Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why you won't get promoted.


Hectored by the blogosphere, mocked by the press, UBS has recanted its 43-page employee primer on how to appear polished, proficient, and professional. As a result, a lot of up-and-comers badly in need of grooming guidance simply won't get it.

Read more HERE.


I haven't read this much-maligned handbook on dressing for success, but I would like to formally add (if not already included):


-Don't show up to work with wet hair. I actually see this. Drives me totally crazy.

-Tank tops are not ok. Even if you have a rockin' body.

-If you bend over and your shirt still can't cover your lower back, wear something over it.

-No cleavage, please.

-If you're a man and you have a meeting that involves suits, then you need to own leather-soled shoes. (Unless you're vegan, then wear whatever. Corporate hippies are too complicated for me to write a rule about.) And it can't be a churchy-looking loafer, either. And you can't have owned it since you went to your prom. Esquire and GQ magazines exist for a reason. If we have to read Allure and Vogue to develop body shame which compells us to remove chin hair and strap on Spanx, then you guys need to do your homework, too. It's part of The Deal.

I know it makes me sound 90, but seriously people. It's not hard.

Who gets it right? A lot of women at my company do, and I love their style. One rocks Rihanna-shorn hair, schleps her love-worn Bottega bag everywhere, rocks skinny jeans & rickety-high booties, and takes what seems like 21 smoke breaks a day, all of which only seem to make her cooler. Another does a Duffy-like modern blond bouffant with fashion-y takes on blouses and trousers but never looks a minute over 27 in any of these outfits. She nails it. Fashion without skin. It's perfect.

What other dress code violations do you see at work? And who are the worst offenders? Men or women?

31 comments:

mamacita said...

As long as it's okay to sound old:

When I was a kid, teachers wore dresses and pantyhose and pumps. And it's not like I want to go back to the bad old days of pantyhose, but if the kids at school are wearing uniforms, the teachers should do better than jeans and clogs and untucked, wrinkled t-shirts. I just find that appalling. [And there are teachers who say, "the kids just have no respect for us." Figure it out.]

Anonymous said...

Your thong showing when you sit down. So gross.

Appletree said...

Having always worked in a school or other non office setting I am constantly surrounded by bad fashion. real bad. Women worse than men.

I love the Swiss.

Kathy said...

Too tight anything. Can't you see what that looks like? Oy.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think the whole having-to-work thing is so vile and irritating, I don't mind seeing people show up dressed like they have no respect for it.

But practically speaking: Advice like this needs to be tempered to the industry and region. In my city, you would not get promoted coming to work looking like Rihanna or Duffy, but churchy shoes would immediately get you a title with "senior" in it.

Decorno said...

"Honestly, I think the whole having-to-work thing is so vile and irritating, I don't mind seeing people show up dressed like they have no respect for it.".

Ha, ha, ha! This comment made me so happy.

Marilyn Elizabeth said...

Men with gym socks and dress shoes. Women who wear sneakers with their slacks or skirts, all day long. Women who wear the plastic stoppers on their hook earrings that are supposed to be thrown out after you take the earring out of the packaging. Women who do not remove the single thread holding together the slit of a skirt or a blazer. Men who wear ties that are way way way too long for them. Men who wear sneakers with their slacks. Women who wear suits that they've obviously had since 1991. Men who do not un-tie their ties and leave them in their cubicles because at 35, they still dont know how to tie ties and have to keep them ready to go. The list goes on. I work with a bunch of fashionably oblivious slobs.

Decorno said...

I actually wear clear plastic stoppers* with my hook earrings (but high enough up that you can't see them). Why? Because I have some fierce fucking earrings that I don't want to lose. And I have had some fall out (usually in a bar fight or whatever).

But I'm with you on everything else.

(*And I don't use the ones that come with earrings. You've gotta get the tight clear ones from Claire's. Seriously.)

Kate said...

leggings worn as pants. Usually on a big fat ass.

ZePainter said...

Well I do not know exactly how to put this but have you ever worked in one of those places where you are not allowed to wear jeans even though everyone always dresses down? All you can do is dress like a total dweeb. Like, even Gap Khakis are way too dressy amid the sea of pantsuits from Wal-Mart made out of some kind of sweat suit material- that is for the ladies- and the gentlemen look like they have wandered out of, oh I don't know, a country made of pleated polyester. I have. It is really sad.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, it's all about looks. If there's a hot 24-year-old guy in the office, I'm not going to be all "No, you must not wear pleated pants! Only flat front!" etc. I'm going to be "You need to come over to my house tonight for some, uh, mentoring."

Amanda Calhoun said...

What really makes me totally nuts is people who refuse to iron their clothing. If you don't like ironing you must must find a good cleaner. End of story.

David said...

The women of commercial insurance fall into a couple categories.
-Fit, well dressed women of any age, usually in sales.
-Pear-shaped women, usually clerical, who can't talk about anything other than their children. They wear knits almost exclusively, as either pants or shirts, and clogs or sandals that are one step up from house slippers.


As for the men, the guys in my office are all generally well dressed, maybe its the sales thing again.

rerun delaney said...

my nephew attends an all boys school. the previous receptionist was a very curvy woman, prone to wearing questionably tight clothes. that irritated me, but nothing so much as her fake eyelashes. they looked like ostrich feathers. when i say they stuck out at least two inches i'm NOT LYING. heavy, heavy make up and talons for nails. she looked like a washed up show girl.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher, and I dress sharp. But some kids (with bad parents) still don't respect. Perhaps it's because I wear earring stoppers?

Anonymous said...

I'm not conservative in my worldview or politics. (I'm here on Decorno's blog; we're not a right-wing bunch.)

But, the more I think about the whole clothing thing, maybe a conservative approach can be oddly liberating for women. Done well, it can help women possess dignity and therefore power.

There is so much pressure for women to be attractive, even sexy at all times. That is crazy and impossible of course. I think an approach of conservative dignity may well be the way to go. It is practical and doable.

However, please don't mistake me for a far-right fascist.

MoreSkinnyDays said...

There is a lot going on here. We are looking at this from the perspective of people that have worked for conservative institutions, understood the dress code and culture, and choose to leave. There are quite possibly people who are unfamiliar, either because of class or culture, with the norms of conservative financial institutions and are grateful for a manual. How many times have we heard "There is no instruction manual for that!" Well, UBS wrote one.

MoreSkinnyDays said...

And also ...

While we're on the subject of dress codes, sometimes socially you get chided more for dressing up than dressing down. "Wow, don't yooooou look niiiiiice" isn't alway a complement, sometimes it's an accusation. So there you are needing to wear tuxedo pants, carry a minaudiere, or break out gold nail polish, but you're burdened with casual shame so as not to upset the status quo. And I live in LA!

So for this reason, the ladies I work with have introduced Fabulous Fridays. We fly our fab flag and break out sequins, feathers, and lamé.

*PrairieGirl* said...

i work in a very casual office, so we wear jeans, and most of my coworkers look nice. except for one. today she's wearing yoga pants, a knit top and sneakers (she usually complains about how cold she is...in her single layer of cheapass knit). some days, she wears capri length sweats. yes...we get it, you're athletic. now put some REAL pants on. something with a zipper, perhaps?

to me, it's just disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

sneakers with skirts. sneakers with skirts. SNEAKERS WITH SKIRTS. i don't care if you only wear them on the subway - it's tacky and if you can't find 1 or 2 pairs of well-made, comfortable appropriate shoes, you should have your grown-up card taken away.

Kimberly said...

I think this does not apply to Silicon Valley and especially startups. I stopped wearing nice clothing to work the day I ruined an expensive silk blouse with rack grease in the server room. The thing is, my job is mostly a desk job, but on occassion with no warning, I have to rack new machines or move machines, etc in the server room. So now I wear jeans and ironic tshirts and yes, my hair is wet in the morning because it's curly and my boss would rather me show up at 9 and get my job done than 930 because I spent 30min blow drying my damn hair when no one cares anyway.

Brigid C said...

Be thankful if your mother told you to have one pair of tan granny panties to wear with white pants, shorts, etc!

Anonymous said...

i don't care if you only wear them on the subway

Oh fuck that. In the subway, wear whatever the hell you want.

Jeeeezus.

kaitlyn said...

god, this is such an issue for me. i hate going around feeling dressed up. especially at work. it's like, duh, how you present yourself is how people see you and all that. the world has gone to crap in terms of dressing well. remember when woman wore dresses and men wore hats? like every day? god what i would do to live in that era for that very reason.

don't even get me STARTED on what people wear on planes these days!

Anonymous said...

My old co-worker used to wear hot pink leather skirts, fishnets, cleavage-baring knit shirts with pills (because she was too lazy to iron) and about fifty stands of loose hair on her back. Soooo gross! To complete the "professional look" she doused herself in so much CK Euphoria you could smell her in the lobby. Mixing it up meant a pair of slacks that were so burstingly tight you could see all the cellulite on her butt.

Anonymous said...

Food stains on clothes or face.

ChrisToronto said...

Smoke breaks aren't cool, they're stupid. And stinky.

Lauren said...

I hate Hate HATE when people buy clothes that have the 'X' sewn to keep the flaps closed and do not cut them out! I live in NYC and I'm constantly shocked that people don't get that you're supposed to cut the x's?! I'm totally starting a tumblr on this, I have at least 20 iphone pics of people that don't do this.

One day, I saw this chick walking to work, probably going on an interview with her fresh, white H&M skirt suit. Both the blazer and the skirt had the flaps still x'ed shut. I wanted to die.

Anonymous said...

This whole work attire thing is a constant struggle within our office. We work in a design department and our VP wears jeans every day with a nice blazer and nice shoes. He thinks jeans are cool and stylish. He believes if you do it right, jeans can be more professional and fashionable than trousers. I completely agree.

The rest of the company, not so much. Very corporate. My manager comes from the more corporate side and 'hates' jeans. She thinks you won't get that' raise if you wear jeans. But it's so blatantly obvious that that's not true in our department. There was even a powerpoint about how we CAN wear jeans to work!

So, our fabulous denim days are when she takes the day off!

Peggy said...

The tank top women drive me crazy. Then they walk around and complain all day that they are cold. TV encourages this, though. Have you seen the stupid meetings on TV where the men are in suits and ties and the women in tanks?

But I must disagree with you about the wet hair. I arrive with wet hair, because my hair is way too fragile for a blow dryer. With And I figure at least it's clean. It gets a good combing when I get to work because downtown where I work is so windy.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting working in a trade showroom. We're not expected to dress in suits, we're "business casual" - which is a term I hate. Too much room for interpretation. Is it okay to wear wrinkly too-short super casual Gap pants with a t-shirt? No, yet the receptionist does anyways. But yet, we can't wear denim pants - not even those cute denim trousers. So weird to me. (Especially when half our designers come in looking like they just finished working out).

Oh, and ladies, if you're going to wear some makeup (please do, a little at least), don't just slap on some eyeliner and lipstick. Why don't you think of also adding some mascara, blush, and powder too? I promise it doesn't take that much longer.