I’ve seen this way too often… a young, female intern or new grad wearing the most inappropriate, provocative outfit to work. The worst part is that this inexperienced, optimistic student thinks that her sexy, tight outfit looks good for a professional office environment. It’s sad… tragic actually.
I was recently at a client site and noticed that there was a new assistant working at the front desk of this professional office. Guess what she was wearing? She had on a tight pencil skirt (it actually looked like a piece of elastic dressed up as a skirt), a spaghetti-strap tank top, and peep toe pumps (in black lace). Terrible. Later on that day, I noticed that she had a shawl wrapped tightly around her shoulders… I assume that someone had said something to her about her “bar star” outfit.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. That outfit was perfectly fine for other situations (a bar, club, dinner out, etc) but had NO place in a professional environment.
Unfortunately, skimpy attire in the workplace isn’t all that uncommon. Scary, isn’t it? To be totally fair, I don’t completely blame the young lady for her clothing mishap. It was pretty obvious to me that she just didn’t know her attire was inappropriate (rather than knowing it was inappropriate and purposely wearing it). I’d like to think that she probably would have chosen a different outfit had she known she looked so ridiculous in an office setting.
Early last year, I was talking to a friend of mine, who works in career services for a local college. She told me a crazy story about a young lady who came to the career center for a practice interview with a real HR professional. What a great opportunity, right? She showed up for the interview well-prepared to answer anticipated questions but much less prepared with how she wanted to present herself. According to my friend, the student came to the interview wearing a party dress and strappy sandals. Yikes! To try and manage the reaction from the HR professional, my friend said that she ended up lending her suit jacket to the student for the duration of the interview.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that it’s ONLY young female interns/new grads who are prone to making inappropriate style choices in a new workplace. What I do want to say though is that if you are not sure what do wear to work, or to an interview, ASK! Ask your new employer, a trusted mentor, a career advisor, etc. Nobody is going to fault you for asking. What you will be faulted for is going to work in an itty-bitty little number… talk about hitting the breaks on your career!!!
Don’t let this be you.