fbpx
Do You Have to Dress Down to Move Up at Work?
Does a woman have to dress down to move up in her career? Recently, one of my younger clients who works in a male-dominated field, emailed me with the following question:
“I wonder if you would post about a specific topic for executive women. I have worn the dresses you picked out for me with much success, but almost too much success. I look so good it’s detracting from my message and attracting some unwanted attention from men.”

To say that I was taken aback by her request would be an understatement, as I truly thought those threatening days were long gone.

I experienced her quandary back in the 80s when I was a hard-working and ambitious woman, surrounded by men with huge egos who had no fear of sexual harassment charges or even knew they existed. Actually, I had bosses and encounters with men who thought nothing of inappropriate behavior. In a way, it was their badge of honor and my baggage to carry. So, how could this still be going on?
My client, and apparently other women in male-dominated industries, as per an article in Forbes, on the subject for sexism, clearly shows that the good ‘ole boys club shenanigans that I’ve had to face, still go on, especially in Silicon Valley.

So here I am, three decades later, showing women which clothes will flatter them the most, so that their careers can soar, only to find out that unwanted and uninvited attention from men is clipping their wings.

The majority of women I work with are not in male dominated fields and do not have to forfeit looking and feeling attractive, in order to show power and receive respect. Yet, I can’t stop being disturbed about how women in tech industries have to wrestle with deciding if they have to dress down so as to move up in their careers.
I asked my client if she is getting more deals and interest in her services, since working with me, and wearing the clothes I selected for her professional wardrobe. Here is her response:
“Yes, a lot of doors opened and the deal flows are better, however I think I’m pitching a deal and the men think they are getting a date.”
Could it be that when some men behave like predators, it is their attempt to keep powerful, smart and talented women from passing them on the way up the ladder of a successful career? Or are they simply afraid of what their prey could accomplish if they are allowed to survive?
It is wonderful that she, and many of my other client’s, careers and income are expanding, yet tainted with the fact that even in 2015, women in certain industries still have to decide if they should dress down and copy the men by wearing suits, or dress so that they feel beautiful, while risking being made to feel that they are sending the wrong signals.
How disappointing and sad, that many women still have to say “eyes up here.”

A woman can and should be able to wear clothes that are flattering and give her the ability to command the room, instead of the wrong attention. Her career will always grow, when her appearance reflects her confidence, skills and creativity.

Clearly, our work in leveling the playing field in the workplace is still not done, but in no way does that mean women should allow the “uber” testosterone of some small-minded men, to determine how they dress and feel about themselves.
Note: This is article originally appeared in Huffington Post.
[Related: How to Dress Classy in a Business Casual Work Environment?]

Hi, I'm Anna!

I’ll help you create a career strategy and plan so you can finally have a job or business you love that supports the life you really want.

Learn More

You might also like…

The Ultimate Planning Guide

The Ultimate Planning Guide

I’m excited for you today because you are going to learn so much if you want to make your goals happen and launch your dream career or business. I have been helping thousands of women with this planning guide launch their dream careers and businesses for over 10...

How to Grow a Side Hustle from Home

How to Grow a Side Hustle from Home

In today's podcast, I want to help you learn how to grow a side hustle from home. And how you can juggle it all when you have a day job and you're trying to grow your side hustle as well. You may be struggling with time management and balance and feel like there are...

Time Management Strategies To Find Balance and Not Feel Guilty

Time Management Strategies To Find Balance and Not Feel Guilty

Do you ever feel like you are always busy? You feel burnt out, unhappy and unfulfilled with barely enough time to make your dreams happen. Maybe you feel haunted about balancing it all and you feel like there’s more for you out there but you have to figure out how to...

90 Day Planner