Weighing In on Sexy Work Wear

This morning I was watching FOX News (not exactly the crème de la crème of reporting but admittedly better than PIX) Today they were cross promoting a story that apparently appeared in the NY POST, another Murdoch owned outlet. The story was of a woman named Debrahlee Lorenzana, who was fired from her job at Citibank for wearing clothing that was too revealing.

This is Debrahlee Lorenzana and her bosoms.

The NY Post ran a two page spread on some of the ensembles she had sported and the anchors proceeded to critique them, quite favorably, claiming that this is corporate gender bias.
I think we are all in a position to weigh in on this issue, not only because most of us blog about this subject, but because clothing is a public matter. Here are my 2 cents.

We all have choices in what we wear to work.

I have always been somewhat of an exhibitionist so my style, when I first started working was what I called “porn star librarian.” It was super conservative, but my heels were a little bit too high (never an open toe shoe) and my skirt was always a little bit tight (but always below the knee). I still rock this look once in a while because it is suits me and is totally appropriate for the industry I am in and my career goals.

This woman obviously had no guidance as to what to wear in regard to her industry and career goals, unless her career goals are to remain an assistant to a man who likes to look down her blouse. I would venture to say she was not fired for wearing clothing that was too revealing. Her clothing conveyed a message and that message was not one in which her bosses wanted representing Citibank to their clients. She was fired because of her message.

I see some women blogging about work clothing and I shudder. Their outfits seem to convey a strong desire to be the fifth primary character of Sex and the City, which is fine, but not if you have a corporate job that you are trying to move ahead it.

The advice I give my students when they go off to intern is this, “dress for the job you want.” This is not about sexual discrimination, it is about learning corporate culture. I assure you that if a man showed up in a nipple bearing lingerie inspired shirt he would likewise be fired.


  1. Oooo, I can't stop looking a the nips myself.. Maybe she was looking for a Hot Date at work?
    What an awesome post.
    It's too bad that women have to put more thought into dressing for corporate America than men. It's just a matter of common sense well, for some.

  2. It's such a fine balance, isn't it?

    It IS too bad that women have to put more thought into professional dressing. I'm sad, too, that Ms.Lorenzana's sartorial choices, however nippular, have been critiqued on national news. 'Talk about gender policing!

  3. I agree that women have to put more thought into professional dressing than men, but I often wonder why that is and how complicit we are in our own choices. We could, I suppose, buy five well-cut (not clingy) suits and a plethora of dress shirts and wear those daily in the same way that men do. We could choose a uniform of basics that are essentially interchangeable and wear those and only those but, even though this would make getting dressed in the morning so much easier, we (or at least I) do not do that. If a woman did so, would she be judged for "dressing like a man" or by failing to show any creativity or originality in her dress, if we assume, and I do, that dressing is a kind of hermeneutic?

    Is it because historically men have been in corporate positions of power longer and so have an established dress code that women do not? I don't know, but I don't think that's it. And I don't know what the solution is, except, I think, common sense should reign. I do think, however, that if Citibank is going to fire someone for inappropriate attire, they should establish a dress code for all employees, both women and men. I would be curious to know if this woman received any official reprimands about her attire--i.e. was she given a chance for redress (ha, see what I did there?)--before she was let go.


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