Paula McDonald wrote an incredible post about how a Realtor lost a client due to her cleavage. That brings up a seriously interesting topic: How should women dress when they want to be professional and taken seriously yet also feel sexy and feminine? While, as Paula (and many of her commenters) mentioned, many women seem to take sexy to the extreme nowadays and post their cleavage out on display the same as a fisherman would put a worm on a hook to lure and catch his prized fish. Is that truly sexy though? Is there anything about skirts that are too short or too tight, shirts with straining buttons or low cut "shelf" tops that appear attractive or do they simply scream, "LOOK AT ME!!!"?
Ladies, ask any man what he finds sexy about his partner/girlfriend/wife and he will invariably tell you something that does NOT involve how awesome her boobies look when they're hanging out of her top. It's much more likely to be something like the way she looks in the morning when she first wakes up or how beautiful she looks when her hair is pulled back away from her face. He may also say that her confidence is sexy or her intelligence or that cute little look she gets on her face when she's just a little bit angry... My husband loves the way I look in long flowy skirts.
One of Paula's commenters made mention of some photos where (scroll down past Hilary and Christina) Sophia Loren was caught staring at Jayne Mansfield's cleavage during a party. That also brought up an interesting point... Sophia Loren was and is classically sexy. So was Audrey Hepburn. While Sophia may have had more "assets" than Audrey, they both possesed an ability to be inherently sexy, classy, and beautiful in almost anything they wore. Sexy doesn't stem from putting your body on display. It's something inside of you, as a woman, that displays your mind, your attitude, and your feminine glow. It doesn't matter what size or shape you re or how old you are.
Over the last 50 years, women have come a long way in the professional world. We have gone from housewives and secretaries to some of the world's foremost business executives and professionals. At some terrible point in this dramatic evolution, we deemed it neccesary to dress like a man in order to be taken seriously. We lost our ability to dress like a lady and in doing so, we also lost touch with what it means to be feminine. Suddenly, being feminine took on the previous connotation of being trashy and now we see agents losing business because they have put their cleavage on display.
Sexy does NOT mean nearly naked. Sexy is beauty that radiates from the inside out. You don't need to wear a boxy suit to cover that up and you don't want to put so many mental blocks around yourself that you appear unapproachable either.
Dress how you feel most comfortable but make it professional AND feminine. THAT is the ultimate sexy. One of my favorite business outfits I wore over the Summer was a tea-length white linen A-line skirt with a black silk sleeveless peasant blouse. Matched with a pair of black heels, I felt amazingly feminine, completely comfortable, and also appeared professional and approachable. I wore that outfit while delivering a learning session for 50+ agents about iPad apps during their weekly sales meeting.I was greeted with nothing but friendly smiles and appreciation for the knowledge share. No one gave me the "what is she WEARING??!!" look and my husband made a point of telling me how amazingly sexy I looked all dressed up in my business clothes.
So get back in touch with the "I Feel Pretty" feeling and incorporate it into your professional wardrobe. Everything you have in your closet that could double for use in a night out at the club for the 20-something set should be discarded or at the very least left out of your business attire. That being said, also ditch the boxy man clothes. Suits can be feminine too. We're women and we are powerful in our own right. No need to sacrifice our femininity to be considered part of the professional workforce. :-)