Is Pinterest leading your wardrobe astray?

Opinion:

Pinterest is awesome for finding ideas for just about anything. From baby showers to gardening to funny pictures, it's got it all. It's like a big search engine where the results have been pre-screened for awesomeness. Except, there's one problem: No resume is required to pin things on Pinterest, and your fellow "pinners" may not have a clue about what they are talking about.

While this can result in some pretty funny Pinterest fails, it can be disastrous if you take your work wardrobe advice from the wrong Pinterest board. While we laugh at a funny cake, you can seriously ruin your career if your wardrobe is inappropriate.

I received the following email from a reader that points out some dangers that lurk in Pinterest.

Pinterest, for reasons known only to the bots at Pinterest, sent me an array of boards around the theme of workwear and business casual.

I took a peek at a couple... and was astonished. However, maybe my astonishment is misplaced. Even though I work out of my home, I'm interested in the attire, and what some of these women were posting surprised me. This board is mostly reasonable, I thought, with the occasional surprise. The torn jeans don't belong on this board, unless you work somewhere very casual. And a cute, flippy skirt ... that ends a solid five inches above the knee seemed to be pushing it.

But for the most part, this is what I envision workwear to be. And then there's this one: Stiletto heels? Skinny jeans? In the office? I'm rather taken by the classy cheetah-print stilettos, myself, or the skin-tight leather pencil skirt with the slit 2/3 up the thigh. Liberally torn jeans over stilettos. A body-hugging mid-thigh dress with cut-outs. It does make one wonder exactly which business the pinner aspires to.

I think I was most surprised by the frequent appearance of skin-tight jeans, on all the boards I viewed. Do people really consider them office wear? Even with a nice shirt and jacket, they just seem inappropriate to me.

What concerns me more than the stiletto heels and skinny jeans are the midriff baring shirts. Most companies that proclaim a "business casual" dress code don't include jeans of any sort in that business casual. Stiletto heels are probably not going to be specifically mentioned in a dress code, but may raise eyebrows in your office.

The best tip when looking for new clothes to wear to work is to ask yourself if the highest ranking female at the office would dress like this. This, of course, isn't always perfect, given body types and such. But, if you're pretty sure the CEO wouldn't have her skirt 5 inches above her knees, you shouldn't either.

Norms vary depending on where you live and what you do. What is considered appropriate for a fashion magazine employee in New York City may be considered extremely inappropriate for a yard and garden magazine employee in Minneapolis. Technically, both women may be editors (same job!) but the location and industry vibe are very different.

We live in reality and in reality, people have less professional respect for colleagues who wear clothing they consider inappropriate to the office. Especially other women. Researchers found that when a woman wearing a low cut blouse and short skirt came into a room of other women, as soon as she left, the criticism began.

Feel free to use Pinterest to find great ideas for your workplace wardrobe, but run them through the "would my boss wear this?" test before purchasing. And remember, in almost all industries, it's better to dress on the conservative side until you're confident that the leopard print stilettos and skinny jeans are appropriate in your office.

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