Friday, December 14, 2007

A great question

MKKM recently posed a question that I myself have been curious about. I know some of you have touched on this already, but let's talk about this specifically.

I am new to your post, but have been a consultant for over twenty years. I was once a Cadillac driving senior director and then since I have been very part time as a consultant. Recently I have re-activated my business and am enjoying the many modernizations to the products and the packaging in the effort to be "on-trend." I am mystified, however, that the company is still insisting that we wear skirt, dresses or skirted suits to all MK functions. For the last week I have been observing my area as I lived my life... taking my kids to and from school, attending the various retail establishments and restaurants we frequent, and businesses we support... to date, the ONLY women I have seen wearing skirts are MK ladies!!! I kid you not. How can MK consider this to be "on-trend?" Who is there, corporately, who has the intestinal fortitude to encourage us to stop dressing like old ladies going to church and let us follow the styles of (young) women in today's work place. My husband made the observation that watching women come and go from the Mary Kay meetings is like watching them come into and out of church, not out of a professional office building. I want to really make a go of my career this time around, but I do NOT want to look dowdy and it is my personal belief that wearing a skirt, dress or skirted suit is not trendy enough to make other women want to listen to me tell them how to look better. We are selling "Parties." My customers attend in jeans or shorts. Wearing a business suit is way overwhelming to them. The beauty coat is a good idea, and I use one, but I would like to be able to wear a professional pant suit to my selling appointments and to my meetings and not feel guilty that I was being disrespectful to Mary Kay. I have back problems and have been told by my doctor not to wear high heels.... ergo what kind of dress can one wear with flats? I would like to know how some of you others feel about this issue and if it has come up in recruiting discussions?

I think that the discussion thus far has revealed that:

1. When you are "out and about" you should dress appropriately to your audience.
- SCC/Product Demonstration - dress based on those in attendance
Jeans with jeans
Dresses/skirts with dresses/skirts
Professional attire with professional attire
- Warm Chattering - based on the location you will be
Mall - Professional Casual (is that a category?)
Work - Whatever you wear to work
Everyday - Whatever you normally wear
2. There is no outright mandate from corporate for anything but official meetings
3. Depending on your director, some events may request/expect/require certain attire

So the question I would like input on - and I understand these will be opinions - is, "Should Mary Kay Corporate change its paradigm of dress requirements?"

If so, to what level?

If not, why?

Should there be an expectation for directors to change their requirements/guidelines?

There are a few restaurants that I really enjoy here in Los Angeles. They REQUIRE and I do mean require "after 5" attire (suit and tie for the gents, dress/gown/skirt for the ladies). If I don't feel like dressing up, I can opt to not eat at these places. But, if I want to enjoy their fare, you had better believe I'ma have a suit on!

Obviously a fine dining establishment and Mary Kay have almost nothing in common! But I threw that in there for some perspective.

Alright, on Donner, on Blitzen, on... Your Opinions!

Nothing Follows



  1. Oh, my SD would KILL me if I wore jeans or even slacks to a class or Monday night meeting! My unit is known throughout Sweden, Norway and Finland for being the strictest-dressing unit. The dress-code for Seminar, well, we keep it up even if we're just dropping of a product or meeting someone for coffee.

    Sure, this makes us all feel appropriate and stylish, but it's never fun being chastised by our SD for having the wrong color pantyhose or wearing a black top instead of a white when your all out of the white (black being reserved for DIQ).

    I should perhaps explain that Sweden is a very fashion-dominated nation. Sure, we go through denim periods, but right now, it's a lot of 40s-50s-60s going on and 80% of women all ages wear skirts and dresses daily. Yes, the secretary/Jackie O/Mary Kay housewife style. So it's rare for me to feel overdressed at a class. If I am, it's probably not going to be "the best clients" for me to work with (sorry, words of my SD).

    I WOULD like to be able to spice it up with, let's say, cerise pantyhose, a fun top under my jacket or pants when winter sets in though. Just wait till I move and no one can see me ;)

    Corporate here is really pushing the beauty coat, but THAT of all things REALLY makes me feel frumpy and outdated! Sure, if I was touching their faces, like a beautician. But if my job is to present, then I want to look...presentable ;)

    BTW, I loved the red jacket when I got it, I look great in red. But now I'm really tired of it and I love wearing my black jackets to my own classes.

  2. I think looking a little bit nicer/more professional than your audience is appropriate. So if you're going to be doing a class in a sea of jeans, maybe don't wear your suit, but a nice dress or maybe a pantsuit or business professional slacks. That way you're not looking over-the-top, but you still look attractive and professional. I saw a picture at Jen Semelsberger's site where she wore a dress (not a suit) when she did an SCC for a group of casually dressed men. And I think I saw an NSD reference wearing a sundress (not a suit) when conducting an SCC for a group of woman in shorts during summer. So she looked classy, not ridiculous.

  3. speaking the real truth.December 15, 2007 at 6:31 AM

    Kare said it best, "Look at little better than your audience".

    There are obviously two sides to this question and both have valid points.

    I think most agree that a skirted business suit is the most professional look. In fact a while back I saw a survey about this very issue and the women in the skirts were looked upon more favorably. (Don't ask me about the survey, it's probably been a year ago that I saw it). So there is something to the logic. Also, when my hubbies office went business casual, oh my! The women were the worst offenders in inappropriate dress for the office, wearing leggings, etc. I think that some just see this as a good place to draw the line to keep things from declining into unprofessional and sloppy dress.

    On the other hand, if it is okay to wear pants to congress, then I think we can sell lipstick in them.
    And, I've seen some skirt outfits that were waaaayy short of professional.

    I rarely wear skirts when out and about or holding a party. I usually wear black slacks and the beauty coat, which I love.

    For official MK events, I will respect the wishes of Mary Kay Ash and wear the skirt until the rule changes. I try to make it stylish with my shoes and accessory choices.

    For me, it's not that big of a deal. No one controls what we wear in our daily lives or to our appointments.

  4. You know, speaking the real truth, you reminded me of something I read awhile back. It was an article on applying for jobs. And for the most part, for job interviews and such, most people will look more favorably on the woman who shows up for the interview in a skirted suit--regardless of that office's daily dress code. In fact, it gave the example of a job seeker who knew that the dress was casual at the place where she was applying, so she came to her interview in slacks. The interviewer, when talking to others about that interviewee, scathingly referred to her as "the one with the pants"--even though the interviewer was wearing jeans! So sometimes people do expect you to maintain the professional image, regardless of their own style of dress. And as I have noted elsewhere, I do seem to sell more product when I conduct my SCC in a suit. But that doesn't mean I'm going to wear a suit when paying my bills or shopping at the mall, just to stand out. :-p

  5. I feel better in a skirt than in pants--appearance wise. When I wear pants--no matter how dressy--I feel casual. I always wear skirts to job interviews. I have not heard that skirts are outdated. There are some very cute skirts out there that are professional. I have many "businessy" skirts that I wear to my day job. When I hold a MK appointment, I tend to dress down a tad. I don't always wear a skirt to my selling appointments. For example, in summer I have a pair of pinstripe capri pants that I wear with a pink short-sleeved sweater or pink blouse. When I do wear a skirt to an appointment, I don't wear a business suit. I found that to be a bit intimidating to my audience. I just dress cute (CUTE NOT SEXY!!). In my opinion, skirts should not be any shorter than just above the knee. My professional skirts fall just about to the knee. When it's cold here I wear a long skirt and long johns (yup, LONG JOHNS) underneath it for warmth. I'm a freeze baby. There ARE ways to get around pantyhose. ;) For the record, I ALWAYS wear a skirt and blazer to MK corporate events and to most of my weekly meetings. I tend to wear such things to work all day anyway, so it's not like it's an extra effort on my part.

    MKC has relaxed its dress code for corporate events. Pantyhose are no longer required and open toe shoes are allowed as well. I know consultants who have always worn open toed shoes. Some wear pumps with peek-a-goo toes and I think those are always office appropriate. Others wore strappy sandals that look more like clubbin' shoes than business attire. Many people don't know the difference between what's appropriate for work and what doesn't go with a professional look.
    I think MKC does need to set guidelines. There are many people out there who simply don't know how to dress appropriately for any occasion. Guidelines are a must.

  6. What I think is interesting is that MKKM, mentioned not seeing anyone in skirts that was not a Mary Kay lady. Where does she live? Also, you can certainly wear a skirt and look on-trend. If skirts weren't fashionable, then why would so many stores still sell them? In the dozens?

    That aside, my feelings about the skirt thing-- for one, I absolutely love wearing skirts. They are so much more flattering and comfortable than pants. But I don't usually wear a suit skirt. Just a fun, flirty skirt or dress. Even a jean skirt, I think is better than slacks!

    There has to be a standard somewhere. If Mary Kay let people wear business slacks to meetings, the attire of the general group would deteriorate. If a consultant sees someone else in nice slacks, she says to herself "oh pants, I can wear pants," and then on to khakis and then jeans, and then oh hey, not professional anymore. A skirt says, no compromise. No grey area.

    That, and don't you feel better when you are dressed up? I sure as heck do. ANd I am a lot happier and nicer to people when I look good.

  7. I'm just not comfortable in skirts and never have owned one. i LOVE business suits or just nice black pants and heels with a pretty blouse. I feel more confident in pants and isnt that what we want? I could never sell as well in a skirt because i'd be worried about my legs. We're not all gifted with perfect legs and people need to accept that. I just started selling last has come down to the fact that I'm probably not going to attend my weekly meeting that i'd LOVE to go to because i'm terrified of being looked down upon. It IS MY business...I should be able to wear what i feel most comfortable in.

  8. Kelly,
    please dont let a little thing like a skirt keep you from learning about how to do this business. And if it is your legs you are worried about, who says it has to be a short skirt? What is wrong with wearing a long skirt, no big production, just for purposes of the meeting. That way you dont have to feel uncomfortable and you can wear what you want on your own appoitments.

    Its just one day a week, what can it hurt? Also has anyone said anything to you that would make you feel like they would look down on you if you wore pants?

    There will be many things about this business that will force us out of our confort zones. That is not a bad thing. You said you would not feel comfortable selling in a skirt, but there is no selling at the meeting, just mostly learning, so you wont have to worry about being comfortable enough to sell anything at that time. I am all for wearing what makes you comfortable at your own appts.

    But I just think that it is not too much to ask of us to honor Mary Kay's wishes of dressing a certain way at Mary Kay sponsored functions and events. They are not asking that we dress this way everyday. Some of us rarely can attend meetings every week anyway, so having to wear the skirt occurs only a few times a month for most, so how is that too much to ask?

    I have one long black skirt that I wear to sales meetings on Monday nite. Its the only one I wear to sales meeting, no where does it say you have to go out and buy a whole new wordrobe just to dress like a MK lady. You can buy a very durable reasonably priced skirt at any discount retail store (walmart, kmart, target..) On my selling appts I wear pant suits, or whatever the weather lets me wear. I never wear jeans however but I dont always wear a dress or skirt.

    There is a director in our area who always jokes about how before MK she did not even own a pair of pantyhose. Now she is a top director in this area and will probably be a NSD soon. What if she had let the dress code stop her? You just never know.

    Sometimes we place our own barriers in our own way. All I am saying is I think it is a shame that you might not go to the meetings just because of a skirt. A skirt that you will probably wear for all of 2 hours. Then you have got the rest of the week to wear what you want as you work your business.

    You are just getting started, so please reconsider and dont let this stop you from learning all you can by going to your meetings.

  9. speaking the real truthFebruary 9, 2008 at 7:07 AM

    Kelly, how about a longer skirt and some dress boots? That's one of my favorite Winter looks, nice and comfy too!

    I wear pants to appointments and deliveries all the time, nice dressy slacks, usually with the Beauty Coat. It's easy, professional, comfortable, and I do not have to worry about repeating what I wore at the last party that I booked this one off of!

  10. Skirt suits are outdated?!
    Guess what's on the runway for the SPRING 2009? SKIRT SUITS!
    Designers like Valentino, Max Mara, Vivienne Westwood, Chanel and Alexander McQeen are presenting some fabulous skirt suits!
    If you want to stand out of the crowd and send a message that you are an elegant, professional, feminine, and a successful WOMAN, then skirt suit is your choice.
    Pant suits are for those willing to go with an average crowd.
    I'm a future SD and I'm definitely caring this fabulous Mary Kay tradition to my future unit


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