Style in the Workplace Series - Playing in the Sandbox
I already know this is a somewhat controversial post because I’m torn between two competing arguments about women and their wardrobe for work. On the one hand, I believe women shouldn’t be judged more harshly for what they wear to work than men. However, knowing that, I also think it’s important to dress professionally to show those you work with that you’re a woman on a mission with your career. I’ll give you a personal example. I wanted to wear a new bodycon dress to work with a long over-sized vest over top. Because the vest was so voluminous, I wanted a tight fit underneath. The dress fit great at home and looked perfectly fine in the mirror. However, once I left the house and was walking into work, the dress was constantly sliding up and sitting right under my butt cheeks and barely covering my lady parts!!! Thankfully the vest over top helped distract from the length of my dress, but I was so uncomfortable all day long and was terrified of seeing coworkers. Wearing something that accidentally felt inappropriate at work really got me thinking about why I felt that way and realizing that we as women need to be a little kinder to each other. The next time you want to judge a woman at work for what she’s wearing, maybe ask yourself if that was her intent or really had no idea when she left the house. Women already face so many challenges and judgments, so let’s show a little grace to each other.
It’s no secret that women are judged much more harshly and frequently for our attire at work. It doesn’t make it right or fair, but I’ve always adopted an approach that you play within the sandbox you have until you’ve changed it into the one you want. So for now, women should be mindful of how their clothes are perceived at work. After all, you want to be taken seriously at work and grow in your career, and our clothes play a great deal into that. Don’t get me wrong, you can keep your personal style and not completely lose who you are when you go to work, and you shouldn’t dress solely out of fear of what others think. I’m simply saying that at work the stakes are a bit higher. Your career and reputation at work are valuable because it can truly help you succeed and really let others see more than just your clothes but your intelligence and abilities. Here are some tips:
A Modest Proposal
You don’t have to dress like a prude for work. Let me get that straight first. You don’t have to wear turtlenecks and long pants every day just to feel like you’re not showing skin. You can show skin in an appropriate way. **Warning: If you are experiencing inappropriate or explicit comments at work, totally not ok and go to HR!** My general rule is that if I’m showing more skin up top, then I cover up more on the bottom. If I’m showing more on the bottom, then I cover up more on the top. I try to balance out the amount of skin I’m showing.
Does this show too much skin?
Likely, this is a question every woman has probably asked herself while getting ready. There are a couple simple solutions that I typically do:
Tights!!! Get some great fitting opaque tights in several colors to wear throughout the colder months for your shorter items. It can really help make you feel more covered up and help a skirt or dress that you thought was too short be totally fine.
Long layers. If a skirt or dress is a little on the short side, pair it with a longer cardigan, vest or blazer. That can help elongate your lines and distract from the shortness.
Tailoring. A simple stitch, clasp or button can go a long way on preventing a wardrobe malfunction at work. Wrap and faux wrap tops can show quite a bit of cleavage sometimes, but if you add a simple snap closure in the right place, problem solved!
Remember, this isn’t white and black, and this isn’t to say you have to suppress being a woman at work. This is just some tips on trying to balance our sexuality with professionalism. Until there is true equality in the workplace, women have it harder in how we’re expected to portray ourselves at work. My aim here is to just empower you all with your wardrobe choices so that you can excel in your career and be seen for the amazingly talented boss babe that you truly are!