DEAR HARRIETTE: My boss recently pulled me aside and asked me to show some more skin on the job, seeing as it might get me more tips and happier customers. I am a pretty conservative dresser, and I have this waitressing job to get me through school. It is true that I am the most conservative dresser at the restaurant, but I didn’t think anything of it. The other women wear skirts rather than pants and fitted tops rather than loose polo shirts. I hadn’t paid much attention to how they dressed before my boss said this. I was just happy that we didn’t have to wear a uniform. Should I take her advice? I feel uneasy that my boss told me to do this, but I think I may see better tips. — Advising Boss, DenverDEAR ADVISING BOSS: Your boss’s words skirt dangerously close to inappropriate, and yet they may also point to the trend in this restaurant. Though there is no uniform, if there is a general way that most servers dress and you are far more conservative, you probably stand out as different. What can you do about that? You should alter your attire only to the extent that you feel comfortable. So, if you have a skirt that could work or a more fitted top, go for it.
That said, I recommend that you engage your customers more instead of changing your appearance. Look them in the eye and smile, and greet each person. Be friendly and excellent at your job. Serve them well. Remember repeat customers, and do your best to use your personality to draw tips rather than your body.
DEAR HARRIETTE: When I was in a tight spot financially, my parents offered to match my savings and get me a used car. I did not ask them for this money, and they said it was a gift. I am still making ends meet, but I feel like I should be thinking about repaying my family’s financial gift. How should I bring this up with my parents? I’d feel like a dead weight if I never gave them back the money. — Driving Me Crazy, Memphis, TennesseeDEAR DRIVING ME CRAZY: You should believe your parents. If they said the match was a gift, I’m sure it was. Gifts are easier for the giver to manage because there are no strings attached. Rather than focusing on paying back money that is not officially on your debt list, review your current bills and work on paying them down. When you are liquid, start building a fund for your parents. When it meets the amount they gave you, present it as a gift of gratitude to them for their loving support.
Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or C/O Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.