Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Can a woman be powerful, and successful while dressing sexy?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21634 points ) December 12th, 2011

Based off an exchange in this question, I wondered if a woman dresses sexy does it hurt her ability to be successful, or influential in the realm of commerce? If she wears a mini and heels is it the type, or brand that would make the difference? If it were a high-end leather mini matched with a $1,200 Dior jacket with LV stilettos, would she carry more clout than a woman in a denim mini off Ebay, heels from Payless Shoes, and a FUBU hoodie? Would she be marginalized no matter how smart, or educated she was solely because they will see sexy clothes and form an opinion that her looks are the only thing she has?

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33 Answers

everephebe's avatar

“If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him, is he still wrong?”

lillycoyote's avatar

That depends on what you mean by “dressing sexy.” Men and women, both, if they want to succeed in certain fields, need to dress in a professional manner. That doesn’t mean that either men or women have to dress in a way that is unattractive or unfashionable, just that they should dress professionally.

Supacase's avatar

Sexy is subjective. Some people find the stereotypical librarian type sexy as hell and miniskirts with heels sleazy.

Price does not matter as long as she is dressed appropriately for her profession.

bongo's avatar

No matter how well qualified you are I feel you need a certain level of common sense to be able to dress correctly for a job. By dressing slutty this obviously shows a lack of respect for other employees who may feel uncomfortable about the way she dresses whether they admit it of not. Super short skirts can be ok in the work place but not in combination with bare legs and heels. I dont think it matters how expensive work clothes cost you as long as you are smart.
By all means a woman can dress sexy I mean I look sexy whatever I wear ;) but she must always show respect for others working in the same workplace too (or customers) and by dressing “sexily” this will imply that she doesn’t care about her workmates feelings and respect and therefore yes, it may be likely that it could affect her future job prospects.
I dont see why anyone would feel like they need to wear mini-skirts and heels in the workplace. It’s degrading and surely its uncomfortable. Save that gear for the nightclub. Office time is not about going on the pull and making yourself look cheap. You want to show as much class as possible at work and I think short mini-skirts, bare legs and heels at work don’t imply class. Put some thick tights on and make the heels no more than 2 inches and no stilettos (if wearing a mini but they can look nice with trousers) and the skirt tailored not denim/leather etc. and I think she would be fine. You can get some nice tailored smart short skirts which look very professional when worn with the correct footwear. I have a knee-length, high waisted pencil skirt, which looks super sexy but also very respectable as it covers a large area. when teamed with tights and low heels it looks very smart but keeps me feeling sexy. There is no need to show knickers at work.

rts486's avatar

I think a woman who is powerful and successful is sexy.

dabbler's avatar

In a lot of contexts and leather mini and stilettos would be slutty, distracting and inappropriate.
It’s like trying to do business with a propeller beanie on, that kind of inappropriate.

You can look powerfully feminine (=sexy) in business clothes, get the job done and look good doing it.

JLeslie's avatar

I think what you wear can and does affect how seriously you will be taken in some jobs. Wearing something too revealing will show bad judgement. It has been discussed on a lot of Q’s about piercings and tattoos too. Sexy clothing would go along with that same mindset. Looking sexy per se is not necessarily negative, some women are sexy all covered up head to toe. I think revealing is the big no no. Skirts should be a certain length, cleavage should not be showing, things like that. Hair style also matters.

bkcunningham's avatar

Can a woman be powerful, and successful while dressing sexy? Absolutely.
I wondered if a woman dresses sexy does it hurt her ability to be successful, or influential in the realm of commerce? No

If she wears a mini and heels is it the type, or brand that would make the difference? If it were a high-end leather mini matched with a $1,200 Dior jacket with LV stilettos, would she carry more clout than a woman in a denim mini off Ebay, heels from Payless Shoes, and a FUBU hoodie? Yes

Would she be marginalized no matter how smart, or educated she was solely because they will see sexy clothes and form an opinion that her looks are the only thing she has? It would depend on many varibles in this situation like who “they” are, what field (if we are talking careers) and type of work, for instance.

marinelife's avatar

Can a man be powerful while wearing wrinkled shorts and a misbuttoned shirt? Anyone who is in charge has to wear the appropriate clothing.

One person’s sexy is another person’s “eh”. So office attire might be sexy and appealing to some while not to others.

Cam a women be sexy while in charge? Yes.

Can she dress inappropriately and hurt her image? Yes. So can a man.

janbb's avatar

Whatever happened to adverbs?

bkcunningham's avatar

Lolly, lolly, lolly.

abysmalbeauty's avatar

Well that is an interesting question. A few years back when I was still a young fit 20 something one of my bosses pulled me aside and said to me, ” If you don’t change the way you look at people, the way you walk and the way you dress you will never advance past your position.” Now mind you I by no means dressed “sexy” in the traditional definition, I would slacks and blouses that fit me. How ever because of this you could see the shape of my body and coupled with walking around with a lot of confidence apparently this was too sexy. So I bought clothes one or two sizes bigger and sure enough I got a promotion to a position with more authority shortly after. So personally yes I believe it can be a detriment to your career in some cases.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@lillycoyote To me, something along these
lines would be sexy for the office.

@bongo Super short skirts can be ok in the work place but not in combination with bare legs and heels. So, would it be her, her, or maybe her , who is breaking the “rule”?

I dont see why anyone would feel like they need to wear mini-skirts and heels in the workplace. It’s degrading and surely its uncomfortable. As we can see, it can be done with taste, maybe it is less restricting to the wearer or cooler over all, temp wise.

@dabbler In a lot of contexts and leather mini and stilettos would be slutty, distracting and inappropriate. You do know slutty can be had in a pair of sweatpants, an over-sized jersey top, and a hoodie, right? You can be the town bicycle; everyone gets a ride, without being in a mini and tube top. Slutty is more of an act, or what you do, than what you wear.

@bkcunningham Lolly, lolly, lolly. Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here……. Like there are many here old enough to make that reference. ;-)

@abysmalbeauty So personally yes I believe it can be a detriment to your career in some cases. I have seen it go the other way as well. The woman who knows the little jumps ahead because her curves and <ahem> assets show. She skates because whatever she don’t know, she can use her assets to find some guy in the office that does know to help her out, or even do most of the work.

wonderingwhy's avatar

For better or worse, people place stock in how you present yourself so if you’re trying to move up, how you appear will likely impact that.

How powerful you are is typically a function of how you achieved your position and more so the level of real control you have over its retention.

That is to say, if you’re trying to gain power how you dress can matter. If you’re trying to exert power how you dress matters less and less as the real power you have increases.

At least that’s what I’ve observed.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m sure there are many other factors besides dress. It has to do with personality and confidence and the atmosphere of the office and many other things. I doubt we can successfully dissect out the role of sexy dressing in the workplace. It also depends on the kind of work.

Facade's avatar

In a perfect world, yes. In this world, no. And yea, “sexy” is very subjective.

Luiveton's avatar

Well I can.

bongo's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central yes those girls are dressed more for a night out but with a shirt and all skirts there are too short to wear with heels and bare legs. With flat pumps maybe, or with opaque tights, but all 3 is too much. The girls do look nice, yes, but those skirts are not suitable for work. I would definitely feel uncomfortable if girls were dressing in short skirts and heels like that just to go to work in in a place that I worked. Don’t get me wrong, I do wear short skirts, on nights out, at nightclubs or with leggings/tights day to day but I think it looks cheap in the workplace. There isn’t a need to flaunt your knickers at work, so why not just dress in a way that looks smart but allows everyone to feel comfortable. I think it is inconsiderate to others to dress like that at work.

What is the point in dressing like that if it makes other people uncomfortable? You can still feel sexy dressing smart you just dont have to show knickers to feel sexy. I think quite the opposite in fact.

I’m also not saying this because I’m fat or whatever and cant pass in a miniskirt, I am going to sound big headed now but I do turn heads, I just choose not to dress slutily at work, I think same goes for too much makeup

I think this length skirt is just about long enough for work. Any shorter and I think it could be disrespectful.

deni's avatar

A mini skirt and heels aren’t appropriate for most jobs, so if a woman wears that she probably won’t be respected like she would if she were dressed more conservatively. I’m not saying women need to dress boring, you can be sexy and still leave something to the imagination. And if she needs to wear a mini skirt to work to get attention or feel better about herself (or another reason?) it probably says something about her. So I’m kinda leaning towards no.

bongo's avatar

As we can see, it can be done with taste, maybe it is less restricting to the wearer or cooler over all, temp wise.
No, as we can see: girls look nice in short skirts. It still doesn’t make it suitable for the work place. Also if it is for temperature then a slightly longer skirt wouldn’t do much different and you can’t say heels are worn for temperature reasons. I’m not saying short skirts should be banned from the work place but in combination of bare legs and heels I think it looks slutty, not smart. If someone feels they have to wear a short skirt to look smart then I am afraid they can’t be considering other people’s feelings and they have a bit of a strange view on what is smart to other people.

ucme's avatar

Two words…Wonder Woman.

dabbler's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “You do know slutty can be had in a pair of sweatpants, an over-sized jersey top, and a hoodie, right? You can be the town bicycle; everyone gets a ride, without being in a mini and tube top. Slutty is more of an act, or what you do, than what you wear.”

Yah, I do know that. What’s your point? You can be slutty however you like, fine with me.
I didn’t define slutty as tiny skirt and stilettos, I said miniskirt and stilettos is an example of slutty, “in some contexts” (<- did you read that part?). I didn’t even say it’s wrong to dress like that, or any other slutty, my point was that it can be distracting.
And any way one is knowingly being distracting in a business situation (“powerful and successful” suggests business but agreed, not necessarily) is inappropriate for business, so depending on the situation that may include slutty however you like to pull it off.

The question is about how a woman is dressed, in particular having to do with “powerful and successful”. It’s not about the bar scene or the street. Or, if you are thinking about being powerful and successful in the bar scene or the street, then that’s not the sort of context where slutty is a distraction.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@bongo @Hypocrisy_Central yes those girls are dressed more for a night out but with a shirt and all skirts there are too short to wear with heels and bare legs. I guess that is why everyone has their opinions. However, I don’t think I ever been t a club, or a party at a house where a woman would go there in a seersucker, or plaid gray anything, much less a blazer. We all have our thresholds; I would say no one larger than a size 8 should ever wear Spandex, but many will not agree with me.

@dabbler I didn’t even say it’s wrong to dress like that, or any other slutty, my point was that it can be distracting. If the person is not going out of the way to garner attention, how are they at fault for being the distraction? That would be more to the people he/she is working around. What if she was in a knee-length skirt but she was tipping the scale at 280lb, more or less, she has no chance of being a distraction? Unless many others in the office are way over weight, she might, or any guy for that matter. It might be harder to ignore her than some gal with a skirt 3in above the knee; you won’t have to squeeze by her in a conference room, the restroom, or between a bank of cubicles. A pair of 4in pumps and a mini, if indeed it was that short, doesn’t take up any space needed by other people.

To not be a distraction should everyone just be the Man in The Gray Flannel Suit”? You will never get ahead if you show any individuality? Come to work in a Goldenrod three piece, a chocolate colored short and a white tie, you might as well go back to the mailroom, no matter how smart you were, you violated the office “uniform rule”, and thus are no longer fit to lead?

That guy with a tattoo sleeve, we tell him take a hike buddy, in Summer if you wear short sleeves or show up at the company BBQ your whole back tattoo with the demons and skulls will be a distraction. If all possible or logical, maybe illogical, were left out of big business, the faces would all be white and male.

It’s not about the bar scene or the street. Or, if you are thinking about being powerful and successful in the bar scene or the street, then that’s not the sort of context where slutty is a distraction. I read that about 5 times, and each time it sounds like saying , ”Why promote the fat people? They are lazy”. If they are fat, (do to being lazy away from the office) they will be lazy here at work, and won’t get the job done, so better promote a slender person because they are more active and able to get things done. You can use that construct on anything and anyone, doesn’t make it so. You have your opinion, though, thanks for letting me in on it.

dabbler's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
“while dressing sexy” is the wording of the question.
That’s intentional, my answer pertains to that.

It’s not clear why you confuse not being distracting with exaggerated ideas of conformity or extreme suppression of individuality. I never mentioned or meant that.
Your argument is not with me, it is with inventions of your imagination.
Especially all the references to big or fat or lazy.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

She might be successful, but then no one would take her seriously. We’d be looking at her breasts, not her brains.

bongo's avatar

@dabbler I agree, dressing slutty/sexy (own viewpoint needed) is not the same as being slutty. But dressing slutty/sexy causes the distractions at work with short skirts etc.

@Hypocrisy_Central I added but with a shit and I have seen girls on nights on wearing super short pleated skirts! And I don’t know what a seersucker is? I thought it was a type of fabric but I cant see what I thought it was on any of those photos. If it the cotton, gingham type stuff that old men have shirts made out of because its so comfy then no, of course not, I think I have that stuff for pillow cases.

I would say no one larger than a size 8 should ever wear Spandex, but many will not agree with me. size 8 UK or size 8 US? Either way I agree that larger than a UK 12 should not wear spandex, If you mean a UK 8 – bit harsh but ok least I would be able to go to the gym with you! well to be fair most people shouldn’t wear spandex unless they are going to the gym, In which case even if you are a size 16 – wear what you want if you are going to the gym!

@Hypocrisy_Central Please do a quick Google image search for “Office Chic” and then a Google image search for “Sexy Office” You will see the difference between style and class while looking good and just looking like the office slut. Yes there are some girls wearing short skirts under the chic search but please note most of them are wearing opaque black tights and also there are some pictures of knee length skirts under “sexy” you can look sexy and stay covered if thats what you feel you need to do when you are being professional.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@rebbel That was NOT funny, had I vomited all over my computer, I would have had to send you the bill 8-o

janbb's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central You must have a very sensitive stomach!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@janbb You did not see her, did you?

janbb's avatar

I did. Not attractive but still…

rebbel's avatar

There are men who are in to that (not in Madeleine…, in Rubenesque women).

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