During a recent image seminar to a corporate audience. I was struck by how seriously men take sexual harassment and how hard they work to avoid inappropriate behavior and any unintentional behavior that could even be construed as inappropriate. During the seminar Q&A session, several men expressed their discomfort with formfitting sheath dresses and pencil skirts. They were seriously stressed by these garments.
When we talk about sexual harassment, we usually look at the issue from the female perspective. The male point of view isn’t usually considered. Men are under tremendous pressure at work to be on guard against any action that could be perceived as sexual harassment. I don’t think most women are aware of that intense pressure and how their clothing impacts that.
It is very difficult to be in a business setting with people (women or men) who wear tight or revealing clothing. Body conscious clothing poses a huge risk to coworkers because they have to be so vigilant about accidental stray glances and physical responses. I’m talking about professional, respectful people not leering letches.
Coworkers and supervisors (and clients) aren’t going to risk their job. If your clothing makes them uncomfortable, they may avoid you as a matter of self-preservation. How can your great work be noticed or acknowledged if people aren’t around to see it?
Here are some issues for both women and men to consider when dressing for a professional setting:
- Fit – How formfitting are your clothes? Do they reveal your entire figure/physique? Do seams or buttons pull? Pay particular attention to fit in the chest, arm and booty areas.
- Skin – How much skin is revealed? Consider necklines, hemlines, pant length and sleeve length.
- Cleavage – Are any of the three cleavages visible? Chest cleavage, butt cleavage and toe cleavage…they are all sexy.
- Underwear –Does underwear provide enough support and coverage? Watch for panty lines, bra straps, exposed underwear, visible nipples, camel toes, and moose knuckles.
No, you aren’t “asking for it” if you wear revealing clothing, but it’s completely unrealistic to believe it has no impact on the people around you.