Women warned over dress style

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WOMEN were warned yesterday not to attract sex pests at work by wearing provocative clothes, writes Barrie Clement.

An image consultant told a fringe meeting of the conference: 'You can invite harassment by the way you dress. If you dress sexily with low-necked blouses, see-through blouses, cleavage showing, you will attract the wrong type of attention. Quite frankly, I feel sorry for the men because those kind of women end up by causing no end of trouble.'

The controversial comments by Diana Gordon, of Just One Look Training Services, were greeted with amazement by feminists and attacked by Frank Bray, of Newcastle City Council, who said that the victims of sexual harassment should not be blamed. 'As long as they conform to normal standards of dress, women have a right to be treated normally.' Mr Bray said that women should attempt to avoid situations where they could be compromised. Ms Gordon, who advises senior business people on clothes, told her audience: 'Women have to play the man's game to succeed. You don't want to look like a bimbo.'

She said that many women did not succeed in their careers because they did not know how to package themselves. 'You don't dress for what you are, you dress for what you want to be. It's a sad fact of life but it's true.' Her company provides one day 'dressing for success' courses for 'women or gentlemen' for pounds 185.

Ms Gordon counselled against trousers - few women can wear them - and 'frumpy' flat shoes, though heels should not exceed two and a half inches. Shoes should certainly not be white.

Royal blue was one of the most 'powerful' colours a woman could wear, Ms Gordon said, but should not be worn with white - cream was more suitable.

Ms Gordon, who was wearing a black and white checked top with a charcoal grey skirt, reserved her most acerbic comments for men. They invariably lived in one suit day in day out, only changing shirts and ties, which often bore the traces of the odd meal.

Men were warned against black double-breasted suits with red ties and white shirts. A man so dressed would come over as 'a spiv and a gangster'.