good luck on getting out of there.

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      Not just cash strapped. Frugal. Because some of us want to live debt free. And wouldn’t you rather invest in real esatate?

      Reply
      1. Kaybee

        Oh for sure, there are other things that I need to spend my money on. I was trying to get at that with economical & practical. I just remember so strongly the joy of scoring that first unpaid internship fading into the panic of “omg I don’t think my frayed jeans and stained college sweatshirt are going to fly here and I’m not getting paid; how on earth am I going to clothe my body?” (These were the dark days before thredup, and college town thrift shops, at my least my college town thrift shops, weren’t friendly to the non-svelte. I don’t know if a single pair of black pants and a single black skirt and a couple of shirts I rotated through count as a color “theme” but it is what I built on when I graduated and had to add to my professional wardrobe while making barely above minimum wage. Good times lol)

        Reply
    2. Emily K

      Funny enough, there has actually been some research indicating that people will perceive someone in a photograph wearing black as more competent than a photo of the same person wearing color.

      Reply
  67. Minocho

    I do the same thing with navy. I’m a very pale redhead, so black makes me feel even paler, possibly sick. Navy is my solution to this – a very neutral color that goes with pretty much everything, and doesn’t require too much stress or thought from me.

    My friend has a new work uniform – a style of slacks she likes, an blouse at a clothing chain that comes in a million colors, of which she owns half, and some camisoles for under and some cardigans for over the blouse. She is getting comments from people too, and those people are also jerks. There’s no reason women can’t adopt the same clothing strategy that working men have adopted for decades.

    Reply
  68. Snow Drift

    I’d be tempted to say “While you’re busy keeping up a giant wardrobe, I’m wearing a few diverse pieces and tucking the savings into retirement. Enjoy being a slave to fashion as you keep working into your seventies.”

    Don’t actually do that…but thinking it can help!

    Reply
  69. Not A Manager

    I’m going to comment against the stream here, and I want to emphasize that you should only do this if YOU want to. These people are bullies, but sometimes bullies do pick up on a thread of truth for their bullying, and if YOU want to reconsider this wardrobe – either for this job if you’re stuck there, or for a new job – there are some things to consider.

    First, as everyone has said, there’s nothing wrong with a mostly-black business wardrobe. But there might be something a bit off about your personal choices regarding your mostly-black wardrobe. For me, for example, I can’t wear a solid dress of any color if it has long sleeves. I’m pretty short, and I’m not sure what else contributes to it, but if I wear a solid dress with the long sleeves of the same color, it overwhelms me and I look like I’m wearing my mommy’s clothes. No matter how well it actually fits.

    It’s possible that SOMETHING about the combination of dress/cardigan is reading old-fashioned, or prissy, or costume-like, and that your co-workers are picking up on that. Which doesn’t make them less bullies or jerks.

    If YOU want to, you might ask a few friends whose fashion sense you trust, or your boss (without mentioning the co-workers because that’s a different issue), or even scheduling a wardrobe consultation at a store you like. (Get the terms upfront, and don’t feel pressured to buy a bunch of stuff if the consultation is presented as a free service.)

    None of this will address the bullies or stop them, because bullies are bullies. But one question in your letter was whether there might objectively be something “off” about your wardrobe, and I think it’s possible that there might be.

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      Actually bullies focus on your insecurities (what you think is true) more than the truth.
      Bullies usually bully because they see some aspect that is superior to them and they want to bring that down.

      Reply
    2. Hmmm

      Yeah, I’ll be honest, these types of threads (“I’m doing something unusual, am I fine?”) tend to result in a pile on of people who say “ME TOO YAY!” but I’m not sure if that’s ultimately the most helpful for the OP. It’s totally true that these people are bullies, because even if her wardrobe was inappropriate they’re jerks for saying anything about it. So if OP doesn’t want to change, she obviously doesn’t have to.

      But at the same time, it’s possible that much black is out of place. Though apparently this is the norm in NYC, I can say that if someone wore black in my industry in the midwest everyday, it would stand out. I’m not saying I would be judgmental about it, but I’m sure some people would.

      Reply
      1. CanuckCat

        But why? Provided the person is dressing within the appropriate dress code, why does it matter if all of their clothes are black or red or purple or beige? I mean, I know that judgemental people are going to judgement but why would wearing one colour to work most days take away from their performance?

        Reply
        1. Hmmm

          It wouldn’t take away from their performance, obviously, I never said it would. But the reality is that judgmental people exist and judge us on more than just our work, and not everyone is as kind as the commenters here. That fact that she shouldn’t be judged for it doesn’t mean she won’t be.

          Reply
          1. CanuckCat

            I guess I’m not sure how that’s any more helpful to the OP than you seem to think that all the comments agreeing with her are. Because she already knows people are going to be judgemental, her co-workers are judgemental and she’s trying to determine what to do about it.

            Reply
    3. Indie

      Or they still haven’t caught up with the 20th century and believe this outrageous Coco girl should stop wearing pants and prettify herself in baby pastels and organza bonnets.

      I mean, not every black garment ever made is utterly fabulous and lots of people think it is ‘unflattering’ or pales them; but even that slim chance is eclipsed by the fact that we are talking about work. You dont have to look tall or slim or rosy or tanned or the cutting edge of fashion at work. In fact it is probably wiser not to. You just have to look like you understand professional norms. Which black is – for men anyway.

      The only inappropriate black garments I can think of are soiled/revealing/worn. But the LW sounds way too sensible for such a theory, she has obviously put thought into her look above the norm and the coworkers’ overtly childish tone make it easy to dismiss them without paranoia.

      Reply
    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      As someone who used to be bullied, I highly doubt that they will stop if OP changes her wardrobe for them (as I can see you already said it won’t). One, they are having fun picking on OP, and who wants to stop having fun? Two, if they see OP replace her whole wardrobe because of them, the message they’ll get is going to be that whatever they’re doing works. They will happily pick on something else just to see what happens next.

      And if it isn’t going to stop them, and if OP objectively likes how she looks in her work outfits, then why bother changing? From OP’s description, the outfits sound professional to me.

      Reply
    1. Indie

      Ha! In the eighties my mother made me choose a pink pastel jumper decorated with seed pearls and with puffed sleeves. when I was 12 because I was ‘wearing too much black, your father says’. He didnt know or care. She may have been afraid I was going punk because she normally has excellent taste but it was either that or there was an alternate choice of one in lemon. Yeah. I only touched it with the aid of tongs and never wore it.

      I seem to have cured her because my 10yo niece wears nothing but black, like a beatnik, and she thinks it is adorkable.

      Reply
      1. Jessen

        My mother put a hard cap on the amount of black items I was allowed to own (1 pair of pants and like 1 or 2 shirts). Now she complains she doesn’t understand why I’ve changed so much in what I wear and I don’t look like me anymore.

        Currently wearing a black above-the-knee skirt, black velvet tights, black velvet top with ruffles, black boots, and a black cat pin. At work, of course. People I’ve found do notice it, but it’s always been in a “this is a fun little quirk about Jessen” way.

        Reply
      2. Workaholic

        When I was in high school I tried wearing black jeans and a black sweatshirt once. My mom threw a fit, said it was too depressing, and forced me to change. A couple years ago I saw her wearing all black and called her on it. She blamed the HS “don’t wear all black” on my stepdad (who was either sleeping or working and would never have known)

        Reply
  70. Cube Diva

    My entire closet is black and/or white. So my work uniform is: a top (black and/or white), dark jeans or black pants and a black cardigan. Black shoes. Sometimes I mix it up and my shirt is gray.

    Your coworkers are terrible.

    Reply
  71. agathafan

    just look at them icily and tell them it was difficult to get the blood off of your light clothes and you decided, years ago, to just switch to black so that the blood is hidden better and you don’t scare their little jerk-asses.

    Reply
  72. Alexis Rose

    Ooooooooh! I love this idea of a work uniform! My husband is military so his choice is made for him all the time, and i’ve always been a bit jealous when he is already making breakfast and I’m still contemplating my closet (or walking back and forth to the laundry room to find the shirt that goes with these pants……)

    OP: you do you. If you’re comfortable and productive, no problems. Maybe also step up the job hunt? Bonus is that you already sound ready to interview because of how profesh your outfits are!

    Reply
  73. Earthwalker

    We had a woman project manager who wore nicely tailored outfits (think Alexandria Ocasio Cortez) that stood out in an office that was overall rather more casual. I don’t know if it was about her style being a cut above that of than that of other team members, or that she was a woman managing men, or that she was Hispanic, but her team iced her out. Although she was very talented and did an excellent job, they withheld information from her, sabotaged her efforts, and made spurious complaints to management until she was fired, supposedly for her inability to manage a project. So if the sniping over wearing black is just everyday workplace gossip, ignore, of course, but keep an eye out just in case it’s just a symptom of some larger toxic thing going on.

    Reply
      1. Marzipan

        “keep an eye out just in case it’s just a symptom of some larger toxic thing going on.”

        That was literally the point of her comment?

        Reply
  74. Kimmybear

    Your coworkers suck. I work in a predominantly female industry and I commonly come in to work and find 2 or 3 coworkers wearing the same color combination. We realized that there are a limited number of colors that professional women tend to wear and inevitably we were going to match on occasion. My wardrobe is almost entirely black, gray, maroon, green, and blue. (I look terrible in red, pink, yellow and orange.)

    Reply
    1. OyHiOh

      Sign up another for black, grey, maroon, green, and blue.

      Enough variety that my brain doesn’t rebel against always wearing the same thing, limited enough to make picking clothes simple.

      Reply
  75. Lucille2

    Here’s why your work wardrobe works:
    1. Keeping an overall neutral palette & classic look means requiring fewer pieces – cost effective
    2. You can easily update your look with trendy accessories – also cost effective
    3. Splashes of color and patterns can be easily introduced with accessories, even if they are muted or neutral in color
    4. Black is classic, never goes out of style, and it flatters all body types

    I’m a fan of this strategy. It’s good for the budget and good for self-esteem. Personally, the less I have to think about what I’m going to wear in the morning, the more confident I am at work. I prefer to keep things basic so I’m presenting my work first rather than my appearance. I’m guessing your workplace is more on the casual side which might make you stand out a bit. If you were working in a more formal office setting, you’d fit right in. But I’m on the side of taking it up a notch rather than down from the baseline of business casual appearance. So I say keep being you.

    Reply
  76. nnn

    First thought that popped into my head: “Hey, Cersei, since you’re not doing anything, could you change the printer paper/proofread the teapot report/give Sansa a hand?” Probably wouldn’t work with the balance of power in this situation though.

    Another idea, if you happen to have the acting skills to carry this off: when you overhear people speculating about what you might wear to an offsite work function, pop into the conversation and ask them what they’re wearing, with the same tone and delivery you’d use in a friendly, collaborative workplace to have an “Are we wearing our regular office clothes or stepping it up for the offsite function?” conversation. Don’t talk about what you’re wearing, keep the whole conversation to what they’re wearing, as though it’s interesting to you, with focus on excruciating details. (Hair up or down? Everyday earrings or better earrings? Hosiery or nah?) Then extract yourself from the conversation with a “Got to get back to work”.

    Reply
  77. jiminy_cricket

    I wear predominantly black every single day to my professional business casual job. Love to Morticia from Lydia Deetz. Get outta there when you can, friend!

    Reply
  78. Esme

    These kind of people… If you started changing what you wear they would just make snide and obnoxious comments about the fact that you are wearing different colors.

    It was so smart of you to check with Alison and community about norms. That is a great approach to feedback – reflect, check, move forward as needed. In this case that means forgetting these people and their comments exist in this universe and rock on with your awesome work uniform.

    Reply
  79. Jennifer

    The only way to get them to stop is to tell all of them off. I hope you have it in you. If you don’t want to go that route, you’ll have to keep ignoring them. I hope you find a job soon. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    Reply
  80. Anonybus

    OP, do we have the same coworkers?!
    I have the EXACT same problem with mine: i wear black/grey all the time and a bunch of my coworkers have been commenting on it for years. I have always ignored them, but that doesn’t seem to deter them.

    My coworkers also do the betting thing! Is this a thing now? What tf is wrong with people?!

    Reply
  81. Snarl Trolley

    Oh, for –

    This is such a silly issue that I feel like addressing it head-on with a precisely equal amount of judgment is appropriate here, if OP doesn’t feel like simply dismissing them out of hand. The next time they make a comment, address it with a bland, brusque – “Black is a long-held professional neutral color. Are you unaware of this?” And if they back off, become suddenly as cheery and sunny as usual, and go about your day. Literally any kind of doubling down gets them a well-deserved expression of ellipses-face (You know the one. The Unimpressed Chloe meme face. The physical manifestation of a “…….”.) and a “Why are you so concerned with my wardrobe? That’s really weird, [coworker].”

    Reply
    1. Indie

      I think I would really appreciate the opportunity to practise my blank stare.
      I used to have a brilliant “your words are like drying paint to me” expression, but I haven’t worked with the general public for awhile now…

      Reply
  82. Pettirose

    This is such a good example of the “would a man have to put up with this crap” litmus test. As AAM said, men have been wearing neutral colored work uniforms forever. This is absolute nonsense on your coworkers’ parts, and sexist nonsense at that. I’m sorry you’re dealing with it.

    Reply
    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’ve seen lots of awkward men bullied for their wardrobe. So yes, a man perceived as weak and easily pushed around would.

      I feel like the OP may be targeted because she works with bullies. If not her, they’d pick another “weak link” for their sick power tripping pecking order.

      Reply
  83. SigneL

    I wore black pants and a blouse (almost always white or pastel blue), often with a black cardigan. People complained about my “boring good taste” (seriously! What is wrong with people?) but that was about it, and after a few weeks, I was pretty much invisible because we were all, you know, WORKING. Sheesh.

    Reply
  84. Dr. Pepper

    They are jerks and this is a power play. Don’t fall for it. They’re trying to goad you into a reaction, probably just to see if they can. There’s nothing at all wrong with your work uniform. If, say, you were wearing a formal suit in a jeans-and-tshirt type of workplace, I can see how you would attract comments on your attire, but it doesn’t sound like your clothes are at all out of place.

    I’m wondering what would happen if you asked them bluntly, “Why are my clothes a problem for you?” or something like that. Something to really put them on the spot and make uncomfortable. If you like, you can play the innocent confusion card, like you are puzzled and would truly like to know, and stare them expectantly. It might not stop them, and in fact it probably won’t, but their game will get a lot less fun if you push the awkwardness back on them. It’s far more fun to make snide comments at someone who meekly accepts them, rather than someone who goes “oh really? please explain your assholery in detail to me”. Or simply own it. Next time they call you Morticia, say “So what? Morticia rules.” Because she does. Again, it’s a lot less fun to taunt someone who just shrugs and says “yeah, and…..?” It rather sounds like thus far you’ve just gone along with it and hoped they would stop. Which they aren’t. So until you can gtfo, it might be time for a change in tactics. Not clothing.

    Reply
    1. Indie

      I like “why are my choices a probem for you” in many situations but for some reason I really hear Regina George right now..

      Reply
  85. Meredith Brooks

    It’s been mentioned to me by multiple people in different departments that I am known for wearing floral dresses (also usually paired with cardigans) and very rarely pants. I was initially taken aback that people were paying so much attention to my wardrobe. But, the fact is that it’s true. (Though lately I’ve tried to diversify my wardrobe. I get the impression that your coworkers are like many socially inept people who feel its useful to state the obvious and then make some judgment about it. :|

    In the meantime, I thought this link might be interesting to you: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10441/why-i-wear-the-same-thing-to-work-everday/

    Reply
    1. Sally

      This is interesting! My friends sometimes mention that they’re surprised to see me in pants when I don’t wear a dress, but they’re not being jerky about it. I think one coworker may have said something similar last week, but – again – she was just commenting. And it seems to me that she pays a lot of attention to fashion and what she wears, so I wasn’t surprised that she noticed something different. Otherwise, at my new job, no one seems to give a rat’s *ss about what others are wearing. At my previous job, a lot of us would comment positively almost every day about each others’ outfits (men and women). I do think people notice (and sometimes comment) when I wear ALL black in Boston. I lived in NYC for 20 years, so I have plenty of black clothing, but in Boston, it’s not as common to see people in head-to-toe black. On the other hand, when I’ve tried to mix it up with red tights, for example, people seem to be staring at the tights (could be my imagination or could be that they stand out against all the black). Anyway, I like how I dress, and I think it’s more important for me to be happy with my clothing choices than it is for everyone else to approve. I think I wouldn’t be able to work someplace where that would make me outside the norm. I hope the OP gets out of this den of jerks ASAP.

      Reply
  86. Delphine

    Black is such an elegant color–looks beautifully professional without having to work too hard. Ridiculous that anyone would comment on it except to compliment your taste, LW.

    Reply
  87. Lady Phoenix

    Well, if they are gonna call you Morticia, you might as well be Morticia. Decorate your office with the most macabre stuff, have real torture devices (I suggest the Iron Maiden. Always a classic), and have your office plants be decapitated roses and Venus Flytraps. Don’t forget to marry a handsome, passionate man who is good a fencing.

    And most importantly, enjoy the beauty of death and macabre and don’t give 2 f*cks about what other people think or say.

    Ok, a good chunk of it is a joke, except for the last bit about not giving 2 f*cks about toxic people’s thoughts. Wear what you want cause black is the new black.

    I would also check around to see if there are coworkers who aren’t acting the fashion police and consider talking to them on lunchbreaks, so as to disassociate with the bad seeds and get some comraderie with the good. Or text your buddies. Have a positive support group.

    And job search. Definitely job search.

    Reply
  88. Michaela Westen

    To me it sounds like your coworkers are hostile bullies who look for things to criticize. Maybe you’ve accidentally gotten on their bad side, or maybe there’s no way to avoid their bad side.
    So if you weren’t wearing black, they’d criticize whatever you are wearing, or something else. That’s what they do, find ways to hurt people.
    When I was growing up I was always the target of such people and I never found a way to avoid it. Sometimes, people who are gifted at interpersonal interactions can find ways to defuse/turn it around and get them to stop, but I never mastered that. I left my hometown and moved to a big city where people are nicer.
    I suppose you could try talking to your manager, if you haven’t already – but if you don’t think that would help, I think the best thing to do is leave. Be sure to tell management why on your way out. That will be so satisfying! :)
    Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      I would suggest bringing this to the attention of your manager even before you have an offer. The co-workers are being inappropriate and should be called on the carpet for it.

      I’d keep it simple — “I want you to know that some of my co-workers are regularly making derogatory comments about my choice of what to wear to the office. I’ve been ignoring it for [x weeks/months/years] but recently they’ve taken to calling me Morticia where I can hear them. It isn’t professional behavior, and it makes me feel like I’m back in middle school. What can you do to make it stop?”

      Reply
  89. Coder von Frankenstein

    “The culture at my company has gotten so bad that I have gone home and cried almost every day for the past month. I am actively applying out, but I’m also worried my attire is a professional blind spot. Is this a case of toxic work culture getting to me, or do I really need to reconsider wearing a black dress every day going forward?”

    This paragraph is the most important one of your letter. The snide comments on your clothing are a symptom, the toxic work culture is the disease. The only thing you need to change here is your place of employment.

    I wear all black to work every day and have done so my entire professional life. I won’t say I never get comments on it, but it’s nothing like the sustained harassment you describe. (And in my case, it’s total 100% black, head to toe, no color whatsoever.) I like the look and I like not having to think about what to wear.

    Your black dresses are just fine.

    Reply
  90. Kill ItWithFIre

    I am currently wearing black pants, very dark blue (almost black top and a black blazer. I worn something similar yesterday and will wear something similar tomorrow and the next day and the next.

    Your coworkers are bullying little jerks, if they don’t like what you wear? They can just shove that right back up where they are probably getting most of their opinions. You can always advise them that they should just leave it in the bowl next time, no need to bring that out and show it around.

    Reply
  91. Lord Gouldian Finch

    When I worked in New York City so many people wore black or grey every day – when you ride the subway or bus you do not want every stain visible! Black is practical.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Juniper

      Unless you have light-colored furbabies who shed on you every day! *looks at Alison’s orange tabby Eve*

      Reply
  92. Been There

    First off…you work with some real jerks…and at the risk of sounding like my mother…they are probably just jealous of you. And what are they 13 years old???

    Good grief…if I (and 3/4 of the business women in America) took out all the black pieces in my/our wardrobe(s), I/we would have no clothes at all. In fact I have several co-workers that employ a capsule wardrobe – all their clothes work around the color scheme of black, white and one other color…

    Reply
  93. sassypants

    Yay work dress twins! Although I prefer jewel tones to light colors. Your wardrobe sounds wonderful, and like everyone else has said, your coworkers are jerks.

    Reply
  94. The Man, Becky Lynch

    Hot Topic is all Disney villains and indie wrestling these days. So I’m certain you don’t look like you shop there LOL

    That aside, I agree your coworkers are jerks and rude. They’re nitpicking and big stinkers.

    Reply
      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Well I’m talking about what I buy there naturally :P

        And tv shows. I did a lot of holiday shopping there.

        Reply
  95. Queen of Cans and Jars

    “What’s your damage, Heather?” or “Why are you so obsessed with me?” both seem rather appropriate responses here.

    Reply
    1. Michaela Westen

      Yes! “Don’t you have more important things to think about than what I wear? No? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that”

      Reply
  96. Kittyfish 76

    I have not read the comments yet but WOW. Alison is certainly correct. What is wrong with these people? I’m sorry you have to deal with this. These people ARE jerks.

    Reply
  97. media monkey

    i’d address it in the same way as i suggest my 10 year old address kids in her class taking the mickey out of her for the same things over and over – “really? you’re still going on about that? wow, must be boring”

    i think it takes the wind out of their sales and puts the focus back on them to find something else to talk about.

    Reply
  98. E

    “Am I breaking the dress code? If not, then why do you care what I wear?”
    I am loving the capsule wardrobe idea. I am slowly getting there with cardigans and neutral pants so that pretty much any top goes with any pant. One less decision to make in the morning means I have a bit more brain for the work day.

    Reply
    1. Michaela Westen

      I have a random collection of blouses and skirts bought on sale/at thrift stores, and I’ve figured out what goes with what, so I just have to determine warmer or cooler outfit for the weather and I’m good to go.

      Reply
  99. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton

    Can you say ” Morticia Adams knows how to hide a body” with a slight knowing smile and a straight face? I would so lean into the Morticia Adams.

    Yes, another workplace goth here. These coworkers are nuts. And Morticia is a goddess of epic weight.

    They are afraid of you. Petty fools.

    Reply
  100. Rey

    Like so many commenters have said, this doesn’t reflect on you at all and shows that your coworkers are mean girls. Even if you did change your dress to meet their super-ridiculous expectations, mean girls will always find something to complain about. Keep wearing your black dresses out of that place and all the way to the top floor.

    Reply
  101. Notwithstanding the Foregoing

    I work in a business casual office in Philadelphia. I am wearing all black today and just got out of a meeting with another coworker dressed in all black. I do not own any pants, skirts, or shoes that are not black. It is the only neutral I wear. I do wear a lot of red tops, with blue or purple for variety, and always solid colors. I have never had a coworker comment negatively. Some joke about different styles – for example one coworker enjoys bright colors and prints and I very much do not. Our styles differ, but we are both dressed professionally.

    I don’t know your level compared to these people or your role, but my suggestion would be to not engage. Affect an air that you are not concerned by their petty comments. I know that is harder to do in practice, but it seems they are looking to make you upset or react. Your clothing sounds very professional and in line with what most women wear to work in business casual environments. Also, if this is representative of the culture at that firm, I encourage you to keep looking for a new job.

    Reply
  102. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins

    I only seem to buy things in black/navy/grey or non-navy blue. I also have a sweater (which I am wearing today) that I will always wear the day after laundry day. I wear it every week. Nobody has said anything and it’s been like 2 years. Your co-workers are just mean.

    Reply
  103. CanuckCat

    I got my start in PR where black and/or monochrome outfits seem to be a staple of most women’s wardrobes, so even though I work in not-profits now, 80-90% of my wardrobe is still black (case in point today, black chenille top, dark metallic blue houndstooth pants, black boots, the same three rings and watch I wear every day). If you found something that works for you, OP, I say go for it, regardless of what your co-workers think.

    Reply
  104. Cranky Prognathodon

    My work wardrobe is skirts in black, navy, or some shade of denim with black, navy, or grey leggings in cool weather; and mostly solid-color tees in a variety of sleeve lengths and necklines, with mock-turtlenecks that hide hide my tatoos for meetings, etc. I usually throw a print vest on over the mock-turtlenecks to dress things up a little. And usually hiking-style sneakers, because they keep my feet/knees/legs/back happy.

    Reply
  105. AnonyMouse

    The OP certainly doesn’t need to change their wardrobe, but if they are worried about it in future offices they may want to consider incorporating other dark neutrals, like gray and navy blue. I’m not sure of their industry, but I feel like in my industry wearing all or a lot of black comes across very formal. I don’t think it would spark comments (the OPs office sounds toxic), but it probably would be seen as odd in my line of work.

    Then again, I have a really quirky style and I have more prints than solids in my wardrobe (with the exception of interview attire, which I keep conservative to be safe), so I’m probably not the best person for advice here.

    Reply
  106. SarasWhimsy

    One thing to consider, are you in a small town or somewhat rural area and are you not from there? I moved from an area like that to a city and found that all of my colorful clothes were odd. I switched to mostly black and gray with occasional pops of color. I don’t know what it is about small towns and country areas but they’re very colorful. It’s quite jarring now when I go back.

    Reply
  107. BadWolf

    On the TV show Shark Tank (the US version), they shoot a whole bunch of segments and then mix and match them later into episodes. So the investors all wear the same clothing through the shooting. People always ask why the women keep wearing the same dress. No one asks why the men are also wearing the same suit/tie/jazzy accessories.

    I have witnessed (and been party to) teasing/inside jokes that go on too long/too intense. We think we’ll all in on it and it’s funny/bonding, but the person it’s related to is sick and tired of it. When the person has said, “Knock if off, guys” or something similar, I know I’ve tried to chill about it. There may be a chance that a couple of “Hey, you know you comment on my clothes every single day? Or enough people do that it feel like every day? Can you knock it off?” could rein it in. But…they could just be jerks.

    Maybe Anjelica Huston could show up and make them squirm under one arched eyebrow.

    Reply
    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      1. Shark Tank fist bump
      2. I’m sure the mega rich women featured as sharks aren’t concerned about being seen in the same outfit.

      It’s so catty and telling when you deal with “can’t be seen in the same dress twice!” people.

      Dresses and women’s apparel does have more stand out factors to be fair in that way. But if it’s so classic black and basic, just imagine there Posh Spice in Spice World. Little black Guchi dress filled closets.

      Reply
  108. The Other Geyn

    Black basics (pants or skirts or dresses) with a light colored or neutral colored cardigan seems so standard business casual that I don’t even find anything “weird” about it. Are the OP’s coworkers in candy-colored clothing everyday? Are they so team navy that they can’t stand black?

    Reply
  109. EngineerMommy

    I have noticed that there can be both regional and urban/rural differences in the amount of black (and dark neutrals in general) that women wear to work. Generally, women in the south and in rural areas wear less black, and southern women at least tend towards brighter colors.

    When you get a new job, look around and see what the other women are wearing. If they aren’t wearing a lot of dark colors, AND if you are feeling like you stand out, it should be pretty simple to stretch a little. Maybe the same dress in other dark colors (navy, grey, burgundy, forest green, dark purple, etc). They would still go with your cardigans, but broaden your color range just a touch.

    None of this changes that you should be able to wear what you want within normal business attire standards without harassment, and that the people you work with are being ridiculous and rude.

    Reply
  110. Amber Rose

    Actually show up in hot pink. Then mock them for not being bright enough.

    Just kidding. Ignore them. They are not worth your time, and they are very definitely not worth your tears! Affect Morticia’s withering, disdainful stare, hold your head up high, and remind yourself that at least you mentally graduated from the playground.

    Reply
    1. Anonny

      See, I was thinking, go the other way and turn up in Victorian full mourning garb. Complete with the veil and jet jewellery and everything. Go completely Queen Victoria.

      Reply
  111. Sunny

    Next time you get a comment, how about, “Seriously, is this all you have to talk about? That’s so sad.” with a pitying look. Then sashay away with a backward Beyonce wave and a silent, “Bye, bitches.”

    Reply
  112. GradStudent

    Everyone in my department has “their” colors that they nearly never diverge from. The department head is red and black, the professor next to my office is blue, my advisor is black, the grad student coordinator is pastels, and the professor next to him is green with the same shorts (no matter how cold it is). My colors are black, blues, and purples. It’s perfectly normal to have work uniforms and these coworkers need to grow up.

    Reply
  113. A Teacher

    Seriously…I wear mostly black/grey and a few other colors thrown in. I like that they are neutral and go well with other things. I teach high school and adjunct at a college and have never really had too many comments. Your coworkers are asshats.

    Reply
  114. Diana Barry

    Kudos to you for having such a nice work ‘uniform’. I’m a woman, in a mostly male office, and I have one too, for winter/fall : warm crew-neck sweater (solid color only) + tweed/wool blend pants + fleece/down vest (love Uniqlo for their multitude of choices in this area). All this clothing is dark colors, with a few pastels peppered in and the occasional pashmina with black flats. No one every says a word about my clothing. Our office is cold and drafty, hence the warm fabrics Still working on the spring/summer ‘uniform’ to ease my routine. My male boss dresses ‘fancier’ than me, haha – he has various patterned shirts, cardigans, and vests that he admittedly mixes quite well. Sending you positive vibes for your job search so you can leave the toxic jerks behind.

    Reply
  115. Elizabeth West

    I notice what coworkers are wearing only if I think it looks cool. One person at Exjob always dressed to the nines and she looked so awesome every day I would check out her outfit for style tips.

    Other than that, if your ass isn’t showing, I don’t care. I would love to have only black and grey work clothes because I have a zillion scarves and then I could wear a different one every day without having to match them to my outfit. In fact, when I get another job, I might just do this. OP, you’ve inspired me! :D

    Reply
    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      Minor edit to second paragraph and I’m all in with you: As long as your T&A & underwear are all fully covered I don’t care. (I carpooled with our HR rep for a while and wow I heard some stories.)

      Reply
  116. Letter Writer

    OP here.

    Thank you all for the reassuring comments. Can I say what a treasure it was to read “business casual goth” over and over again? Three cheers for my new favorite style description! I also saw quite a few comments about how normal this is for New York, so it’s probably a surprise to no one that I used to live and work in New York before I moved to my present location.

    As for Alison’s question: I don’t think it’s just a hand full of jerks. In my office, dress code is wielded like a weapon, used push people to fall into company-approved line. *insert eye roll*

    There were several suggestions about clever comebacks I might use, but I’ve tried them all before writing in, and my experience with HR at this place has been that HR is there to protect the company from litigation, not help the employee. Reading your responses, though, has helped me say with confidence that I cannot responsible for convincing these people they are jerks. I just need to leave.

    Reply
    1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins

      We’re supporting you, OP! Best of Luck, and if something changes down the line, we love updates here!

      Reply
    2. Pettirose

      Good for you! Yuuuuck. This is definitely all about them and their weird in-group insecurities and not about you and your style at all.

      Reply
    3. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

      Good luck with your job search! You deserve a far better workplace than this. These people are pathetic. You’re going to find something better for sure. Keep us updated!

      Reply
    4. Michaela Westen

      ” In my office, dress code is wielded like a weapon, used push people to fall into company-approved line. ”
      Sad, toxic and weird all at once. Really, they have nothing more important to do?

      Reply
    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      You work at a dump.

      Nobody with a fulfilling life uses dress codes like a weapon. I hope you leave that place soon.

      Reply
    6. AnonEMoose

      Could you maybe go with a “complete boredom” sort of approach?

      Something like this:

      Them:”You sure wear a lot of black/you’re always wearing black.”
      You (completely flat, bored tone): “Yep, so you’ve said.”

      Or even just a “Huh,” combined with the sort of look that says you just saw something extremely dubious under a microscope.

      Them: “You’re ALWAYS wearing black!”
      You: (Longish look) “Huh.” (Pause.) “About those TPS reports.”

      Basically you’re implying that you’re totally bored with the whole thing and aren’t about to expend any effort on it – mental, conversational, or otherwise.

      Reply
    7. OlympiasEpiriot

      Come back to NYC!

      (No, not really, horribly expensive and much of the cool stuff has disappeared/isn’t cropping up fast enough to replace things lost. )

      Best of luck leaving.

      Reply
    8. Deb Morgan

      I’ll be wearing all black tomorrow in solidarity. “Business casual goths” Unite!
      Good luck getting out!

      Reply
    1. Dragoning

      A couple weeks ago I lost my black ring on my black sheets and my black bedspread, and eventually found it on my black dresser, and all of my friends were like “…do you live in Hot Topic?”

      Reply
  117. Hanna

    A well placed “Why are you so obsessed with me?” said a little ironically and with a laugh might put a stop to this.

    These people are bullies.

    Reply
  118. Elle

    I can almost bet anything the colleagues who comment on that are youngish. Not that it’s an excuse at any age past 6 to act like that, but this type of high-schooly, mean-girly behavior sometimes happens.
    Ignore them.

    Reply
    1. ggg

      Do the young’uns even know about the Addams Family? (says the person who once explained the Beatles to an intern)

      Our workplace foible is that I have to be wary of putting on anything too nice because people ask me if I’m interviewing or having my picture taken. Case in point: today I *am* interviewing for an internal position, and I am deliberately wearing a cardigan and hiding my suit jacket under my desk until the last moment, but someone already commented that I was wearing a nice blouse today, so I must be having my picture taken.

      Reply
      1. Michaela Westen

        This strikes me as nosy and disrespectful. Do your colleagues have too little to do to occupy their minds?
        I rarely comment on anyone’s clothes or style, and my colleagues are the same. What they wear isn’t my business, unless they request my opinion.

        Reply
        1. ggg

          The real WTF is — why would I ever be having my picture taken? The way they talk about it, it’s like an everyday thing that happens but my badge photo is about 10 years old and that was the last time I was photographed at work.

          Reply
      2. Rusty Shackelford

        I wonder if “Morticia” is one of those things that made it into pop culture consciousness to the point that you don’t have to be familiar with the source material to get it.

        Reply
    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Gurl…I’ve had “younger” folks miss a lot of mid 90s references. Addams family is not “the kids”, it’s middle aged nasty soccer mom talk more like it.

      Reply
  119. From the High Tower on the Hill

    I feel most comfortable in neutrals, typically black, and I dislike busy patterns. Your coworkers are being jerks. Your clothes sound tasteful and appropriate, not to mention timeless staples in any business professional environment. Next time they ask just say that you have to go straight from work to meet Gomez Addams for a saucy salsa dance night and then get home in time to put Wednesday to bed.

    Reply
  120. Llellayena

    I made a deliberate attempt when I entered my career to move away from all black, as a specific attempt to NOT conform/blend in/fade into the background. Architect’s standard work “uniform”: black pants, black (or occasionally grey) turtleneck, black rimmed glasses (black jacket is optional). I wouldn’t even blink if I saw someone regularly in all black.

    Reply
  121. Oh So Anon

    Your colleagues are jerks, just want to clarify that. BUT, and it’s a big but, is there any chance that this is not just about wearing black but really about the combination of your clothes and demeanor? Obviously no one ought to pick on you over what you wear, not condoning that. Picking up on what Not A Manager mentioned upthread, though, if you’re dressing in a way that comes across as severe AND you’re typically very reserved, people will notice that, and not in a good way.

    One thing I’ve noticed across several workplaces is that it’s easier to “get away with” dressing more formally (or funereally!) than the average in your office if your behaviour offsets that formality. The guy who wears suits to his business casual job or the gal who dresses like a mortician with a personal shopper at J. Crew don’t get dinged by their colleagues if they carry themselves with warmth and otherwise fit well with their team’s culture.

    Reply
  122. Light37

    For the record, most of the big names in fashion have their own uniforms and a lot of them are based on black or another neutral color. Maybe, like Anna Wintour, it’s huge sunglasses, print dress, and heels, or Carine Roitfeld, who is devoted to pencil skirts. Diana Vreeland wore polo neck sweaters and trousers. Bianca Jagger loves her white suits.

    Your coworkers clearly have too much time on their hands.

    Reply
  123. learnedthehardway

    I worked with someone who wore head to toe black for over 6 months in the wake of a major business decision they disagreed with. Best part of it was that they were very stylish, so they were wearing absolutely the latest designer fashions, all in black. It was brilliant – no need to say anything against the decision, and nobody could come right out and challenge their attire without looking like an absolute idiot.

    Reply
  124. Granny K

    I was reading this letter and all I can think about is that commercial that ran some years ago (forget what it was for) that had a designer state “Black does not lie. Black. Is black.” And then later in the commercial the designer shouting “ForGET black! Make everything BROWN!”
    To the OP: I’m glad you’re looking for another job. You need to go to place where there are grown ups.

    Reply
  125. Like Feathers

    I’m really enjoying hearing about what people wear and seeing all the corpgoths come out of the coffin :)

    OP, I hope your job searching goes well and that you’re in a better job very soon.

    Reply
  126. Moose

    You do you OP. If you are happy with the way you look and you are dressing appropriately for your workplace, try to ignore them. Other responses I would try would be:

    1. That’s because I look fantastic in black!
    2. It’s really weird that you comment/pay so much attention/are so obsessed with what I wear.
    3. Can you please not comment on my attire every day? It’s rude.
    4. If you looked as good as I do in this color, you’d wear it every day too!
    5. My dog dresses me…he’s colorblind, so black is a safe choice.
    6. I wear black because I am mourning the loss of politeness in our office.

    I have a colleague who legit wears black/white EVERY DAY. I just think it’s a unique thing about her and I enjoy seeing what black/white combo she will wear! One time she wore teal and I about fainted. I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to let them get to you. They are rude. They have too much time on their hands. They are jealous that you always look polished and beautiful.

    Reply
    1. Les Cargot

      Concerning #5 in the list above: it isn’t just dogs. Color vision deficiency runs strong in my family, affecting both males and females. A couple of ladies in the current generation wear a lot of black, which looks good on them, sometimes accessorizing with other colors. For all of the workplace problems they have vented to me over the years, not once have there ever been complaints that anyone has given them a hard time about their wardrobes.

      Reply
      1. Moose

        I know it isn’t just dogs. My dad is color blind and I have had to help him match his clothes and help him shop for clothing gifts for my mom since I was a child (I’m in my early 30s). Most human colorblindness (although not all) is not the absence of seeing any color. My joke was that a dog (being colorblind) wouldn’t know black was black (the stereotypical claim being that dogs can only see shades of grey although science is beginning to refute that). Could be brown, could be navy, could be dark green, dark purple, etc. Again, it was a comical suggested retort which would highlight the ridiculousness of her co-workers’ constant wardrobe commentary.

        Reply
  127. Jennifer Juniper

    Maybe OP can change up their wardrobe a bit with some dresses in navy, camel, brown, etc? AFAIK those are neutral colors as well and would help her blend in more easily. Of course, OP’s coworkers are being jerks. I was suggesting this as a survival tip until she gets out.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Juniper

      OP, I apologize for my previous comment. Lots of other commenters pointed out that if OP does change up her wardrobe, the bullies will find something else to pick on.

      Reply
  128. Seeking Second Childhood

    Another native New Yorker here — wear your black with pride!
    Growing up I knew a beautiful woman who had retired from Harpers. She wore mostly all black because it made her eyes look blue. And yes it really really did.

    Reply
  129. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House

    I wear oodles of black, and grey. Chin up OP! I also have a black and white tuxedo cat, some black cats, and a blue and a grey tuxedo as well as a black and white Siberian husky. Nothing is ever fur free.

    Reply
  130. JSPA

    If you feel disliked and attacked when they talk about your clothes, that free-floating lack of low-level camaraderie–the sense of not fitting in, and feeling singled out–sounds like a bigger issue than the fact that they’re talking about your clothes.

    Consider an similar-yet-so-different situation. There’s an office full of low-imagination people who like to tag others with a topic or trademark. Yours happens to be black clothes, while Chuck’s is his red hair, Dale’s is the stories he tells about his hard-luck brother, and Tina’s is her “cats in outfits” pictures. And there, it’s fine (if a bit dull) because everyone feels warmly included, not singled out and picked on. (“Hey, Tina, I heard you went to Miami. They have a good postcard of a cat in sunglasses and bikini?” “No, you would have loved it, lots of people there so red, you’d have fit right in like a where’s Waldo. One kid reminded me of Dale’s brother, he kept getting sand in his suncreen, and sunscreen in his eyes.” “So you went to New York–didja get one of a cat dressed as the statue of Liberty?” Yes, and I got a goth lawyer kitty too, because the outfit was so cute, and it reminded me of you. Oh, you’d have just loved it there, they’ve got entire stores where you’d want to buy one of everything!”

    So your coworkers are a horrible fit for you because something about the way they’re talking about your taste in clothes is making you feel judged and is sending you home in tears. Not, per se, because they’re talking about you wearing black. Which can be done in the nicest ways.

    Reply
  131. I See Real People

    A few years ago, one of these mean girls happened to sit with myself and a couple of mutual coworkers at lunch one day. She had not been particularly nice to me in the past, but on this day she made a big deal that I was on my phone for the whole lunch period. After a bit, I put my phone down, looked her straight in the eye and leaned forward and said in my best mom-voice and raised eyebrows, “I’m a 43-year-old woman and if I want to spend my lunch on my phone, I will”.

    She never bothered me after that.

    Same thing with the clothes…just get real with these jerks you work with!

    Reply
  132. MP

    Your co-workers are jerks to comment negatively on your clothing. You also sound like you don’t actually wear that much black; a neutral colored cardigan makes it – NOT BLACK.

    I’m so curious, though – what do *they* wear? Are you in the south perhaps? Do you work in fashion or something where they would be this concerned about your clothing choices?

    Reply
  133. EmployeeHotlineBling

    Got these kinds of remarks at previous jobs, as I wear a lot of black both personally and professionally. Folks made a huge deal when I would stray from black/dark neutrals, and I didn’t like the attention to be on anything but my work, so I stuck with it (not to mention I am very good at spilling coffee on myself).

    Now I work in an office with a mandatory all-black dress code.

    Reply
  134. Tallulah in the Sky

    Your coworkers are jerks.

    Your coworkers are jerks.

    Your coworkers are jerks.

    I copied Allison’s statement because this is the main take away here. Even if all your office wears only colors and you were a bit out of touch with your office culture, they still. Are. Being. Jerks. Big time.

    I truly hope you find something awesome soon, where you wouldn’t be made feel less for wearing totally appropriate clothes.

    In the meantime, since you don’t know when/if you’re going to be able to change jobs, try to invest in changing your perspective about your coworkers (or ideally, talking back to them when they make snide comments) on order to not feel so bad about this.

    This is so much THEIR problem, not yours. Although not to the same magnitude of the LW of yesterday who survived cancer but had asymmetrical breasts, nobody has any right to comment on your appearance in any way, make comments or anything. This is about them, let them deal with it. Shake it off, and if you can, push back. Because they are truly being jerks.

    Your coworkers are jerks.

    Reply
  135. I Work on a Hellmouth

    Jesus. OP, your coworkers are the worst. Just awful.
    You’re fine. Your clothes are fine. The color black is fine. You don’t need to change anything other than where you are working (and it sounds like you’re making that happen).

    I love wearing color, but sometimes I rock a LOT of black and white. Like. A LOT. For weeks at a time. No one ever says anything. Because that’s a stupid thing to latch onto.

    To be perfectly honest, it sounds like you probably look like a classy lady and some people with terrible insecurities about themselves are taking them out on you. It sucks. I hope you find a new workplace that doesn’t employ stunted middle schoolers, stat.

    Reply
    1. Sylvia

      Middle school is exactly what I was thinking too. When I went to high school, I remember being so relieved that my classmates had moved on from studying each other’s appearances. Apparently not everyone has moved on!

      Reply
  136. Database Developer Dude

    Tell them you’re wearing black because you’re actually an infiltrator from MiB, looking for criminal aliens, and if they piss you off, you’ll pull your neuralyzer out and wipe their memories.

    Reply
  137. CM

    When I was in high school I wore all black all the time. I wasn’t goth (not that there’s anything wrong with being goth — goths are cool), I just gravitated toward black clothes and I liked not having to think about what I wore. I got DRAGGED for it and, while I refused to let that change what I wore at that high school, for the next decade I made a point of buying non-black clothes I didn’t like and rotating them through my work wardrobe so nobody would comment on what I was wearing again.

    A few years ago, I gave myself permission to stop doing that, and now I only own clothes I actually like, 99% of which are black. My coworkers absolutely did feel the need to comment on it — some more than others — but it never rose to the level of high school bullying that it sounds like the OP is facing.

    In fairness, I can see how it might seem weird if someone strongly prefers a certain colour or prefers eating the exact same lunch every day or whatever — weird enough that I understand commenting on it once, especially if you don’t know many other things about that person that you can use to start a conversation — but it seems like the normal reaction among other adults is that they make peace with it pretty fast.

    Reply
  138. CustServGirl

    You rock that all-black, girl! Black is my favorite color for clothing and I tend to wear a lot of it too. I wouldn’t bat an eye at what you described.

    Reply
  139. HBucket

    I wear a lot of black because it’s easier to just have black skirts and black pants and match them up with various tops or jackets. Jeez, these people need a life.

    Reply
  140. char

    It’s definitely your coworkers who are the problem, not your outfit. I work with a self-declared goth who really does wear nothing but black or very very dark colors. She does get comments on her clothes sometimes, but because my coworkers don’t suck, said comments are invariably compliments on her great fashion sense.

    Reply
  141. JM

    I am a first-year kindergarten teacher, and therefore do make a conscious effort to
    wear less black than I would normally, but only because it doesn’t seem to fit with society’s idea of what early educators should look like (and I am new to the field/trying to fake it til I make it a little bit). I used to work with a bunch of child psychologists and they would occasionally make annoying comments if I wore all black. If your job is community-facing, particularly with children in some capacity, I would be less surprised to hear that you get comments because of weird ideas that adults working with kids are supposed to be all rainbows and sunshine all the time. No matter what, your coworkers are jerks. Especially because you aren’t even in all black, so wtf?? Good luck with your job search!!

    The one day I wore all black to
    school…one of my students said I looked like a spy!!! I thought that was really cute :)

    Reply
  142. Nox

    I’m a proud corporate goth who works for a bank. If anyone compared me to the beauty that is Morticia, it would forever warm my heart. They can kiss your holly jolly hiney.

    I wear brightly colored doc martens and converse. I build my own acrylic nails and wear very bright and or glittery colors so i’m a mess but I don’t care. I clean up well but I just leave little flourishes of myself in my appearance.

    Reply
  143. Even Steven

    Dear OP! You be you. That’s it. Let it wash over you – their comments don’t matter.

    I was called The Undertaker at my last job because of all the black I wore. Meh. I ignored them.

    At my new job, nobody comments on anyone’s appearance. But I know that this could change at any time with the next new hire, if they’re charismatic and like to round the troops to peck at people. If you reframe their nonsense in your head, it won’t matter if you’re surrounded by jerks or diplomats – you’ll be peacefully working away, dressed in awesome black. :) You be you.

    Reply
  144. Bowserkitty

    Your coworkers can stuff it, keep doing you. Someone above said to come in one day in all navy just to screw with them. I support this!

    I joke that if I was a Power Ranger I’d be the grey/silver one just because of how much grey I have in my wardrobe and I would be that today as well! I go through the same colors a lot (black, grey, navy) so when I do come in wearing pink it stands out, haha.

    Reply
  145. Kit-Kat

    I’m the opposite of a lot of people here — the idea of a work uniform depresses me, as choosing an outfit is usually one of my favourite parts of the day! However, there’s something for everyone and you should do whatever works for you. Petty people will continue to be petty. As the opposite, I sometimes get passive aggressive comments like, “I would never be brave enough to wear such bright colours.” I usually just respond with “thanks”. (Honestly I do think sometimes people mean it as a compliment as there’s this weird societal thing, in general, of complimenting someone else by putting yourself down. Which bothers me, so I try not to play into it when I hear others partaking.) I think killing them with kindness is a good first step here as it’ll probably catch them off guard. Then if it continues I’d go more into the probing questions/shut down territory. That is, if you even want to acknowledge this while job searching!

    Reply
    1. Kit-Kat

      (I wish you could edit sometimes) I forgot to say, even as someone who loves my Lilly Pulitzer dresses for work, easily half my wardrobe is black. It’s such a versatile clothing colour for work or otherwise. This is a super weird thing to be hung up on.

      Reply
  146. Half panda half human

    Letter Writer, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that this post inspired me to take a good, hard look at my closet. I realized I don’t currently have a great black dress to wear to work, so I am currently browsing Nordstrom for one that I like! Thank you for inspiring me. Your coworkers are jerks, keep on being awesome.

    Reply
  147. Morticia

    I used to wear a lot of black and garments with leather (usually black also) to worj and gained the reputation for being unfriendly, which I didn’t love but it was what I wanted to wear so I decided to say screw you to everyone and not care :)

    I will say there are softer fabrics that you can wear with the uniform-rescue dresses that may make your look less harsh (fluffy things, lace things, silk/satin things, etc.) if the rhetoric bothers you!

    Reply
  148. Amairch

    It’s funny because I just moved to Japan a few months ago and I’ve noticed a lot of my coworkers wear the same clothes over and over again. Not even all black — they just seem to own fewer clothes and wear them on a 1-2 week rotation. I’ve actually gotten comments about the number of clothes I must own, and I moved with 2 suitcases’ worth (which doesn’t feel like a whole lot to move across an ocean with). It’s a different culture, yes, but hopefully my story outlines that wearing the same things, or a similar pattern of things, is super common and totally socially acceptable. Your coworkers are jerks and you shouldn’t let them calibrate your social expectations because they’re flat-out wrong.

    Reply
  149. Amber

    Seriously, something is wrong with your coworkers. I mean, what colors are they wearing? It can’t be all that different, some combo of black and other is as common business-casual as you can get. I have so many black clothes that when I had pets I had black pets so there fur just blended in nicely.
    You are fine, get new coworkers.

    Reply
  150. Maggie Simpson

    As someone who works in fashion — I have had the exact inverse of this problem. I worked at a job (in the fashion industry!) where what I wore (trendy and work appropriate) colourful clothing – not a ground breaking/inappropriate amount but for some reason I’d stumbled across an office filled with the stereotypical fashion girls who just wear black (+ denim/occasional neutrals LOL). My supervisors ALWAYS commented on/made fun of my clothing, commented on the rest of the team’s lack of colour being a defining characteristic and made fun of me (“all in good fun” – aka workplace bullying). As I type that that out now I’m even more dumbfounded! They genuinely believed it made them cooler and I was trying too hard and wanted to ensure I knew it.

    It’s freaking awful to deal with – thankfully I work elsewhere now, still in fashion where there is a lot of attention to clothing but it is positive as opposed to mean spirited nastiness.

    Just remember that this says nothing about you and everything about them.

    Reply
  151. Anthony Blanc

    What you wear at work, providing it meets the company dress code, is absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. It should not even be mentioned by your co-workers. Poor management leads to this kind of bad organisational culture.

    Reply
  152. Ally

    I do the same thing – black knee-length dress and rotate between cardigan, blazer, sweater, and sometimes shoes although I tend to wear the same shoes every day.
    Your coworkers are terrible. I imagine if you changed your clothes, they would comment about that too.

    Reply
  153. Corporate Goth

    There’s no such thing as too much black clothing, and absolutely no reason why it would be unprofessional. As Morticia herself said, “black is such a happy color.”

    Keep them focused on this and not on how awesome you are at your job. Be so good they can’t ignore you. Be so good this is the worst they can ever say. I believe in you!

    Reply
  154. Black is the New Black

    I’m also a person who wears professional black clothing at work 9.99/10 so your coworkers are just jerks.

    Through skimming the comments and seeing some say lean into the office goth or the Morticia look, it reminded me of this article about a woman challenging the dress code with various costumes that were still in line with the dress code (link is in the username). The situations are not the same but, the idea of playing up work wear expectations seemed similar.

    Reply
  155. Angela Harris

    Their complaints seem gendered. Most business clothes for men only come in three colors: blue, grey, and black. They need to stick to business and not talk about your clothes. People these days. What is this mean girls business edition?
    ” On Wednesdays, we wear blue!”

    Forget about them OP

    Reply
  156. Just Elle

    Just wanted to say, you are my hero. I have been plotting to buy a work uniform of high quality black dresses and blazers as soon as I hit my goal weight.
    Honestly, its the enlightened thing to do. Steve Jobs does it. Mark Zuckerberg does it. And you better believe they did it before they were important.

    Black isn’t depressing or gothic, its just a neutral, unless you’re pairing it with like, bone earrings and studded belts.

    Whatever you do, please don’t change anything for these mean people. They’ll just find something else to pick on you for. The point is to pick on you, not that your outfit is weird.

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  157. Can't Think of a Name

    OP, your coworkers are jerks. One of my coworkers wears exclusively black (not even light colored cardigans/blazers) everyday, and she worked closely with our leadership and directors. You are fine wearing all black

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  158. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

    Where do these women shop? Because in my experience, at least 50% of the clothes available in any given shop I go into are black.

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  159. NotTheSameAaron

    If people sometimes usually mistake you for a Shadow Person, you’re wearing too much black. Otherwise, no.

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  160. Anoncorporate

    I’m pretty sure that if you DIDN’T wear a lot of black…your asshole coworkers would find something else to bully you about. Bullies always try to make it seem like it’s you who is doing something bad, but it’s really them.

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  161. Jen

    I’m an attorney and this is literally what I wear to work 80% of the time. Black dresses are easy and, as you say, you wear a light cardigan and you have a blazer on hand to dress it up. What you’re wearing is perfect and completely acceptable in all corners of the business world and your coworkers are idiots.

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  162. Easter

    Ugh, your co-workers are awful. Like, seriously? What adult says that? I am a huge fan of black, of a work uniform (if it’s not slacks and a cardigan, I don’t know what to do with it), AND, for what it’s worth, at a job I had several years ago, I had a coworker who wore ALL black, all the time, and I thought she was so, so cool. She clearly didn’t give a shit about what anyone thought and she always looked great. So rock on with your awesome self. (And maybe, depending on your comfort level, the next time someone makes a comment, say something along the lines of “dude, what IS your deal with my clothes?” Make them explain, out loud, why an adult person is behaving like a bullying five year old.)

    Reply
    1. Easter

      Edited to add: you shouldn’t HAVE to train them or call them out. They are being totally unreasonable. But, if you like, it might be fun? cathartic? productive?

      Also edited to add: my niece just turned 12. She is hilarious and bubbly and brilliant. For her birthday I took her clothes shopping because I realized I had zero idea what she’d actually want …. and every item she picked was black or grey. All different styles of tops, but all black and grey. And I spent the whole time telling her she was a rock star edgy badass young lady. So keep being an awesome – and being a great fashion role model for the next generation!

      Reply
  163. That One Person

    Black goes with everything so well…even itself! Probably why I veer towards it a lot. Honestly though they’re living in a techno-color judgmental world that’s really not worth dealing with in the long run. You have splashes of color here and there, and unless they want to fund the wardrobe its none of their business as long as its appropriate for the work place (which it doesn’t sound like you’re wearing ripped up clothes or showing excessive skin so I’m sure you’re perfectly fine).

    Reply

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