Is Bold Lipstick Unprofessional?

Is it? I can't decide. I tend to air on the side of "hell, no! You do you, you beautiful bad*ss." But then I get nervous in the morning when I'm getting ready for work and find myself shying away from adding a swipe of bold lipstick. Why is that?

I can say with certainty that you will encounter people who believe that bold lipstick is work-inappropriate. When I was participating in recruitment for a position on Bay Street, I was repeatedly told to keep my makeup and nails neutral (take this with a grain of salt, as I was also told to wear a collared shirt and pantyhose. I did neither and was just fine). It's safe to say that a dark red or bright berry lip is outside of the realm of what some people consider to be work-appropriate.

On the contrary, I recently had a conversation with a Bay Street recruiter who told me she doesn't think there is anything inherently unprofessional about bold lipstick. She happened to be wearing a dark plum colour herself. Similarly, industry heavy-hitters like Amal Clooney and Marie Henein are often photographed wearing bold makeup looks to work. So what do you ladies think? Should we stick to neutrals at work or is that bullsh*t? 

It certainly seems counter-intuitive to alter the way that you wear makeup while you interview. Not only because you want to be at your most confident, but also because you want to find a workplace where you can express your personal style.

As a rule of thumb, you should wear a makeup look that makes you feel confident and beautiful. If that involves no makeup, fine. If that involves bold lipstick, also fine. It certainly seems counter-intuitive to alter the way that you wear makeup while you interview. Not only because you want to be at your most confident, but also because you want to find a workplace where you can express your personal style.

For instance, I have a friend who always wears magenta lipstick. Whether she's in yoga pants or at a business meeting, she rocks a pink lip. To my mind, it would be incredibly weird for her to alter something so fundamental to her personal style in order to "fit in" at work. It's akin to changing your hair colour.

But let's set personal style aside for a moment (and only a moment). Is there something fundamentally unprofessional about bold lipstick? I took to the internet to see what other people were saying on this issue.

Last year, Marie Claire published an interesting article about whether red lipstick was work-appropriate. The article focused on a survey conducted by Aliza Licht, the author of Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media. Licht asked her Twitter followers their opinion on red lipstick and here's what she found:

"...Licht found that from a pool of 460 women, including law, banking, and government work professionals, the majority (91.2%) not only viewed it as totally appropriate for the office, but also felt it projects confidence at work (78.8%). While opinions were split on whether or not it's appropriate to wear to an interview (46.6% said yes), only 14.7% of respondents felt that women are judged "negatively" for wearing red lipstick."

While I suspect that the results are slightly skewed by the fact that Aliza Licht's Twitter followers are likely more fashion-conscious than the average bear, it's great to see that a bold lip is associated with confidence at work. 

Personally, I don’t think that there is anything inherently unprofessional about bold lipstick. Like the rest of your wardrobe, your lipstick choice should reflect your personal style and be appropriate for your work environment.

In fact, the internet is full of fashion blogs and online articles debating the merits of bold lipstick at work. Some advise women to stay away from colours that might be seen as 'aggressive', while others urge women to wear bold lipstick during presentations for an added confidence boost. So what's the verdict? 

Personally, I don't think that there is anything inherently unprofessional about bold lipstick. Like the rest of your wardrobe, your lipstick choice should reflect your personal style and be appropriate for your work environment. Keep it tidy, reapply (or opt for a long-wear liquid lipstick) and commit to your look. 

While I wouldn't suggest wearing Kylie Jenner's black metal matte lipstick on your first day at the office, I can't fathom why a well-executed red lip would be anything but fabulous.