Sunday, 4 December 2011

How much cleavage should you flash at work?

Sarah Brummitt, image consultant.
Thanks to Sarah Brummitt (right) for airing the important issue of cleavage in a corporate environment.
I must admit, I've long been bewildered by the trend for boob-flashing at work. 
And now it seems that more mammaries equals less salaries.
Sarah, an image consultant and training and development consultant, keeps us abreast of this issue:

Last year, a survey commissioned in the UK suggested that women who display too much cleavage at work could end up sabotaging their careers. More than 3,000 managers found that almost half of bosses would overlook a woman for promotions if she regularly exposed her cleavage.
Is this fair? Or is it sexist nonsense? Is cleavage cool or crass at work?
I'm not a prude - and as a small chested woman I can appreciate a fabulous bosom as much as the most hot-blooded male...but.......a glorious cleavage in the office is just not on. It's a distraction to both men AND women - but for different reasons.
1. Men see it as a clear 'come on' sign OR, they are so embarrassed they don't know where to look.
2. Women can either be continually distracted (I know I am because one of my colleagues insists on regularly exposing her cleavage and I can't help but keep looking.......). The altenative female response is to elicit some good, old-fashioned, bitchy jealousy and loathing.
As an Image Coach, I'm all about personal brand - helping professionals create a perception by colleagues which conveys the real essence of them; their reputation; their unique expertise. 
Who on earth wants to be known as the girl that always has her baps on show? 
It's not right and it's not fair, but the reality of still working in a predominantly male-orientated work environment means that to succeed in business we need to be viewed as credible, professional and authoritative.
A woman can't do that if her boobs are out.
So, ladies please - a glorious bosom is for a date, a cocktail party, a social event. It's not for the office. So button up, put them away and create a focal point somewhere else. May I suggest the face instead?

Thanks Sarah - check her out on Thank goodness the good old polo neck is coming back into fashion.
And remember, psychological research confirms that the image you portray may be at odds with the one you intended. 
You may think that a flash of cleavage is cool, alluring even. 
They may think you look like a lap-dancer. 
Think about it next time you dress for the office and keep in mind that less is probably more.

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