By Michelle Roberts, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – They say looks aren’t everything, but if you want to get ahead at work, experts say you had better dress like they are. “It’s really vital to your success,” explained human resources consultant Elaine Varelas of Keystone Partners in Boston.

There does come a point, however, where some women may take the idea of looking good a little too far. “You shouldn’t look like you’re going to a club,” one office manager said. “There’s a whole culture of women looking like hookers and I don’t go for that,” another manager told us.

According to Varelas, dressing too sexy for work could be career suicide. “Men and women are going to judge you and you want them to take you seriously and part of what you are wearing is going to have a huge impact on that,” she explained.

A study published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, found the degree to which sexy attire matters may depend on the type of job you have. Researchers found women in managerial roles who dress overly sexy were considered less intelligent and less competent than women in similar positions who wore more conservative clothing. “It paints them with that whole lack of serious knowledge, lack of experience picture,” Varelas said.

The study found that sexy attire had less of an impact on the way people perceived women in non-managerial positions, like receptionists. But Varelas believes, regardless of the position, certain things just don’t fly, like super high heels. “You can probably get away with a three inch heel for a woman, anything higher than that really makes you wobbly,” she said.

Varelas advises clients to look at their outfit in the mirror and ask, what would a person in this outfit be carrying? “Would you be carrying a martini glass or would you be carrying a brief case? That’s going to help you identify whether you are dressed for the right occasion, the right time of day, the right circumstance,” she said.

This time of year, Varelas warns people to be careful of the holiday party, just because it is not in the office, doesn’t give you license to go overboard.


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