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Is it OK to wear sexy attire to the office?

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Should you wear that sexy little number to work? What impact does it have? (And what impact would you intend it to have?)

What you wear to work can have an effect on how you are perceived by colleagues and by decision-makers – the people who can make or break your career. But is this right?

In an article on Forbes.com, it was revealed that a study by Glick published in Psychology of Women Quarterly suggest that women in senior roles who dress in what could be considered as ‘sexy attire’ are viewed as less competent–regardless, of their skill sets. And that these women are passed over for promotion more often than their more modestly dressed female colleagues. (I don’t have the same research for males.)

The evidence speaks for itself – but is this a result of conservatism or chauvinism? I can only speak for myself. My opinion is that people should have the choice to wear what they like – what they feel comfortable in (emotionally as well as physically.)

However, there exists a cultural aspect of many organizations where conformity to a norm is expected because we are all ambassadors of our employers. It is in fact legal for an employer to set dress code policies. It’s almost impossible to describe, in words, the difference between attire that is attractive, sexy or even outright sexually provocative – but I know it when I see it – and that’s the point. So how do we judge it?

Establish your employers norm

It’s important to look around your office and gauge how the majority of people dress, and then adapt your attire. It doesn’t mean that because everybody else wears a blue trouser suit, you have to as well. In fact a suit is probably not even mandatory. Be we can ‘calibrate’ the scale and start there, and then any type of outfit can be made to look anywhere on the frumpy-to-sexy continuum.

What’s your intention?

Why wear a provocative outfit to the office in the first place? Is it to attract attention…? I’ll come right out with it – any person (men AND women) who wear provocative clothing do so to be looked at. Period. So if we’re not comfortable with being looked at, then why are we wearing it? Those people who say otherwise are not in the real world.

Not that I am saying there is anything wrong with wanting to be looked at – let me make that clear!

What do you think?

Do you wear ‘sexy’ attire to the office? Or maybe you’re ultra-conservative? Leave a comment below with your thoughts

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This post is part 2 of 4 in the series Style

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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SimonStapleton.com located at Watledge , Stroud, UK . Reviewed by 18,205 readers rated: 9.8 / 10
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