Turley-Hansen: Be smart, dress the part - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Turley-Hansen: Be smart, dress the part

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Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:08 am

All right ladies. Time for smart talk. If sex appeal is what you’re selling, then go for it. Dress your message.

If you prefer credibility, in regards to being taken seriously on the job, then think smart.

An ongoing flap in Nebraska over comments a federal judge made on his blog, to female lawyers in regards to their dress, is good reason to revisit the issue of whether women are responsible for first impressions. It could be costly if you brush it off as “someone else’s problem.”

Generally, the topic of a woman’s attire is tied to sexual assault, acts of violence.

But little is said about the link to the loss of credibility in the professional world where success counts. First, second and third impressions can sink a woman’s career achievements.

Question: How often do women sabotage themselves in this political climate that insists there’s an ongoing war on women?

I think such foolishness happens far more often than women want to admit. Dress is only one example.

Several weeks ago, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf blogged a message to female lawyers with rules for dressing in court.

He told of an attorney, in her late 20s, who is one of the best in law, but in court “she wears very short skirts and shows lots of her very ample chest.”

He went on to tell women, “You can’t win. Men are both pigs and prudes. Get over it.’”

Well, you can guess the outrage. But, why? Why attack men when I happen to know what women think of women who send a contrived message that “sexy on the job is what I’m about.” Both men and women get “it.” So keep blaming men and hope, just hope, that your paychecks, needed to feed the kids, keep coming.

An ongoing example of women’s dress in the work place is FOX News, known for its provocatively dressed, on-air talent. Yes, the cable network sells “news babes.”

But, wait. You want the whole story? Why is Bill O’ Reilly’s show No. 1? Nothing sexy about him (sorry Bill). And, note rising FOX star Megan Kelly sits authoritatively behind a glass desk, with hints of legs beneath a modest length dress. And, Megan doesn’t show cleavage.

Check out that newswoman’s ratings: through the roof; beauty with credibility. Her classic fashions procure all she needs. Some of her female co-workers could use her conservative clout.

Oh yes, and Megan’s a lawyer.

As I see it, women commit professional suicide when they show too much skin at the office, when every ripple under outer garments can be seen and when their fashions fit better on their daughters.

Women, who need a pay check, who blindly ignore the truth of it, could pay dearly as blaming men is such a tired game.

We know most working women can’t afford a designer wardrobe, but with abundant clearance stores and great second hand shops, every woman can choose classic pieces to showcase their credibility.

Dressing to fit a profession is not a female thing. “Uniforms” have always been tied to professions (as well as sports).

They send a message: I’m a contender; I’m to be taken seriously; I’m part of the team.

They can’t control the thoughts of their boss and co-workers, but they can control what they see in regards to “I mean business, in business.” The judge is right.

• East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix TV anchor. She can be reached at turleyhansen@gmail.com.

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