COMPANY UNIFORMS AND SIZE

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

A week ago I started working for a company where everyone wears suits all the time.  The company I came from  those in management wore both suits and sport jackets. As a result, I own four suits and five  conservative sport jackets. I think the management team looked more professional in my last company because everyone wore good suits and by good I mean that cost at least $500 apiece and equally expensive sport  jackets.

 

I purchased one of those $200 suits just so I can wear a new suit every day of the week but in three or four weeks I will be  working with clients and will be required to visit their offices.  Since the purpose of a company dress code is or should be to send the right message to clients I’m wondering if when I’m on the road I can wear sports jackets in fact I’m wondering if I can wear them in the office.

 

                                                                                         Name and Address Withheld

Dear Sir:

 

I do not think you would have purchased that $200 suit unless you already knew the answer to your question,  Company dress codes perform various functions and their primary function is they create a team uniform. What would have happened if in your last company you showed up in a very conservative pair of high-quality slacks, a good dress shirt and a nice tie but left your  sports coat at home. You would have been out of place and sent the message you were not a member of the team,  Wearing sports jackets at your new company will send the same message and if you wear them when you visit clients I assure you word will get back to your company. You joined a new team with a new uniform, wear it,

Dear Mr. Molloy:

I am a large woman, 5 feet 11 and weigh 203 lbs. I just lost the job I never thought I would get but the reason I  lost it is  worrying me.  The secretary to one of the top executives worked for me when she first came here and we became friends.  She told me that the reason I was not considered for that position is they didn’t want someone who looked like me representing the company.  In their opinion I didn’t have the proper image.

 

I’m two to four years away from being considered for an executive position so I have time to change my image. I have been reading articles on what big women can wear to demphasize their size.So far what I’ve gotten from these articles is to draw attention to my face by wearing a  bright scarf, to keep my  patterns muted, to  avoid bulky materials, wear skirts that are smooth and fall below my knee. Can you add to this list?

 

                                                                                                  Confused

Dear Confused:

 

I can and will add to your list but I don’t know how helpful it will be. Most of the advice you have been given is very good. However, wearing a bright scarf that draws attention to your face or even a good piece of jewelry will only be effective if your face is attractive and while you should keep your patterns muted you must not use evenly spaced patterns because for some they will become a ruler they will use to measure your girth. While bulky material will add to your weight, material that clings will draw attention to bulges making you look fatter.

 

The reason I started my answer with “I don’t know how much it would help”  is I don’t think it will help. When it comes to weight women in business judge other women far more harshly than men.They see another woman who is overweight as being out of control.  They think of them for some reason as lesser beings and someone not worthy of an executive position. I’m afraid your only option is to lose weight.

 

There of course all those diet programs advertised on TV.   Most of them I am sure work. I think the  the best ones for a busy woman are those that send fully prepared meals.  If you don’t want to spend the money for fully prepared meals there are less expensive ones that send you supplements and ask you to eat one meal a day.  If you don’t want to spend for any diet become a vegan or count calories.  As someone who’s been on diets for the last 20 years I hate to tell you to do this because although it’s simple it’s not easy. So all I can do is wish you good luck!

 Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

I work in the world of high finance and have to sell my ideas to very sophisticated men and women on a regular basis. For the last 25 years I’ve been  6 feet 3 inches and weighed 280 pounds and believe it or not when selling to these very sophisticated individuals I found my size to be a great advantage.  Recently. I think that has changed and I’m wondering when did size stop being an advantage in business and why?

 

                                                                                      J.O. New York, N.Y.

 

Dear JO:

Size is still an advantage for most men in business.  What has undoubtedly changed is your age and probably your energetic image. There are two possible solutions to your problem,  exercise on a regular basis which might restore your  youthful and energetic appearance or lose weight  because when men get older they are most effective when they are tall and trim.

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