DEAR HARRIETTE: I hired a young woman to work for me earlier this year. We mainly work via Zoom. We had an in-person meeting recently, which is when I discovered that she doesn’t understand professional dress.
She came to a business dinner wearing a camisole (that looked like underwear) as her shirt. She was not wearing a bra, and her breasts were exposed. I have seen young people dress like that when they are going to the club, but it was inappropriate for a work event. I didn’t say anything because she was already there.
The next day, she did a similar thing during the day, again wearing something extremely low-cut for a breakfast meeting.
I see young people dressing like this sometimes and get that it is a form of self-expression, but the workplace calls for more modesty. I feel like this is not being taught or reinforced these days, perhaps because quarantine meant that for two years people were not in-person at all.
How do I address this without coming off as a prude or as one who is not inclusive of others’ styles?
DEAR PROFESSIONAL DRESS: Schedule a time to talk to your assistant. Let her know that after your in-person meetings, you realized that you had not previously talked about what you consider to be professional dress.
You may want to do some research to prepare. Show her photos of what is traditionally considered professional attire at work — and what is not. These images are easy to find on the internet. Point out that plunging necklines, exposed cleavage, short skirts and sheer clothes are inappropriate. Similarly, in many work environments, jeans and sneakers don’t work, but that’s really dependent on the culture of the organization.
Define your office culture for virtual engagements and in-person activities so that your employee is clear about your expectations.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I spent the past two years working hard to improve my credit score. Then I started getting into little fights with my husband over stupid stuff, including how little he participates in our household finances.
This year, I have made a lot more than he has. I don’t know whether it was spite or what, but I have been spending money left and right, buying whatever I want. My credit score has gone down, and once again I am in debt.
I am mad at myself, and it is all my fault. How can I dig out of this stupid hole again?
No More Debt
DEAR NO MORE DEBT: It sounds like this is a pattern for you. If that’s the case, your best option may be to get credit counseling so that you can observe your spending behavior and work with a professional to help you modify your choices.
Put yourself on a budget right away. Outline your monthly financial responsibilities and your outstanding debts. Assess how much you owe and create a plan to pay down your debt. Look for the highest-interest items to pay off first. With discipline, you can improve your credit score, but it takes focus and patience.
Learn how to face the issues that are troubling you without triggering unnecessary spending. Do not let your issues with your husband create an excuse for reckless spending. In the end, nobody wins with that approach. Focus on welcoming financial freedom.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.