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?

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39 Comments on "Dressing Feminine In The Workplace – Will You be Taken Seriously?"

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Rosiebyanyothername
Guest
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… Read more »
Pooja Pophale
Guest

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.
🙂

Jessica Wade
Guest

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
Guest
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… Read more »
Joan
Guest
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… Read more »
Kathy
Guest

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
Guest
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… Read more »
Jane
Guest

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
Guest

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
Guest
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… Read more »
Tom
Guest

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
Guest
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… Read more »
JP
Guest
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.… Read more »
Molly
Guest
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… Read more »
Rebecca
Guest

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
Guest
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… Read more »
Dee
Guest

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
Guest

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.

BrownEyedBeauty
Guest
As to not being taken seriously at work…people should be judged by their productivity, behavior, and ethics. Not for looking “too” feminine. A woman can never be too feminine! If another woman dislikes the fact that you wear pearls or pencil skirts, she is the one with a problem. Some women mistakenly believe that looking feminine means wearing miniskirts, stiletto heels, and showing oodles of cleavage…this is inappropriate at work. But there is nothing wrong with wearing pink, or florals, or pretty clothes. It takes a confident woman to embrace her femininity instead of carrying herself like a man.
BrownEyedBeauty
Guest
Hey, ladies…I’m feeling your words. I completely agree! 😉 Valerie M…I wear blue jeans on a daily basis. Not because I want to, but because the city I live in is very unsafe. I’ve been the victim of sexual harassment AND rape, plus my body image isn’t that positive. 🙁 But I still make a conscious effort to look and be feminine no matter what. I like your idea about wearing flowers in the hair. That adds a beautiful, sensual image. I would wear skirts and dresses 24/7 if I could! 🙂 Lisa…it is actually quite simple to find feminine,… Read more »
Lisa
Guest
Any ideas where one can find feminine, modest dresses, blouses and skirts? Also, it seems there may be some disagreement about what modest actual is. To me it’s more than just cover a certain amount of skin. It includes not wearing skirts so tight that they outline the hips and back side … as well as not wearing blouses so many inches below the collarbone that the upper parts of the breasts are revealed … or even low and loose enough that if one has to lean over to pick up something or get something out of a bottom desk… Read more »
andrea
Guest
I work at a public library with mostly women. I don’t need to look like a business woman, so I have fun with my wardrobe at work. I don’t really like overly frilly or pink, but I love to wear feminine blues and teals, and skirts. I don’t like showing my bare legs, so I usually wear stockings or knee socks. I can’t even remember the last time I wore pants to work, or anywhere for that matter! It’s definitely different from what my co-workers wear (baggy lounge pants, capris, t-shirts…but I am comfortable in these clothes.
stefanie
Guest
What a lovely letter! I do think that some people will not respect you as much at first sight. I have actually read a study that women who take their husbands name are also respected a little less! Which is just plain silly if you ask me – it just shows she likes the tradition or the name. I do think that it’s a good way to weed out the prejudiced people from the nice ones 😉 I think the trick is mostly in wearing what you feel right in. Because that way, you feel your best, you exude confidence… Read more »

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