Can Dressing ‘Too Girly’ Be A Career Killer?

“And now, I’m just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time.”
Lady Gaga

A recent CareerBuilder survey found that pink and red are the least preferred choice (1% or less) for CEOs. The presumption is that these colors are too girly and are not taken as seriously as the corporate world’s favorite colors, the always exciting navy blue and black (navy blue was the top choice at 36% amongst CEOs, with black falling behind at 26%.) And even though The Wall Street Journal declared this spring that the power suit look for professional women is over and that floral patterns and pastel colors, once thought to be office fashions sins, are now acceptable we aren’t quite sure. We decided to ask some experts if dressing too girly or feminine can actually hurt your career?

Sam Russel of the told The Grindstone:

“I have often expressed to my female clients the importance of finding feminine and masculine balance in your work attire. Male counter-parts are visual people, but you always want to be remembered for the right things. Flower-y patterns in the workplace can exude too much emotion and comes across as not strong or confident.”

Jennifer Vickery is the President/CEO of a Public Relations firm called National Strategies Public Relations. She believes there is a fine line of dressing professional with a sense of personality/style and simply dressing too girly. She defines too girly as wearing too much pink, too many accessories, floral prints or cuts versus wearing more professional attire with accents of a bright or stylish color. Too girly can involve too short of dress attire, too low of blouse cuts, hairstyling, etc., according to Vickery. She also believes that dressing too feminine can impact your salary. She told The Grindstone:

“How dressing too girly can effect someone’s pay is all about perception. If a client feels their account representative or professional is too girly (which doesn’t refer to age, as this is an issue with younger and older women alike), they may not believe in their professional contributions, may second-guess their work, may seek advice or approval from other colleagues. This can delay projects, cause frustration, waste organizational hours, therefore having a real cost to the bottom line. When a manager reviews the employee’s performance, this will be taken into affect. Managers commonly evaluate people on communication, organization, time effectiveness, and client relations. If these areas are suffering because the client doesn’t believe this person is truly professional simply because of their girly appearance, it really can impact this person’s salary/pay raise potential.

Dressing too girly can also hurt a team internally for the reasons mentioned above. Team members may not value or trust the opinion of a person who wears matching pink bracelets, shows up with an iPhone with pink sparkled gems, a pink laptop cover on a consistent basis. Whether or not people want to admit it, we evaluate and assess someone on a very visual level and decide whether we believe in their expertise, experience, thoughts, contributions and viability in the workforce.”

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