That's a nice way of saying, lately she's been wearing some plunging necklines to work. I call it a "fashion issue" because there have been a lot more tops of that sort out on the racks lately, being presented as "business wear." I rejected a lot of tops on that basis the last time I was shopping.

I suppose when she's standing up looking in a mirror it looks acceptable to her, but if she slouches in her chair in a meeting, you can see... more than the TV network used to allow on original Star Trek.

Her boss is a guy, and so is his boss. So they're probably just averting their eyes and dodging the issue.

Should I mind my own beeswax, or risk ticking her off?

[as an aside... I used to watch "House" a lot and the hospital administrator was always wearing low-cut tops, and I always thought that's so Hollywood, a real hospital administrator would never dress like that. And then one time House made a comment, and she said "How dare you make such a comment," and he said "Well, they're right out there for everyone to see, I figured they were fair game." I said YES!!!]

kklogic's picture

I haven't had a chance to listen to the podcast on giving feedback on clothing yet. Maybe it offers a tidbit on peer advice?

What's your relationship like with her? Let's put it this way - if she had toilet paper hanging off of her shoe, would you tell her? I'm just wondering "out loud" if other situations are comparable.

terrih's picture

Our relationship is friendly, but we're not buddies.

Yes, I'd tell her about TP on her shoe, and I don't think that's analogous... I think I'd be pretty safe in assuming that a person wouldn't choose to stick TP to their shoe, much less spend $40 for the privilege. :wink:

My point being, if I made a comment about her tops it would be easy for her to take it as a slam on her tastes, and I can easily imagine she'd be upset about how much money she would be throwing away if she quit wearing them.

regas14's picture
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The thing is, this person might not be aware of the impact of this behavior (the behavior being choosing to wear that top in your work environment). Then it's time to think of the piling on phase and how to appeal to her:

. . . some people may make conclusions about her professionalism and how far she can reasonably go in the company

. . . some people may feel uncomfortable and therefore leave you out of discussions where valuable information is exchanged

. . . some people may not be at their best working around you hurting our ability to get things done, get things right, etc.

. . . some people may not take the things she says seriously thus hurting her ability to persuade, lead, learn, do, etc.

All of this and a lot of other things may be going on based on her choices of attire. I know that it causes me to think those things about people and if you've noticed, believe me there are men there that are uncomfortable with it. It could be severely limiting her ability to be successful in your company.

If you can find the courage to address this with her you should. Who else is going to tell her?

JThorogood's picture

I'm not sure if my comments will help at all but I thought I would try.

We had the same issue at our office. It wasn't simple for the men around the office. It made us all uncomfortable. We also didn't want to say anything because of sexual harassment lawsuits, embarrassment, etc. We finally went to the woman's manager and asked that someone tell her.

I did not get the specific details on what was said. There were two things that got the point across.

1. The point was made that it made the men in the office uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that we would avoid face to face conversations.
2. (This may not apply to you) Since the woman could potentially meet our customers, the point was made that it could make our customers uncomfortable and for new customers it could reflect negatively on our company.

I don't know if it mattered but the feedback was given by the woman's supervisor who was also a woman.

US41's picture

My advice:

* Whatever you do, do it to help the other person. If you don't want to help them, do nothing. Don't say something on principle or to make the workplace more comfortable. Do only if you are doing it for them. This may require some deep thought.

* Weigh the relationship and lean toward saying something the stronger it is

* Say something if you can prevent an embarrassment (not to highlight one such as pointing out that a fly was undone for the first half of a presentation which was repaired by a bathroom break halfway through)

* Say something if you believe the other person would not approve of the exposure they have and is unaware

* Use feedback if you believe they selected the outfit on purpose.

* Use a query instead if you are suspicious

* Just tell them they are exposing straight up if you think they are oblivious

HMac's picture

[quote="terrih"]Her boss is a guy, and so is his boss. So they're probably just averting their eyes and dodging the issue.[/quote]

Terri -
Any behavioral evidence that she's harming her career/credibility/advancement?

I clipped that quote from your post because when I read it a second time, I realized that it described your assumption, and not observed behavior by the boss.

So before you even get to the question (and risk!) of addressing it, how likely is it that it's an issue for your co-worker?


jhack's picture


It comes down to two things:

Behavior (clothing choice) and consequences.

If you can't be sure of the choice or the consequences, don't broach the subject.


kklogic's picture

Terri, the more I'm thinking about it - the more I agree that you don't say anything. If you were closer, you'd be letting her know about the problem because you care about her and her future. But you aren't close.

So, it's a non-direct with a behavior problem (her choosing to wear what she does). Treat it as any other situation of the type. If it's truly bothersome to you, say something to her boss. He just might be happy to have a woman saying it to him. Perhaps he's been uncomfortable saying something until now (of course, direct him to the clothing feeback cast!). Good luck.

terrih's picture

[quote="US41"]* Whatever you do, do it to help the other person. If you don't want to help them, do nothing. Don't say something on principle or to make the workplace more comfortable. Do only if you are doing it for them. This may require some deep thought.[/quote]

A super point.

This thread has taken interesting turns since I last looked at it. (I've been sick for a couple of days)

If I was closer to her, I probably would have just said something and not bothered asking here. :oops: She's been out of town on business all week, I can think about it some more over the weekend.

Thanks for all your thoughtful replies!

kklogic's picture

Terri, I hope you feel better soon.

terrih's picture

Thank you!! All better now.

deniyal's picture

What are the different kinds of peer pressure? What is there to know about peer pressure on teen fashion? Out of all dressing issues how much is related to ... Wooden Swing sets

ken_wills's picture

Judging from that previous post it looks like the forums are getting spammed...