The Harsh Truth: You’re Being Judged on What You Wear

Posted July 23, 2013 by Marcy Twete in Building Your Brand

A few months ago, when interviewing candidates for Career Girl Network’s internship program, I posted on Facebook that I had decided not to hire a specific intern because she had public and quite risque photos of herself in a “Sexy Sailor” Halloween costume on her Facebook profile. One of my acquaintances on Facebook declared boldly that I should hire based on skills, not appearances. I thought about and it responded with two reasons for my decision – #1, this person clearly didn’t have good judgment when it comes to what she should or shouldn’t post online and therefore #2, I couldn’t trust her to represent my company.

Why, though did such venom come from my acquaintance? Because the fact that we are constantly and consistently judged on our outward appearance is very difficult for some to deal with. Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where the clothes you wear, the way you wear your hair, your shoes, or your makeup had absolutely nothing to do with your career trajectory? Sure. But the truth is, the harsh truth is, you’re being judged on what you wear every day.

So to ensure you’re not being so harshly judged, consider a few rules about what you wear every day (yes, every day, not just on week days!):

  • Would you be comfortable in your clothing if you ran into your boss or a potential mentor on the street? Even if you live in a large city, you have to be prepared to run into someone you know (and more importantly, someone who could be instrumental in your career) at any event. Whether you’re attending a networking event after work or a concert on the weekend, would you be embarrassed for your boss to see you? If so, you might want to reconsider your outfit (take note, girls at the Jason Aldean concert at Wrigley Field this weekend conveniently wearing….next to nothing.)
  • Is what you’re wearing clean and free from rips or tears? More than buying expensive clothes or even stylish ones, it’s important your clothes are appropriately cleaned and that they don’t overstay their welcome in your closet. I recently noticed a small tear on the bottom of my favorite leather blazer, and nearly cried. I hope a tailor will be able to fix it, but you’d better believe I won’t wear it until then. You might think, “Why!? It’s just a tiny tear?” But the fact is, I could be judged for it.
  • Casual Friday isn’t a free for all. Most judgement in office wear comes when casual Friday rolls around. Just because you’d normally wear a Mickey Mouse t-shirt when you dress casually doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for office casual wear.

It’s a harsh truth, my friends, and I wish it weren’t true. But ultimately, you have to be prepared to be judged inside and outside the office.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."



    Heres the take away: Always dressing up professionally for work means we want to get ahead in our careers, but people going on FaceBook to spy on others just means private lives are being used against you.
    I think we got it- that if you have a partner, or your with/married and to the wrong type of guy according to the viewer, you do not need the job either, and/or if there are kids involved, we just have to accept that we will be judged as incapable of handling both work and family life.
    Articles like this just reinforce that women are supposed to accept the BS imposed upon them along with the expectation to be judged accordingly.
    Heres what we want FaceBook snoopers to do: Get a life of your own, spy on yourself.
    Heres what we want FaceBook users to do: Put your account on Private!
    Both should be cognizant of discrimination laws and how the circumstances of prejudice are used to withhold opportunity from hardworking people who also happen to be human.

    In other words, potential employers may as well choose robots over people, discriminating for idiotic reasons such as a Halloween costume, because they expect you to NOT have a life. Next, if you dressed your kid in a costume they disagreed with, you will be judged on that too, well because, your the mother and its your fault no matter what. Thats life.
    How dumb and numb can it be, to live at the whim of tyrants, not allowed to have fun or a have a sense of humor? We might as well lay down and die? Who wants to work for these people?
    No wonder so many are losing hope, opting out of participating with social media sites.
    And with good reason: even if there are 30 other people with your same name, they will think its you anyway… well, how it that working out for you and the snooping HR dolt? Duh!


    It’s a valid argument. I do not feel people in management positions should have drunken or otherwise inappropriate photos posted publicly for others to see. Typically it is young people under 25-30 years old. Should an HR manager be held accountable for hiring people who make the choice to post risqué or otherwise inappropriate content or photos? If it turns out to be a bad hire for sure the hiring manager would hear about why they should have taken a candidates social media content into consideration. A good candidate either makes posts to social media in good taste or manages the privacy of who can see their social media. Employers do value those candidates who value protecting their image because it transfers to their business and adds value to that candidate.

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