On one hand, you would love to show up to work (or more accurately, be caught with a glass of wine at a posh bar after work) in a chic little fitted dress with stilettos, cleavage and lipstick. On the other hand, it is not the sixties any more, and you’re not Christina Hendricks in Mad Men.
Depending on your role, you might get some subtle (or overt) hints that your appearance is important. When I worked in sales, for example, it was common knowledge that a shorter skirt or a tighter top helped in attracting male customers. Heels were expected, as was a full face of make-up. Later as an assistant in an accounting firm I morphed out of my dolled-up sales persona into flats and collared shirts. Now I’m back on heels, but they are court heels and I wear them with pencil skirts and ‘sensible’ tops.
"Jill Pringle - Portraits - Waldorf Hotel" by kris krüg
While I love workwear, and love to dress up, I feel constantly divided between wanting to flatter my figure, and worrying that over-emphasizing my looks will lead to people focusing on my body instead of my brain. After all, I was hired for my degrees – plural – not the way I look.
This dilemma has led me to ask as many women as I can for their advice. What they had to say was extensive, but it comes down to one simple phrase: own it. Not to over-exaggerate your body, not to work it, not to show it off, but own it.
"Teresa Moore" by fervent-adepte-de-la-mode
Unwelcome comments can be deflected by a simple “thank you. How can I help you?” or simply “I like this dress too. Now, if we return to your recent question…” The office doesn't have to be a place where you sacrifice your personality or individuality. As long as you are dressed appropriately for the position you hold and for the company you work for, your clothing should be of no relevance – except, of course, that it can make you feel fantastic.