"Oh hai... I was umm... taking a pic for my LJ friends? Go to HR and explain again? OK."
So, let me progress to the point of my post today.
I work in an office. I'm a professional writer/editor. I go to meetings, meet clients and such. Yes, like a real grown-up. This picture shows how I dress for work when it's coldish outside. I was just coming back from lunch when I took this pic, so I am still wearing my hoody and tam. I usually wear a clean, neat bandanna around my hair under the hat and tie my dreads behind me. Looking at me from the front, I don't appear to have dreads at all--I just look like I'm covering my head for some religious reason. If I was a Sikh or orthox Jew, I'd be wearing a turban or a yarmulke or some such thing, so nobody messes with me about this.
So, you CAN have a real office job if you have dreads (even really, really, extremely long ones), and you don't have to compromise your clothing choices or hairsyle all that much. You just have to be sensible with the way you present yourself. Most jobs with a dress code will be fair about your personal interpretation of "business casual" as long as you don't take advantage too much.
I basically follow the dress code rules to a T... with my own twists. I choose my daily dress from an extensive wardrobe of black, button-down Dickies work shirts and work pants. Timberland boots complete my "look." I've never been given a hassle about my appearance, except for one time when I was cold and wore my hoody at my desk with the hood up... that's not allowed. I forgot. And, like I said, I have never been hassled about my hair. Ever. And I don't push the issue by letting my head look a mess when I am at work. I just cover it. No problem.
Having said this, I do notice differences in the way I'm treated by the higher-ups here. For example, when the president of my company does office tours for potential new clients, he always skips my aisle of cubes and goes to the next aisle, where a very conservatively dressed, pretty young woman (with a similar job to mine) sits. Now, I work for my company's two biggest clients, and these clients LOVE me--they never fail to praise me and my work whenever possible. I got this job because I'm articulate and good at what I do--I've been told this repeatedly. And yeah, the president of our company knows and likes me--he's a nice guy, and he's really friendly to me. I get bonuses and raises and lovely citations from my bosses and the prez all the time. They even consult me for ideas on new ways to help our clients, which isn't even part of my job description.
Nonetheless, I'm skipped during client visits. I can only guess this is because the bosses feel my appearance might have a negative effect on potential clients. I could be wrong about this, but I don't think I am, and I am not asking. It's cool, actually. I have no idea what I would say to the potential clients, anyway.
"Oh hai... I workz here. Let me show you mah Pokemons. Mah Pokemons--let me show you them."
Don't get me wrong--I love my job, and my bosses are great folks. It just kind of sucks sometimes to feel like the company's "secret weapon."