Ask Tamara: Too Sexy for the Workplace!
Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dear Tamara:

My boss dresses way too sexy for work. Even our male coworkers think her dress is excessive. On any given day she shows up to work with her cleavage hanging out, wearing short skirts and even tighter dresses that leave nothing to the imagination. Even her shoes are inappropriate for work.

Don’t get me wrong, she is a beautiful lady and you can tell her clothes are expensive and well made, but still inappropriate for the office. She looks like she is dressed for the nightclub rather than the workplace. It is very unprofessional and to tell the truth, it is just embarrassing. No one wants to talk with her about her dress but we have to do something.
Concerned Coworker

Dear Concerned:

You are right to be concerned. Dressing too sexy or too revealing in the workplace can be very distracting and uncomfortable. Many of us have been taught to dress to impress or to dress according to the image we would like to convey to others. And whether you believe it or not, your appearance can leave a lasting impression. Furthermore, employees are a direct representation of a company and persons dressed in an unprofessional manner can leave a bad impression with customers and clients.

I worked with a woman who dressed very inappropriately in the workplace. She would wear short miniskirts and very revealing tops. Then she would complain about the attention and comments she received from male coworkers. Not saying that she deserved the extra attention based solely on her dress, but a person needs to be mindful of the type of attention they attract.

I am really surprised to hear about this coming from a person in a management position because they are the leaders in the workplace that help to set the tone for the work environment. If a boss is dressing in an inappropriate manner, other employees might follow their lead, especially if there is not a formal dress code policy in place.

I think it depends on your relationship with your boss as to how you address the issue. If you can sit down and express your concerns and they can be received without creating a hostile working environment, then you should schedule a time to talk with her about your issues. If there is no relationship, the best thing may be for you to address your concerns through the proper channels or chain of command, whether that is your human resources department, a department ombudsman, or a higher authority.

Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at

May 22, 2011 - June 4, 2011 Edition


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