Our dress conveys a lot about who we are and what we intend to do. At work, our dress is even more significant. We could never pull off evening wear at work, and work-wear makes us appear uptight at a club. One of the most significant factors at work for women, is their sexuality. Unfortunately, what gives women power to arouse in clubs, will make them appear insignificant at work. Studies have shown that when women dress overtly sexual they are taken far less seriously and, not surprisingly, are even objectified by others. This isn’t just a male chauvinism problem either, as women in the workplace will also tend to take women who dress sexy less seriously even talking about them behind their backs.
In a study by Sandra Forsythe of Miami University in 1984 it was found that subjects rated theoretical applicants more favourably when they whore more masculine clothing regardless of their sex Masculine clothing was significant in forming positive opinions about forcefulness, self reliance, dynamism, aggressiveness, decisiveness and received a much greater likelihood of recommendation to be hired. While women don’t need to appear stiff, by wearing tie, pants and jackets, like men, they do need to downplay their sexuality especially with respect to their attire.
In the workplace masculinity is the dominant factor. For women, a suite tailored in the style of men to square the body off is a good place to start. This doesn’t exclude tailored curves though, exposing some femininity but it does mean avoiding cleavage. Despite the common misconception, short skirts and high heels might command more attention, but it won’t be the kind of attention that invites promotions. Darker colours can signify a power position, but if the desire is to appear more social than lighter brighter colours can be appropriate. White is associated with honesty and purity which is why we see doctors and estheticians wear it, and black is associated with intellect, expertise and authority. Make-up should be subtle or go unnoticed or if the attire is subdued can be more elaborate to trace the magical boundary between sexuality and femininity. The key message is to downplay gender signals and play up asexuality. Being either too masculine or too feminine are reported much less favourably at work in studies so be sure to blend both and find a happy medium that works for you.