9 Fashion Blunders That Will Undermine Your Presence At Work

Our friends over at Marie Claire recently surveyed their readers, both female and male, on what clothing mistakes can completely undermine a woman’s presence and capability at work. These are not just fashion blunders but they literally have the power to hurt your career. They came up with a list of the worst ones and we thought they were great. Just remember, check yourself before you leave for work.

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    • Lastango

      Those are true, but mostly overt. Here are a few other, less-recognized ways to get in your own way:


      == Clearly out-dress your female boss or peers. They will get you for that.

      == Short sleeves. (I don’t even notice this, but others do.)

      == Wear a truly expensive watch.

      == Carry a fashion purse that has guady logos. (It’s a distraction. Low-key is always better.)

      == Wearing anything that communicates your values or affiliations: religious, political, etc.

      == Any skirt higher than just above the knee — even if you have great gams.

      == Laptops, phones, and other devices in girly colors.

      == Sunglasses on top of your head.

      == Piercings anywhere except your earlobes.

      == Visible tattoos. (Go ahead… chatter all you want to your friends about how we shouldn’t judge people who have tattoos and piercings. Just don’t be dumb enough to believe it actually works that way.)

      == Chokers. (Save it for your date tonight.)


      The guiding principle is that you’ll rise in the organization as long as you don’t prevent yourself from doing so. That’s why playing it safe works. Meanwhile, others less savvy are taking themselves out of the game with a variety of personal failings and lifestyle mistakes.

    • Somnilee

      While there are some valid points, it saddens me how many of them smack of “women should look and dress a certain way that is as inoffensive to anyone as possible while still meeting societal ideals of femininity”. Yes, I appreciate men also have “guidelines” but it’s generally “shirt, pants, jacket, watch” – as long as they’re not naked or in completely casual wear no-one puts these kinds of “restrictions” on them at all.

    • lalala

      If bright pink nails would “undermine” me in a workplace, I wouldn’t work there. That’s stupid. I agree with Somnilee, I wish you guys would stop posting these articles, or cut out some of the ones like makeup and nails. I think that if what you wear to work, short of clear heels and a minidress with cleavage, has the capability of undermining you then you’re not working hard enough. And I’m sick to death of seeing articles telling me what will or will not make people take me seriously. Your work speaks for itself. If someone is offended that you took the time to put on impeccable eye makeup, that’s their problem.

    • LCT

      These are great points, and in an ideal world, that’s how it should be. But unfortunately that’s not how the vast majority of employers roll. The point of The Grindstone is to address the issues of women who are ambitious about their careers and business accomplishments, and that usually includes tips on how to “play the game” to your advantage. So yes, that includes dressing in a way that further enhances your professional image and forces others to respect you.

      But yeah, it sucks that a lot of these even matter. And especially that women are so damned critical of each other.

      • Lastango

        I agree. People want to be themselves, however IMO it’s important to recognize that the professional world is a completely artificial environment. Very little there is “normal”, and we have to wear costumes if we want to be in the play.
        Folks didn’t used to fret much about the need to fit in, until “do your own thing” got a foothold in the culture. Then people thought they could do their own thing anywhere, which led to some real problems. There’s an element of ego and presumption in flaunting one’s free-spiritedness.
        “But yeah, it sucks that a lot of these even matter.”
        But we can’t have our cake and eat it. For instance, we can’t applaud how a great suit helps both men and women project competence and confidence while we lament that a less-than-tasteful outfit does the opposite.

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    • http://www.facebook.com/jess.mccloskey Jess McCloskey

      What is the point of having cake if we don’t get to eat it as well? I see no issue with giving additional professional points to someone for wearing a sharp suit whilst staying neutral on anything less than a sharp suit. Why is that so challenging?