Let’s face it, our daily dress rituals can be a source of several dilemmas. Deciding what to wear when facing unpredictable weather or determining which shoes are the best for the long day to come, are just some of the problems we have to address first thing in the morning. With the movement towards variation in work clothes, for example, ‘casual business’ or ‘casual casual’, things have become a bit more complicated. However, among all the different problems, there is one, in particular, that affects many of us: when it comes to cleavage, how much is too much in the office?
What a woman should or should not use in the office has been discussed to satiety, but I think it is an issue that needs to be mixed again. Many women still show too much skin and probably don’t fully understand the damage that those low-cut blouses are inflicting on their careers.
Once upon a time, I worked with a woman who dressed in a way that accentuated her chest (read: neckline in abundance). To this day, I still have no idea what he did for the company. I don’t know if she was capable, intelligent or even a good person. Of course, I was not the only one who noticed. The boys in the office faced the even more challenging situation of wanting to look (apparently boys like tits) but not wanting to be disrespectful, or worse, that their eyes are perceived as sexual harassment. One of my friends once told me how awkward a woman’s top developer was during a company meeting:
Everyone at the meeting stared at her, it was impossible not to do it! I really tried to focus on her face, but once I started, I couldn’t look away for fear that she thought I was looking at her. I spent the entire meeting trying to avoid his chest and respectfully listening to what he had to say, but instead, he repeated ‘not looking down’ again and again until the meeting ended mercifully. I didn’t hear a word of what he said and I don’t even remember his name. “
The more skin you show, the less power you will have:
Similarly, Diane Gottsman, a US-based etiquette expert and founder of the Texas Protocol School, states: “In a corporate world, you want to stand out for the success of your work and not for your cleavage or triple Ds … because if you like it or not, when you’re exposed, send a message.”
Remember that you are your brand:
Although the issue of proper attire extends beyond the neckline to include flip flops and men with too-tight pants, it is interesting to note that even within our current modern society, where limits are constantly challenged, the rules still apply. But, as always, the choice is always yours, so if you feel comfortable with your own skin or make a fashion statement, maybe it all comes down to how you choose to express yourself. And as Gottsman says, “You are your brand” and I’m not talking about clothes.