Short skirts, cleavage and your job

Business etiquette expert Barbara Pachter says that hotter summer temps are often to blame for unsuitable work attire.

When the mercury climbs, she says, so do many hemlines. Beyond the heat, she also blames inappropriate dress on TV shows (plunging necklines and 4-inch stilettos), fashion designers and a lack of self-awareness.

“Sexy is not a corporate look,” says Pachter, author of NewRules@Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead.

The key, she suggests, is to ask yourself: “Are you promoting your ideas and your competence or your sexuality?” Her suggestions for ensuring that you stay professional this summer:

1. No cleavage. Period. “I am amazed that I need to tell women that cleavage is not appropriate for the office,” Pachter says.

2. Avoid skirts that are too revealing. Too short, and you draw attention to your legs. Too low in the back, and you reveal cleavage of another sort. “Is that where you want people to look?” Pachter asks.

3. Stay away from too-tight outfits. Does the fabric bulge or buttons pull? Then retire it.

4. It’s not the beach. Pachter tells the story of one manager who didn’t hire an applicant, simply because she wore flip-flops to an interview.

The bottom line, she says, is that sex appeal has its limits. “If your road to success is being based on how sexy you look, you are dooming yourself to failure. Eventually you won’t be able to compete.”