Dress down Fridays is one thing, but wearing party or clubbing clothes to work, is another matter entirely. It is often said that people tend to dress according to current fashion trends, or according to their generation. The question that we need to ask is whether baring flesh is a go or a no-go at work? Living in the 21st century, many think that dressing-down-and-daring is the norm. What we are attempting to establish today is whether dressing sexy helps or hurts your career? How does dressing affect people’s perception of you? What message do we convey through the way we dress?
You have seen her. She comes to work wearing short skirts, cleavage exposing shirts, and tight pants that reveal every inch of her body. Dressing provocatively certainly raises eyebrows, but is it the kind of attention that we are supposed to attract at work? Malaysian celebrity Hannah Tan says, “It is inappropriate to dress provocatively but every woman should dress according to her profession.”
There is also a hefty disadvantage to dressing salaciously at work, which was confirmed in a study published by the Psychology of Women Quarterly in America. Videos of businesswoman dressed differently were shown to senior executives. The woman that dressed in a more provocative fashion was evaluated as “less intelligent and capable” than the modestly-dressedwoman. Whilst this may not be true, it does indicate how one’s dressing sense could influence the perception of one’s capability and credibility. Former Miss Universe Malaysia and national director of Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation Andrea Fonseka thinks that dressing too provocatively or revealing at work can affect one’s professionalism. Forbes Woman adds that many female professionals are “guilty of multiple fashion faux pas without realising it, and their lack of judgment can sometimes lead to being passed over for a job or promotion.” Whilst Diyanah Zaki, managing director of DMZ Synergy Sdn Bhd shares that although a person’s fashion sense and choice of dressing do not indicate everything about that person, the reality is that we are judged by what we wear.
Dressing According TO Body Type
Whilst it may be more acceptable to dress in clothes that fit well, to avoid looking too sloppy, one should not cross the line of dressing in overly tight-fitting clothes that are too revealing of the female form. One of the world’s leading experts on business etiquette and communications, Barbara Pachter, notes that a surprising number of female executives admit to not knowing what styles of clothing suited their body shape. Fonseka points out that women should be aware of their body shapes, and be careful as to what is accentuated in terms of the types and styles of clothes that they wear. Thus, inappropriate dressing for the workplace, may just be a matter of a lack of understanding of one’s own body, and how best to accentuate or play down certain issues.
Dressing To Suit Our Environment
“It’s getting hotter these days and I’m just wearing lighter fabrics to avoid getting all sweaty.” Due to climatic conditions, we may opt to wear lighter clothes that may also be semi-transparent. Whilst we need to consider the weather when we dress for work, it remains crucial for women to dress according to their profession as well as their environment. Sometimes one must simply look around at what other women are wearing to work. Are the female vice-presidents wearing overly tight fitting skirts with low V-neck shirts or are the managers wearing blazers on top of their trendy black dresses?
Certain industries and fields may have a more relaxed dress code than other professions. The fashion, social services, entertainment, and advertising industries may be examples of where a less formal approach to work wear is acceptable. Despite how certain fields allow more latitude to informal styles, leadership management trainer Sheela Chandran shares that there should always be a limit to the way that we dress, and that we should allow our work and not the provocative clothes that we wear, speak for us. If one wants to maintain one’s professional image, dressing to kill can wait till the next killer date!
Dressing for Promotions
As much as the media portrays the sexuality of professional women at work and how they may be able to use their womanly assets to the advantage of the company – this may also be a paradox in terms. Sexiness and professionalism do not appear to go hand in hand. Psychology of Women Quarterly states that women who dress in a sexy manner are viewed as less competent; regardless of their skill sets. These women are also passed over for promotions more often than their modestly-dressed female colleagues.
Whilst some women may be trying to move up the corporate ladder by using their looks, the more appropriate method is to achieve success on merit. As much as sexiness may be appealing at first, Fonseka says that one cannot only rely on one’s sex appeal as it has a short lifespan. One must prove oneself a lot more in other areas, by establishing oneself beyond just dressing. In addition, Tan comments that if a person wants to attract a professional client, she should not sell sex but rather promote her company, its products, or her expertise.
Many women are leaders in the workplace today. They dominate almost half of the workforce as leaders of great companies or entrepreneurs on their own. Many women have undoubtedly reached these heights of success on their own merits. Credible career promotion is based on substance, rather than physical form. It is imperative that women realise that they are rewarded with more responsibilities or attain positions of authority based on how they portray themselves. Their disposition truly determines their positions. Knowing how to dress according to the working environment is a good start to create a good image. A good image comes from professional attire alongside ethical and acceptable behaviour.
Generally, whilst dressing in a sexy manner may help women to climb the ladder faster in the entertainment or social service industries, it may hinder a person’s professional image and performance at work in the long run. Therefore, a woman should dress according to her workplace culture and in line with the industry sheis in. This must be done in conjunction with the perception or impression that she wants to portray.