Cleavage in the Workplace: To button or unbutton?

Cleavage in the Workplace: To button or unbutton?

Women's Professional Style

By Amanda Frank
Monster Contributing Writer

UK’s Daily Mail recently ran an article with the word cleavage in the headline, and typical of cleavage, it got a lot of attention. The story reported the results of a survey assessing the effects of clothing on “productivity and career progression” commissioned by Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones. According to bosses across the pond, low cut tops are a woman’s biggest career mistake, and 20% of managers admitted to firing an employee for dressing inappropriately.
Corporate cleavage doesn’t work in our neckline of the woods either. Perhaps you’ve seen the TV commercial for Cami Secret, a bra attachment that converts low-cut tops into office-appropriate attire. Other than dashing the hopes of millions of male co-workers across Canada, it heavily suggests there’s a market of women that don’t realize their chests are totally distracting and undermining their credibility as serious businesswomen.

As much as I dislike mixing fear mongering with commercialism, in this case educating women who don’t know the difference between office clothes and club gear could be considered a public service.

Career or Bust

That being said, I recently came close to being a Cami Secret poster child myself, getting dressed for a job interview no less. I admit, finding the right balance between smart and attractive can be a challenge. What exactly was going through my mind as I deliberated over how many buttons to leave undone? Top two buttons open, “I look too conservative.” Three open, “My bra is kind of showing but I like the way the material falls. Done.” Whoops. It was scathingly early in the morning. Nerves and fatigue clouded my judgment. Thank goodness I conceded to a guy friend’s second opinion, “Uhh, you forgot to do up your shirt?”

The consequence of leaving the button undone could have been disastrous, biologically, considering there were two men present in the interview and I needed their attention and energy to be focused on me, not my lady parts. Nor did I want to be objectified. With the shirt done up I could lean forward and blather on with confidence. Everyone, myself included, could focus on what I had to say. I got the job offer.

Hello I’m Up Here

Keep your personal style. Lose the revealing top. It’s too personal. Your juggernauts shouldn’t precede you when you enter the boardroom. Your intellect shouldn’t have to compete with your cleavage (unless you work at Hooters, your tips depend on it!)

There’s nothing wrong with looking attractive on the job, it can boost your self-confidence higher than a push-up bra can work your southern belles. Just try to be more creative than a deep V-neck sweater.

Are you parading around with ‘the girls’ in plain view all day long? There are web sites looking for good people like you. If you want to get noticed for the right reasons, do your career a favor and aim higher than the lowest common denominator.

Boob Job

Chock it up to human nature. Most of your female colleagues will resent you, either for salaciously snagging all the attention, or setting back the Women's Lib movement by about fifty years. Men are predictable. Most of them react to cleavage like a deer stuck in headlights, or a slow-motion train wreck, which is perhaps more allegorical of your career. It’s hard to look away.

Of course your boss won’t be pleased, she isn’t your bosom buddy. Spare your office the details of your décolleté and she may spare your job. Red Lobster discontinued its treasure chest and so should you.