Young woman in a skirt

Why skirts wear the pants for women

Renee Sylvestre-Williams|

Research says that for women to make a great first impression they need to ditch the pants and wear for a skirt.

The study also shows that men wearing a bespoke or made-to-measure suit instead of wearing an off-the-rack equivalent positively affect the judgements people make upon meeting them.

Let’s talk skirts versus pants though.

The research, done at the department of psychology at the University of Herfordshire, also found that opinions are formed within seconds of first meeting. When 300 people were shown eight images of women in pants suits or skirts and asked to give their first impressions, they preferred the women in skirts. The women were rated on the following five criteria: success, trustworthiness, confidence, flexibility and salary.

Looks or colours were not part of the study as the faces were blanked and everyone wore navy.

Professor Karen Pine who led the study said in a release, “First impressions are formed rapidly and are often highly accurate. After seeing a face for just one second, people make judgments about another’s personal and occupational attributes. Women generally have a wider choice of dress style for work than men, but still have to maintain an identity that balances professionalism with attractiveness. The skirt suit may achieve that balance without appearing provocative.”

When asked, Human Resources expert Sarah Paul said, “I tend to think that a woman who wears a skirt suit is capitalizing on an opportunity to differentiate herself, to stand out among her male counterparts.  All men wear pants suits, most women opt for pants and the ones that wear skirts seem to stand out.  This is what successful leaders do, they stand out and make you take notice.

The fact that she is in a suit (hopefully a stylish one at that) speaks to her professionalism, ambition, power.   But taking it one step further by wearing a skirt and dressing in an overtly feminine way elicits personality characteristics more often demonstrated by women… support, empathy, sensitivity… which are all desirable traits of a leader in today’s workplace.”

See also:

  • Remember to wear pants to the job interview
  • Is it okay to wear jeans to a job interview?

  • Category: Job interviews, Job Search Strategies
    • Rosemary Disqus

      No it’s just an excuse for someone to admire your legs, instead of your qualifications.

    • Bobbie Garnet Bees

      I wear skirts.

    • jaeda

      hmm interesting…Im definitly a girly-girl and used to really dress feminine yet classy for work but then I started to sense that dressing up too much and being too feminine results in not being taken as seriously cause people are very judgmental and they may equate that to vanity and somehow less competent…which is ridiculous if the person is just as qualified. I also read a study that women who wear makeup on a daily basis are deemed more competent than women who don’ who knows ,really? And why the heck are we women still getting judged by how we choose to exhibit our feminine traits?? Its 2014 and we’re still at this point?!!

      • Darcy Hudjik

        Jaeda, on the topic of makeup, I find that when I wear a low-key amount of makeup (5 – 10 minutes of application), I feel somewhat more confident.

    • Elizabeth Rousseau

      I don’t think you have to worry about that if you’re wearing a navy blue skirt suit.

    • Katie Silcox

      This is exactly what I think as well. Maybe it’s a generational thing. I find the whole ‘women in a skirts are perceived as more successful’ to be something people 50+ often say. Anecdotally I’ve found that most of my own generation perceives the ‘obligation’ to wear a skirt to work ‘old fashioned,’ and only necessary for admins.

    • Katie Silcox