It's that time of year again. What do you wear/bring to a holiday pot luck at your intimidating boss's house? It depends what message you want to send, I guess. A few:
Message 1: I am working so hard for you that I didn't have time to make anything for the potluck. Are you kidding? I'm working so hard for you that I don't even know how to cook/dress myself.
Bring: Block of cheese, box of crackers straight from store.
Wear: Jeans, clogs.
Pro: Working! Hard! Also, lack of fashion sense will make you appear brilliant.
Con: May appear frazzled, unable to cope, not a team player, one-dimensional.
Message 2: I am so into working for you that I want to show my well-rounded family side at this pot luck. Please like me!
Dish: Something handmade, warm, comforting; two year old child.
Wear: Whatever. Concentrate on distracting attention away from your clothes and towards your warm casserole dish and cute child.
Pro: Warm comfort food nurtures hard-working academic types. Slight chance you may appear to be Doing It All.
Con: Risk appearing soft/distracted/probably about to go have ten more kids and leave your job behind. Childless guests may chuckle and be all what is it with the women having babies during their dissertations? Then you might have to stand there awkwardly, hoping your child knocks over a lamp or something so you can leave the conversation.
Message 3: I am confident in how hard I am working for you and am stopping in at this potluck.
Bring: Something pretty, healthy, possibly prepared by someone else; partner.
Wear: Something special occasiony.
Pro: Everyone wins when someone shows up in high heels. And pretty artisanal type food is a treat! Bring on the wheatberry! Convincingly appear to be Doing It All. Avoid appearing too needy.
Con: May trip in heels. May appear to have too much disposable income and lead others to conclude that you are secretly working for a pharmaceutical company and therefore not objective in your research. Very few cons.
It's all very complicated.