Wearing a dress and kicking butt in the workplace are not mutually exclusive

One morning a few months ago, I was watching the “Today” show, and I noticed something interesting: Many of the women on the show (co-hosts and guests alike) were wearing brightly colored sundresses. Not pantsuits or bulky blazers or other stereotypically masculine attire. And get this: The fashionable dresses did not negatively affect their job performance. Not one iota!

I’m thrilled that professional women are embracing femininity in the workplace more and more. Gone are the days of wearing unflattering pantsuits in an effort to drown out our femininity in order to be taken seriously. In a society that over-sexualizes everything, there seems to be a fine line—unfairly so—between using your femininity (in this context: sexuality) to gain an advantage in the workplace and embracing femininity without fearing judgment. (You know, the “she’s pretty, so she must be stupid” effect.)

I wish the media would focus less on what women wear (or how they style their hair or how much they weigh) and more on what we DO. Note to the world: What we look like, how much time we spend primping or what we choose to wear to work has zero influence on our success. (Our competence, expertise and leadership are responsible for that).

That said, some women enjoy wearing dresses and getting  their  hair done and primping to look good. Because when we do those things, it makes US feel good. When we present ourselves to the world in a way that’s comfortable for us—in a skirt or jeans or slacks or shorts—it boosts our confidence. And I like today’s world, where women can embrace their femininity and kick butt in the workplace.

Alanna York has owned Head Games Salon for Hair & Body, based in Portland, for 17 years. Her professional career began in the early 1990s when she discovered the passion and excitement that came from enhancing the natural beauty in all of her clients.

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