Careers

'Woman Thing': Some Attire is Career-Limiting


As Hillary Clinton’s presence in the presidential race is once again demonstrating, far more attention often is paid to the way women in positions of power dress, compared to their male counterparts.

A woman who fails to dress to impress will pay a high price in politics, just as she does in the business world, writes the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.). However, standing out too much—say, by wearing a red suit—can be problematic, too.

Consequently, a modern-day version of a style your well-to-do mother or grandmother might have worn—think a St. John knit suit, for instance—carries quite a bit of cachet among the women who look to Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and others in their realm for fashion cues.

Women in positions of power express frustration with the extreme, almost comical attention paid to the way they look—but recognize the importance of dressing appropriately, the newspaper writes. Helpful feedback, however, can be hard to obtain, because many prominent women are reluctant to address the subject of dress publicly.

“You hate even talking about it because it’s such a woman thing,” says Kathryn Marinello, Ceridan Corp.’s chairman and chief executive.

Among the tips the WSJ offers for women: spend money on good, closed-toe shoes and avoid French manicures and shiny lip gloss.

The article offers a bit of advice, for men, too. Tassels on shoes are just as controversial as bow ties, it says. And one can seldom go wrong by wearing a good, dark suit.

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