It is heavily male-dominated and fairly conservative where I work, and what I’ve noticed is that having a necktie seems to look more polished and authoritative in comparison to a plain collared shirt. How do you feel about women wearing ties? I’ve tried scarves, but I struggle to not feel like a flight attendant. Do you have any alternatives?
All knotted up
for my two cents, I’d advise against the necktie. It sounds like you feel you need to wear one to assimilate to your “male dominated” surroundings. Without knowing more about your situation, there could be several reasons for that – including but not limited to: your work place doesn’t embrace diversity and misogynistic comments are accepted or maybe you are comparatively junior and feel that makes you less authoritative?
In either case, I don’t think a necktie would remedy the situation. If the culture at your work place is generally non-supportive of women, in my experience trying to fit in with “the boys” appearance-wise doesn’t help much. If all you want is to bond with your male colleagues, try to see whether any of their non-shop-talk topics interests you (TV shows, sports, books etc.). I’m not telling you to become a frat boy – just see if there is anything you could see yourself bonding over with your male colleagues. If the problem runs deeper than that and women are just generally less respected than their male counterparts, judge whether your HR department or management could potentially help the situation. If no, it might be time to look around for other opportunities.
If you feel you want a necktie because you are too junior – don’t do it! A necktie doesn’t give you any more credibility – quite the opposite, it might be perceived as you playing dress up. Rather, let the quality of your work and behavior speak to your credibility as a professional. That said, if your workplace doesn’t make you feel its okay to be junior and inexperienced, have a conversation with your supervisor and try to find out what you can do to make sure you’re the best junior you can possibly be.
There could be a million other reasons, why you feel you’d like a necktie; however since you specifically mentioned the “male-dominated” work environment my advice is: don’t try too hard to assimilate to the males but rather embrace your feminine qualities. Because necktie or not, you’re probably still not going to fit in 100% with the guys – and really, why should you? Wouldn’t it be better to be the most confident, competent woman you can be? Afterall, there is a reason they didn’t hire a guy for your job.
In terms of neck-wear for the work place: Chunky Bibs can really pull an outfit of simple suit and collared shirt together. Or try a collarless silk shirt and a pretty printed scarf in an animal print, floral pattern, bright color or geometric print. A mock-collar or turtleneck could also make for a nice variation. If you’re trying to avoid the flight attendant look – stay away from gold chains, horses, navy rimmed silk squares and conservative black-gold-red combinations. And for good inspiration on how to wear them, check back to this post in Rear End Rearviews.
Hope this helps you! Readers, I’m really curious to hear your opinion on this subject?