7 Tips to Look More Attractive, But Not Provocative, at Work

Ladies, if you want to be taken seriously at work it's important to look attractive and put-together, but not sexy or provocative.  Here are 7 style rules that will create an attractive professional image:

Tip #1:  Your skirt and dress length

The style rule is to wear a length that is proportional to your height and appropriate for the situation.  The professional "power woman" rule is for your skirt and dress length to hit just above your knee.  The reason is when you sit down, your skirt hikes up naturally, and you don't want to cause a distraction.  A tasteful maxi skirt is fine as long as your top is more fitted and conservative; add a belt and a short jacket over it to create a complete outfit.

Tip #2:  Neckline cleavage

Where would you like someone to look when he or she is speaking to you during a business meeting? If the answer is "your eyes," then your neckline should not reveal any cleavage.  There is a way to determine the most attractive neckline that balances your face -- it's called a Balance Point.  Artists use balance points when painting portraits.  Measure the distance from the top of your hairline (if you wear bangs, your hairline is where your bangs end) to your chin.  Then take that length and extend it from your chin down to your bodice.  Wherever that measurement falls on your bodice, that's the most attractive neckline opening for you.  If it's too low, and would show cleavage, then place a necklace at that point.   

Tip #3:  Tight clothing

Most people wear clothes that either too big or too small, thinking it makes them look thinner.  That's a myth.  Squeezing into a sausage casing will only make you get the picture.  Clothes should skim your body and fall naturally. Clothes that are too tight actually call attention to your body flaws, or worse, create body flaws where you have none!  Dressing in overly tight clothes sends the wrong signal at work.  

Tip #4:  Amount of skin showing

For women, the more skin you show, the less influence you have. Do you really want to work harder to earn the respect of your co-workers and boss?  A good rule of thumb is to divide your body into thirds:  one-third on top from shoulders to waist, one-third from waist to knees, one-third from knees to feet.  Show skin on one third only.  If you have a skirt that ends above the knee, then wear a conservative blouse with long sleeves.  If you're wearing a cowl-neck top (no cleavage!), this calls for long pants.

If you wish to be seen as a professional, limit the amount of skin showing.

Tip #5:  Color and fabric

Of course, the best way to make a statement about who you are is to wear colors that make you look radiant and energetic, and wear the highest quality fabrics you can afford.  It's better to own a few memorable pieces than a closet full of forgettable ones.

Your best colors are determined by your natural skin coloring, eye and hair color, and even your personality.  I can do a virtual color consultation for you, determine your colors, and provide a color card with your color palette. It's a great way to create a mix-and-match wardrobe that brings you confidence and joy!

Tip #6:  Shoes

We ladies love our shoes!  Shoes make a statement.  They complete our outfit.  Of course, close-toed shoes are the most professional style.  A trendy bootie, loafer, or gladiator shoe is the perfect accompaniment for pants, dresses, or skirts.   Sandals that reveal your toes are becoming more acceptable especially in hot climates.  Here are some things to avoid:  lack of pedicure, worn out shoes, too high (4" and higher), too strappy (those are for date night), and flip flops are out.

Tip #7:  Bare legs

The good news is unless you work for a conservative office that specifically calls for them, pantyhose and stockings can be left in your drawer.  Bare legs are work appropriate.  Fall and winter bring with it the opportunity to add colored tights into the mix, which are a great way to get a put-together look.

What do you think?  What does the line between looking attractive and looking provocative mean to you in the workplace?

How Women can Look Attractive, But Not Provocative, at Work

Women in leadership positions, as well as future leaders of tomorrow, want to be taken seriously.  One of the first things we notice about a woman is her clothing, and we quickly form a first impression.  The same is true for a man, but men have more of a professional uniform that is relatively easy to identify.  There are so many clothing and accessory choices for women to make, that it's easy to miss the mark!  Women can easily project something with their appearance that goes beyond attractive into the realm of sexy and desirable.

Back in our grandmother's generation women were subject to stringent rules regarding what a woman could or could not wear.  Many of our grandmothers didn't work outside the home, so they weren't subject to issues of how to dress in the workplace.  My grandmother never wrestled with intractable problems as she stood hesitating in front of a rack of clothes.  Can you wear a sleeveless shirt dress without a cardigan or jacket to cover your arms?  How much cleavage is permissible to show without looking sexy?  How short is too short for a skirt? Is it ever okay to show your tattoo at work?

Here's the rub:  women still have to be attractive in order to make a good first impression.  However, women must not look provocative because that is sending the wrong kind of attractive signal.  Women should get noticed because they look put-together and because they communicate confidence in their professional skills, ideas, and expertise.

Let's assume you want to express something of who you are in your clothing, not too trendy as to look like everyone else, while concealing your flaws and accentuating your assets.  Whew!  The good news is you can create a powerful first impression without total conformity or losing your individuality. It's all about dressing appropriately for your coloring, body shape, and the situation.

My suggestion is, when in doubt, dress like a Parisian woman.  That's right.  They would never, ever, ever leave the house in sweatpants! Leaving the house calls for dressing up.  If you look like a slob in Paris you let down the whole city.  Take a look at the average Parisian woman....her skirt is the perfect length, her jacket is beautifully tailored, and she spends money on her undergarments to flatter her shape.  Her outfit is pulled together with a colorful, but tasteful scarf.  Her look is brilliantly balanced.  She does this because she believes in good taste -- it's a way of life for her.  She loves to look unique and she loves what she wears.

I've put together 7 fashion tips for professional women who want to look attractive, but not provocative.  See my next post for 7 style tips that will keep you from crossing the line between looking attractive and looking provocative at work.