Monday, June 7, 2010

Dressy and professional are not the same thing

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer went to the White House last week to meet with the President about immigration. She wore a black pant suit:

The black pant suit is a black pant suit: serviceable, well-fitted and unremarkable. But what I noticed most is what the governor chose to pair her suit with: a print top, open toed shoes, dangling earrings and a French twist in her hair. Each of these elements individually might be ok for an important meeting at the White House. But together, they look like the "after" picture in a magazine article on how to take your business suit from day to night. She looks like she's going on a date, not defending her state's immigration enforcement law.

From another angle, we can see her hairstyle is basically a beehive:

This is where a lot of us get confused. We know that "dressy" is the opposite of "casual" but we need to remember that it's also the opposite of "professional."  Open toed shoes are dressy. There's nothing professional about seeing your toes.  Wearing your hair up can be great in a professional setting, as a bun or a French braid. But anything that could reasonably be described as an "updo" is not right for a discussion with the President about legislation.


  1. I was thinking the same thing. Unfortunately there are some women higher up in the workspace heirarchy that don't provide good examples of 'How to dress so people take you seriously.' Luckly, most managers and supervisors provide some 'good example' of how one dresses. If Gov. Brewer wore a white top, maybe it would have been passable. Her hair would have been passible if everything below her neck was a suit. Come to think she looks more like a Realtor. She's trying to sell the Prez a house in Pheonix.

  2. Here's a question: why is dressing like a man the only way to be taken seriously? What's wrong with putting her hair up? Wearing earings? A print top!? Egads! How dare she.
    This is stupid. I'm pretty sure the president is capable of focusing on immigration and not the pretty flowers on her shirt. Too bad we can't say the same for you.

  3. I never said she should dress like a man. In fact, if she were my client, I probably would a recommended a skirt suit.

    It's also not really what the President thinks that's at issue here. Governor Brewer held a press conference immediately after the meeting, which is what we're seeing here - she's trying to communicate with her constituents and the world at large. My goal here, as always, is to provide some constructive criticism and some instructive examples about how she (and women like her) might deliver her message more effectively.

  4. "There's nothing professional about seeing your toes." Amen.