‘She’s got the look’: examining feminine and provocative dress in the workplace

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Research Handbook of Diversity and Careers


This chapter focuses on the effects of feminine or provocative dress on perceptions and outcomes for women in the workplace, as well as highlighting the challenges faced by women in walking the tightrope between not looking too masculine, too feminine or too sexy. Five notable issues that appear to be absent from the literature are timeliness, context, accessories, alternative modes of body adornment and modification, and special populations or ethnic groups. The chapter elaborates on each of these and provides suggestions for future research. With some exceptions, much of the existing literature is 10–30 years old, and styles change as do people's definition of what is appropriate or inappropriate. While some recent qualitative studies suggest that minimizing one's femininity is still preferred in male-dominated fields, it is likely that people today are generally more tolerant of a wider range of clothing styles than in the past. Future research is needed to determine where people draw the line between too feminine or provocative versus too masculine.



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