Black, grays, browns and ‘smart’, neutral colors are common for a normal woman’s working wardrobe. Something simple and neutral; but the issue and questions at hand are:

Can you dress like a girly girl and be taken seriously in the workplace?

Does dressing ultra feminine and girly do damage to your professional career?

I’d hasten to assert that the way a woman dresses influences someone’s first impression of you, as with anything; but that being taken seriously in the workplace really has nothing to do with how you dress, but how you act and who you show up as. Please share with us your thoughts, experiences and opinions about ultra-feminine dress at work down in the comments section below. (read my article about how to be a lady)

Here is Oli’s story, a lovely reader who wrote in to me about this issue, to tell me all about how her change in wardrobe affected her time at work, and the surprising responses from men when she decided to change her work wardrobe to an uber-girly and/or feminine look:

(Click here to take the quiz “How Naturally Feminine Am I?”)

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“Hi Renee,

Wanted to share an experience with you.

Over a year ago I decided to start dressing very feminine to work. I thought hard about what I had read over the years and followed; that to look polished and powerful and to be taken seriously particularly by men at the workplace, one had to avoid wearing girly dresses, avoid florals because they could undermine your authority and well wearing pink including hot pink to work and other soft feminine colors will make others at the workplace take you less seriously than they should. Well I got sick and tired of this and said to myself, if I am going to be all woman then I intend to be all woman at the workplace as well.

Anyway, I gave my work wardrobe a new look. I started wearing hot pink to work, high heels and feminine dainty footware, laces, lots of frills, feminine soft colors, sensual fabrics, wore mostly skirts and dresses, wore lots of florals…

The results over this time have been sensational. Before I go on I have to explain. I head a department full of men. My work is media related and you would think the dress code is relaxed at my workplace. It is not. The dress code is quite conservative.

Anyway  all the men, including those in my department would pull seats for me to sit on and look aghast that i would be left to stand. They would rush to open doors for me. Offer to carry anything heavy. Honestly I felt like a princess (who happened to be a fairly strict boss as well)… Ha, Ha.. There was something else that amazed me however. Its that there was absolutely no loss in authority, simply because I choose to wear hot pink or florals to work. I know for a fact that I am respected for what I do at work. So then I thought to myself it isn’t true then when a women dresses very feminine at work, she gets disrespected just because she looks very feminine.

I admit there were a few men and believe it or not women, who misjudged me because of the very feminine way I would dress until I opened my mouth and we got down to business.

I remember within this time my dept. had an intern, a young lady who always dressed in jeans and t shirts. She surprised everyone when she suddenly appeared to work wearing very dainty feminine clothes. She did that for about a week. Believe it or not, I saw exactly the same reaction from surrounding males. They started to treat her like a lady, in every sense of the word, becoming extra thoughtful and protective of her.

Anyway the reason I brought up my ‘experiment’ is that I would be curious what other women would think about the style of our work clothes and if indeed wearing clothes that reflect the masculine really do women any good at the workplace or if wearing very feminine clothes at work hurts women’s
careers.

I would like to add that I made sure that my clothes were very modest looking. (The intern’s were feminine and modest as well).

By the way, the reactions of other women initially was not too good. Then in a few months I noticed that the other women, started wearing softer more feminine colors to work.

And that made me smile.  I felt very happy.

Thanks for your lovely blog.”

oli.

If you haven’t yet, click here to download the “Goddess Report”.

What about you, lovely?

Do you dress very feminine to work? Do you think it’s a good idea for women to do this? Do you think dressing feminine undermines a woman’s authority in the workplace? Do you think men and/or women take women less seriously in the workplace if they dress very feminine?

email_polaroid

  • Rosiebyanyothername

    I don’t wear makeup and can’t wear nail polish at work, but I most definitely do wear skirts and dresses – usually with black opaque tights. Generally, I find dresses easier to fit and put on, and more comfortable to wear throughout the day. I think I look silly in a trouser suit anyway! We have to wear covered, flat shoes and for me this means coloured Oxfords (practical and fun). I don’t think of myself as particularly feminine… I wear whatever’s appropriate and comfortable, and this is feminine clothes most of the year, wool trousers and thermals in the dead of winter. I guess I get treated as a “nice girl” (no roughhousing/pranks/general shenanigans) who is reasonably good at her job? Ha. When I was a Masters student I once heard an older lady in the lab describe me as “cute”, but as far as I know this is the only attention I’ve received because of my appearance. People should just wear what makes them comfortable – especially since someone who’s comfortable is usually a lot more pleasant to deal with!

  • Pooja Pophale

    I dress feminine —I generally wear a salwar kameez- a traditional indian dress.
    Women bosses at our workplace also dress feminine-they wear saris.
    I don’t feel it undermines their authority.
    They are ‘beyou’tiful-they are being themselves.
    🙂

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  • Jessica Wade

    I see nothing wrong with wearing feminine but conservative clothes in the workplace. To me, I see vibrance and life when I put on clothes with a floral pattern or hot pink, etc. When I want to veg out or lounge around the house, I wear t-shirt and sweatpants or basketball shorts. Unfortunately, I wear uniforms because I’m a security officer. Off-duty, I wear whatever I feel my mood is in as well as being careful not to draw the wrong kind of attention.

  • John

    I’m a 32 year old man and I’ve been living my life as a woman for over ten years now. I’m only 5’5″ tall, weigh 140 pounds, and have very little facial hair. I have very long beautiful hair, and both of my ears are triple pierced. I pass as a woman pretty easily. I work in a small office with several other women. Everyday I wear nice dresses or skirts with a pretty top, high heels, and pantyhose. I wear makeup, have long polished nails and always fix my hair nicely. All the women know I’m man, however, they all love the way I dress and present myself. They all knew I was a crossdresser shortly after I started working there over ten years ago. They encouraged me to dress as a woman at work, so I did and I love it. Living my life as a woman 24/7 is awesome and a lot of fun.

  • Joan

    I don’t know if this is the right place to put this. I learned something rather interesting. There is this co-worker of my husbands, that although she can’t dress feminine in the workplace, there are safety rules, and everyone dresses the same way, she has nice manicures and looks feminine.

    The problem is that she gets treated rather badly by the men. I think its because she is trying to be one of the guys. There are lots of masculine women there who are like one of the guys, so I guess, it seems that she feels that she can do the same and get treated just as well.

    The latest thing I heard is that my hubby had to turn down the music they were playing when she was around. It was inappropriate music for a woman, they didn’t play it when the other masculine women were around. Only when this lady was there. She didn’t say a word just kept trying to be like the other guys he told me. Now, my hubby is no angel, he admitted not liking her, but he does try to not be mean, even closing the dirty music.

    Now, I asked him why he doesn’t like her. He doesn’t know. He just doesn’t, but it has something to do with her thinking she was better than other people.

    Now I spent some time thinking about this, and questioning him about it. I asked him how would he feel about her if she was in a dress (if it was allowed) And the funny thing was that he said that he would still not like her, then he got kinda upset, he said, “She would never care about you, why are you worried about her?

    Ok, this was the end of my questions. I don’t know if its just me, but I am getting a clue here about authenticity. It seems to me that she cannot be trusted. Her behaviour is off. Men don’t like fake, they hate it so much that they would choose to hurt her. And what I mean by fake is that she is trying to be one of the guys, and she is not. She is taking and not giving value. She wants to be accepted by them and she is doing what she can to get acceptance. Taking value.

    If she was truly authentic she would gain their acceptance easily. If she was a feminine person which I’m believing she is, she would talk to the men and be happy, ask their help for things. Maybe getting their help lifting heavy items. I’ve seen it done. When I was in high school, there was this girl who wore dresses all the time was very feminine. In biology class she never had to do the gooey stuff, the guys ran to help. Was never made fun of for being a girl.

    I don’t know if its just me but I’m getting a clue here. Don’t want to be made fun of for being a girl? Then be the girl you were born to be.

  • Kathy

    I dress feminine to work because it is one of the things I CAN do at work and still feel like myself 🙂 I don’t really care if it affects how much respect I get. 😉

    • Meg

      I’m still in school but in a male dominated field. I usually do dress feminine and find the guys in my classes and all male instructors are very respectful toward me. I have also noticed if I’m “dressed up” in one of my sundresses men open doors for me, etc but rarely try to get my number or give me a pick up line. If I’m dressed more casually in shorts, tank top, or look more unkempt, I get hit on more, gawked at more and get more unwanted attention. When I’m dressed “as a lady” I get what feels like a respectful distance. It’s definitely a different energy! I also notice when I’m dressed up my husband loves it! He can’t stop staring and smiling at me. I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed the differences!

  • Jane

    You don’t have to dress in pink and lace to be “all woman.” All you have to do is be born a female.

    • Joelle

      THIS is not true i have seen women who make men look girly by the way they look and act. A vagina only makes you able to have babies (usually), you can have one and all be “all dude”

  • Summer

    I work in a hard section in finance 🙂 I am easy to get bored and everyday with black or dark suits become not fun my my female eyes. You can sure your colleagues will feel the same 🙂 When the first time I wear more tidy skirt and blouse, I find myself have more positive energy at work and more cheers. It’s a routine work and dress nicely and fun will keep the energy more positive. I notice some of the women in my work also did the same now and I feel the environment more fun 🙂 Men also give positive feedback and clients also feel more good energy to work with. Before when I wore conventional working suits (black and brown with trousers) I found the colleagues saw me like a rival 🙂 Just dress properly and suitable with your environment and share your positive feminine energy 🙂

  • Tom

    I wear the leve(Jessica Simpsom) square toe ballet flats barefooted to work. I wear them in full male dress mode. They are very comfortable barefooted and get many compliments from the girls in the office.

  • Superb

    I too work in an office full of men. I have always taken care not to dress provocativley. I dont want any issues as they are all married and so am I. I always dress conservativley. I wear long skirts (ankle length) or dressy pants with tops that show no cleavage. Due to the air conditioning in the office, I usually have my arms covered up as well with a light jacket. I have a nice body so I still look sexy in anything I wear and believe me, they notice. They are experts in filling the blanks with their imagination!

  • JP

    Ok…. so I work with ALL men. Yes, I am the ONLY female in my work place. Also, 99% of our clientele is male too. ( A lot of which are older men) I am 27 and I take care of myself. I receive my fair share of attention in a regular setting. As you can imagine, I receive even more attention at work. Some of it borders on sexual harassment while some is just innocent compliments or flirting. Yes, at times I am very uncomfortable with this attention. Anyway, so what do I wear? Jeans & mostly conservative tops. (dress is casual for all) If I wear something that even slightly makes my femininity stand out, I feel a direct increase in male attention. If I wore a dress or other really feminine attire I think the guys at work might fall over. lol. Seriously though, I am literally afraid to wear a skirt or dress to work for fear of what kind of attention I might receive. So in my case I know that I would not be taken seriously… as I find even dressing as I do…men treat me in special ways…like a child that needs to be protected at times ( oh hey darling, you just let me know if anyone is bothering you, I’ll take care of them), a lady to be respected but somewhat dismissed (Hello miss you’re very smart & pretty but let us men folk get down to business), or just a hot piece of you know what that they can ogle at or flirt with. And of course a lot of my co-workers treat me very well, as an equal person. So I receive a wide variety of treatment being the only female at work. I might be able to play up the femininity slightly in a conservative way, but I certainly do not want to put myself in a position that sets me farther apart from my coworkers or more likely to get sexually harassed.

    • Molly

      Or perhaps they will be humbled by your feminine power? I used to have the same attitude but I finally realized: why should we allow jerks like that to make us repress our femininity? I think men respond to feminine women differently and as long as you are acting like a lady, men will treat you like one. I think that when we dress less feminine (more like one of the guys), they think they can say those vulgar things as if they were talking to a guy friend. But if you present yourself as a lady, it will awaken the gentleman inside each of them and make them not even dream of speaking to a lady that way. Just be who you are and carry yourself with dignity and class…it seems like some of your co-workers need a lesson in what those are! As the only female there, you could totally revolutionize the environment you work in.

  • What a wonderful discussion. If any of you ladies are looking for help with dressing modestly, I have a blog about the topic:

    http://modestia.stblogs.com

  • oli

    Thank you, lovely ladies for your truly uplifting response to my experiment. Reading the comments made me proud to be (or working hard to be) a truly feminine woman!

    It makes me incredibly happy that there is a community here of like thinking women whose goal is to simply enjoy being feminine.

    And thanks so much Renee for sharing my story on your blog.

    A number of ladies brought up the issue of modesty. I totally agree. There’s so much vulgarity around in the way some women dress. What I mean is that their clothing seems to sell sex rather than femininity or womanhood. There is a difference. I’m not sure I can clearly articulate what the difference is but when you see it, you know it (at least I think so).

    For inspiration, I looked at pictures of women in the 1940s and 1950s. I thought that period captured in a lot of ways the feminine in women’s clothing. I am, however, a woman with my two feet firmly planted in 2010 and I do like my jeans and sneakers too, so I take the elements or ideas of feminine clothing from that period, take the best of it and incorporate those elements into my wardrobe.

    I think that generally speaking, whatever one wears, a skirt or pants, colorful florals or neutrals, the outfit should have a feminine element in it to reflect our ‘inner woman’. And I have to admit it, feeling lovely and feminine is such a GREAT feeling!

  • Dee

    Hey all,

    I don’t think it matters how feminine you dress so long as you dress modestly. Advertise your gender, not your sex. I’ve discovered that I’m treated better when I wear soft, flowy clothing than when I dress to flaunt my curves.

  • clarice

    hey guys
    this article comes as good news because i know not what you are talking about. i`m an animal scientist – researcher who works outdoors, in jeans and shorts. weekends are more or less the same. i think i`m the one who`d feel funny going to work in all that. but wait, a couple of times i`ve worn the jeans with fancy tops in pink, lilac and the like, i`ve liked it, and huh, waal comments were thrown in. i`ll try for some weeks and see what happens.

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