Women who wear pant suits "unprofessional"?

So as not to hijack this thread any further, I thought I’d open up this discussion.

It was stated in the linked thread that in the interests of professionalism, women should wear skirt suits to an interview. I say that’s a complete load of bollocks, and pantsuits are as professional (if not moreso). They’re good enough for guys, why not for us?

How is it that something more feminine is seen as more professional for women, and pants seen as less so when the same standard isn’t applied to guys? Is this a generational thing? Are there practical reasons for this, or is it just a matter of societal stereotyping?

I agree. I don’t have any particular aversion to skirt suits, but I don’t think that pants are any less professional, or that a gender identifier is necessary for a job interview.

In my experience working for a large, prestigious technology company, the women executives definitely wore pantsuits almost exclusively. This was the norm until you got to the VERY top, where I expect folks were making 6-7 figures. Anywhere below that, execs were expected to spring into action with enough energy on a regular basis that a pantsuit was really a practical necessity. At the very top, those executives just gave meaningful looks at the lesser executives to get the action going. I will add that these women execs wore extremely nice pantsuits, and may well have worn skirted suits to job interviews–the whole “dress for the next step above” thing.

In financial fields and law, and in the South, my impression is that skirted suits for women may be more the done thing.

As far as advice, I would go back to that old standard, dress for one level above the position you are interviewing for, in the organization/field you are interviewing in.

I agree that you should always dress a step above, but why are skirt suits considered above, to those of you who feel they are? I honestly don’t understand this, as it’s not something I have ever encountered.

I’ve worked predominantly in political/governmental and tech fields and in those areas a pantsuit or dress slacks/blazer combo is the way to go. There’s the occasional high-end suit dress if you’re going to be going to a fundraiser or dinner right after work, but even then it’s usually the older women who wear them which leads me to feel it might be a generational thing.

FWIW, I work for a *very * conservative investment management firm. The top level female employees wear pants suits, almost exclusively.

Of course, many of these women are older, most of them look like real people as opposed to Heather Locklear on Melrose Place, and I’m guessing that most of them are more comfortable in a pants suit. Everyone can find a pair of pants to flatter them, and you don’t run into the length issues that come with skirts. Skirts of a “professional” length can look frumpy, especially on an older or heavier woman. Shorter skirts compromise your credibility, regardless of your figure. Besides, we’re there to show off our brains, not our legs.

If you’re more comfortable in a skirt, good on you, by all means wear one. Either is an equally acceptable choice. But it’s ridiculous to suggest that wearing such a peculiarly sexualizing piece of clothing renders one *more * “professional”.

My advice was more observational, the women executives who were at the GM/6-7 (possibly verging on 8) figure range DID wear skirts in this company. If I had to take a WAG as to why that was, it might have been that they frequently interacted globally or with other fields where the skirt is more the norm. And at that point in their careers, clothes were no longer any type of hassle, they had “handlers” of various types to make sure they looked right for any occasion. Basically, I trust these women’s judgment that they wouldn’t be where they are today if they weren’t dressing dead on for their roles.

But note that very few of us are at this Board Member of Fortune 500 level. I’m essentially agreeing w/ you XJETGIRLX, that a well-tailored pantsuit is a great choice until you’re talking high six figures, speaking for high tech and not in the US South.

Well, I am operating out of the US South, Tallahassee to be exact. When I worked for a lobbying firm the only women who wore skirt suits or dresses were those competing for Miss Rotunda. The ones who want to be taken seriously dress for business the same way the men do.

Depends on what you mean by a “pantsuit” I think. There are the polyester, bright colored jacket-and-pants combos that are kinda tacky as such things go, versus the tailored, very business-like suit jacket plus pants, that look more like a man’s suit except in cut.

Different regions, different preferences. In the San Francisco Financial district, will allthos ebig banks, I don;t see hardly any pantssuits being worn. Professional women wear either slacks and sportcoat, or womens skirted suit. Note that dressy slacks, dressy blouse and sportcoat is more common than skirted suit.

What is the difference in level of professionalism of a matching pant suit and a well-coordinated dress pants/jacket set (not a pant suit)? I’ve always thought of the two as pretty equal in level of dress but it seems that a lot of other people don’t.

I think that a matching pants suit is a just bit more formal than a dress pants/jacket. The latter is perfect for every day, the former for interviews or important client meetings.

I don’t think one looks more professional than the other but just for the interview it might be a safer bet to wear a skirt. The interviewer might be a little older or might have an idea of how they think an applicant should dress.

Wait, wait wait. . . so there’s a difference between a “pant suit” and slacks with a matching jacket? Is that the question, or is it between pants/ slacks and skirts?
And can we clarify where everyone is posting from, geographically?

Actually, I’m gonna have to call you on this one. The same standard most certainly applies. A man in a skirt suit would probably be seen as considerably less professional than a man in pants.

I see a skirt as dressier than a pants suit and therefore more appropriate for certain occasions, such as job interviews. A pants suit is just a small step down to slightly more casual and perfectly fine for most offices today.

In some ways Florida is not exactly the South culturally in the same way NC (where I am), SC, Mississippi, etc. are. Maybe this is one of those ways?

(This may get confusing. The execs I talked about before were mostly not in NC).

Pants and a matching (as in same color, same fabric, designed to be worn together) jacket **is ** a “pants suit”.

When I say “pants and a jacket”, I mean dress pants and a jacket of a different color/fabric.

I’m in Boston.

Of course that doesn’t apply in Scotland.

My friend, who works at a major accounting firm back in Seoul, told me that “business formal” meant matching suit, usually black, while “business casual” meant the slacks/skirt and jacket could be mixed and matched (and didn’t have to be a dark color). The hierarchy, as it were, was more about style and color than it was about skirt verses slacks. (Of course this is in Korea, so it might be a cultural difference.)

I always thought pants looked more professional than skirts. It’s hard to get the length right on a skirt. Too short and you look skanky, too long and you look silly.

:g: What I meant is that I think pants are more professional, period. The question was for the women who think that skirts are more professional. If they think that, then why not have men wear skirts too? :smiley: