Jul 28

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What’s Wrong With This Picture…

From left to right:
The woman on the left looks reasonably good. However, she looks like an entry-level greenhorn because of (1) her long teenage hair and (2) lack of accessories such as earrings and a belt. A little (3) lipstick would also give her a more professional and powerful look.

The man next to her (4) wears a white shirt with (5) jeans. White shirts are very formal and are usually worn with a dark power suit – or unbuttoned to reveal a hairy chest, a la Tom Ford, the fashion designer. Jeans do not even faintly resemble professional attire; and his wide belt is too sporty.

The woman in the middle (6) wears a shirt in a blah pastel, causing her to look washed out and passive. Her shirt is (7) not tucked in, so she looks like she is ready to do chores instead of working in an office. She (8) wears no accessories, such as a belt and earrings; and (9) teenage makeup (lip gloss).

The next woman has (9) teenage hair and (10) makeup. She wears (11) no accessories. She will be given the benefit of the doubt with regard to her white garment. It is possible that it is a dress; however, if it is a long top worn in the teenage style (hanging out below the length of the jacket), she would lower her credibility.

The man on the right wears his (12) tie too short, looking somewhat clownish as a result. He also wears his (13) trousers too low, giving a less classy appearance and also suggesting that he has a hanging paunch. The last item isn’t truly related to a professional look, but rather, to aesthetics, so it won’t be officially counted: he needs to let his hair grow a bit fuller at the ears and have it just barely cover his ears, somewhat like the man to the left. The current “line” of his hair is not flattering.

Lastly, everyone has (14) arms crossed. This will be counted as one error; because, no doubt, either the photographer or the group chose to have a uniform look. Crossed arms create a psychological barrier and can suggest any number of subtle but negative things. The woman in the center personifies the most common result. Rather than a full smile, she has a resolute look of inflexibility, suggesting that she won’t budge on her position.

Permanent link to this article: http://sandydumont.com/whats-wrong-with-this-picture/


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  1. Jan

    Sandy, had this photo been full-length, the young ladies would, more than likely, have been shown wearing black pumps with bare legs. What do think about this current trend of not wearing hosiery when dressing for business? To me, it looks jarring and incomplete. I’ve seen this even during the winter months, which stymies me. Your thoughts, please?

  2. Cristina

    Jan, I would agree with you in general on the lack of hose making an outfit look incomplete, looking unprofessional and especially bad in the winter. However, there is an exception to my “rule”. In the tropics I believe it is seen as quite normal on regular business days to go with bare legs and i agreee it should be acceptable. You have to live in a warm climate year round where we don’t have fridgid air-conditioning in many places ( don’t need it here in San Diego on the coast). For an event or conference and if attire is business formal, hose needs to complete the look and not call attention to bare legs.

  3. Sandy Dumont

    Hi Jan and Cristina,
    I travel all over the country, and what I see is that many women are refusing to wear hose/stockings to the office. In large cities like New York and Los Angeles, it is considered old fashioned to wear hose.

    Stockings were invented to camouflage flaws; that is, protruding veins, broken capillaries, splotches, or blue-white skin (which is the case with my legs). A recent magazine survey found that men considered women who were bare legged to look flirtatious. This is like skating on thin ice. Professor Peter Glick is the leader expert on gender bias studies, and he proved that dressing in a suggestive manner at work will get you labeled a bimbo and spoil any chances of climbing the corporate ladder.

    My feeling is that if your legs are such a perfect and uniform color that no one can tell you are not wearing hose, you can get away with going bare legged. In other words, your legs are so perfect you look s if you are wearing hose. Most women cannot pass this test, so I suspect that the “fad” of not wearing hose will hit a peak, and then women will discover that very sheer stockings are their friend, because they prevent distractions. Any time you have something that is out of sync, such as a run in your stockings/tights, the eyes are riveted to it, because it seems out of harmony.

    Lest readers assume I’m giving carte blanche to go bare legged because you go to the tanning or spraying salon, I’m not. In conservative arenas such as financial services and courts of law, stockings are necessary. You wouldn’t be happy if you saw your male attorney presenting your case and wearing a suit without socks! Socks and stockings are an element of formality that shouts to the world “I’m a professional.”

  4. Diana

    Hello Sandy,
    What do you think about the collar of the white shirt? I find it too small in comparison with the bigger head of this man. Also it seems if he is wearing a bracelet. That is not done for man in business (in the netherlands in any case).
    Greetings from the Netherlands,

  5. Sandy Dumont

    Yes, I agree with you on both counts. You have a sharp eye.

    I’ll be in the Netherlands in March speaking at a conference!

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