Feel free to ask anyone, who has even casually known me, from when I was a toddler all the way up through my college years. They’ll confirm: I hate uniforms.
When I got my very first job working at a gym, where I was required to wear the company polo and a pair of yoga/track/workout-able pants, I yearned to wear a pencil skirt and heels.
When I got my first desk job, where I was relegated to dress pants and was forbidden to sport any kind of a sleeveless top, I dreamed of days my boss was away so I could rock a billow-y blouse and leggings.
This contrary attitude definitely has roots in my tween years, when I learned that the dance studio I grew up at required me to take at least one ballet class a week in order to be on the jazz competition team.
The thought made me cringe. Not just because I was a hip-hopper with terrible turnout. But because I had to suit up in one of the most recognizable uniforms in the history of mankind: a black leotard and pink tights, with my hair pulled tightly into a bun. An ensemble that all five-feet-four-inches of me could not pull off if I tried.
So when I finally made it to the sports-writing promise land in my mid-twenties, I was delighted to find that—unlike some professional sports’ leagues where reporters in denim cut-offs seems to be a problem—the NHL didn’t have a rigorous dress code that I had to follow.
In my mind I was doing cartwheels. I can literally wear whatever I want! As long as I don’t look like a hot mess, I can dress however my little heart desires!
… And what did I do with that newfound fashion freedom?
I created my own work uniform.
That’s right. This newly-credentialed sports’ geek found a way to implement a few style musts that I now use as a go-to guide for dressing to cover the San Jose Sharks home games.
And—as if all those times at the ballet barre had never existed—my biggest work wardrobe staple became: a chic and affordable pair of tights.
Picking out my girly outfits the night before a game is as much a part of my routine as discussing the forecheck over coffee between first and second period. I feel better equipped to critique the contest on the rink far below the press box when sporting a smokey eye inspired by the print on my mod sweater dress. A pair of over-the-knee boots paired with my polka dot stockings almost guarantees that I’m rocking thick-knit legwarmers underneath, so I can keep warm no matter how icy it gets sitting behind my laptop at the Tank.
The cuter I feel in my workday duds, the more confident I am walking into that smelly dressing room post-game to shove my recorder in tired, sweaty, toothless hockey players’ faces.
And, although a colossal part of my career includes “playing with the boys,” there’s nothing that will make me blush and curtsey quicker than someone telling me that I “look great” at work.
So I invite all of you out there in Pink Puck Land to join me as I paperdoll myself through the rest of this hockey campaign and beyond. If you have outfit questions, or ensemble ideas that I haven’t thought of, then by all means send them my way. We can bond over a killer ballet flat as much as we can over a great backhanded shot or a game-changing save between the pipes, right?
Just, please, don’t suggest that I pull out an old ballet leotard. Certain things should just stay far away from press level fashion.