OFFICE DRESS

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss’ compliment:

I have recently started working as a secretary to the MD of a small firm in the UK. From starting in the post I have noted that he eyes me up and down when I am reaching up to the top of a cabinet or when I am bending over. I always wear a waist slip and unknown to me, when reaching up or bending, my slip would show below as my dress rode up. On Thursday last week I made the wrong choice of slip and was told quite a few times it was showing below my dress as I walked round, and the same thing happened on Friday.

Just before lunchtime on Friday the MD asked me to join him for lunch. I accepted and felt quite chuffed he had asked me. Over lunch he told me that it was a pleasure to have me working for him and he thought I always dressed correctly. Walking back to his car he whispered to me “your pretty slip is showing again, I think it makes you look very feminine.”Should I just take these remarks as a compliment or should I wear long skirts to work to avoid any slip shows?

Signed, Want To Dress Appropriately

Dear Want To Dress Appropriately:

What you do will depend upon what you’re wanting from your MD boss and how you want to be perceived by him and others. If you want him to view you in a sexual way, it sounds as if you are on the right track, whether you intend to be there or not! If you want to be seen as a professional administrative assistant who is focused on work and not interested in a personal relationship with the doctor or in being a sex symbol in the office, then you should either buy shorter slips, fix your slips where they don’t hang down, or wear longer skirts.

You mention being told quite a few times last week that your slip was showing. I assume you were told by other employees not by the doctor. You doctor may think a slip showing looks feminine, but to most people it looks a bit slovenly. That isn’t a look you would want to have. Half slips (waist slips) are notorious for dragging down a bit, so you may find you will need to wear a full slip. Or, you may have to shorten your slips (or buy shorter slips) or tighten the waists so they don’t slide lower.

Many women are able to wear slips without them showing, so I’m sure you’ll find a way if you’re determined to do it. You also seem to have a problem developing about how the doctor perceives you. The fact that he took you to lunch and commented on your lingerie is obviously problematic. If you’re not careful you’ll either end up in the middle of an office scandal or caught in some other embarrassing situation. If you want to avoid that, you’ll need to maintain a businesslike relationship and avoid being alone with the doctor in non-business situations.

I would imagine your doctor, like most, are usually busy. So, his time to watch you reach up or bend over is limited. Check around the office before you do those things, if you can’t do them without showing lingerie. I think you will find some alternatives if you try and if you think ahead about how you want to be viewed by others. Best wishes with this situation. If you have the time, let us know what you do about it. It may help someone else who is dealing with the same or very similar problem.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.