• Kate Iverson

Tech Casual - Dos and Don'ts for Women

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

We have come to the end of our series on fashion in tech. So, let's look at why we started this series!

I consult with a lot of tech companies across the US and I still gasp at some of they way people "dress". This has been going on since tech immemorial, it's not a new thing or a generational thing...and I've been know to gasp at myself on occasion too.

The Assumptions

So, let's start with these assumptions:

  • You come to work to get paid, not laid

  • You'd like to be seen for your brilliance not your boobs

  • You'd like to raise up the ladder and increase in project complexity, responsibility and pay

There are 3 things that affect people's perception of you:

  • Your tech or business skill set

  • Your communication skills

  • Your visual cues

The Epic Fails

Or...don't do this if the above assumptions are true for you!

Sensuality is defined by urbandictionary.com as "arousing but not entirely sexual, realating to sexual feelings without actually having intercourse." As women, this is a lovely thing to play with...but it is in conflict with the assumptions above.

Your sensuality is loud, your brain is quiet. If you want to be seen for your technical brilliance, don't let your body speak louder than your mind.

Avoid Skin

Bare shoulders, short skirts, shorts, halter tops, mid drift tops

and revealing your tats & piercings. All that gorgeous skin can be distracting. Save that for the evenings and weekends and the places that you "play", not where you "earn".

Don't believe me? Go google each term I used: ("bare shoulders", "short skirt", "shorts", "halter tops", "mid drift tops" and "tats & piercings"). Go to the Images tab. What do you notice? The majority of the women in the images have a sexy look on their face.

Our culture has deemed that these clothing items evoke sensuality.

It's your choice. Do you need to evoke sensuality during a business meeting? (If you answered "yes" to that; I'd ask you "why". Why do you need to draw attention away from your brain?

My grandmother used to say that men have short attention spans and we need to help them stay focused. I was young, I disagreed. I thought: "Why is that my responsibility?" Plus the outfits I put above...cute! Right?! But being an engineer, I observed and experimented and came to my own conclusions. So, we're back to the assumptions above, if they are true for you; reconsider skin.

Avoid Boobs

Ok, well where did your eyes go when you looked at the photo on the right?

Cute shirt & blazer, just add a tank top, camisole, bralette or snap on cami and you're covered for day and then you can remove it for after work play.

Avoid Legs

See the images above of the two women in the short skirt and short shorts.

How short is still ok? It's up to you. Run an experiment and observe people's reactions to you (at work). Also, do you see any C-Suite tech women wearing short skirts or shorts? How about the VPs? Ok, what about the Directors? Hmmm. Review your research results with the assumptions we made above and decide for yourself if "short" is right for your career.

BUT...I live in <insert hot place here>

Yes, I hear you. I've done tech consults in Las Vegas and Phoenix...in

the summer. But there is air conditioning so a blouse with sleeves and/or a light weight jacket or sweater can still work.

I'd actually recommend chatting with a fashion stylist who lives in those hot areas and see what they recommend for tech casual summer office wear. Nordstrom and Saks have stylists on their team at their stores or there are the style boxes we discussed in the previous blog (and below)

Avoid Frumpy

Frumpy...I go there when I'm over worked and stressed. It's really a lack of time and lack of attention to detail.

Consider this though - so many professional jobs require attention to detail and fore thought. So, if you arrive in oversized t-shirt, flip flops and yoga pants you have shown no attention to detail or forethought. So, does that mean your work is like that too?

Quick fix: Add belt, statement necklace, jacket and heals.

Forethought Fix: Plan out 5 outfits you can go to. Jeans, heals or flats, tank top or blouse, jacket or sweater with necklace and earrings.

As the week gets busy, your go-to is ready for you.

Think of that as you would when you pack for a week away in a carry on bag. You use the shoes, pants and jewelry and cycle out the tops (and undies!).

Avoid Lack of Attention

This is the twin sister of frumpy and it does happens to us! We get so

busy we put off hair cuts, manicures, lotion, wearing makeup, massages, dental check ups, cooking healthy, shopping and exercise.

Yep, if it isn't work...it's not getting done.

Remember to put things on your calendar. Try shopping and prepping or cooking/freezing on the weekend. You can exercise in 10-20 minute blocks (there's tons of websites that will tell you what to do). Take care of you...so you last longer!

The Dos

Kate had some fabulous tips for you last week for the dos. My top 2 are:

The Style Boxes - (Nordstrom Trunk, Stitch Fix etc). Big help for busy women

Pinterest - This site on tech casual office wear has tons of cut outfits. Notice they aren't too revealing, they layer items, use different textures, complete the look with jewelry, handbag and shoes.

Famenta - had a blog with lots of cute tech casual looks using things you've probably already got in your closet.

Steal It! - I love the deals you can get from the online luxury consignment stores. Once you know the designers and colors that you look good in, these places are ... dangerous!!

YouTube Fashion Vloggers - I love how Naomi Boyer puts together an outfit. You can check her out or find others that have a style you love.

Here's to your career success!


#Fashion #SoftSkills #Advice


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