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A Guide For Dressing Professionally At Work

Updated on January 31, 2018
donotfear profile image

Annette Sharp holds a BAAS in Behavioral Science from Texas A&M. She is a counselor and motivator with an empathetic heart.

The Business Strategy of What NOT To Wear!

Listen up! In the workplace conducting business, I've noticed a trend toward a lack of professionalism. It's called "baring skin" in the workplace. Look, I may be the ‘Old Chicken' on the block, but dressing like a nightclub princess while conducting business is tasteless.

The "Baring the Breast" Small Business Plan!

Let me give you an example. Those plunging necklines....really! Is it necessary to reveal half your boobs working at the check out stand? Every time you bend over, a patron gets a clear shot. It's distracting, annoying, and unprofessional. Unless, that is, you're a male customer who's looking for a cheap thrill. What kind of message does it send to the customer? (Yeah, I know, Erin Brockovich was successful). Are you really so insecure? Do you need to show half your boobs to get noticed?

The Tights Have It: The "Skinny Business Strategy"

Here's one that really takes the taco - wearing leotards and tights to the office! The shirt fits like a snakeskin and the pants (may as well be tights) are so snug you can see a pimple on the butt! Every time you walk by, someone stares. But don't worry. Those who stare do it after you've walked past so they can watch your butt move from behind. What happened to the dress code?


Business Marketing Strategy in Overly Promoted Clothing Accessories: All That Glitters Is Gold!

Ah! Get a load of this: an advertising Account Executive came to my office looking like Mary Kay. I'm not kidding. She was promoting country music for her radio station and the chick was so overdressed it was unreal! The makeup was perfect, just an inch thick. She had rings on every finger, giant gold hoopy earrings, and the biggest chunk of gold chain around her neck I ever saw! When she walked in my office all I saw was' very shiny, very sparkly'. My eyes locked onto the hunk of gold around her neck and I wondered what else it was used for. Her dress was okay, but her accessories weighted her down like an Egyptian mummy! I couldn't take her seriously. Okay, so she wanted me to buy advertising on a country music station. I didn't buy the ad.


Business Advice: Banishing Bathing Suits At The Office!

Then, there's the spaghetti strap tops. Now these are nice for the beach. But in the office? The first time a sales "professional" came to my office wearing a top like this, I thought ,"Where's the sleeves? This must be a ‘factory second' shirt with a brand label".

Not to mention the little puffs of skin bulging out the sides. Let's keep the bathing suit at the beach, okay?


Developing A Business Plan With Bare Legs and Without.

What happened to wearing panty hose? (Seems like nobody's wearing them anymore unless you're over 50). I know they're "hot and uncomfortable", but if you work in an air conditioned office how long do you have to bare (HA) the heat? From your car to the office. Okay, so I'm being a prude about the pantyhose. As long as you have smooth, tanned, airbrushed legs, you can still look professional without wearing panty hose, unless you're over 50 and need to cover those spider veins. I still insist that pantyhose look more professional. But don't your feet get all hot and sweaty with blisters from going without hose?

Realities For What TO Wear For Women In Business.

Now let's get real. What looks professional? Coming from the Old Chicken on the block, I say a blazer or vest and slacks in a more casual work setting. How about Khaki slacks with a blouse (buttoned)? Not to the neck, ding-a-ling, but not below the boobs, either. You can spruce it up with a cool looking scarf. I know it makes a difference where you work. I wouldn't expect somebody who works on a construction site to wear slacks. Appropriate dress on the job is not that hard to figure out. It makes sense. Corporate job: business suit (minus the plunging neckline and bulging boobs). Casual office: Khakis and accessories. Blue collar: jeans in the office and out. It all depends on the job.

My Personal Online Guide For Women: How to Dress Professionally

I don't claim to be an expert. But I believe the definition of "professional dress" doesn't mean the same in the 21st century as it did before 2000. The new generation has been conditioned to accept more revealing attire as a ‘norm'. Just remember, 30 years ago it was taboo. I guess I'm having a hard time accepting it, but I strongly believe that what we wear reveals something about who we are. If you're attempting to conduct business professionally, don't you want to complete the transaction based on your ability, NOT centered on how much of your body you reveal? Think about it.

I know I'm going to make some people really mad with this article. So, it's okay to disagree. I just want people to see the other side of the picture. Hey! And maybe there's still a few folks out there who may agree with me! (But not under 40). That's right, us ‘Old Chickens' just aren't ‘with it'. But that's okay, too.


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    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      6 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Yep Logos, you're right. Thanks for reading!

    • Logos831 profile image


      6 years ago from somewhere, ca

      Great hub, you are funny too. I see this all the time and it embarrasses me as a woman, to see my fellow sex dress this way in public. The work attire has just carried over from the casual attire in public, with girls wearing skin tight tops and jeans, butt-cheek revealing shorts and pajamas or exercise spandex away from the gym. I think when we allowed all this to be OK while running errands day to day, it's started to be OK to dress more immodestly at work too.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      6 years ago from Northeast Texas

      You bet!

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      6 years ago from Northeast Texas


      We're a part of the world of the "uncool"; those who don't adhere to social norms. Yikes! Guess that disqualifies us from being accepted.

      I interviewed with someone recently who was wearing stiletto heels.....I just don't know how she does it.

    • megni profile image


      6 years ago

      You've got it right! May I join your over fifty club? It's about time some tells it like it is. Who are some women dressing for anyway? No matter the business, keep it simple and elegant and avoid thejunk.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      deepthinker: I'm glad to know somebody else sees it the way I do. Flaunting it in the workplace is inappropriate!!! But how many women use the tactic to get ahead? Please, don't get me started.....ankyhow, thanks for the comment.

      Tom T: I'm glad you found this amusing, in a tasteless sort of way. Ha!

    • deepthinker76 profile image


      8 years ago from South Carolina

      I totally agree. It seems as if women DEMAND equal rights and EQUAL respect but cater to the sexual desires of men ALL THE TIME! It disgusts me. You know women are not that naieve to think that men are so innocent that they wont peek or even stare! HA HA HA I say..Men are visual creatures by nature! If it's there they will look. lol..besides it looks trashy and makes it hard for others to take the person serious as a professional.

    • Tom T profile image

      Tom T 

      8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      You had me rolling at the butt pimple. Thanks for the hub. Keep up the good work.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Chrissy, you have a great point here. I see it happen all the time. There is a subliminal coercion going on the world to reveal more and more to be accepted as norm. Yes, norms change with generations. This article may be looked upon in another 50 years as a reaction to a change in society norms. But as far as my personal opinion is concerned: don't flaunt it at work.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hello Everyone,

      I found this article enlightening. I am not that old and I do not show up to work in this attire. Yes, I wear blue jeans but I am not at a level at work that requires dress suits. However, I not always wore blue jeans to work. My mother, a businessperson herself in her younger days, always taught me to dress appropriately for work; unless, one must wear a uniform. Yet in my business classes, I have been told to mirror what your boss and upper management wears, because if management can identify you with them, then you have a chance of moving up.

      I took a notice in my office; even our President when he comes to visits wears blue jeans. I have seen important clients wearing miniskirts and hardly anything on top either. We have a dress code but management breaks it, but penalizes subordinates if they break it (which is no tanks tops, sandals, sleeveless shirts,). So could not be a lot of my generation and younger generation have been sent mixed messages in the work place? We are hit by media to bare ourselves to wear whatever we want, wherever we want, and even potential role models in the workplace do not wear appropriate professional attire. It is just a thought.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Thanks a million Xtine!

    • XtineTheWriter profile image


      8 years ago from Shoreline of Lake Erie, Pennsylvania

      Great job "exposing" one of today's workplace apparel issues, donotfear.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Thanks bearclaw! Needed to hear it.

    • bearclawmedia profile image


      8 years ago from Mining Planet Earth

      This is the most hilariously written hub I have read for a while. Well written too. But damn funny and damn true. Like you view of things.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Yep, James, I know what ya mean. I certainly wouldn't want a woman wearing a tow sack to work to stay modest, but good grief, some of the extremes are ridiculous!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      I enjoyed this article. I have seen all of the above in the work place and much of it is unprofessional. It does get me that the women in revealing clothing get offended when SOME guys look. If Mel Gibson looks they are grinning. If Marty Feldman looks they feel harassed.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      9 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Thank you for your comment. Nothing is 'wrong' with bare legs. There's no Right or Wrong answer here. As long as the legs look ok..nice, tan, airbrushed. Like lotsa women under 40. But those over 40 who can afford and risk tanning (UVA rays), spidervein therapy, varicose vein stripping, etc etc.may get the same look. Gets to be on the expensive side, though. I always thought pantyhose look nice and natural, clean look. Ya know, like youngsters in their 20's. Guess I'm just an old-timer with an issue here. The lady in the 3rd photo from top on far left is wearing a sleevless shirt that looks nice. I wouldn't wear it, though, in a professional setting. Just my choice.

    • MAYRAPINK profile image


      9 years ago from texas

      I suppose I will have to be the one to disagree a bit..Great article by the way, but it is just one POV. I totally believe in dressing appropriate but pantyhose..really? Forget that we might get hot, what is wrong with bare legs? Next thing you know we'll be asked to cover our arms :p

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      9 years ago from Northeast Texas

      I must agree with you on this. The question is: what is acceptable dress? If we were to return to EXACTLY the way things were in Jesus time, we'd be covered from head to toe. So what is "proper" to some is "improper" to others. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to see a woman reveal so much breast in public that it leaves nothing to the imagination. I was at the pharmacy the other day. The woman who helped me was a little older than me, maybe 56 or so. Well, her top dipped WAY down below the cleavage line. Half of her breast was exposed and I could actually see the aerola around the nipple. Look guys, I'm not searching for it, it was right there in front of me, how the heck could I miss it? That's what I'm talking about. One can be modest and stylish without looking like you're wearing a tow sack.

    • heart4theword profile image


      9 years ago from hub

      WOW, this is great, I have heard comments when women were confronted in their own defense... "GOD TOLD ME TO WHERE THIS DRESS", "GOD TOLD ME TO BUY THIS DRESS." response "God told you to dress like a hore, in church of all places." Another one..."If your husband can't take his eyes off me, that is his problem. I'm not going to change the way I dress because other people have a problem." Even Christian women are dressing like the world and think it is ok, for someone elses man to lust after them. They are not applying the word of God in their own lives. I know we are not perfect, yet we can strive to do better always.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      9 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Ha!~ I can relate to that, my friend. You musta been a real rebel!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      When I was a senior in high school, I actually rolled my jeans up to the knee above my cowboy boots one morning in protest against the girls who were just then (early 1961 in rural Montana) hiking skirts up so you could now and then glimpse a (gasp) KNEE! They dropped those hems down by 1:00 p.m; couldn't take the heat.

      Obviously, looking around today, I may have won that one battle but surely did lose the war.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      10 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Right on, sister. I don't think it was a waste of time, but this generation...they're our kids!! Yikes...

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      10 years ago from Sydney

      If you're the Old Chicken, so am I! The "raunch culture" means that revealing everything is OK, and woe betide the poor guy who dares react to it. The funny thing is that young girls think they're being empowered by flaunting their sexuality. They totter around on uncomfortable heels that kill their feet and deform their toes, and now they're even buying corsets like Victorian women (yes, I know they're called "shapewear", but the only reason they're slightly less uncomfortable is we 've invented new fabrics). Not to mention the plastic surgery and Botox.

      In the sixties and seventies, women burned their bras and asserted their right not to have to torture their bodies to please society. Was it all a waste of time?


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