Women Dressing for Success in the Workplace

As a woman in today’s workplace, do you feel like you are a little more scrutinized in what you wear than your male counterparts?

While women would like to think they are judged for their brains and skills and not their appearance, there is little doubt there are still some offices where what female employees wear to work is given greater scrutiny than men.

In a setting where standard company uniforms like a hospital or eatery usually means no big deal, other venues can lead to an array of options for dressing up or dressing down.

For women dressing for the office or to attend a work-related business function, it is important to dress the role without pushing the envelope.

While a number of women no doubt enjoy the attention they get in the office or at a business function, drawing too much negative attention is not a good routine to get into.

When females are dressing for the office, the most important thing to remember is who your audience is, especially if you are in sales and will be having contact with current and prospective clients.

Don’t Be Tempted for the Model Look

If you work in a setting where you will be coming in contact with clients on a regular basis, do not dress like a model.

Yes, it is okay to be attractive in your presentation, but be sure you’re not flaunting too much so that the client is more interested in your wardrobe than what you and your company have to offer. Not being taken seriously can kill that opportunity to pitch a product and/or make a sale.

Next it is a good idea if there are other females in the office to pattern your clothing appearances after them. That holds true assuming they dress in a professional manner and not something deemed too risky. The last thing you want is for a client to disregard your intelligence and think that you’re the next pinup model.

Another no-no is showing up on a regular basis in clothing that is too loud. While a purple fluorescent outfit may work well for a night out on the town, you are showing up for work, not a movie premiere. On the flip side, it is not advisable to show up for work wearing bland colors that make you appear drab and unwelcoming.

Does Age Factor into What to Wear?

Age also plays a role in how women should dress for their 9 to 5 routine.

If you are in your 40s, 50s or older, do not try and dress like a woman just out of college. If you want to be taken seriously don’t try and live your past in front of your co-workers and/or clients.

At the end of the day, common sense plays the most pivotal role in how your dress for jobs.

Remember, if you think something you’re going to wear will by any means call too much attention to you, keep it in the closet.

Dave Thomas writes extensively for Business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.

Views: 2301

Comment by Dave Thomas on February 28, 2012 at 11:13am

I'm all for equal pay for equal work. As I noted earlier, companies need to hire the best candidates.... leave the genders out of the mix as much as possible.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 28, 2012 at 12:29pm
Having a wonderful day at the office Dave old shoe. When I first skimmed this article my thought was, "weak and somewhat trite attempt". I thought there might be some reaction to it as it was somewhat patronizing.

When any of us flop something out there as personal opinion, particularly as to what other people should do ,it is my opinion that we don't get to whine about anybody taking a shot across the bow. Particularly when we present ourselves as a writer. If you think negative strokes are better than no strokes at all you certainly got what you were looking for with this one. It has been kind of fun to give the kind of review this one deserves.

Y'all have a good day, hear, say hello to your momma and the folks and come see us.
Comment by Dave Thomas on February 28, 2012 at 12:33pm


I love your feisty spirit.... and yes.... you contributed to one of the more commented posts on here recently. Some form of reaction is better than no reaction at all.  :)

Comment by Andrew Hanneman on February 28, 2012 at 12:59pm

Perhaps I'm being pessimistic (I'm not even sure I spelled that correctly) but I confident that Dave posted this article not for article purposes but more for uping his relevance in online media search.  I cannot imagine a way that Dave you would think this would not create a controvertial reaction, so it must have been your intention.    So if it was intentional, it has to be more about getting "click" or "reads".  Very similar to what Jason Whitlock does in sports media, but just on a smaller scale.  Either way it certainly has been interesting reading the comments. 

Comment by Dave Thomas on February 28, 2012 at 1:06pm

Our site gets a tremendous amount of traffic.... so I do not need to write 'controversial' issues to draw readers. All writers like genuine and healthy commenting on their stories. To that end, I think that was met here. I hope if I do an article coming up on how men should consider dressing for work that it gets equal attention. Thank you for reading and commenting. :)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 28, 2012 at 1:08pm
Patronizing to the end. Good to know you espouse the theory, "she hit me, she must like me". If reaction of any kind floats your boat, write one of those overdone deals about "recruiting is dead cause all recruiters are no longer relevant". That will get you more abuse than your masochistic little self can stand.
Comment by Dave Thomas on February 28, 2012 at 1:10pm

Thanks again for your feedback.... you have a good day too.

Comment by Andrew Hanneman on February 28, 2012 at 1:20pm

Ok Dave, so let me understand, you sat down and took the time to write an serious artilce outlining the premise that woman she not dress "trampy" in the office cause it can be distracting to their professional developement and client development. 


I'm going to put out an article about how showering in the morning and using soap in ones privates areas as well as the rest of ones body will do wonders in advancing ones career.  I'm going to recommend that all women stop using so much perfume as they all seem to do, and while I'm at it, talk to women about taking more initiative and stop always making men do all the hard work! 

Comment by Samantha Lacey on February 28, 2012 at 1:32pm

Right, this is going to be my final word on this. Dave, in response to your response to Andrew, if you were to write an article about how MEN should dress in the office, that would not raise anything like the same response. You ARE a man. The whole reason this storm has come your way is because you are writing about something (in a patronising and presumptuous manner) for an audience who are frankly sick of men having the upper hand, getting paid more for the same work and all the other inequalities we deal with. The only way you could raise a similar response from men would be if you wrote a similarly inflamatory article like "How really old men should dress for work" or "How Jewish men should dress for work" You may think I am being flippant, but it simply is not acceptable to write to an audience of women about how they should dress. You are not Christian Dior, you have not (to my knowledge) studies fashion, I would suggest sticking to your own subject and leaving us poor, stupid women to work out which foot goes in which shoe. 

I am a feminist and very proud of that fact. Let me state this very clearly, this does not mean I hate men. I love men so much I am marrying one of them this summer. What I do hate is when men come around and presume to know best for me. Your article does exactly that and every one of your comments has been completely unapologetic when this has been pointed out to you. I would have appreciated you acknowledging that your article could come off as offensive, whether or not it was your intention to write something offensive or not. 

As you can see, I've had some time to think about this. Each one of your comments annoyed me a little bit more and I think I see what you're doing. It's a tactic I was taught during my call centre days, when a customer is yelling at you because they are angry you just smile, and be extra polite. 9 times out of 10 it would diffuse the situation, I am the 1 out of 10 I'm afraid and I can sense your insincerity. I was willing to put the original article down to a deep misunderstanding of acceptable communication styles, but it is now quite clearly a stunt to promote you and your website. Please think of something more original or actually spend some money on marketing. I for one do not want to be a part of your self promotion. 

Comment by Samantha Lacey on February 28, 2012 at 1:33pm

*studied not studies...OK now I'm going. 


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