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The Fashion Faux Pas That Could Sink Your Career

flip flops . / Credit: Flip Flop image via Shutterstock

If the way you dress at work is distracting for senior management, you might find your hopes for advancement busted by the fashion police.  If you want to fly your freak flag, make sure it's after work.

For women, that means covering cleavage, eschewing short skirts and skipping the see-through clothing in your closet, a new survey suggests, according to a survey of more than 600 white-collar workers commissioned by Captivate Network, a digital media company.

At the same time, their male counterparts should go easy on wearing shorts and walking around the office in flip flops, the survey found. They're all potential distractions in the eyes of management and co-workers.

[Memo to the IT Guy: Lose the Hoodie ]

Exposed cleavage is distracting for 87 percent of senior managers, while 76 percent of them think that short skirts should be a workplace no-no, the survey found. And an overwhelming number of women (91 percent) find see-though clothing especially distracting.

Bare legs, spaghetti straps, tight clothing and hot pants also targets of workplace disdain. Flip-flops were the one unisex distraction, the survey found: Fifty-five percent of women find them distracting on men and 46 percent of senior managers find them distracting on women.

And ink on paper is still more acceptable in the workplace than ink on skin. More than half (61 percent) of those over age 50 find tattoos distracting. But acceptability may be just around the corner; two-thirds (67 percent) of 35- to 49-year-olds find tats acceptable.

"Our survey results show that office attire can be a major distraction for some employees," said Mike DiFranza, president of Captivate Network. "Companies must navigate the shifting definition of what’s acceptable to wear in the workplace to minimize distractions without turning employees off with overly stringent policies."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.