Working Wardrobe Role Models

Posted August 13, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Building Your Brand
Every woman in the world has, at one time or another, rolled our eyes at a woman in our office dressed inappropriately. Whether she’s wearing an outdated Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, or a “far too trendy” jumpsuit, it’s easy to think “How in the world did she think that was appropriate for work?!?” The answer: television and advertising. Sure, we can blame it for everything. But in this case, I think it’s worth pointing out a few problems with the role models we’re seeing on television and in print for women’s work wear.

A few case studies to illustrate the problem at hand:

First, the women of Sex and the City. Sure, we’d all love to have Miranda Hobbes’ wardrobe, but in general the wardrobes of the women of HBO’s famous series just aren’t attainable for “normal Career Girls.” But somewhere, right now, a woman is avoiding paying her rent to afford a pair of Manolos or a LV bag.

An advertising culprit now, Victorias Secret. Sure, we all loved their “I love PINK” line when we were 17-21, but somehow when you’re graduating college, that $59.99 suit from the back half of their catalog becomes more appealing. But a word to the wise, here, Victoria’s Secret suits are neither flattering nor appropriate. And let’s not forget to point out that the models are generally wearing these suits 2-3 sizes too small. It’s a terrible way to portray appropriate women’s work wear.

Supporting this “ridiculous suit” notion are all of television’s most successful doctors, most guilty Lisa Cuddy from House. Her suits are, like the one above, 2-3 sizes too small with incredibly low cut tops and inappropriately high cut skirts. Another terrible example for work wardrobes for women on television.

A newer example comes in Sigourney Weaver’s character on the new show Political Animals. She plays the Secretary of State and wears the outfit above to give a concession speech after running for President. Let’s be honest here. Is a Secretary of State or Presidential Candidate in this country really going to wear a burgundy silk jumpsuit? Much less a woman in her 50’s? Both unflattering and unrealistic are the words that come to mind.

Whether you’re new to the working world or experienced in dressing for success, it’s best to take your cue from successful, poised women in your company and industry, and leave the television dress codes behind when you enter your real-life 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."