Can You Dress Too Feminine For Work?

Can You Dress Too Feminine For Work?

wear pink at workFor the past year peplum has been a very hot trend. I personally love the whole peplum movement because it is so unabashedly feminine. It is practically like adding a little lace petticoat to whatever you are wearing. Forbes even wrote a piece recently on how to wear peplum to work because it is so trendy and doesn’t exactly scream corporate. But before we all rush out and buy peplum tops in every color, I have to ask, is it possible to dress too feminine for work?

A recent CareerBuilder survey found that pink and red are the least preferred choice (1% or less) for CEOs. The presumption is that these colors are too girly and are not taken as seriously as the corporate world’s favorite colors, the always exciting navy blue and black (navy blue was the top choice at 36% amongst CEOs, with black falling behind at 26%).

But does that mean that women should dress like men? Haven’t we been trying to move away from that? Women have proved they can be powerful and feminine. And yet, there is still prejudice against pink.

Fashion blogger Marion Green posed the question of “Can You Wear Pink to Work?” last year. She wrote on her blog that a female CFO friend of hers said, “I had to earn the right to wear red.” Berry said it took this woman, who worked in banking, 25 years of wearing beige, black and grays before she could inject more color. Perhaps you have to earn the right to be feminine?”

What is very interesting though is that a recent Cotton USA study claims to have discovered that men who wear pink shirts earn an extra $1,600 a year and are found to be better qualified, more confident, and get a greater number of compliments from female colleagues than their male colleagues wearing blander clothes. No waiting period there! So why don’t women get this kind of praise when they wear pink?

Pink is the color of power when it comes to fighting a disease that is major killer of women and it is Katy Perry’s go-to hair color, but this color can also make a significant impact on you and your environment. In the late 1970s, researchers discovered that a certain shade of pink could help decrease aggression. Two US Naval officers named Baker and Miller painted an admissions cell at the U.S. Naval Pepto-Bismol pink. After monitoring acts of aggression for those in the pink cell versus other cells, they found that prisoners held in the pink cell calmed down more quickly than their normal cell counterparts. In 1981 this effect was looked at closely by researcher Alexander Schauss. He found that when participants (often obstreporous youth) were exposed to Baker-Miller pink (often in an entire room painted pink) they experienced physiological changes including lower heart rates, breathing rates, and strength.

Hmm, when could having a lower heart and breathing rate be useful? Maybe in super stressful situations? You may want to rethink that LBD for today and go for a LPD (Little Pink Dress).

New research has also revealed that women who wear skirts and jackets are viewed as more confident, higher-earning and more flexible than those opting for a trouser suit.

This is by no means advice to throw out your power suit, but don’t throw away that pretty pink blouse either. Your clothes help convey power and seriousness, but it mainly has to come from the woman behind the clothes.


By: Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the editor of Levo League, where this article first appeared. Before that, Meredith was the editor of the women’s career site, The Grindstone and was on staff at Wall Street Letter and Business Insider. 

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