Does A Bold Red Lip Work For Your Office Culture?

Red lipstick. For the office or not for the office? That is the question. Red lipstick is my signature. I’d like to think I could’ve lived

Beauty & Fashion

Red lipstick. For the office or not for the office? That is the question.


Red lipstick is my signature. I'd like to think I could've lived in two other decades: the 30s or the 70s. I love the the classic, femininity of the 1930's, and I also love the over the top glam of the 70s. I think I was Diana Ross in my past life! My ode to that classic glamour is a simple, yet bold red lipstick (MAC's Ruby Woo) and red nail polish (OPI's Big Apple Red).

I proudly wear my red lipstick to the office in hopes of conveying my creativity, strength, and sense of style to those I interact with.

It's a bold and powerful color, and in the right setting can exude confidence. But recently I wondered if I worked in a more corporate environment, would my red lipstick be perceived differently?

For decades working women have had to stick to a more traditional, corporate office style. My mother, Cathy Ann Ivey, is one of the top 1% black women executives at a Fortune 500 Company. During our recent mommy-daughter chats, she shared that back when she started in corporate America, office style was very corporate cookie cutter. "I started my career in financial services in the 1980's on Wall Street. We wore blue, gray or black skirt suits with hose, paisley bow ties and minimal make-up."

It would seem that in creative fields like journalism, social media and tech red lipstick would be a show of confidence. However, like my mom many of you work in highly corporate environments, but is the style tide changing even in corporate America? I asked women like you, from different industries and different walks of life, to share their take on red lipstick in a work environment.

Here's what they had to say:

"Red lipstick works in my office culture. It forces people to take the words coming out of my mouth seriously. More importantly, I'm more confident in the attention that I command wearing red lipstick. Plus, I'm the fashion girl. It's expected for me to have add 'wow factor' to my look."

-Channing Hargrove, Marketing & Communications Coordinator (+blogger on the side), wearing YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lip Color in Le Orange

"I wear red to the office. I do think it appropriate depending on your profession. Being from the south, I remember a lot of my friends not being able to wear red lips or red polish because it was considered too "grown" of a color. But I don't think red lipstick changes one's perception of me, especially if they are familiar with my work ethic."

-Melissa Chanel, Social Media Manager from Charlotte, NC wearing RiRi Woo

"I personally do not believe that it changes people's perception of me, but what it does is distracts them from their intent of approaching me. I do not believe that wearing red lipstick has a lasting effect on long term office relationships or ones career. I just think that you have to use justification to know when or when it is not appropriate."

-Tia Boyd, Market Risk Analyst for Wells Fargo Bank in Charlotte, NC

"I believe red lipstick is absolutely appropriate if you want to give the perception of bold, beautiful and about your business. Red always speaks louder than any other color to me. It's classic and versatile, and I can't think of a situation where red lipstick would ever be inappropriate for a lady."

- Maya Elious, Personal Branding Strategist from Atlanta, GA wearing NYX Perfect Red Matte Lipstick

"I love to wear red lipstick in the office. It brings about a sense of confidence and control for me. The people in my office seem to respect me just a tad bit more as well. I suggest that every woman owns a shade of red lipstick. It's so classic for the office and demanding."

-Jasmine Cooper, Marketing Intern from Kansas City wearing MAC Ruby Woo

My take?

Know your work environment and pay attention to what shades of lipstick other women in your office are wearing. I usually follow my boss' lead. If she wears bold lip colors, then I know it's something that works in our office. I wear red lipstick everyday; it's my version of a neutral!

No matter what lip color you wear, wear it with confidence. And while your red lip may scream confident to your coworkers, always make sure your work ethic and creativity shine through just as boldly.

What are your thoughts? Would you wear red lipstick to work or do you think it's very inappropriate in the office?

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