The world of business attire has changed over the years. Thankfully we have many more options for looking professional and feeling confident without being forced to wear the proverbial suit. But along with the more relaxed business attire has come more exposure to skin. And we’re not talking just arms and legs, we’re talking about breasts in the workplace.
I once found myself in an awkward moment when trying to present work across a table to a woman whose shirt was so low cut you could see her navel. I was trying to be buttoned up and serious about my presentation, but the image of her breasts made the whole conversation disconcerting. So is cleavage in the workplace ever okay?
As far as Ruth Sheldon is concerned, “To cleave or not to cleave; that’s the question. The answer, like most things in life, is: it all depends. Last night’s Golden Globes Awards Show gave us an in-your-face example of America’s obsession with celebrity breasts. But that’s show biz. In most office situations, boob etiquette is best determined by what your female coworkers are wearing. As I see it, when you reveal too much of the goods at work, your girls are shouting, ‘Look at me, not my brains.’ Although cleavage will get you noticed, it’s not the best strategy to give you a push up the corporate ladder.”
“I love cleavage and I find it sad to admit the closest I have come to having buxom bosoms was when I was nine months pregnant and measured a measly 36C. You bet I flaunted my girls! In my personal life. The workplace is a different story. I am all about commanding the attention of my peers and my mentors, but with my brain and stellar ideas, not my bust. I say ‘no’ to cleavage in the work place, just as I say ‘no’ to low-rise pants revealing sexy unmentionables and other cracks south of the panty-line equator. I am not suggesting high collars and conservative frocks, but if you are serious about your professional presence, there are plenty of ways to highlight your femininity without showing too much skin. Work is about work, ladies. It’s not about the twins,” said Elizabeth Rago.
Myrdin Thompson had this to say: “First, I want to celebrate the fact that no longer must you dress like a man in order to be taken as seriously as a man in the workplace. I am thrilled that you have greater freedom to express yourself in your attire and that you have been able to adapt the styles put forth either in a fashion magazine or on Pinterest with your meager salary. However, just because a magazine tells you that you can wear a leather bustier to work as long as you also pair it with a conservative blazer and pearls, does not mean it is a good idea. Wearing your happy hour ensemble during your working hours only makes me think your head and heart want to be someplace else, not preparing the quarterly report. You have more sense than that. Please use it. You can be bold and brassy while being classy. As the saying goes, “check yourself before you wreck yourself,” because your co-workers respect will be lost even if you still have your job.”
“Cleavage, aka the great distractor!” said Nicki Anderson. “Whether it’s a work environment, or a parent/teacher conference, when you’re exposed to the undeniable breast crack does it scream sleazy? Or, is it simply a woman that’s proud of her body and oblivious to the attention her cleavage is getting? Are we holding tight to the label “stuffy American” that Europeans charge us with? Or are we justified in expressing our concern when the professional environment becomes a show-n-tell of sorts? The truth is if you want to be taken seriously, what you wear and how you wear it becomes the “decider.” If you have an office meeting and your boss comes in with shirt collar open and chest hair peeking through, is it the same? Personally, yes. It is certainly more than I care to see at the office.”
“I have heard some women say that showing cleavage is really irrelevant, if you’re good at what you do, and you’re professional, it shouldn’t matter. I disagree. Coming to work in a short, tight skirt, pants that are too tight (men guilty too) or a blouse that screams, “The girls have arrived!” is in my humble opinion, unprofessional. How you dress speaks volumes, and in my world, dressing appropriately eliminates all doubt about promotions and why they’re given. It may be stuffy to object to obvious cleavage, but then again, I’m an American, that’s how I roll,” replied Nicki.
So what’s your take on cleavage in the workplace? Do you take a woman less seriously if she’s flaunting “the girls”? We’d love to hear your thoughts.