I’m in a dominant/submissive relationship — can I wear a collar to work?

A reader writes:

My fiancé and I are involved in a 24/7 dominant/submissive relationship. Along with the traditional wedding, we are planning a collaring ceremony. This is really important to both of us, and we take it very seriously — we think of the collar as akin to a wedding ring, representing our mutual trust, support, devotion, and love for each other within this lifestyle. Ideally, once the collar is placed on, we want it to be taken off as little as possible.

So, where is the line as far as office or work fashion goes? For context, I work in a very liberal environment but do have interactions with students, clients, and patients in hospital environments at times. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable (don’t worry, I won’t be demanding anyone call my partner “master”) but I also would like to ideally keep this very important personal symbol.

I’m not sure how eye-raising or recognizable these symbols are outside of the lifestyle. I’m assuming that a traditional leather collar would be too out there, yes? Is something like a locking eternity collar (think thick metal necklace that screws together instead of a clasp) still too risqué? Should I wear a turtleneck or scarf every day? Do I risk jeopardizing my career if we do this, or don’t switch over to something like a normal necklace or anklet? Will everyone just look at it as some sort of hyper-sexualized advertisement, even though it symbolizes so much more?

I do think that anyone who recognizes it for what it is will look at it as an inappropriately sexualized accessory for the office, yes.

And yeah, a traditional leather collar will definitely be inappropriate for most offices. (And even if it’s not for your particular office right now, you presumably want to pick something that will be safe for future offices you might work in. So I don’t think you can use a leather collar for this purpose, even if it would fly where you’re currently working.)

But I looked up pictures of locking eternity collars, and some of those could pass for an office-appropriate accessory, if you pick one of the ones that look closer to a regular necklace. You do run the risk of people asking you about it if they notice that you wear it every day — and if that happens, you’ll need a blander explanation than the real one. “It’s a gift from my fiance, and I just really love it” is fine. “It’s a D/s collar,” not so much.

I wouldn’t go with a more risqué choice and then rely on a turtleneck or scarf to cover it up every day, because at some point someone’s likely to get a glimpse of what’s under it, and that will potentially make it a bigger deal.

I hope that helps!

{ 884 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

    /sighs happily, cracks knuckles, knows this is gonna be a good day.

    OP…..no. Just no, no, no. However you personally construe the collar, however symbolically important it is to you and your fiancée, there is just no way that a collar is remotely appropriate in a workplace environment. Even most of the ones at the link would make my eyebrow run for my hairline like a scared caterpillar, because let’s face it, it’s pretty obvious what they are.

    I realize that this carries the same significance for you as a wedding ring, and as someone in a fairly nontraditional relationship I really don’t want to kink- or lifestyle-shame you, because this is not something to be ashamed of. But it is something that your coworkers, students, clients, and patients Do Not Want To Know, just like my coworkers don’t want to know the particulars of my romantic and sex life. It’s a level of disclosure that doesn’t have any place in the workplace.

    Reply
    1. Jesmlet

      I don’t know, I’ve seen plenty of people wear necklaces that looked similar to this and my mind never went to dom/sub relationship. Plus chokers are kind of in now as an accessory.

      Reply
      1. Girl Alex PR

        I agree, Jesmlet. I am in a totally traditional relationship, and I own a choker similar to the plain silver metal ring. It doesn’t scream overtly inappropriate to me, and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear it at work.

        Reply
      2. N

        Agreed. I think that some of the ones that Alison has suggested would be a very good compromise. And saying it’s a gift from a fiance/husband seems like a perfectly acceptable response.

        Reply
        1. heatherskib

          +1. And some on etsy just look like a heavier chain with a pretty pendant on the clasps. Nothing that would remotely raise an eyebrow.

          Reply
      3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        Sorry, y’all, but I’m pushing back here. Sure, plenty of people will see it and not think twice about it, but if you’re even slightly kink-literate it’ll deliver the message like a neon sign. And that message is TMI for work. There’s a lot more kinksters out there than anybody realizes, mostly because we don’t broadcast our kinks with neon signs.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’m curious to hear other opinions about this. I feel like I’m reasonably kink-literate (because I read a lot and have a healthy spirit of inquiry — don’t read more into that!) and I wouldn’t read it as a neon sign. I’d be interested in others’ take on that.

          Reply
            1. Cathy

              I have several friends in the lifestyle and I would absolutely know immediately what it was.
              Most of my friends have 2 collars, one for work and one for the rest of the time. One in particular has a lovely and delicate Y style necklace with a tiny heart on the end for her ‘normal’ necklace. It’s easier for the men as no one looks sideways at a substantial chain maille necklace.

              Reply
              1. Sara M

                I would know immediately. I wouldn’t care much. Other people would care a lot though, if they noticed–so the trick is to choose one that looks like a regular necklace, not a collar.

                Wearing it every day is fine; you can just say it’s a gift from your fiance and it’s your favorite. I wear the same necklace every day for non D/s reasons, and no one even asks me why.

                Reply
              2. Amber T

                I’m guessing if it’s something plain-ish (I’m not opening the links at my work computer…) and you’re still able to recognize what it is, than maybe you’re more accepting of the lifestyle? I’m having a hard time phrasing that. But if a coworker, who is professional and does good work, wore one and you knew what it was, would your opinion of them change just based on that?

                (This is coming from someone who knew what collaring was and also considers themselves fairly literate on the subject, but would absolutely not recognize a collar in a non-kink setting. Honestly, I could see a leather collar and think “huh, interesting fashion choice” before my mind went to collaring.)

                Reply
                1. Snorks

                  Links are safe for work, but you bring up a very good point. If you know what they are, you are more likely to be accepting of them.

                2. Dr Pepper

                  It’s tricky though, because while D/s relationships can encompass things that aren’t sexual in nature, they’re still pretty inherently sexual. It’s no skin off my nose if you want to live that lifestyle but I really don’t want to know that my coworker is sexually submissive.

                  And yes, I would 100% recognize any of those collars as collars.

            2. Liz T

              I might not think about it seeing it once, but if someone wore it every single day I’d realize in about a week.

              Reply
              1. Anon Anon Anon

                Yeah, that’s my thought too. People do notice when something gets permanently added to the daily wardrobe like that – I started wearing my paternal grandfather’s ring after my father died and people were asking about it less than two weeks later. I think LW should just go with it and when people ask say something along the lines of, “It’s the way my spouse and I decided to show our love for each other.” People do silly things for love; most people will shrug and leave it at that.

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                1. Anon Anon Anon

                  I guess I’m one of those oversharers people write to you about :P

                  But you’re right, it’s best to keep it to the least amount of personal info possible.

                2. KG, Ph.D.

                  I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I wear a necklace my husband gave me (a circular pendant on a chain) every single day, and I’ve *never* been asked about it, either socially or professionally. It’s more minimalist than the link that Alison provided, but it’s visible with nearly all my clothing, and literally no one comments on it.

                3. eemmzz

                  I have a white gold knecklane with small diamonds on the pendant and have worn it almost every day for 10 years (was the first Christmas present from my now fiancé). No one has ever asked me about it. Maybe it depends on both your country’s and company’s culture though.

              2. Optimistic Prime

                Yeah, this was my thought. If I saw her wearing the same one every day I think I would guess, although I can’t say I would care much.

                Reply
            3. General Ginger

              Most people I know in the scene have “public-appropriate” collars (necklace or bracelet, very regular-jewelry in appearance) in addition to the standard collar.

              As for whether I’d pick up on it at once? Likely. However, I’m a former goth, and I wear a few things from time to time that are kind of goth-reminiscent but office-appropriate for my office, so I’d probably wonder if this was a fellow office goth, first.

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            4. One of the Sarahs

              FWIW, to me, if you put some of those plain silver ones in a line-up with other kinds of necklaces, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid, unless I happened to notice a colleague was wearing one every day..

              (It’s funny, I would have completely missed the one with a heart padlock only on one end, through an O ring out of context – but the ones with 2 chain ends meeting at the padlock seems really obvious. I guess there could be the issue of what other kinds of jewellery move in/out of fashion, but there are ways round that too, eg swapping the collar for something that doesn’t stick out for important anniversaries and such).

              Reply
              1. CoveredInBees

                If I saw a necklace that included a padlock, I’d think it was a nod to the (destructive) trend of “love locks” on bridges. The only thing I’d think was, “I hope this is in lieu of putting a stupid lock on a bridge and then throwing bits of metal into the water below.”

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            5. Aunt Kathy

              Tiffany’s Love Lock charm on a slightly longer necklace is so mainstream, I think it’d go unnoticed. By slightly longer I mean something that won’t fit over one’s head, but is not a snug chocker. This particular locket, and their key charms are pretty popular in other keyholder communities, that I honestly doubt that wearing their jewelery will call any laser beam attention to the intent of the hardware.

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            6. Ash

              I think people are specifically responding to the heavy-hardware look of some of the “eternity” collars — a better example might be to search Etsy for “discreet day collar”, which has more necklace-looking options.

              https://www.etsy.com/search?q=discreet%20day%20collar

              (I’m kinky and wouldn’t think twice about many of these, or else if I did see a coworker wearing it every day *and* picked up the symbology, I’d just shrug and know I wasn’t the only person in the office who shared these inclinations.)

              Also, wearing a piece of commitment jewelry isn’t necessarily a sign of a 24/7 Total Power Exchange or M/s relationship — my former partner wore a ring (silver band) inscribed with “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” a line from the Biblical Song of Solomon. I would have worn a matching ring, if I didn’t have a joint condition that made it impossible — and these would have been the equivalent of wedding rings.

              I don’t think that a necklace-type day collar is inappropriate for the office, any more than a similar piece of jewelry worn every day (cross necklace, wedding ring) would be.

              Now, bringing up the specifics of the relationship at work? Totally unprofessional. No more detail is needed than “It was a gift from my husband/partner/fiancé.”

              Reply
              1. Dr Pepper

                I would pick up on 90% of those and it would bother me. Oddly enough, the ones that don’t trigger my “yep, collar” response are the ones with delicate chains. I guess anything that is heavier than a typical necklace that’s worn daily picks up for me.

                Reply
                1. Ash

                  FWIW, I’d wear 90% of the ones that are genuinely being sold as day collars (some of them are keyword-spammed regular collars), and I’m not even in a relationship!

                  I’m a larger-framed person who prefers weightier jewelry (super-delicate stuff disappears/doesn’t look proportional on me), and I like statement silver pieces like the ones by Chrome Hearts, RockLove, and Brighton (the latter being a mall store that plenty of professional women patronize!)

                  I wouldn’t have worn the heaviest or more rock’n’roll style pieces to my law-firm jobs, but I absolutely did wear things like the “Daria collar necklace” or “Volare convertible necklace” (both from Brighton) to work, and never got anything but the occasional compliment — they looked perfectly appropriate with a suit and heels.

                  I also have a collarbone-length necklace made of silver rings attached by flat links (wish I could find a picture of something similar online), which I bought at Nordstrom many years ago, and which I wore as a basic piece of everyday jewelry, like some people would wear a strand of pearls or a diamond solitaire.

                  Anyone who made an assumption about my sexual preferences or relationship status based on my jewelry would have been dead wrong . . . so, you may be bothered by/reading into perfectly average jewelry that most people wouldn’t think twice about!

                2. Z

                  Honestly, I think you’d get false-positives. I don’t like changing my accessories daily, so if I put a necklace on it’ll probably stay on for a few weeks/months/years. I’ve known plenty of people who wear the same necklace every day, and that dates back to elementary school. It’s very common for people to get a necklace from their significant other and wear it every day. Heck, there’s a viral video about a guy who gave his girlfriend a necklace, which she wore almost every day for a year, that had her engagement ring in it.

                  A few of those, I would put on and leave on without any thought.

            7. Miss Nomer

              I can honestly say I wouldn’t know and it probably wouldn’t seem odd to me at all unless the person spent a lot of time talking about it or something.

              Reply
          1. Bethlam

            I’m totally kink-illiterate (less so since reading AAM) and I would have had no clue before this post what I was seeing or what it meant – I would have just thought they had an odd taste in necklaces. Now, though, seeing one would make me very uncomfortable because it’s TMI.

            Reply
            1. Anon today...and tomorrow

              I’m kink-illiterate as well, but I’d have no problem seeing it on someone even knowing what I know now. I’d be uncomfortable if someone wearing one offered the reasons they’re wearing it to me, but just seeing it no someone? Nah…that’s got nothing to do with me.

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            2. Working Mom

              Same here – if it weren’t for AAM I would have no idea how prevalent the lifestyle is. I like the alternative idea of a more work-appropriate necklace that you can wear daily. Many people wear the same basic jewelry daily – if it’s more necklace /less collar, it can be done without any question.

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            3. AMT

              Maybe it’s because I grew up when being goth was cool, but a choker (even a leather one!) wouldn’t scream “D/S relationship” to me as much as it would scream “I blast Siouxsie in my Toyota Corolla and have at least one pet rat.”

              Reply
              1. General Ginger

                OK, well, I don’t have rats, but I’m re-evaluating what to blast in the Corolla as we speak :)

                Reply
          2. LNZ

            i feel like if a kinky person recognizes it then it’s still not a big deal because gain, in the kink community it’s like a wedding ring. It isn’t inherently sexual.
            And also they should mind their own business. I recognize stuff and make inferences about my co workers all the time but I don’t say anything cause unless someone point blank tells me something it isn’t really my business.

            Reply
            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

              It’s not really like a wedding ring, though, because 24/7 D/S relationships are a pretty extreme expression of that inclination, and are regarded as somewhat unusual and remarkable even within that community. I know lots of people into that, and they don’t wear collars 24/7 even when their spouse/partner is their dominant.

              And whether they mind their own business or not, OP is still providing them with information that, as your coworkers/clients/patients, they’re entitled not to know and have a reasonable expectation that she will not share with them unprompted.

              Reply
              1. Anon for This

                What’s extreme about it? I’m in the kink community and it’s really more like a wedding ring, because everyone’s definition of a D/s relationship is different. If I look at someone wearing a collar, I have absolutely no idea how D/s manifests in their relationship, which is just fine by me. It’s just a commitment to someone that they choose to show in a different way based on their lifestyle. It’s not about what happens in the bedroom.

                Reply
                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  It’s extreme in the sense that 24/7 relationships are a small minority of D/S relationships, and are regarded as pretty rare and unusual. And people who aren’t into 24/7 generally tend not to wear collars 24/7. If you’re at an event, it comes off much different.

                  And like I said, whether it’s construed as what happens in the bedroom or not, it’s not information that your coworkers want to know about you, any more than they want to know the contents of the boss’ porn stash or whether Peggy from accounting is into swinging.

                2. Anon for This

                  People who are not in 24/7 relationships sometimes still wear collars 24/7. I’m really not sure where you are getting your information about some of the assumptions you are making.

                  And every example you’ve shared about why coworkers wouldn’t want to know about it is an example of knowing about someone’s sex life, which…it’s not? The OP isn’t looking to go tell everyone what the collar entails, and they’re trying to keep it work appropriate and professional. Different from explaining their relationship dynamics to coworkers.

                3. Anon for kink talk

                  I also don’t see what’s particularly extreme about it. In my community, at least, couples that are in a serious committed relationship do tend to go with collars of some kind, and at least a third of the people I know are in a long-term relationship (married or similar level of commitment), and in most of those, one of the partners chooses to wear a collar. Most of them have some kind of ‘public’ collar that looks like normal jewelry. It’s not what I would call rare!

                  I also think the 24/7 thing often gets envisioned as this intense ‘constantly in a scene, master/slave, sub gives up all power and decision making forever’ thing. That is rare, it’s true. But that’s not actually the only possible definition of a full-time D/s relationship. The vast majority of people I know who identify as part of a full-time D/s relationship aren’t doing that, in fact. It’s more about acknowledging their relationship dynamic in various parts of their lives than about a constant, ongoing scene.

                4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  Anon for This, I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree, because you’re starting to make arguments from edge cases and hypotheticals that make it pretty clear you just want me to be wrong, and it’s not feeling like a particularly productive argument.

                5. Ask a Manager Post author

                  @Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist — I’m not reading Anon for This that way. That said, I think you’re right that it makes sense to disagree, and am asking you to pull back a bit from this one. (This is one of those times where I don’t want someone’s multiple comments on a post to carry more weight simply because of the quantity of comments they’re leaving. Thank you!)

                6. Talia

                  I would be another one who doesn’t think that’s particularly extreme, and regarding them as more extreme may be a local trait to your local scene– or else you’re confusing 24/7 and something like Master/slave or Total Power Exchange, which are *very* different things. Not everybody who wears a collar 24/7 and is in a 24/7 relationship is doing it in an extreme fashion. I’d say not even the majority. And jumping right from “wears a collar all the time” to “they’re doing extreme fringes of D/s!” would be considered wildly inappropriate assumptions by just about anyone in any kink scene I’ve ever participated in.

                7. Anon for This

                  Alison, I’ll back off this thread to respect your wishes.

                  TNMBOIS, I do think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’d ask that you think about what Alison suggested and consider how your arguments are similar to those used against the LGBT community.

                8. SeptemberGrrl

                  Your answer makes it seems like you are willfully ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people are unlike you i.e. not a part of the kink community. You not having a problem with it – and getting shirty about the idea of why anyone would – doesn’t really help the OP. The OP is thinking about reactions of people who are not part of the community and what their reactions might be in a work setting to this topic.

              2. Jax

                But doesn’t a wedding ring generally give information to coworkers/strangers that the wearer is sexuality active/having sex/regularly shares a bed with someone? Can’t one also assume that the terms boyfriend/girlfriend/partner and all the variants could also put those thoughts into someone’s head?

                If OP wears one of the more necklace type “collars” from the link that Alison provided, it’s up to everyone else to manage their thoughts if sex makes them uncomfortable.

                Reply
                1. Mike B.

                  Yeah, this reminds me a bit of how LGBT people are accused of inappropriately flaunting our sex lives when, in fact, we’re just being open about being in relationships. If other people don’t like the images they come up with when they speculate about what goes on in our bedrooms, that’s all on them.

                  I don’t see what’s particularly inappropriate about a collar that looks like a choker, if it’s also pretty enough to be believable as a beloved piece of jewelry. Not many people who recognize it for what it is would be likely to be taken aback by it.

                2. BPT

                  In my mind, a wedding ring has two purposes – 1) as a reminder/symbol to yourself of your commitment, and 2) to advertise to others that you are in that relationship. There are plenty of married couples that don’t have sex and sex isn’t the sole purpose of marriage, so I don’t think that argument holds up.

                  I would think that a collar would serve the same two purposes. Now, not being that familiar with the 24/7 sub/dom relationship, when I hear about that type of relationship I automatically think that it’s a sexual thing. So I wouldn’t recognize most of those collars for what they are, but if someone told me, I would see it as an advertisement of what kind of sexual relationship you’re in. (I realize that a 24/7 dom/sub relationship is probably about more than sex, but #1 I wouldn’t necessarily know it was a 24/7 thing, and #2 those who aren’t as familiar are probably going to see it as solely sexual). Whereas, people are more familiar with marriage and understand it’s meaning beyond sex in most cases.

                  Most of those collars I would think would be office appropriate, just as an aesthetic thing. However, for the people who know what it is or who come to find out, it could affect how you’re perceived in the office (rightly or wrongly). So I’d just keep that in mind.

              3. Alexis

                But are they really ‘entitled not to know’? Do you have a right to refuse to know something about someone? I don’t think that wearing jewelry that implies that you’re into a certain lifestyle rises to the level of sexual harassment like telling your coworkers about your sex life does. If you really don’t want to know then hey, MYOB! When I’m a little bit curious about something weird about my coworker, but I don’t think I want to know… I just leave it. I ignore it and try not to think about it. In this case, I would not try to find a similar necklace for sale and find out what’s up with it. I would just wonder what’s up and then move on with my life and not pry. If I had an instant of picturing something inappropriate, well, I’m not traumatized by that even if it were something gross to me or I didn’t want to think of this coworker like that

                You shouldn’t go telling your coworkers about stuff like this but you don’t have an obligation to hide it to spare their sensitivities. Not needing to know and being entitled to not know are entirely different things.

                Reply
              4. Bagpuss

                Hmm, Idon’t think people are entitled not to work it out for themselves. I think they are entitled not to have someone sharing lots of details or explaining it, but effectively what the LW would be doing is wearing a piece of jewelry which has a personal significance for them. To me,that falls a LONG way below sharing information with people unprompted.

                OP, I think if you chose something which resembles mainstream jewelry and keep any explanation to ‘My Fiance / Spouse gave it to me and it is my favorite’ *if* anyone notices you wear it every day I think you would be absolutely fine.

                Reply
              5. CanCan

                Why are they entitled not to know? From what I’ve gathered here (all my kink-related knowledge is from AAM), it’s like a wedding ring. Nobody has any issues with wedding or engagement rings at work. If this collar is a symbol of relationship status, so be it.

                Would I notice? If it looked like a decorative necklace, I wouldn’t think twice, even if someone wore it every single day. After all, I wear the same earrings pretty much all the time.

                The question is would the OP be exposing others to her sex life. As long as the collar can pass for jewellery, – I think not. If others suspect its meaning, that’s on them.

                Reply
            2. Hlyssande

              It kind of is, though, because now they’re involving you in the kink without your consent. I think that’s why it’s giving people squicky TMI feelings, because that’s what it does. I’m not in the kink community, but adjacent enough to be aware of a lot of things.

              I have a very good friend who wears an eternity collar that’s lovely and she wears it 24/7, but it still gives me uneasy gross feelings because I Do Not Want To Know in general. I choose to hang out with her anyway and be around her knowing and accepting that I’m going to deal with some personal discomfort because she’s awesome and I love her to bits. For it to be a coworker that I barely know, I would be intensely uncomfortable – in part because I can’t not interact with that person at work, so my consent to know/be aware/etc is overridden.

              Like Anon for This said, something much more subtle would be a locking bracelet or anklet for day and collar at night – they could even make an intimate/meaningful ritual of switching over morning and night as well if they wanted.

              Reply
              1. Amy the Rev

                I can see how wanting co-workers to refer to one’s Dom would be considered involving them in the scene/kink w/out their consent, but not sure how them even *knowing* you were in a D/s relationship would be involving them. Part of me wants to make an analogy to the LGBT community- someone knowing I’m dating a woman doesn’t involve them in my bisexuality in any way, though it might make them uncomfortable if they’re someone who’s uncomfortable with the concept of bisexuality in general.

                But I’m not super kink-literate so please feel free to correct me if that analogy is off

                Reply
                1. Starbuck

                  It’s not a good analogy to use because being ‘kinky’ is not a sexual orientation.

                2. Amy the Rev

                  That makes sense, maybe a better analogy is to being visibly pregnant (and pregnant by choice): most folks will assume you’ve had sex in order to conceive. It’s not involving them in your sex life for them to be able to reasonably assume you’ve had sex within the past 9 months, though it would be inappropriate to tell stories of the moment of conception at work.

                3. Morning Glory

                  I’ve seen a few comparison to LGBT relationships, and I think that doesn’t line up quite evenly.

                  I see this more as similar to past LWs (or colleagues in past LW questions) where a couple adopts a dominant/submissive relationship for religious or cultural reasons.

                  On the surface, I know that I should respect that choice, and that as long as they are happy with it, it should be fine. But… I still wouldn’t want to know about it in the workplace. It would change how I saw that person, even if that isn’t fair.

              2. General Ginger

                Ehhh, I don’t think wearing a collar (especially if it’s more like a piece of jewelry) is really involving you in the kink without your consent any more than wearing a wedding ring is involving you in the marriage.

                Reply
                1. Mb13

                  I agree but I still the op should definitely not wear it. Say a coworker recognizes it goes to their manager/hr “hey op has been wearing fetish gear to work. Not only does it make me feel uncomfortable but I think it really sends out the wrong signal about our company”.
                  It just seems to be unprofessional in work and is very much taking the risk of coming of as saying “this is my sex life! This is what I do with my sex life! I don’t care if everyone knows it!” And it’s not the same as a same sex relationship. Its a ferish gear, that can have an element of symbolic significance, but essentially it’s meant to be used for sexual enjoyment.

              3. Sylvia

                I agree that involving people in kink stuff without their consent is out-of-line, and I’m putting it lightly there. But I don’t know if my recognizing what someone else’s jewelry might symbolize is equal to that.

                I would be uncomfortable noticing this about someone I barely know or someone I have an only professional relationship with simply because it’s TMI for those relationships. (With friends and roommates, and it has come up with friends and roommates, I really haven’t cared.)

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              4. Anonymous Psyduck

                I wanted to respond specifically to idea of making an intimate/meaningful ritual of switching over morning and night.

                I actually talked to my sub about this. We were recently in a similar situation to the OP – she was not allowed to wear her collar at work because her job had a no necklaces policy. We switched to a tear away anklet during the day and developed a ritual for putting it on and taking it off.

                I would encourage the OP to think about something like this. The ritual of putting on a necklace/bracelet/anklet in the morning could also be useful for helping her move out of sub space and into a work centered headspace. This might be particularly useful if OP has a more dominant role at work, like a team lead or a manager. When she comes home, the collar ritual helps her move away from her work role and into her house role. Really it might help preserve a better work/life balance.

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              1. Tangerina Warbleworth

                And?

                So, you would recognize it. Where would you go from there: judgment? Disgust? “Huh. Interesting.”? “Way cool!” Go to HR screaming you’re forced to work with perverts? Write to AAM about the flagrant perve you work with? Write to a kink website to ask how to ask her out?

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                1. Anna

                  Whoa, take a deep breath. I think Temperance is just commenting on the assertion that most people wouldn’t recognize it for what it is unless they were part of the community. Basically that it might not be as “non-visible” as argued. And that’s okay. People can suppose all they want; that doesn’t mean they know anything one way or the other or that it matters.

                2. Temperance

                  Thank you, Anna! Seriously, that’s all I was saying. I find that a lot of people think they are being quiet / sneaky / subversive when they really are not.

                3. Tangerina Warbleworth

                  @Anna: actually, I’m perfectly calm, just rattling off a list. My point was that I didn’t think Temperance was clear; OP is wanting to know how Temperance feels upon recognizing it, to deduce whether or not it could affect her career.

                  Whatevs. Let’s clink champagne flutes and then I’ll go donate another hundred bucks to a domestic violence prevention group, or something.

                4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  I think folks are responding to the fact that you posed reactions as two extremes, neither of which would be really appropriate responses in a workplace (I understand that’s not the intent—you’re trying to take the temperature of how folks would react).

                  If OP’s question is, “is this collar stealth?” then Temperance is telling you, “Even as someone who’s not in the kink community, I would be able to identify this, so it is not stealth.” I think that’s valuable information for OP to have when weighing how to proceed. I actually don’t think a lot of next order analysis has to happen (i.e., “and how did it make you feel?”) for OP to weigh the possible effect in the workplace.

          3. Anon for This

            Hi. Active in the kink community here and manage a kink event that takes place in public, so I’m pretty kink-literate and have had to approach this issue before (one dude led his girlfriend in to a cafe on a leash…different story, but you catch my drift of what I’ve had to deal with).

            I don’t take these as a neon sign. IMO they are a more progressive fashion accessory that some people use as collars. I’ve seen more obvious collars sold from H&M (there was one that looks like a tow hitch, but goes around the neck) to subtle locking eternity collars that are sold by high-end kink stores.

            An eternity collar would raise my eyebrow. I would have a question in my mind about whether or not they are in the kink community. I would not immediately assume anything, especially given fashion trends.

            THAT SAID, I would highly recommend going more subtle for work, like a much thinner version of an eternity collar or a locking bracelet/anklet.

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              I was just coming to suggest a bracelet/anklet as the 24/7 jewelry. By all means, also have a collar for nights and weekends, but I would suggest going with a locking anklet for your permanent jewelry simply because it’s a lot more subtle.

              Reply
              1. Venus Supreme

                I came here to say just this. I think OP is well within their right to wear whatever jewelry they desire, and something on the wrist or ankle will raise less eyebrows if they want to keep it safe.

                Reply
              2. Sadsack

                Jadelyn, I saw your other comments and am just replying to them here. I appreciate seeing the point of view from someone who is into kink. I was thinking that a collar is no different than a wedding ring, so thanks for explaining the difference. I think a lot of us here are making assumptions without having first hand experience in this subject.

                Reply
                1. Jadelyn

                  I think it really depends on the person. For some, a collar is functionally the same as their wedding ring, only denoting a particular type of status within their “marriage” as well as just “I’m partnered with someone”. But there are also people I know who, if I asked them if they consider themselves married because they’re collared or if they felt their collar was the same as a wedding ring, would laugh. (For that matter, I know a couple people who are married and collared, and not to the same person for both.)

                  Kink, as with so many other things, is an umbrella term that covers a ton of possible configurations. Even something as relatively-unambiguous as a collar is still not necessarily set in having a single meaning for everyone who uses it.

                  Anyway, glad I could offer some perspective here!

            2. Apollo Warbucks

              Would a bracelet or anklet be a suitable replacement for a collar, or does the collar have a more significant meaning?

              I’m just thinking that a bracelet or anklet wouldn’t be a very good replacement for a wedding ring but I know practically nothing about D/s lifestyle or relationships

              Reply
              1. Kiwi

                Kink person here.

                People do substitute bracelets for collars but there is significantly more meaning behind a collar.

                I think most people who would see what it was wouldn’t be concerned because they know it’s not only about sex.

                Also I think the LGBTQ argument is accurate. It’s isn’t what we do it is who we are. Once you realise you’re kinky, vanilla relationships become impossible

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  Not necessarily – there are some kinky people in vanilla relationships, but more importantly – I can go my whole life being colleagues with someone, straight or LGBT, or poly, and know no more about their sex life than a vague awareness that they have one. I don’t need to know what positions they prefer or that they really like water beds for *wagglewaggle* reasons or that high heels turns their wife on. I do want them to be comfortable talking about their partner(s) and life outside of work.

                  Kink is crossing over from – “this is my partner(s)” to “this is what I like to do to intimately connect and bond with my partner in a very, very private way, often but not always sexually.” There’s no reason for me to tell my colleagues that my partner relaxes more if I stroke his thigh while we’re having a difficult talk (because it’s a little TMI!); there’s no reason for me to know if any of my coworkers are into kink.

              2. General Ginger

                I know people who use bracelets in place of collars on a regular basis, but the bracelets were chosen because they were appropriate to wear in public. So I’m not sure whether they would have still gone with the bracelets if collars not being work-appropriate wasn’t a concern.

                Reply
            3. Amy the Rev

              I, a 95% vanilla lady, almost bought a necklace like the more delicate ones depicted on the google search, in the ‘cape cod screwball’ style from that little silversmith in Dennis, which I bet someone in the Kink world might interpret as a collar, but I think that style of necklace has been around for at least a few years now (also thinking of the cartier ‘love’ bracelet/necklace series). This thread was the first time I’ve ever learned that collars were a thing!

              Reply
              1. Allison

                I wore a collar in high school because I was going through a bit of an “edgy punk” phase. It was plaid, and the heart in the front was a shiny, plastic black “jewel” surrounded by little spikes. I bought it at Claire’s.

                Obviously I’d never wear that to work, but it hadn’t really occurred to me that people would think I was into BDSM or Dom/Sub relationships because of it. It just looked cool. The subtle collars with a heart in front look like lockets to me.

                Reply
                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  Yeah, my first assumption would be punk/goth, tbh, not D/s. But it’s helpful to know that there’s at least a (not insignificant) minority of people who would read it as D/s.

              2. Me2

                Pretty vanilla here too and I immediately thought of all the Tiffany key and lock bracelets that it seems like every girl was given for her sixteenth birthday a few years back. I also wore the same necklace for five years without ever removing it and I was never once questioned about its meaning. I would think fashion choice before thinking collar, and as long as they didn’t want to discuss their sex life at the office, I’d be fine with whatever. I don’t care about your choices as long as I don’t have to hear about them.

                Reply
            4. miss_chevious

              I fail to see how an anklet would be appropriate in an office where one of the subtler collars would be inappropriate. Anklets are not professional workwear in the offices I’ve been in and someone showing up with one would draw a good deal more commentary than many of the collars on the website Alison linked.

              Reply
              1. Anon for kink talk

                I think the theory is that an anklet is generally hidden under pants. For a skirt-wearer, it would be a lot more obvious.

                Reply
              2. Sylvia

                Really? I think it would be much less noticeable than something close to someone’s face, particularly since clothes cover it easily.

                Reply
          4. Lurkily

            My partner bought me a necklace which is of medium weight – not going to describe it too closely so I don’t out myself, but it is solid enough to be durable worn everyday, while not being solid enough to make one think “collar!”. Occasionally people have commented that they always see me wear it, and I reply that it was a gift from him and means a lot to me. No eyebrows whatsoever are raised by that.

            Alison, my impression of the images at the link you posted were mostly a neon flashing sign of “collar” rather than jewellery, so count me as one vote for YUP on that.

            I know chokers are back in fashion right now, but a) those don’t look to me like fashion-chokers, and b) wearing them every day, and indeed longer than the current choker trend lasts, would signal something else.

            Also it’s not just kinky people who are aware of them now, thanks to a certain horrendously written piece of fiction that became inexplicably popular in the mainstream…

            Reply
            1. Karen D

              There were a few pretty ones on that page, though, that would totally pass as regular jewelry to the uninitiated … like the chased silver collar with the gold heart lock, or all the Tiffany-style heart lock pieces with heavy open-link chains.. (Tiffany actually has a new collection called HardWear that has a very DS-y vibe.)

              Reply
                1. Turtle Candle

                  Yep. To me some of them just look like necklaces/chokers and some look like… er… something I’d use to lock up my bike. In my industry I think either would engender a “eh, whatever” feeling, but the ones that look like necklaces would get fewer second glances than the ones that look like they’d require bolt cutters to remove.

          5. Anonaclock

            Kinko here, and even the first few necklaces I saw like this didn’t read as collars to me. There’s a person on my bus who sometimes wears this style and sometimes doesn’t – it’s not a locking one but that torq kind of look is a legit jewelry style.

            Honestly if you (OP) get a fairly simple / plain one I see no issues. If people want to read into your jewelry choice that’s on them not you.

            Reply
          6. Manders

            I live in a famously liberal and sex-positive area where I regularly see depictions of kink on lightposts and in store windows, I have friends who talk (sometimes A LOT!) about the lifestyle, and I wouldn’t have recognized some of the collars at the link as anything other than jewelry. Anything with a lock or leather would be immediately obvious, though.

            And sometimes one subculture’s symbol gets interpreted as something very different by another subculture or by the mainstream. I was very surprised to learn that some people use a rainbow infinity sign as a symbol of autism–to me, that’s queer and poly. Lock, handcuff, etc. jewelry is common right now, and I don’t think everyone wearing it is trying to signal that they’re kinky.

            Reply
          7. MLiz

            hrm, I’m torn here.

            I’m kink-literate and I’d probably recognize it if I saw it more than once (I’m not big into jewelry, so I might not even give it much thought the first time), but I’m also probably more attuned to this sort of thing than your average person. But on the other hand, I’d probably think, “good for you” and move on because I know this is a matter of consent and it’s not like the sub is forced into this sort of dynamic (you know, at least not without their consent).

            So I think the flipside of the question might be, even if people recognize it, would they make a big production out of this? It’s not necessarily something I NEED to know about you, but at the same time as long as no one’s coming on to me at work, I don’t much care.

            (Caveat: The past 15 years I worked either in liberal academic settings or the most eccentric towns in the country, I’m used to things being not necessarily average.)

            Reply
          8. Anon for kink talk

            As a person who is active in the kink community, I’d recognize this kind of thing and wonder at the very least. But it still wouldn’t be a neon sign–it would be a “Well, it could be this. Or they could just happen to like that style of jewelry. But it could be.”

            And I don’t think it would necessarily be a bad thing for me to notice! Even if I was 100% sure it was a collar, for me that would mean “This person is a sub who is basically married to their dom”, not “there’s a sex thing going on right now” or anything like that. My concern is keeping it unrecognizable to people who don’t know what we mean when we use a collar, not that absolutely no one could ever guess.

            Reply
            1. Rena

              I had a coworker who wore this kind of necklace every day and that was always my reaction too. I wanted to ask her because I was curious, but it was definitely none of my business and it didn’t affect my working relationship with her.

              Reply
              1. Ignis Invictus

                Hmmm. I think the difference here is that you wouldn’t babble your curiosity / suspicion to other co-workers. The second someone shares gossip will spread like wildfire.

                Reply
            2. Alton

              This is pretty much how I feel. I have seen someone wear something in a work environment that could have either been a necklace or an affinity collar, and I considered the possibility but definitely didn’t make any assumptions.

              And because it’s subtle, I didn’t see it as inappropriate for the workplace.

              Reply
            3. Amber T

              “And I don’t think it would necessarily be a bad thing for me to notice!”

              Yeah that’s my thought process here – whether or not someone else could “know for sure” (and unless OP brings it up at work, which probably wouldn’t be super appropriate, could anyone really know for sure?), I think as long as OP is competent at their job, does their coworkers’ speculation matter? If someone stuck on “I think my coworker is into kink” and can’t move beyond that, even if said coworker is nothing but professional that sounds more like that person’s problem than a coworker’s.

              Reply
            4. Anna

              I think this is spot on. It’s symbolic of the relationship, not who’s doing what for how many spankings. Consider any piece of jewelry you would wear to work. Is it tasteful? Does it fit the office culture? Does it symbolize the relationship you want it to while fitting under tasteful and a cultural fit? Then if someone guesses what it is, that’s on them. They’ve got a keen eye.

              Reply
          9. Nobody Here By That Name

            Kinky person here. First off, thank you to AAM for always being so sex-positive in this blog. It’s truly great how often you show respect for people’s consensual activities (be it open relationships, kink, or other) while staying focused on what’s good business advice.

            For the collar thing – depends on how obvious the collar is. Wearing a collar in public is not a kink sin as being lead on a leash in public, or calling your partner master (which forces those around you into your scene without their consent) so that’s not the issue per se. But, unless OP works at Hot Topic, a collar that looks like a leash could easily be buckled on it is going to read as not part of the dress code and kinky.

            The necklaces are definitely the way to go. There are the ones linked to as well as many others that are designed to be hide in plain sight collars for just this purpose. IMO if you recognize the necklace as being kinky because you yourself are kinky… well then you should also recognize that their purpose is to be subtle as well.

            Reply
            1. Tempest

              The Celtic knot one is gorgeous! I would never question that as anything but a pretty necklace.

              I fall into the below that if I had to think hmmm is it or isn’t it, then it’s fine for the office. Like I don’t want the gory details of my colleague’s sex lives but even if I knew someone I worked with was in a healthy/consensual BDSM relationship I wouldn’t care because I assume they wouldn’t be sharing the details and what they do in their bedroom is none of my business.

              That said if you wanted to take it out of the equation totally a nice locking bangle for your wrist wouldn’t be obviously locked on you, and personally I’m more used to people in chunky bracelets than necklaces.

              Personally, I wear the same diamond pendant every day. I’m not good at coordinating so it keeps it simple as diamonds go with everything. My husband got it for me, so if anyone was to pull me on why I wear the same one every day I would say because it’s a gift from my husband.

              Reply
            2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula

              I would never have known most of those are collars, but then again I am both vanilla and unobservant. I think a lot of those are very pretty.

              Reply
            3. BF50

              Some of those look a lot like a necklace that I inherited from my 97 year old grandmother. I wear it, but not every day because if find it mildly uncomfortably tight. Pretty sure grandma was so bland that even vanilla is too much for her.

              Wearing it every day might be the tip off, but even then, I wouldn’t make any assumptions.

              Some of those are really lovely.

              Reply
          10. fposte

            I think we’ve got two schools of opinion here–there’s “as long as it doesn’t scream kink-related it’s fine” and “no one should ever be able to guess it’s kink-related.” Jewelry opinions are going to vary depending on which school you’re in. For my money, if somebody has to cunningly guess, that’s subtle enough for the office.

            Reply
            1. Matilda Jefferies

              For my money, if somebody has to cunningly guess, that’s subtle enough for the office.

              This is where I land as well. Plausible deniability, people!

              Reply
              1. fposte

                I was thinking of that very phrase :-). And it’s for both sides. I don’t insist I never know, I just don’t want to be distracted (or bored, tbh) into thinking about my co-workers’ home dynamics at work.

                And honestly, unless I’m in some unexpected kink wonderland, the non-linked, solid metal circle chokers seem to be on trend at the moment anyway.

                Reply
              2. Gadget Hackwrench

                YES. Plausible Deniability. Not involving others in your kink does not mean not ever doing anything that might be construed as kinky, even if a vanilla person did it… (i.e. if a vanilla person wore some of these things as a necklace, once a week, would you even think twice? No? Then it’s an office appropriate collar.)

                Reply
            2. DecorativeCacti

              Someone will ALWAYS be able to infer something a piece of jewelry means when it really doesn’t mean anything at all. Remember news stories about how those rubber jelly bracelets actually meant how far you had gone sexually? Or that painting your nails certain colors meant something?

              I think OP will be fine with a plain, simple band choker and if questions get asked that are uncomfortable, they can always switch to a bracelet or anklet that is easier to hide. Or roll their eyes and say, “I’ve never heard of that. How silly,” if they so wish.

              Reply
              1. Tangerina Warbleworth

                Oh, dear God. I never knew that jelly bracelets actually meant something. Now I’m wondering what in the hell I didn’t know I was communicating when I was fourteen. I mean, like it matters, now that I’m forty-six, but still.

                Reply
                1. LNZ

                  Don’t worry, they didn’t actually, it was just one of those moral panics that sweeps day time news and talk shows every now and then

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  You weren’t communicating anything, thankfully, but there was a bit of nonsense rumors among teens that certain colors meant certain things about how “far you’d gone,” etc. As LNZ noted, it’s a moral panic thing that comes/goes every decade and is almost always exceedingly silly.

              2. Ignis Invictus

                It would be best for plausible deniability if the collar could be removed without a key or tools. That kinda defeats the symbolic purpose though. Some of the collars in Allison’s link are absolutely gorgeous, an alternative option is collar with filigree and a couple different pendants.

                Reply
            3. Lala

              Yep. Pick something that gives you plausible deniability, and that should be fine.

              After all, if people are scrutinizing your jewelry that much, maybe they deserve to be uncomfortable?

              Reply
            4. Elizabeth West

              I agree, especially if the wearer isn’t talking about their private stuff and says “gift from spouse” if asked. I don’t see how that is involving anybody in anything.

              And FWIW, I have seen people wearing jewelry like that at the second link and I would never have guessed that’s what it meant (I’m pretty vanilla). Maybe the chain with the ring in front, because that absolutely looks like a dog collar, but the rest are pretty subtle.

              Reply
            5. Bwmn

              This is my thinking 100%.

              I understand the point of some comments being that for those in the know, it’s going to perhaps signal more than you want or start gossip. But honestly, I think that some of the more subtle options really do offer enough plausible deniability.

              The other thing this brings to mind are friends of mine who have jobs where their tattoos need to be hidden. They know they just need to be conscious of the cut of shirts/skirts/pants and those are their work uniforms. I’m not saying that the OP should adopt clothing that completely covers the necklace – but perhaps keeping in mind a work wardrobe that has fewer open necks may also keep the collar less of a professional focal point.

              Reply
          11. KellyK

            I think a choker that looks more like jewelry and less like a collar, particularly with a gem or pendant of some sort is work appropriate. I’m only quasi-kink-literate, though.

            Reply
            1. JessaB

              I agree, maybe one of those Pandora things, or something like it, a load of companies now make that sort of bead that slides onto a twisted metal necklace or bracelet. OP could even make it MORE special if their partner picks charms that are particular to their love and relationship. NOBODY would find it weird to see OP wear one of those bead chokers.

              Reply
            1. Rainy, PI

              Let me nuance this, actually. If someone I saw reasonably often wore a choker with a heart padlock charm once in a while coordinated to outfits, I’d think “huh, wandered into the wrong jewelry store”.

              If someone I saw reasonable often always wore it, I’d Know. If someone I saw once on the bus was wearing it, I’d assume they were kinky.

              I wouldn’t *care*, and in fact I would probably smile at them, and definitely smile indulgently over them if they were late teen/early 20s, but I would definitely make some assumptions. :)

              Reply
          12. Anon Obviously

            Ooooo! An AMA I have experience with!

            I’m very kinky friendly and have been in the community personally and professionally (think more HR/admin for a successful kink based business, but not sex work (which of course is a perfectly fine choice of occupation, just stating my background)). I understand the commitment of 24/7 M/s and most of my kinky friends practicing are in long term, committed relationships where the collar is equal in sentiment to the ring.

            There won’t be any neon signs with a discreet collar, especially if OP fancies more delicate looking jewelry. I’ve owned/resold/seen friends gifted with beautiful collars that are more akin to fine jewelry vs bdsm equipment. Etsy is a great source for this– I’ve seen birthstone necklaces with locking clasps that look almost identical to what you’d find at any mall jeweler. With the reemergence of chokers, I’m willing to bet no one will call you on wearing something similar, especially if it’s necklace-y and your office is a tad more hip.

            Also applicable: while working in consulting I had a coworker and a subordinate that both wore permanent, locking jewelry. The *only* reason I noticed my colleagues was because I had purchased the same one off of a popular kink website but it didn’t fit me well. It probably took two years of managing my subordinate to realize it was a collar, and that was only after running into her at the gym with her hair pulled back and a sports bra on. In both instances, it was none of my damn business & going to HR to complain would’ve only outed myself and put me in the same freaky boat. People *may* notice… but those people are likely to pretend they didn’t :)

            Reply
            1. PiggyStardust

              THIS THIS THIS.

              “…going to HR to complain would’ve only outed myself and put me in the same freaky boat. People *may* notice… but those people are likely to pretend they didn’t :)”

              Reply
          13. Preppy6917

            Maybe it’s because I live in a certain west coast city known for its sex positive culture, but this would absolutely be a neon sign to me. Here’s the rub: “sex positive” has really become “sex forward” in my city, and there’s a HUGE difference between wearing a symbol of one’s love and devotion to each other, and wearing jewelry to work that communicates one’s sexual proclivities. As a gay man, if I began to apply the hanky code to my work attire, my coworkers would be uncomfortable and rightly so. The same thing applies here

            Reply
            1. PiggyStardust

              IMO the difference is that D/S relationships aren’t solely sexual. It’s an entire lifestyle. As a gay man, it would be no different than wearing a rainbow piece of jewelry like a bracelet.

              Reply
              1. Cranky And Anon

                As a queer woman, I resent that. My sexual orientation is not a “lifestyle” and it’s dismissive to say that it is.

                Reply
            2. Howdy Do

              I knew the discussion here would be very interesting! Indeed, this seems “sex forward” in a way that goes beyond sex positive. Some in the kink community feel like being kinky is an orientation (much like some poly people feel) so making it publicly known is no different than a LGBTQ person wearing a wedding a band. And I don’t know what to think of that exactly-I do think less sex based shame would be a great thing but it’s also unfair to make people who have to be around you (such a co-workers) uncomfortable when it could be easily avoided. I enjoy some aspects of D/s but am not an active member in a scene and never opted for the more “showy” aspects like dressing up and prefer the more psychological aspects. So I feel like I could feel just as subservient to someone without a physical reminder. Of course, I’m just me but it seems like a worthwhile thing to consider versus the chance that you open yourself or employer up for some kind of sexual harassment claim. It’s not so likely that a non-kinky person would figure out a subtle locking necklace but a kink literate gossipy co-worker could spread it around and make for a uncomfortable situation all around.

              Reply
          14. SarahTheEntwife

            I’m fairly kink-literate but also completely oblivious to a lot of things if I’m not expecting them and I wouldn’t flag most of those as “obvious”. At a geek event with lots of kink crossover I’d pick up on it because I’m already seeing and expecting to see kink stuff, but at an office at most I’d think “oo, what an unusual necklace”. I might eventually wonder if I saw someone wearing it every day, but that would fall under the same category as any other accidentally learning something about someone’s personal life, and I would politely pretend I still thought it was just an interesting necklace.

            Reply
          15. VermiciousKnit

            I would know, or at least guess, at what it is, and I wouldn’t take offense to it at all so long as it was otherwise office appropriate. I understand how meaningful those relationships are to people in them, and respect the choice to make a physical symbol of it. So long as it doesn’t come up in conversation, disrupt their functioning at the office, or look odd, it’s all cool with me. Plus I’d be more likely to strike up a friendship with that person, knowing that they are likely more tolerant of people who march to their own beat.

            Reply
          16. PiggyStardust

            How can I put this…if you know the jewelry someone is wearing is a submissive collar, wouldn’t you “out” yourself as being at least knowledgeable of the lifestyle by identifying their necklace? IMO it should be more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of situation. OP is free to wear what she wants (within reason) and doesn’t have to disclose the symbolism of it.

            If a coworker identified my jewelry as something “alternative,” I’d probably raise my own eyebrows at them for their familiarity with the lifestyle.

            Reply
            1. lokilaufeysanon

              They could have come across it on an advice column such as this, articles, TV shows, movies, books, magazines, etc. Knowing about something doesn’t mean they are into it/a part of a particular group. Watching military documentaries, movies, shows or reading about the military doesn’t mean one is practically in the military.

              Reply
            2. Mb13

              The way I am imaging a worse case scenario is a coworker going to the manager and saying “op wears fetish gear at work”. Emphasising the wearing to work part. Even if they partially out themselves they are at least not wearing fetish gear to work

              Reply
          17. Hey Nonnie

            I have known people who wore the plain, no-frills, no-padlock ring (it locked with something like an allen key, so to an observer it looked like an unembellished ring similar to a slender torc). She wore it to work and I never heard that anyone ever caught on to its deeper symbolism.

            I’ve even known people to wear more obvious collars (a lightweight silver chain clasped with a padlock) and it still flew under most people’s radar. There’s more awareness of D/s nowadays, so I do think an obvious padlock is riskier, but something that looks like a torc? I doubt anyone will question it. People have a VERY remarkable ability to see just what they expect to see. Hell, there was a choker from Tiffany & Co. a while back that was clasped with a heart-shaped padlock, and it was pretty popular for a while. In fact Tiffany’s still currently sell padlock pendant necklaces.

            I might be prepared for questions about your Celtic heritage if you go the eternity collar route, though. :)

            Reply
        2. Collie

          I agree. And this is by no means a judgment of the lifestyle or your commitment, OP. Even the subtle ones are probably more obvious than one might think. In fact, even if someone was in a D/s relationship, they might be suspected of it for wearing a piece that could even be construed as a collar (particularly if you never take it off).

          Alternative options: another ring on another finger, perhaps with a D/s-specific inscription on the inside; a hidden tattoo; a bracelet (again, perhaps with inscription on the inside)

          I do appreciate the importance and meaning of the very specific object of a collar, but I think there’s too much risk here. Even if people don’t say anything, I’d bet a lot of money at least one will figure it out and there’s no telling how that might affect you professionally, unfortunately.

          Reply
          1. Graciosa

            This troubles me a bit, even though I think it was a valid point to mention.

            I’m obviously in the “If it shares TMI at work, don’t do it” camp, but I’m not so much a fan of the “Don’t do it because you’ll suffer professionally” position.

            I’m a big believer that your private life outside of work (not involving whispering corporate secrets in the ears of your beloved stockbroker) should not affect your job or your professional success. Yes, I get that sometimes it does because not everyone agrees, but I don’t think this is acceptable or that people need to limit themselves in their private lives out of fear.

            I don’t think this should be shared at work because it’s unprofessional (and just plain rude) to inflict TMI on co-workers (or other unwilling recipients).

            But if OP was “outed” as a submissive and stopped getting promoted as a result, I would be up in arms about that because it just isn’t anyone’s business and is not a fair criterion for assessing professional performance (with a few limited exceptions which would probably be TMI for a publicly available blog!).

            I’d prefer it if the OP made a choice out of courtesy (which is certainly consistent with my assessment of the letter) rather than fear.

            Reply
            1. Collie

              Oh, I certainly don’t agree that it should affect a career, just that it could. Sorry if I gave the impression otherwise!

              That said, I think it’s reasonable to be aware that it’s a possibility and consider it as OP makes a decision. I think we’re pretty much in agreement. I’d wish OP made a choice out of courtesy, too, rather than fear — but I don’t necessarily think that’s really the world we live in.

              Reply
        3. Sadsack

          If someone is kink-literate, are they really going to care about this? I wouldn’t know that many of the collars I saw online have a sexual connotation if I saw someone wearing one. And if I did know enough about dom/sub relationships to get it, I don’t think I would be insulted or at all concerned about it. I don’t understand what the problem is with this.

          Reply
          1. Anon for This

            I’m kink literate and I really don’t care. If someone wears a collar like this it can mean any number of things, but if it’s taken as a sign of commitment then it’s just another version of a wedding ring.

            Reply
          2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            It’s a level of deeply personal information that I don’t want to have shared with me unprompted by a coworker, any more than I want someone to say, “So, we tried reverse cowgirl last night,” over muffins in the break room.

            Reply
            1. Anon for This

              A collar isn’t equivalent to that. Pretty much the definition of a D/s relationship is that it extends into how they live their lives, not what happens in the bedroom…

              Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                So? I don’t want to know that level of detail about a coworker, whether it’s sexual or not. Basic boundaries here.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Okay, thought experiment — that’s awfully similar to what some homophobes have traditionally said about gay relationships. What makes this different?

                  (I agree that it’s different, by the way — but I think it’s a really interesting question that’s worth pondering.)

                2. Anon for This

                  It’s really not that much detail. I guess I’m just not really understanding why this is such a hard limit for you. These people choose to live their life differently from you and one person wears a piece of jewelry that symbolizes that. Can you explain why you’re so uncomfortable with this?

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  That is a really interesting question, and it rocked me back on my heels a little bit, but I think the distinctions is detail and dimension. A wedding ring , or obviously living in a relationship with someone, carries the basic social coding of “I am married/committed to/in a relationship with [smoochie pie].” It doesn’t share anything, really, beyond that. Now, of course, a lot of homophobes get offended and angry at that, and would prefer that all such relationships be concealed from them, but.

                  I feel like an eternity collar shares more than that basic “in a relationship with smoochie pie” coding. It volunteers information about the dynamics and details of that relationship and how it’s lived, in enough depth that it verges on TMI for professional environments. Not that it’s something to be ashamed of, but that level of information is not something most of us, whatever our relationship particulars, volunteer to share at the office.

                4. animaniactoo

                  I’m not sure that it is different except in our minds about what such relationships involve.

                  This feels very much like saying it’s not appropriate to have a photo out at work for a same sex couple or even a poly relationship because the viewer associates it with sex even though that is far from all there is to the relationship.

                  That’s a viewer discomfort issue to me, not a person being indiscreet about their personal life.

                  To me, being in a 24/7 relationship doesn’t seem that much different to actually know in general about someone than they’re vegan or Mormon. Yes I would not be comfortable with choosing any of those for myself, but if it works for you, hey, more power to you, and a symbol of those (button on coat, cross knecklace) is no more detailed about what’s exactly going on unless specifics are being verbally told about what the d is telling the s to do, etc.

                5. Anon for kink talk

                  Honestly, I think the main difference is that with wedding rings, we’re so used to seeing them that we’re so used to going “Oh, Bob is married! That means he’s in a committed relationship that probably involves sex. Oh wait, Bob is my coworker, I don’t want to think about whether he has sex. Let’s ignore that part.” That it automatically gets shortened to “Oh, Bob is married! (brain automatically filters out all implications about sex).”

                  The only difference with collars is most people see them less often, so the filtering isn’t as automatic. Otherwise, both indicate a committed relationship where sex of some kind is likely involved, and neither gives details on exactly how that sex might be happening–or even for sure whether it’s happening. (Yes, a collar can indicate that there’s kinky sex involved–but ‘kinky’ is a hugely broad descriptor, covering a massive range of things, so I don’t really consider that ‘details’.)

                6. Ted Mosby

                  or TBH to a wedding band? Like, now I know you’ve had sex. Ew. Don’t wanna think about it. I remember this HORRIFYING me when I learned about what happens “on your wedding night for the first time” in CCD in 5th grade. I’d look at my teacher’s wedding bands and be actively grossed out.

                  Also an excellent argument against catholic education

                7. MegaMoose, Esq

                  At the heart of it, I think modern US society has agreed, for better or worse, that the only detail about a relationship that’s fully acceptable to share publicly is marital/commitment status. The identity or even number of one’s spouse(s) is a separate category that is (or should be) considered entirely non-sexual and appropriate to share. Any further details of one’s relationship range in acceptability generally correlated to how related to sex that detail might be. The fact that a D/s relationship encompasses more than just sex does not remove the reality that it does involve sex in a way that saying your spouse is a gardener does not.

                  Although I think it’s entirely possible to argue that we should/could broaden the definition of what should be acceptable to share more broadly, I don’t think it hits the same civil rights elements as the argument against homosexuality. We group people based on a very narrow set of characteristics: age/sex/race being the primary ones (and I get that there’s complications there, but I’m taking broad strokes). It is generally impossible to identify one’s romantic/legal partner without implicating those categories, and so I believe it implicates civil rights when one’s right to identify those categories is impinged.

                8. Manders

                  I’m in the “wouldn’t have noticed anything was unusual if it wasn’t pointed out to me” crowd, but my personal feeling is that this kind of kink is pretty close to the line of playing with symbols of taboos that are emotionally fraught (slavery, being extremely controlling of a partner, etc). That’s totally ok to explore in private and in supportive friend groups, and I don’t think it’s even a big deal to walk around with an obvious collar outside of work, but I see why a really obvious collar would be TMI in some workplaces.

                  Gay relationships were taboo once too, but not because anyone was harmed by them, and our society has since gotten rid of that taboo for a good reason.

                9. Anonfortoday

                  As a LGBT person find that a bit of an offensive comparison. D/s is a choice and provides sexual information beyond day to day. A LGBT relationship is not and goes way beyond sex. Hiding you are LGBT means hiding basic facts like who you went to a movie with. D/s doesn’t mean hiding your partner at the grocery store if you meet a coworker, but that was something my uncle had to do most of his life. We have made a lot of progress. Please do not go there.

                10. Blue Anne

                  And I mean…

                  This is why I don’t discuss poly at work. But I think it’s wrong for the same reason I think it’s wrong to not be able to discuss homosexuality.

                  My colleagues know my boyfriend who I will probably marry is in the UK. They don’t know that I have a boyfriend here who I also love. So when they say “Do anything fun last night?” I can’t say “Oh, I want for a beautiful hike with my boyfriend!”

                  It hurts and it sucks. I’m not trying to tell them anything sexual but I know I would be judged.

                11. Blue Anne

                  Anonfortoday, I understand how you feel. I am also queer and I totally disagree, though.

                12. LBK

                  LGBT person here and I personally don’t see the comparison as offensive; I think people in D/s relationships would also argue there’s more to it than just sex, at least to my admittedly vague understanding of them.

                13. The OG Anonsie

                  I think this is a good way to frame things when you are uncomfortable with them. I try to frame anything that I have a disapproving reaction to, or that I don’t understand, as how I would feel if someone said the same thing about something I find totally acceptable and then try to piece back if it’s really different or if it only feels that way.

                  In this case, I’m thinking about it like this: We still do pretty well separate out sex and relationship dynamics from the role of the person in your life when we’re dealing with coworkers. Like reasonably you know your coworkers have sex with their spouses, fight with them, have more private and deeper positive and negative feelings about their lives with this person.

                  … And boy do I not want to be aware of any of that with my coworkers. That whole enchilada there is way more personal that I think we need to be getting. The collar, sexual or not, is an extremely personal window that I personally don’t want to have on my coworkers. And it’s not an issue of squicky unfamiliarity for me in this case (without saying a lot more than I want to say about my own relationships), this applies for me regardless of how similar or dissimilar those details are to how I choose to live myself.

                14. Anonfortoday

                  I don’t claim to speak for everyone in the LGBT community, but I find it frustrating when people compare their kink with being LGBT. Because you don’t get attacked for being immoral on the train for just being with your girlfriend or beat up in middle school for it.

                15. Definitely Anon

                  I think it feels different because saying that about a gay relationship denies the entire relationship by not acknowledging that it exists at all or misclassifying it (calling a romantic partner a roommate, ect.). No one is trying to deny that the LW is in a committed relationship with their fiance. The fact that they are in a D/s relationship is unnecessary information since the only social interactions it affects are the people in the relationship.

                16. Salamander

                  I’m with Manders on this. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m uncomfortable with this in the workplace, and Manders defined it perfectly.

                17. Trout 'Waver

                  I think the difference is that knowing someone is LGBT doesn’t tell you anything about the nature of their relationship, whereas knowing someone is kinky in a particular way does.

                18. Anon for kink talk

                  As for the discussion of kink vs. gay relationships: As a not-straight kinky person, I feel pretty qualified to talk about this. (To clarify: I’m mostly asexual, but in romantic relationships and the rare sexual attraction I experience, I lean towards women. I’m a woman.)

                  There is one main area where it’s similar: The fear of being outed against my will. In both cases, people make nasty judgements and can be pretty discriminatory. I’m probably more likely to be outed re: non-straightness–people don’t generally consider whether another person might be kinky unless they’re familiar with/involved with the community. Being outed as gay comes with some legal protections from discrimination, though, while being kinky doesn’t. (I’m not naive enough to think those protections completely prevent discrimination, but they’re better than nothing.) So, the risk feels similar.

                  Another area where they’re similar: For me at least, both are core parts of my identity. Neither really feels like a choice, and while I could choose to stop acting on them, it would involve denying a part of myself either way. (I know there are people who do feel that they choose them, but I’m speaking to my personal experience here.)

                  An area of major difference is how they’re viewed. Sexual orientation is (nowadays, at least) viewed as about romantic relationships, life partnerhood, raising a family, etc. as much as it is about sex per se. Kinkiness is viewed as mostly or completely about sex (which I think is inaccurate, as evidenced by my asexual self being involved in kink, but the perception is what it is). This affects where and how it’s considered OK to talk about each of them: People can talk about sexual orientation just about anywhere, but kink is considered TMI for most environments. I don’t think this is discrimination per se–plenty of people who would be uncomfortable hearing about it would handle it fine if I was forcibly outed. However, it does mean I have to dance around my relationships a bit to avoid being seen as having poor judgement. It’s annoying, and I do find myself more relaxed around people who know; I don’t have to worry about a small slip leading them to think I’m weak for being submissive, or that I have poor judgement, or anything like that.

                19. Renee

                  I’m with Manders on this one. I’ve spent a lot of time around kink and I’m generally tolerant, but it’s the whole slave/pet collars thing that is problematic for me. I think that unless it were very very subtle and really not like a collar at all, that it might even be kind of triggering for me based on my history, and I would likely avoid interaction with that person. It’s not the kink itself, or even the sexual details, but the power dynamic combined with a slave or pet collar as a symbol of it.

                20. LabTech

                  I have to agree that I don’t like the comparisons (To be clear where I’m coming from, I speak as a gay man who isn’t super comfortable with broadcasting anything remotely intimate). Reducing ones romantic inclinations or gender identity/expression into ones sexual proclivities is something I find offensive. Broadcasting what you prefer in the bedroom (or analogous) is pretty far from not being able to mention that you’re feeling pretty off because you just broke up with your same-sex boyfriend/girlfriend.

                  Combine that with the historical and institutional discrimination uniquely targeting the LGBT community that the kink community simply doesn’t have to anywhere near the same degree, and it crosses from not apt analogy to offensive territory. People have fought for decades for our community to be seen as a normal segment of the population, rather than a sexually-charged identity, and these comparisons do a disservice to those activists. (Though I will concede a significant fraction of the LGBT community has also fought against normalcy, both historically and now, so maybe it’s not as clear cut as I’m making it here.)

                21. So Anon For Kink

                  When being kinky is made illegal in multiple countries around the world and people are regularly ostracized from their families or cultural groups, sent to conversion camps by their parents, are at a significantly greater risk of a hate crime, suicide, or murder (sometimes state sanctioned) , and are doomed to hell by several major world religions, well, then I’ll be less upset with it being compared to being LGBTQIA.

                  Kink is a subculture and lifestyle that appeals to people with a particular set of personality traits, and it crosses all sexual orientation lines from straight to every color of the LGBTQIA community. While I do understand that some people who live that lifestyle exclusively don’t see it as such, it is. There is choice involved.

                  As a comparison, my father spent a significant portion of the 1970s and 80s living as a nudist more or less full time and has spent the time since then naked whenever he’s at home. This is what feels right and normal to him and it’s how he chooses to live his life – it’s a complete lifestyle choice for him and it’s one that he’s had to discuss with his partners and family and it’s had some serious consequences for him. It is, in my mind, fairly similar to people who find that a kink lifestyle works best for them and makes them feel comfortable in their own skin and who sometimes find that there’s societal push-back or consequences for their choices.

                  I have personal experience with kink and have several dear friends who are extremely active in the kink community. I’m also a deeply private person who does not discuss sex with her friends or coworkers – that is something that is only relevant to me and my partner. If I worked with someone who regularly wore an easily identifiable collar I would find it to be unprofessional and it would make me uncomfortable. (Yes, I am fully aware that D/s and M/s are about more than sex, but it’s also still going to communicate information about sexual practices that I would really rather not know.) Further, if I were a potential client it would make me take my business elsewhere.

              2. Jadelyn

                Speaking as someone in a 24/7 D/s relationship, it does extend into how we live our lives (obvs) but it is, at its heart, rooted in a sexual dynamic. I just don’t see how people can make the claim to divorce kink from its sexual roots. Not every expression of kink is overtly or explicitly sexual, but they all stem from a sexual place, if that makes any sense.

                Reply
                1. Anon for kink talk

                  I’m a mostly-asexual sub. It’s truly not rooted in sex for me–I don’t get off on it, I don’t generally want sex involved in my relationships, but I do want the submission and other physical actions involved. I know it’s rooted in sex for some people, but please don’t assume that’s the case for everyone.

                2. Hlyssande

                  I think that’s why it’s uncomfortable. A collar itself isn’t a sexual object, but a collar on a person is.

                3. Mb13

                  Yes exactly that’s why I find the comparison to LGBT so inappropriate. When people tell a gay couple holding hands that they are flaunting their sexuality is ridiculously. They are just displaying their affection for their partner (who is not just a sexual partner). When a bdsm couple walks with collar/fetish gear they are literally flaunting their sexuality they are flaunting that one person plays a submissive role and the other a dominant for sexual pleasure. Not saying that bdsm can’t have deep meaning relationship, but it’s still so so so very much about the sex (or sexual things in nature).

                4. Jadelyn

                  @Anon for kink talk – you’re right, and I apologize. However, I stand by the assertion that kink as a general topic, and in particular when we’re talking about the kink community, is historically rooted in sexual behavior, which is what makes a collar a more inherently sexual public statement than a wedding ring would be.

              3. OB

                Anon, I’m with Scientist on this. It seems like you fundamentally disagree with the idea that a collar offers more explicit information about the dynamic of the wearer’s relationship, but … it does. It says “I am committed in a D/s relationship.” Does the D/s necessarily imply or restrict itself to sex? Absolutely not. But does the collar make the D/s part explicit? Yes, to anyone who’s paying attention.

                I pay attention. I’m kinky and kink-friendly and if I passed someone on the street with a collar, I could not care less. If I saw a collar on a coworker, or someone interacting with me in a professional setting, I would be uncomfortable with this level of detail about their relationship. It’s *not* like a wedding ring, because a wedding ring signals a commitment without implying any particular dynamic. A collar is too much information. I don’t want to know. I wouldn’t make a fuss about someone wearing one, but I would definitely question their judgment for work-appropriate attire.

                You say you don’t understand this, but it’s been explained in depth by a couple users, so what is not clear for you?

                Reply
                1. Tangerina Warbleworth

                  Which means that you’re questioning your own judgement. You asked Alison if it was okay to wear a collar at work, but now you just said that if you saw someone wearing a collar at work, you’d be uncomfortable. I think you need to just make the decision, then: either you’ll get one and learn to be comfortable with others and you’d want others to be with you, or not get one because it’s not worth the risk. There is no middle ground if you’re not willing to accept one.

              4. Someone

                But isn’t it exactly that? That D/s goes on in their bedroom?

                I think the difference is
                wedding ring: I am committed to a PERSON.
                collar: I am committed to this PRACTICE that arouses me.

                Both are basically sexual, but… the first is just a stronger notion of “significant other” – and not mentioning your significant other is a LOT more restrictive than not mentioning your kink.

                Reply
              1. Anon for This

                Care to elaborate on this point? Stating this without explaining why doesn’t really contribute to the conversation. I’m happy to elaborate on why I think it’s similar (and have done so fairly extensively in other parts of this thread).

                Reply
                1. Anon for This

                  Sorry, I think I misunderstood where the nesting was. Please disregard my comment.

            2. Sarianna

              As you pointed out upthread, it’s commitment jewelry, “this carries the same significance for you as a wedding ring.” So it’s “I’m in a committed relationship with someone!” but without the added “we do xyz in private!” that you seem to want to imply.

              Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                It’s not just “I’m in a committed relationship,” it’s implicitly and symbolically fleshing out that statement with dimension and detail. I said that to acknowledge that it carries that level of symbolic heft for the LW, not to imply that it’s the same thing or carries the same message.

                Reply
                1. Anon for This

                  I guess I don’t understand why you think that it’s that much different from a wedding ring. It carries approximately the same message.

                2. Sarianna

                  And a wedding ring can mean anything from “it’s easier legally since we have kids together to just get married rather than deal with health proxies [and sometimes adoption], but we wouldn’t otherwise bother” to “my husband is the head of our household and decides when I quit my job because it takes too much time away from our family,” that last one As Seen On AAM. Exactly what dimension and detail do you assign to a wedding ring? And what to a collar?

                3. Jadelyn

                  @Anon for this, I really disagree that it carries “approximately the same message” as a wedding ring. I don’t think you can desexualize kink to the point where a collar is functionally the same as a wedding ring. It denotes the same level of commitment, absolutely, but there’s a fundamentally different tone to the message about the *type* of commitment, which is where I think TNMBOIS and I are uncomfortable about TMI/oversharing.

                4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  ” It carries approximately the same message.”

                  No, it really doesn’t.

                5. Ted Mosby

                  @Jadelyn I don’t really understand your line of reasoning. Marriage is inherently sexual too. Sure, some asexual people will get married and some marriages will remain fairly nonsexual, but miarrage is essentially a sexual relationship. When you see someone’s wedding ring you know they have sex with their spouse.

                  The collar would make me uncomfortable and feel like an overshare, but I can’t come up with a single argument against it that can’t be applied to marriage aside from “its not the usual in our society” which also makes me uncomfortable.

                6. Cordelia Vorkosigan

                  @TedMoseby, I think the difference is in detail. Yes, I can safely assume a person wearing a wedding ring is probably having sex with their spouse, but that’s it. With a d/s collar, I’m not just assuming they’re having sex, I’ve also been give knowledge about the type of sex. Not in any explicit way, but it’s still more than I want to know about my colleagues’ sex life, personally.

                  But I also wouldn’t want to discriminate against people in d/s relationships and say they can’t wear this symbolically significant piece of jewelry at work, either. I think as long as it looks enough like a necklace to keep people guessing and you’ve got plausible deniability, then you’re okay to wear it at work.

                  (I hope I have the nesting right and am putting this comment in the right place.)

            3. Mb13

              Also very importantly it wearing fetish fearing a professional environment. Most bosses don’t want the representatives of their business (i.e. Employers) to wear fetish gears

              Reply
          3. A Nonny Mouse

            I would. I am kink literate but not part of the kink community, and I would totally care. And I hate to say that it would impact my opinion of the wearer.

            Reply
            1. Bend & Snap

              This is me too. I would be uncomfortable having this information about a coworker.

              If you want your private life to stay private, it shouldn’t be around your neck 24/7.

              I like the thought of getting a piece that looks like (or is) jewelry and using Alison’s line if people ask.

              Reply
              1. Anon today...and tomorrow

                The LW seems to be wondering how she can get away with wearing a collar at work without inviting all the questions. There are more than several examples pictured in the link that would work.
                I wear a necklace every day. I don’t ever take it off. My necklace is a small sapphire cross. My faith is part of my private life and every day I wear it there on my neck for the world to see. I have never had anyone say anything about it. I have friends, family and co-workers who have very different beliefs than I do and still haven’t had anyone comment on it. I think as long as the collar the LW chooses is tasteful and work appropriate nobody will ever even think to comment on it and if they do, Allison provided a perfect response.

                Reply
                1. Chalupa Batman

                  I’m learning a lot in this thread, but one of the things I didn’t expect to learn was how unusual it seems to be for people to wear the same jewelry every day. I rarely wear any jewelry except my wedding set and a specific necklace, and no one has ever commented on my wearing it every day. I occasionally get compliments, especially from people who recognize it (it’s also a religious symbol, but less commonly worn than a cross), but I didn’t know people noticed that kind of thing. I certainly don’t. The only time I pay attention to jewelry is when they’re statement pieces obviously chosen to go with a specific outfit or if the piece is really unusual/pretty. Either way, I wouldn’t make any assumptions about a person’s relationship status or sexual preferences based on a choker. But maybe that’s the 90s kid in me coming out…

                2. Newby

                  I also wear a cross everyday and I have had multiple people comment on it. I am comfortable talking about it and would not wear it if my religion was not something I was willing to be known or to discuss. I think that one of the more difficult aspects of this letter is that the LW wants the symbol for herself but does not want what it symbolizes to be generally known. I think that in that case it would be better to wear an anklet or subtle necklace to avoid the possibility of questions.

                3. yet anothor anon

                  While people may not have said anything, I guarantee you that you’ve been judged for wearing a cross – either in a good way or bad way. You’re advertising your faith and beliefs, so people make assumptions about the kind of person you are. It’s no different, just showing you’re submissive to religion rather than to a person. (<–see, you're being judged for it right there.)

                  My point is that even something you might think of as a subtle cross is a quite obvious way for people to judge and make assumptions about you. Not at all saying you shouldn't wear it, just that you should know that's a choice you're making by wearing it. Same advice I would give OP.

                4. Amy the Rev

                  @Chalupa, same here

                  I wear the same vanilla ring, the same vanilla bracelet, and the same vanilla necklace every day. I only really change up my earrings if I’m going out and want something more fun. My bracelet I rarely remove because you’re not supposed to (it’s the ‘cape cod screwball’ type and constantly removing it can weaken it over time). I’ve never had anyone comment on my necklace, the style of which is very similar to this collar: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/43/2c/77/432c774ad0d040ed2130d2141f0d33cf.jpg

                  If someone saw and assumed I was in a D/s relationship, well, not much I can do about it and it says more about them than about me (nothing bad, of course, I have no qualms with D/s kink, it’s just not my thing). I just am a boring person when it comes to my jewelry, and that’s what I’d assume if I saw someone else with a ‘signature’ necklace, so to speak.

                5. ggg

                  Yeah, I wear the same necklace every day (a single pearl on a chain), because it was a gift from my husband and it looks nice with everything and I just don’t feel I need to swap out necklaces all the time. So I really would think nothing of someone else wearing the same necklace every day.

              2. Mints

                Yeah I wouldn’t notice the plain end of the collars beyond “Coworker really likes chokers” but if the coworker was outed and I made the connection I would be a little off put by seeing the sub jewellery every day. Like once I know someone is kinky, the collar would be obvious, but if I have to wonder at it, it’s subtle enough for work.

                So yes, the plain bands are what I agree with

                Reply
            2. Mb13

              I think it should impact your opinion of a coworker who wears a noticeable collar to work. specifically you should think “this person has made a huge unprofessional decision and showed a poor sign of judgment. What else have they demonstrated a poor sign of judgment on”. The issue isn’t that people are kinky the issue is that people are directly advertising the nature of their sexual lifestyle at work.

              Reply
              1. Hey Nonnie

                Mb13>
                1. Dude, we get it already. Constant repetition won’t change how much we get it.
                2. We’re not talking about noticeable collars, we’re talking about jewelry that’s subtle enough to “pass.” Stealth collars, not noticeable ones.
                3. It might be edifying for you to do a Google image search for “fetish gear” as you call it, and then compare it to the choker-style jewelry that’s already been shared in this thread. You might gain some valuable perspective.

                On a side note, after reading this thread I now have an impulse to get a nice Bronze-Age style torc and visit some of you in your offices to see the reaction I get.

                Reply
        4. paul

          Collars–particularly ones without a readily apparent means of removal–are pretty clear to anyone remotely in the know yeah. If its one of those that’s actually non-removable (short of cutting it off) that’s pretty plain.

          Reply
          1. Kate

            Yep, these don’t look like any fashion choker I have seen in magazines or stores. It looks more like a type of lock to me, the band is something I have seen in mechanic’s garages, there is usually a lock attached to the wire. Even without that, though, it is just to different I’m afraid, not to be noticed and commented upon.

            Reply
          2. Lissa

            Honestly I would think almost nothing of a collar outside of work, because I used to wear them *all the time* when I went out clubbing as part of my goth/punk look. I also like chokers because they look better on me than long necklaces But considering nobody’s wearing spiked collars at work generally (well maybe some workplaces) it would stand out more. But until this thread I honestly didn’t realize how many people thought wearing any collar/choker could indicate this! Now I’m wondering if my fashion choices made people think more interesting things than were true…. :)

            Reply
            1. Anna

              Yes, but where do you think your Goth/punk fashion was derived from? It didn’t spring whole cloth out of nothing and it was specifically drawing on D/s overtones as a way to show irreverence. D/s collars didn’t come from Goth/punk. It was the other way around.

              Reply
          3. SarahTheEntwife

            Do most people pay enough attention to other people’s jewelry to even notice whether or not something is removeable? I know I’m on the oblivious end of things, but I would probably just assume that the non-removeable ones had some sort of fancy invisible clasp that wasn’t immediately obvious, if I even noticed anything unusual at all.

            Reply
          4. Mirax

            Not trying to be argumentative, just curious–do you think this goes for other non-removable items like the Cartier Love bracelets?

            Reply
        5. caryatis

          I’d like to second the point that people will ask about something you wear everyday. I’ve been asked what a certain necklace “meant to me,” even though it’s not a sexual symbol and the “meaning to me” is that I think it’s pretty. You’d better have a non-sexual answer ready.

          Reply
        6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          There are several South Indian communities where certain necklaces are the equivalent of a wedding ring. Some of them look like these eternity collars (although they’re absolutely a minority style and are almost exclusively made of gold). And I’ve had friends exchange jewelry (e.g. necklace and bracelet) instead of rings at non-Indian, hybridized “white” commitment ceremonies (they were het and protesting marriage, but especially the lack of marriage equality at the time). Those friends wear those necklaces as if they were rings. So I think there are reasonable explanations for th necklace that don’t veer into the sexual.

          I’m moderately kink-literate, and one of the more refined eternity collars wouldn’t read as inherently kinky to me—just a little Angelina Jolie circa her Billy Bob vial of blood days.

          Reply
          1. Cercis

            I know some people who cannot wear rings for various reasons (often due to their job) and they choose a necklace or other jewelry instead. Or at least that’s their story (I guess for all I know at least some of them were lying about it). With all the reasons that rings don’t necessarily work for a person (it took me years before I could wear a ring without destroying it due to my klutziness and still can only wear 10k gold or a harder metal), I’m not sure why anyone would immediately jump to the idea that it’s kink related. But then I’ve been accused of being naive (which, in general, I prefer because that way I’m sooo much less judge-y).

            Reply
        7. Kate

          Yep! I am not into this particular kink, but I know about it. With all due respect OP, this is *way* too much information about your love and sex life with your SO. It’s like a sign giving me pretty good indicators about how you two have sex, and even though I wouldn’t want to think about it, it would be pretty embarassing and something that would pop into my head every time I saw you for a long time.

          Sort of like if your boss got packages at work, and accidentally left their name off the package, so you had to open it to find out whose it was, and it turned out to be extreme lingerie or kink accessories. You can’t really shut off the mental image of your boss doing those particular things. Not in a judgy way, but in a “world’s collide” way, like seeing your teacher at the grocery store.

          Reply
        8. Just Another Techie

          But if you’re even slightly kink-literate you know the collar is a symbol of love and fidelity and commitment. So I’m really not seeing how it’s any different from a wedding ring. Because hey, a gold band on the fourth finger does in fact broadcast that “I am having socially-approved sex!” so it’s also telling people about your bedroom activities.

          Reply
          1. Ted Mosby

            I’m sorry but that’s fairly ridiculous. Sure it can be a sign of love and fidelity and commitment, although not always all three, but it’s also universally a symbol of many other things that people would rather not know about.

            If it was just love and fidelity and commitment, she would probably be just wear a ring.

            Reply
            1. Kim

              You wear a wedding ring as an outward symbol. You expect that other people can and will see it and conclude something about your marital status. So I don’t get the point of wearing the collar if people won’t know what it means? Is it just being hidden because of a fear of judgment?

              Reply
              1. Ted Mosby

                I don’t really know or care if OP would see a point. I wear my ring because it’s from someone I love and it reminds me of him and it makes me happy. An added bonus is that guys hit on me a lot less frequently, but that’s not really an important factor, and I don’t think people would approach OP in the office to ask if she wants a slave relationship (i hope).

                My point is just that a collar isn’t just love and commitment and butterflies. It’s symbolic of a specific lifestyle that entails a lot more.

                Reply
          2. PizzaDog

            But you don’t know what kind of relationship the wedding ring wearer has with their spouse – they could be widowed, separated, etc too. They could be wearing the ring they inherited from a parent/grand-parent who passed, but they’re not married themselves.

            It’s completely different.

            Reply
          3. One of the Sarahs

            Totally disagree a collar is always a symbol of love/fidelity/commitment. I know it can mean that, according to the individual, but I always read it as a symbol of submission.

            Reply
        9. PizzaDog

          The only one that’s remotely appropriate IMO at the link was the interlocking chain with the heart pendant. Those ones from Tiffany (and the knockoffs) were big when I was in high school. I got one for my grad present. That one’s something that can be done, even if the style’s a little mid-2000s.

          Any of the others would look straight up weird in a professional sort of environment, especially customer facing in a hospital.

          Reply
        10. aebhel

          I mean, yeah, I would probably recognize most of those as collars, but it seems to me that anyone who knows enough to recognize them wouldn’t be offended by them. My mind wouldn’t jump directly to sex upon seeing a locking collar any more than upon seeing a wedding ring. Maybe I’m just overly optimistic here, IDK.

          Reply
      4. K.

        Some of the ones at the link are pretty tame – the solid bands, the twisted one. I wouldn’t question those, especially since chokers are back on trend. The ones with the lock … not so much.

        Reply
        1. Nea

          Speaking of locks, there was someone who gave a presentation where I used to work while wearing a chain necklace – I mean, *industrial* chain, the kind of thing you’d use to hold a gate shut – terminating in a padlock.

          I couldn’t pay attention to a single word of that presentation. I’m not vanilla, but I was shocked to the core, especially as the speaker was a black woman so it had not just kink overtones but slavery ones.

          So… locks no; leather and steel, no. A solid choker in a jewelry-style metal tone? Totally fine. Yeah, I’d know what it was. So what? There’s a good chance someday someone is going to look at one of my beaded bracelets and say “That’s from Yuri on Ice!” Kinksters aren’t the only ones who subtly code at work.

          Reply
          1. Mints

            Ha, this reminds me of my two nerdiest necklaces: a golden snitch and Hermione’s time turner. They’re pretty looking enough they read as ordinary jewellery, and few nerds recognize them. Which yeah, is what OP should be aiming for

            Reply
            1. Nea

              I have a time turner necklace too! One of my coworkers has her mandatory badge hanging off a lanyard striped in Slytherin colors.

              Reply
        2. DeskBird

          Man – I thought the little heart shaped locks on chain necklaces were cute. I am totally the oblivious person who would pick that out and wear it with no idea what it meant. So I feel like you have some leeway – even if people recognize it for what it is they might not be sure if *you* know what it is. On the other hand I thought the thicker collars were more obvious and I might be able to pick that out. The thinner ones seemed much more like any number of popular necklaces though.

          Reply
          1. Anon for kink talk

            I don’t think this is totally oblivious! There’s a huge range of things that fall in the ‘Could be a subtle collar, could just be a necklace from Tiffany’s’ category. Some people will assume one way, others will assume the other, others will shrug and not choose either.

            Reply
      5. Stellaaaaa

        Yeah, a lot of those necklaces in the link looked like a chain-style choker (with a mini padlock charm) that I wore during my punky teen years. I still wear it sometimes now. I’ve even bought lock-and-key charm necklaces from Forever 21 because I really like keys. If OP chooses a thinner chain and an aesthetically pleasing lock that could pass as a charm, there won’t be a problem.

        Reply
      6. Hey Nonnie

        I have known people who wore the plain, no-frills, no-padlock ring (it locked with something like an allen key, so to an observer it looked like an unembellished ring similar to a slender torc). She wore it to work and I never heard that anyone ever caught on to its deeper symbolism.

        I’ve even known people to wear more obvious collars (a lightweight silver chain clasped with a padlock) and it still flew under most people’s radar. There’s more awareness of D/s nowadays, so I do think an obvious padlock is riskier, but something that looks like a torc? I doubt anyone will question it. People have a VERY remarkable ability to see just what they expect to see. Hell, there was a choker from Tiffany & Co. a while back that was clasped with a heart-shaped padlock, and it was pretty popular for a while. In fact Tiffany’s still currently sell padlock pendant necklaces.

        I might be prepared for questions about your Celtic heritage if you go the eternity collar route, though. :)

        Reply
    2. Midge

      Wholeheartedly agree with TNMBOIS here! This crosses over from info about your relationship, which is fine to share with colleagues, to info about your sex life, which is not ok to share with colleagues. For work, I would recommend a charm bracelet with some sort of lock charm. Tiffany even makes them, so you can find examples at mainstream jewelry stores.

      Reply
      1. SometimesALurker

        I disagree that it’s info about their sex life. We don’t know that it is, we just know that it might come across as info about their sex life to other people, and that’s what it’s important to weigh here.

        Reply
        1. sunny-dee

          How is it NOT info about their sex life? We know for absolute certainty that it is because the OP tells us this is a symbol of their D/S sexual relationship (which is itself independent of their married / dating relationship). If anyone recognizes this, then they are getting direct info about their sex life.

          Like, it’s Mardi Gras beads. It’s a little eyebrow raising if you don’t know what they mean (you just kind of know there’s a meaning there). But out would be out and out explicit to anyone who knew what the different colors meant and what you did to get them.

          Don’t wear that to the office.

          Reply
          1. LNZ

            But it isn’t inherently sexual. 24/7 relationships are about waaaaaay more than just sex. Sure sex can be a part of it but it’s just like a vanilla marriage, its a part not the whole thing.

            Reply
            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

              It’s oversharing whether it’s inherently sexual or not. It’s information about more particulars than your coworkers want to know, or have any business knowing.

              Reply
              1. Anon for This

                You mean like how some coworkers share that their kid cries at night? It’s really an everyday thing for these people. D/s essentially means that it’s about their lives, not what happens in the bedroom. Why is that oversharing?

                Reply
                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  You seriously are proposing that “my kid cries at night” is equivalent to “My fiancée is also my master and I submit to him 24/7” in the pantheon of Things We Know About Our Coworker’s Lives? Really now.

                2. Anon for This

                  Honestly, I think you’re reading way more into what collars mean for people than is actually intended. Collars have very different meanings for different people, and that can range from exactly what you’ve said to the equivalent of a wedding ring.

                  What the collar symbolizes is very personal, and I think you’re making a lot of unfounded assumptions.

                3. Jerry Vandesic

                  Unwanted sharing with coworkers of information about your sex life could be considered sexual harassment. Unwanted sharing with coworkers about your crying kid would not be considered sexual harassment, or really any kind of harassment.

                4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  No, it’s not the equivalent of a wedding ring. Sorry, hard disagree there. I know you want very much to bury me here, but that’s not a plausible argument.

                5. Catalin

                  I don’t see how the potential revelation that they’re engaged in a D/S relationship is any different than someone announcing they’re religious traditionalists and the wife submits to the husband. If that’s okay (because of a biblical interpretation), then why wouldn’t a hint of D/S be okay? It’s not like the S is forcing anyone’s acceptance or participation, they’re not even making a declaration.
                  LW, wear your collar. Rock your collar. If asked, say it’s from your husband. If a kink-literate person tries to make a stink, look them in the eye and say ‘I’m having trouble understanding what part of this is your business.’

                6. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  ” If that’s okay (because of a biblical interpretation), then why wouldn’t a hint of D/S be okay?”

                  It’s not okay. I don’t want to know that either.

                7. Jesmlet

                  I don’t agree that it’s the exact same thing as Anon for This’ (taken to extreme) example but in actuality, this would just lead to a handful of people inconclusively assuming something about OP’s bedroom habits, which is really not more detailed information than knowing your coworker is a married gay man or another coworker is a married straight woman.

                8. Gadfly

                  If they wear a pendant that reads ‘my kid wets the bed’ or ‘toliet training’ or is a child on the toilet, that is also overshare in a way that is different from saying it once…

                  I don’t know where exactly I fall on the collar, but it is something ongoing and different than occasionally saying something.

              2. MillersSpring

                I’d like to point out that many LGBTQ people stayed in the closet for years because mainstream people protested that it was TMI to know that someone was gay. Likewise, for decades, female teachers were pushed out of classrooms when they were pregnant because administrators thought it was TMI.

                This TMI label can be used in a discriminatory way, and while we can debate what is “professional,” we should proceed thoughtfully about what is TMI.

                Reply
                1. Starbuck

                  I’d also recommend that you proceed very carefully if you’re going to compare being kinky to being a member of a group of people that have been oppressed for millennia. It’s categorically different.

                2. miss_chevious

                  Thank you! This whole “oh it’s TMI!” argument strikes me as very much subjective and a poor measuring stick for whether OP could wear a collar and be accepted professionally. It’s not TMI because it’s not telling the viewer anything. The viewer is assuming the significance of the collar/necklace, just like we assume things about our co-workers every day. So as long as OP has a neutral explanation handy and picks something a more subtle in design, any “TMI” is not her problem.

                3. One of the Sarahs

                  Totally disagree that it’s the same thing. Kink is not analogous to sexuality, and this explains it better than I can, http://www.huckmagazine.com/perspectives/opinion-perspectives/kinky-queer/, but the TL;DR is that for me, as a queer woman, and knowing the long history of violence towards and abuse of LGBTQ people, it frustrates me that people would think “I can’t wear a collar at work” is anywhere near the same thing as “I can’t mention I have a partner at all”.

                4. CAinUK

                  Seconding. I’m LGBTQ and also want to be left out of this argument.

                  FWIW, I actually agree with The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist. The collar is not at all the same as a wedding ring. I realize that D/s relationships are not necessarily about what happens in the bedroom, just like being LGBTQ isn’t. But I wouldn’t tell my coworkers if my partner was a dom or sub to me in our relationship – it’s an overshare, regardless of sexual dynamics.

                5. Lilo

                  I also feel like that argument “I’m oppressed because I’m publicly kinky” seems like someone trying to deliberately nail themselves to a cross.

          2. Kate

            What on earth do people think different colored Mardi Gras beads mean? As a native New Orleanian, I consider them inappropriate office wear 364 days out of the year, but not because there is any deeper symbolism there.

            Reply
            1. bunniferous

              Yeah, when we lived in Pensacola in the 80s, every kid including my three had mardi gras style beads in their toyboxes. They were thrown from floats at parades. It is not always about flashing boobage.

              Reply
            2. Lynxa

              Another New Orleanian here! I’ve found that most people not from an area with Mardi Gras assume that the only way to get beads is to flash people *eyeroll*

              Reply
              1. Nobody Here By That Name

                Everyone knows that’s just the way you get GOOD beads.

                Ahem. I mean, so I’ve heard.

                Reply
            3. Mustache Cat

              So people who aren’t familiar with it confer an unnecessary and unfounded sexual meaning on Mardi Gras beads, but locals know it’s just a fact of it…a perfect metaphor for this comment thread, eh?

              Reply
              1. The OG Anonsie

                I’m not even from New Orleans and wouldn’t associate any and all beads with flashing– I’m more than a little surprised to find out that people do.

                Reply
                1. CMart

                  The only time I look askance at the Mardi Gras style beads is when I see pictures from someone’s vacation in NOLA during Mardi Gras and they’re wearing a bunch of them while bleary-eyed beneath a balcony on Bourbon street.

            4. Sylvia

              Weird but true: They actually were a gang symbol where I grew up. Schools banned so many things that members resorted to ridiculous things. Mardi Gras beads were banned by the time I graduated.

              Reply
          3. SignalLost

            By that standard a wedding ring is sexual. I don’t think too many people look at a wedding ring and think “ah, that person is into monogamous sex!”

            Reply
            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

              No, because the ring just means “this person is married.” It doesn’t signify what your favorite position is, for example.

              Reply
                1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  But it’s the same kind of information, e.g. a level of granularity that has no place in the workplace.

                2. ZTwo

                  @Anon for this–I agree with your comments overall here, but I do think the collar signifies more than the examples you’re giving too. You’re right that a collar doesn’t inherently tell me the meaning a person attaches to it, if they have sex, or what kind of sex they have. But it does, at the very least, tell me that the person identifies as a sub.

                  If that’s all I know about kink, that’s gives me a very specific canvas to paint a picture on. If I know more about kink, I may be aware of more of the nuance, but I still know that this coworker derives some form of pleasure/meaning from submission. That’s definitely more information about preferences/desires than a wedding ring conveys and I’m not sure why that’s getting downplayed, even though it also doesn’t convey all the things TNMBOIS thinks either.

                  I’m not arguing that’s inherently bad information to know. But while a collar and wedding ring both (typically) signify commitment, a collar also signifies a specific way of showing/enacting that commitment.

                3. Anna

                  @ZTwo That is a great explanation and I can totally get on board with that. I still feel that if the OP can find something subtle and tasteful, they should have at it, but your explanation really does make sense as to why it might not be the best idea.

                1. SignalLost

                  It doesn’t. I’m firmly in the kink community and what you can read from a collar is exactly what you can read from a wedding ring. This person loves someone else enough, and finds them important enough, that they want to wear a visible symbol of that. You have no further information than that.

                  And before anyone parachutes in to tell me yes you do – a good BDSM relationship is a great deal more respectful of the submissive’s autonomy than an abusive marriage is of the wife’s. (I am assuming female in both cases because statistically that’s accurate and because there are larger power dynamics around sexuality and marriage that disproportionately affect women.) Do you know from a wedding ring that your coworker is abused at home? Or do you assume she’s not but the woman wearing a collar is?

                2. Jadelyn

                  @SignalLost I’m also firmly in the kink community and it is bizarre to me how desexualized people are trying to make kink in this thread. A collar is not necessarily a declaration of love. Commitment, yes. Love…maybe. Depends on their dynamic. But it declares a person’s kink orientation pretty thoroughly and implies a whole lot of other stuff.

                  I’m also not sure why you suddenly felt the need to bring domestic abuse into this conversation…?

                3. Just Another Techie

                  But the collar doesn’t really tell you anything about the kind of sex the people are having. Are they into impact play? Rope bondage? Primal aggro sex? Con non-con? Maybe their sex is boring missionary position but the sub performs acts of service for the top? It literally doesn’t tell you anything about the sex activities they are performing, just that they are probably having some kind of sex. If the objection is “eww, I don’t want to know about your sex” — IDK. That seems more indicative of the objector’s assumptions about what D/s sex is like than anything close to the reality of what these two specific people are or are not doing together.

                4. Anon for kink talk

                  Jadelyn, I’m wondering if our local kink communities happen to be really different places.

                  In my community, people in a committed relationship often wear a collar. This can be married, it can be a long-term committed partnership, the main point is the commitment. Usually that means they’re in love because usually people don’t want to make a commitment like that without that affection there.

                  Among those people, there’s a huge range in what they’re actually into. Some do the master/slave thing (though even then, there are times when they’re more serious about it and times it’s more lighthearted). Others don’t. Some are into really hardcore things in bed. Others basically have sex with a little spanking or fuzzy handcuffs. Others don’t have sex at all. Some have a firm D/s dynamic. Others just like how a collar looks or feels, and want that symbol of commitment, even though they don’t conform to a specific power dynamic.

                  It seems so weird to me, based on my experience, to assume that a collar automatically indicates a certain kind of sexual relationship.

            2. Papyrus

              Or pictures of kids on their desk. No one goes “Heyoooo, I know how you got those!” *wink wink nudge nudge*

              Reply
              1. CMart

                Well, if you have more than [insert locally acceptable number of children here], or simply are pregnant, some uncomfortably awkward people absolutely will say “You know how that keeps happening, right?” with a wink and mischievous smile.

                Reply
            3. Kate

              A wedding ring doesn’t necessarily mean that you are monogamous. Not to get too explicit here, but if you are wearing a wedding ring, all I know is that you are in a legal and also possibly religious partnership. You might be asexual, poly, whatever for all I know. Maybe you have a different kink with your partner every night. The whole point is, I don’t know.

              Reply
          4. Connie-Lynne

            “What you did to get Mardi Gras beads?”

            The only thing you have to do at Mardi Gras to get beads is show up to a parade. Hell, one time I was tired, I sat down behind the lines, and I still got tossed, among other things, a 48-pack of beads and a 6-pack of T-shirts!

            That you have to do anything is just a myth for gullible tourists.

            Reply
            1. Chomps

              Yep. I’ve never lived in New Orleans, but I went to Mardi Gras once during college and I got beads just walking to the parade. They were EVERYWHERE.

              Reply
        2. SpiderLadyCEO

          Agree with SometimesALurker. Even if you are in kink, collars mean different things in different types of relationships. What you read into it is on you, not on them. It’s not your business, drop it. Their wearing of something does not tell you anything, except maybe they wear a collar.
          And these collars look so similar to fashion pieces, you’re unlikely to even know that for certain.

          Reply
          1. Anon for This

            +1

            And some people wear collars when they are unattached, too. Just like people randomly wear rings on their ring finger when they’re not married.

            Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            But there is the issue of how people perceive you, as well. A collar isn’t inherently about sex, but how many people know that? I have a pretty sex-positive and lefty friend group, and most of them would assume sex preferences before thinking about deeper implications of D/s relationships. And you definitely don’t want to be the person “educating” your peers on your kink at 90% of workplaces.

            This is one of those times when perception is likely going to matter more than one’s personal reality. It’s easy to rail against it or suggest a person’s perception says more about them than you, but that doesn’t change the fact that their perception is going to inform their interactions and comfortability with you. I think that’s why TNMBOIS is pushing back.

            Reply
            1. Anon for This

              TNMBOIS is pushing back because of a reaction of personal discomfort based on assumptions of what a collar means. Every argument I’ve seen from him points to this rather than your comments about perception.

              I think we’re losing track of the fact that the OP is looking for a way to fly under the radar and have her collar be perceived as professionally accepted jewelry. This question is really no different than asking how to keep it professional if you want to stretch your earlobes, or how to approach getting a tattoo.

              Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                I’m pushing back against this gaslit argument that it doesn’t mean what it means, and that I should pretend that it carries no more semiotic weight than a wedding ring. Just no.

                Reply
                1. Anon for This

                  You’re saying I’m gaslighting you for challenging assumptions that you have made?

                  Wow. Well, if I wasn’t out of this conversation before, I certainly am now.

                2. Relly

                  _Gaslit_? You realize that you are now implying that people who disagree with you are doing so to try to manipulate you psychologically, right?

                3. aebhel

                  People disagreeing with you or having a different perspective on a fairly variable piece of symbolic jewelry is gaslighting now. Okay then.

            2. Anon for kink talk

              Sure, and that’s why I think it makes sense to keep things subtle in public. But wearing a discreet collar that can only be recognized by someone who knows kink stuff well is plenty cautious, in my mind! If they know enough to recognize or guess at that, they also presumably have an idea of what it means.

              What I’m hearing TNMBOIS say is that there is no level of subtlety that is acceptable except completely avoiding it. Maybe I’m misinterpreting something, but what I’m hearing is “Even if it’s subtle enough that only someone who knows about this already would have a chance at recognizing it, it’s still not OK.” And that I do disagree with.

              Reply
              1. TL -

                I would know what it meant and I don’t want to know that about my coworkers. I just don’t want to know about the intricacies and intimacies of your relationships in your personal life.

                Friend, oh heck yes, absolutely, spill. Coworker, no please.

                Reply
                1. Anon for kink talk

                  At some point we’re starting to get into the question of ‘is it OK to have personal stuff visible at work?’ Waving it in people’s faces is a no-go for work, I agree. But there’s tons of stuff out there that really does look like jewelry, where someone familiar with the scene might wonder, but no one would know for sure without the person wearing it saying something. (I’m not sure whether Alison’s google search is the best illustration of these, especially when we’re already thinking ‘collar’ and therefore primed to recognize things. But they definitely exist; I know a lot of people who have stuff that even as someone in the community, I wouldn’t have really suspected if I didn’t know they wore a collar.)

                  If someone’s wearing a thing that’s subtle enough that you have to guess, then you have room to decide you don’t want to let your mind go in that direction. They can have their symbol of the thing they value, you can decide to assume it’s just jewelry, I don’t see the problem. And if you do decide to let your mind go that way, and don’t like your conclusions…at some point that’s on you? Like, you’re going to learn personal things about your coworkers sometimes, and while kink isn’t one of the ones I would expect to hear in the break room, if they’re being discreet (actually discreet, not ‘dog collars are totally normal jewelry for the workplace, right?’ discreet), at some point they’ve done due diligence to be workplace appropriate, even if someone happens to guess.

                2. Hey Nonnie

                  Yeah, I feel like a lot of people are reacting to this question as if the proposition is “Can I get away with wearing a Really Obvious Collar at work” rather than what the LW said, which was that she was looking for a piece that flies under the radar.

                  And there have been examples in this thread of stuff that looks like jeweled necklaces that sit above the collarbone, and are secured by a jump ring instead of a clasp. I have my doubts that anyone looks at their co-worker’s necklaces so intently that they’d notice the clasp or lack thereof.

                  So this lengthy discussion about what collars mean is kind of missing the point — the idea is that no one notices that it’s a “collar” as opposed to a “necklace,” and there are plenty of pieces out there that can achieve that. Some of these necklaces are made by mainstream jewelers like Tiffany & Co. and Cartier and feature actual padlock charms, so I really don’t think any jewelry that’s similar to stuff that is already in the mainstream is going to definitively out the one who wears it.

          3. Doe-Eyed

            But you’re also relying on people not in the know to understand the subtleties of that and not assume it’s a sexual thing if they figure it out. So yeah, it is on them, but it can affect your professional standing and I think it’s silly to pretend that a.) nobody will assume it’s sexual and b.) it doesn’t have the possibility of causing problems.

            Realistically, should it? Probably not, but as in many cases here at AAM, the ideal reality is not the reality in which we reside.

            Reply
            1. miss_chevious

              Yes, but EVERYTHING you wear can have the “possibility” of causing problems. I’ve seen several people in this thread suggest anklets as a suitable alternative, which would cause no end of commentary in my office regardless of D/s associations. Not to mention the repeated threads about dress codes and proper office attire for women and tattoos and numerous other things that people wear or do to their physical appearances. The “possibility” of problems is not a useful criteria here.

              Reply
      2. Sadsack

        I disagree. Seeing a wedding ring on a person’s finger could make you realize that person is probably in a sexual relationship. So what?

        Reply
      3. Hills to Die on (formerly AMG)

        I’m in this camp too. I think if anyone recognizes it for what it is or ‘out’s you, you risk being judged, gossiped about, having people view you negatively, or having negative impacts to your career. I just think it’s inappropriate.

        I will be the one to admit I’m narrow minded about this sort of thing out in the public eye, however discreet your necklace may be. I would question your professionalism. I’m sorry. I support your right to live your life the way you want, but I just don’t get the need to show your kink visibly.

        If the meaning behind it is what counts, then that is present regardless of what jewelry you wear. Having said that, What about a private, non-visible piercing to symbolize the relationship instead? Especially a ring piecing may be a good parallel and completely private–which, IMO, is where this belongs.

        Reply
        1. Anon for This

          By that logic, why would anyone need to show a sign of their marriage visibly? Why aren’t wedding rings inappropriate? This falls in the same category.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            It’s not the same because marriage has been mainstreamed and D/s relationships have not (although I suspect you know that). I’m not saying it’s right or fair, but if OP is asking about perception in the work place, most people that see this as a D/s symbol are going to make different assumptions about your sex life—erroneous or not—because of how you’ve presented yourself. That’s just not true for people wearing wedding rings.

            Reply
            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I fully recognize that that justification sounds the same a sense homophobic rhetoric re: LGBT folks. I’m trying to unpack why this feels different to me (I think it is different, but need to work on sussing out why).

              Reply
              1. SignalLost

                Because in theory, D/s relationships are not used to disadvantage a class of people widely enough for there to be legal protections? I mean, I get that every time I out myself as bi, or poly, or kinky, or (in three “amusing” cases) as a cis woman, I probably will have to do some education if the person has questions. Usually it’s the first time someone has heard of poly. Choosing to out myself at work should be on the same level as choosing to out myself with a cross necklace – due to a really nasty streak of fundamentalism in my extended family, I tend to be uncomfortable around people who NEED to tell me how much they love the Lord. But the cross necklace is mainstream and being poly isn’t. And it is absolutely possible to explain all of those identities in bland, office-appropriate terms.

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  ….I don’t know how you would explain BDSM in office appropriate terms. Maybe D/s but even then, you’d really have to go into consent and it would get very tiptoe-y and probably the person would google and that’s just a big problem waiting to happen,

                  Poly is different, because those relationships are well defined, especially polyamorous, which is definitely about the relationships, not the sex life. I think if you can’t google it at work, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it at work. (putting aside unfortunate terms to google, of course.)

              2. animaniactoo

                At the moment I’m trending towards the difference being level of current understanding and acceptance of such relationships.

                Reply
            2. Anon for This

              Right, so wearing an obvious collar in the workplace isn’t a good idea, which I’ve stated above. I think if a collar is worn in the workplace, it needs to be more subtle and “pass” as jewelry due to a lot of the stigma surrounding D/s relationships.

              I just see the, “it represents your sex life therefore NO,” argument being fairly hypocritical, because wedding rings do the same.

              Reply
        2. Shadowette

          Going with Alison’s thought experiment:

          “I support your right to be a homosexual in a homosexual relationship but I just don’t get the need for you to tell people you’re homosexual. Keep it to yourself.” I’ve heard my parents say something similar in their narrow minded view, “Why do ‘THEY’ have to have parades? Stop flaunting ‘IT’ [the homosexual lifestyle] in my face.”

          I think the narrow minded attitude your talking about sounds very similar to the excuses people use for discriminating against gays. Since we’re talking about a D/S lifestyle instead of a homosexual one, does that make this attitude ok to have?

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I think there’s a fundamental difference between an intrinsic identity (LGBT) and a “lifestyle,” which I would not apply to LGBT relationships. I’m stuck between two issues. First, that anyone can enter a D/s relationship (theoretically) without the constant threat of criminalization, governmental intrusion or hate violence. That’s not the case for LGBT relationships, even with recent, significant changes at the federal level and in some states.

            Second, I don’t think we should discriminate against people because of their consensual kink, but I also think most work places shouldn’t require people to know or assume that they know intimate details about their coworkers’ personal lives. I don’t want to hear about a het married couple’s swinging any more than I want to hear about someone’s D/s relationship (I understand those are not equivalent—in my head there’s a spectrum of things I don’t want to know). But OP also shouldn’t have to hide out.

            I think I come down on picking the most jewelry-esque option. The more innocuous, the better. As others have noted, several of the necklaces at Alison’s link look like Tiffany pieces. I say go with one of those.

            Reply
            1. The OG Anonsie

              Right. Like, I don’t want this information in the same way that I don’t want to know if a coworker and their spouse are now sleeping in different bedrooms or are temporarily separating but trying to reconcile or have renewed their vows and feel more passionate and in love than ever. I just don’t want to know about the dynamics and arrangements of your relationships, full stop. I don’t care who’s in them or what those dynamics are.

              And I agree with you– I think wearing one that looks like a necklace is fine. If some people can sniff out what it is, meh.

              Reply
            2. Alton

              Honestly, as someone who is both LGBT and kinky, I don’t really perceive a big difference in my own life. They are different things, and I don’t like it when straight, cisgender kinksters directly compare themselves to LGBT people. But my kinks feel just as in-born as my sexual orientation, and I identify as kinky even though I’m not active in the lifestyle. I’m also much more concerned about getting fired, etc. because of my kinks than my LGBT identities.

              Everyone’s mileage varies on this, but I dislike blanket statements about this sort of thing.

              Reply
              1. General Ginger

                I think in my experience (both LGBT and kinky here), there’s significant overlap between the communities, so I kind of lump them together in my head more often than not. But I do also dislike it when straight, cis folks say they face the same prejudices/challenges for being kinky as LGBT people do for being LGBT. I feel like being kinky when I’m already LGBT is just added concern re: getting fired, etc, in a way that it wouldn’t be for a cis/straight person.

                Reply
            3. Turquoise Cow

              I agree with this. LGBTQ identity is intrinsic. Historically (and presently), a person who is LGBTQ has been denied basic rights given to straight/cis people. It’s not only difficult, it’s demeaning to expect a person to deny their spouse or potential spouse and also be denied the privileges and rights that come with marriage.

              The same issues are not inherent in a D/s relationship. The D/s part is not the underlying bedrock the way one’s partner is – it’s an accessory. The OP or anyone else can talk about their partner freely – the D/s parts, while not confined to the bedroom, are nonetheless regarding an aspect of the relationship rather than the core of it. The core is the WHO. D/s is not.

              The TMI part is not merely sexual, it’s an intimate accessory. I would not discuss a marital argument in detail with my coworkers. I would not want to know if my coworker and his spouse were sleeping in separate bedrooms. I would not want to know how their sexual activity went last night, no matter how vanilla. These are all regarded as more private matters. There are some details we don’t share with outsiders. Perhaps with friends, but not with professional coworkers.

              The comparison of D/s relationships, or any other enjoyers of kink of any type, to LGBTQ relationships falls apart a little bit.

              Regarding collars in the workplace, I can’t honestly say if I’d notice and know or not, depending on the specifics. I can see why people would be uncomfortable, though, and if I was aware of it, I probably would be, too.

              Reply
          2. Shadow

            Is it narrow minded to have no interest in hearing other people’s sexual preferences regardless of orientation?

            There are just some things many people think are inappropriate to discuss in public regardless of who it is.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              The problem is that that typically means “it’s okay for Jane to mention she saw a movie with her husband Bob over the weekend, but I don’t want to hear about Fergus seeing a movie with his husband Jim.”

              Reply
              1. Shadow

                Oh sure. I was referring more to people who seem to look for opportunities to talk about their sexuality or sexual preferences, normal conversations aside.

                Reply
            2. Temperance

              I don’t ever want to hear anyone’s “sexual preference”, either, if by that you mean how they like to have sex. If you mean that you don’t ever want to hear about a same-sex partner existing, well … we disagree. There are so many neutral statements that might involve someone’s partner and have nothing to do with boning.

              Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                Wholeheartedly agreed.

                Basically, I want my workplace to be a no-bone-zone. Everything else I’m pretty much ok with. You went to a gardening show with your partner(s)? Awesome. You saw a movie? Fantastic. You went to a kink convention and bought new hardware? Ehhhhh.

                Reply
          3. Leslie knope

            I’m really not into the false equivalencies being made here. LGBT people don’t choose their identities.

            Reply
            1. Talia

              Not everybody in the LGBT community believes that it’s a false equivalence– in the more queer-theory areas, you get whole discussions about how framing it as something you are rather than as something you do causes harm to acceptance as a whole and buys into the dominant society’s framing of things. Assimilationist versus actively taking down binaries. Probably a longer discussion than is suitable for here, but “LGBT people don’t choose their identities” or even “LGBT *is* an identity” isn’t actually a blanket statement beyond the most mainstream of the LGBT community. (I’m biromantic demisexual, before you start trying to call me out for not getting it.)

              Reply
                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  I think it’s fair to note that LGBT identity can be more encompassing than replication of het norms with queer participants, though. And it’s fine to note that there are members of the LGBT community who think kink and LGBT identity are similar/equivalent.

                  I disagree that these identities are treated the same way in law or in society at large, and a pretty significant number of folks who identify as LGBT perceive these identities as distinct and not-equivalent (especially when it comes to kink and straight people, which involves really different issues than kink & LGBT folks).

                  But there’s value in sussing out the differences—imo, we’re not quite in sandwich territory, yet.

            2. Starbuck

              I’m bothered by it as well. Several other LGBT people have commented elsewhere in the thread that they don’t agree with the comparison and want to be left out of this discussion. I’d encourage any person who doesn’t belong to that group to re-examine why they feel compelled to make this comparison.

              Reply
          4. Gadget Hackwrench

            Um… I’m both queer, and on the side of “If it’s subtle it’s fine” and I STILL don’t think the two should be compared. Kink =/= An Orientation.

            Reply
    3. LNZ

      I feel like this is a bit harsh. I mean they didn’t say they were going to disclose what the jewelry signified. That was part of the issue, them wanting something that non kinky folks wouldnt be able to tell was kink wear.

      Reply
        1. LNZ

          i completely discreet, there are a lot of very discrete jewelry type option out there. And the whole point of the ask was that they are trying not to be obvious, so i feel like treating the LW like she’s going to go around announcing her kink to people is unfair to her.

          Reply
        2. Amy the Rev

          Is it, though? I wear a similarly delicate choker-style necklace because it was a necklace I like and it goes with everything, but it never has occurred to me or anyone around me (that I know of) to think it could give off D/s vibes…

          Reply
            1. Amy the Rev

              really? something like these?

              https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/64/69/07/646907a58a791c9453bbbd17ee9fb125.jpg

              https://img1.etsystatic.com/000/0/5142991/il_570xN.200092643.jpg

              http://dentelleetfleurs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/delicate-choker-necklace-800×800.jpg

              https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/87/a1/43/87a1438b19a88a4950251e70a9c70012.jpg

              https://cdn-img-2.wanelo.com/p/2b5/ee7/172/b3a86e105376992f7c97cba/x354-q80.jpg

              I had no idea that style of necklace read to the general public as overtly sexual- I just bought it at a little boutique jewelry store because I like delicate chains and gold is my color. Go figure! Guess I’m giving the folks I encounter a real mental treat hahah, if only they knew how vanilla I am!

              Reply
              1. Dr Pepper

                I’m not Temperance, but I will say that if you wore the third example (and possibly the last one) every single day, yes, I would 100% assume that you were in a D/s relationship and that it was a collar.

                The others I would likely not even notice beyond “oh, Amy the Rev has a go-to necklace” in the same way that I wear small gold hoop earrings essentially 24/7. (Well, that’s not quite honest. The second to last I would notice and think looked uncomfortable.)

                Reply
    4. Graciosa

      Agreed.

      If you’re sharing far-too-personal information about your relationship at work (whether that disclosure is verbal or visual) you’re crossing the line.

      This has nothing to do with the nature of your relationship and everything to do with the fact that this is a private matter between the two of you that doesn’t belong in the office.

      Reply
    5. Isben Takes Tea

      I don’t know why you had to put your first sentence in your response…it reads as really condescending and adversarial. Your response would read better without it.

      Reply
    6. kittymommy

      The one with the heart kinda reminded me of thise heart tiffany necklaces that were popular a few years ago.

      Reply
    7. animaniactoo

      I dunno. This feels like it has a lot of a flavor of “I don’t care that you’re a guy sleeping with a guy, but you shouldn’t advertise that”.

      I mean, what do we really learn? How is it going to melt your eyeballs or your brain to see and understand what the collar means? Particularly if you’re kink-friendly enough to recognize the meaning. Isn’t supporting the ability to be open about such a relationship while not going into explicit details part of being kink-friendly/knowledgeable?

      Reply
      1. Sarianna

        Seconding this. It’s the same kind of language I remember hearing when I was younger and afraid to come out as queer.

        Reply
      2. ParisGellar

        +1. Many people would argue that knowing someone is in a same-sex sexual relationship is “too much intimate knowledge” because “Ew, you’re making me think about how you have sex because it’s obviously not the ‘normal’ way”. Stop thinking about how people are having sex! Just accept that some people are in different sorts of relationships and go about your life.

        Reply
        1. Definitely Anon

          I think the difference is that when people are homophobic and think it is “too much intimate knowledge” they are essentially trying to erase the relationship and not acknowledge that these two people are romantically involved. Not wanting to know about a D/s dynamic has nothing to do with not acknowledging that they are in a romantic relationship. It is simply not wanting the details.

          Reply
    8. Gen

      Back in the late 90s a friend of mine was in a committed D/s relationship and wore a standard but thin purple padlocked leather collar. Told everyone at work that it was a fashion statement. It pretty much did fall into some of the clubbing fashion at the time though it wasn’t really work appropriate. She thought everyone believed her but found out after she’d quit that she’d been ruled out for promotion several times by a higher level manager who was in the scene and felt she couldn’t be trusted to ‘know her mind’ or ‘maintain confidentiality’ because she’d given up her autonomy and was signalling that fact at work. Regardless of how their relationship was played out in real life he was of the opinion that all her work related decisions would be suspect. It made a mess of her career for a while until she left the area because he didn’t out himself just made insinuations that she couldn’t be trusted :/ that was 20 years ago and things are no doubt different now but I’d still be careful. Given all the misinterpretations from a certain book series I’d be concerned about the reactions of people not in the scene but with vague knowledge of it.

      Reply
      1. misspiggy

        Right, yes you have hit on the thing that was bothering me about this. A collar signifies a handing over of autonomy to a partner. Most jobs require autonomous professional judgement, or at least maintaining the fiction that you’re acting like a rational individual in pursuit of your employer’s priorities. A collar says that you’re putting something else ahead of that, and it’s so important to you that you want your colleagues to know.

        Now, is a crucifix worn at work similar to this or not? I don’t think so, because I can’t think of any other symbols that indicate someone has given up their decision making power to someone else.

        Reply
        1. Anon for this one

          I have to say – the 24/7 relationships that I’ve come across (and I know enough about) have never involved handing over autonomous professional judgement to their partner.

          Reply
          1. Gen

            Yes, it may well be saying more about his own style and expectations in a D/s relationship than anything else that he assumed what he did. But given we also had a letter previously about someone who wanted all the staff to refer to her partner as Master some people might go there and there will always be some people who assume the worst :/

            Reply
      2. Britt

        This is a really good comment and I think that book series probably angers everyone truly in that community. It’s not fair but that boss made a decision based on what was presented to him and I can’t fault the guy for that. I don’t judge but if I saw this on a coworker, it would signal pretty obviously to me what it is and I would think it’s a large step into TMI. Like a pp stated upthread, once you know, you can’t unknow and it feels like you stepped into someone’s bedroom when you never wanted to be there in the first place.

        Reply
      3. Hills to Die on (formerly AMG)

        That is what would bother me. I would think you could be easily swayed and controlled by someone else to do things against the benefit of the company. Can you though? I don’t know. I don’t get this sort of relationship so feel completely free to chalk it up to ignorance on my part as far as this Is concerned.

        The kicker is this: I try to be open minded, which is far more than I can say about many people. Alison’s group here is a generally friendly and open place, where people can challenge each other to be more accepting of each other. I could be reassured that you can be a model employee and do a stellar job while in a d/s relationship.

        That’s not the rest of the world though, where people will not hesitate to write you off for minor things, or completely unfair things. You risk that, so you have to trade off your career aspirations against whether you want to wear that collar, against how subtle (or not), you want the collar to be.

        The point is, no matter how many people here say they wouldn’t care, too many people will loudly proclaim that they do care and will hold it against you.

        Reply
      4. she was a fast machine

        This is a truly excellent comment and highlights some of the deeper potential issues at play here beyond people’s discomfort. I am a kinkster myself but I do feel I would be wary of anyone advertising their D/s relationship by wearing a collar at work. Even though I know that not all D/s relationships are created equal, I do know that there are a LOT of truly horrible ones where there is abuse and manipulation and flat-out controlling behavior that could spill over into the workplace, and I would want nothing like that anywhere near me. And, I hate to say it, I would probably question the wearer’s judgment in not only wearing a collar 24/7 but also their professional judgment in general since they can’t seem to grasp the potentially very complicated consequences of people knowing their relationship details.

        Reply
    9. Thinking Outside the Boss

      My main concern as a manager is whether a person comes into work on time, gets his or her work done, and has a good rapport with clients, vendors, and coworkers. And if an employee can do all those things, I really don’t care whether the employee wears a leather collar, a choker, or any other accessory, regardless of what it signifies.

      Quite frankly, for my personal bias, I’d rather see any of those chokers that someone who has stretched earlobes. But that’s just me.

      Reply
    10. Kaja

      FWIW, a friend of mine who IS a doctor (and one of the few LGBTQ- and kink-friendly ones where we live) is collared. She has a selection of lovely necklaces she wears to work – they just don’t have clasps, per se. Nothing about them screams kink/collar, and even though I’m kink-aware, I didn’t even realize they WERE collars until she asked him to change one of them for a cosplay event. (We’ve been at kink events where people have made remarks about her not being collared b/c they’re that subtle.)

      (OP, they shop etsy heavily for appropriate selections.)

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        The fact that she has a selection of them and doesn’t wear the same one all the time probably helps keep people from realizing the true meaning too.

        Reply
        1. Gadget Hackwrench

          Yeah that’s super clever. OP should consider that. Adds to the plausible deniability.

          Reply
    11. Elizabeth West

      I think a lot of those look like regular chokers; that wouldn’t bother me even if I guessed what it was (and I probably would now that I’ve read this post).

      Reply
  2. Jesmlet

    As long as the eternity collar doesn’t have an actual padlock on it like some of the examples I saw, I think that’s pretty safe as far as office attire goes. Calling it a wedding present from your husband seems close enough to the truth and a harmless enough explanation if you’re okay with that.

    Reply
    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      Eeeehhhhhhhhhmmmmnnngh. You’d have to be pretty vanilla not to know what’s up when you see an eternity collar, even without a lock, around someone’s neck. I’m not even in the BDSM scene, and if I saw any of those, I guarantee I’d be like “HEYO” internally.

      Reply
      1. ParisGellar

        I guess I am vanilla because I had no idea this sort of necklace symbolized anything other than a choker.

        Reply
        1. Health Insurance Nerd

          I am also vanilla (and I’d venture that more people are vanilla than chocolate when it comes to this stuff).

          Reply
          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            Even if it’s one person in ten, or one person in 25, this LW is in regular contact with enough people daily that it’s going to ping on plenty of radars.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              But so what? Is it the OP’s obligation to insure nobody ever has any knowledge of this dynamic of her relationship? If so, why?

              Reply
              1. TL -

                Well, she’s working with students (of an unknown age, but presumably skewing young) and patients, so I do think there’s an actual work incentive, where 1 in 25 might indeed be too many…

                Reply
          2. NJ Anoon

            Ditto on the vanilla. For what it’s worth, I wear the same necklace everyday (just a gold chain) and no one has ever commented on it but it’s pretty, well, vanilla.

            Reply
        2. Former Retail Manager

          I too didn’t realize that the pics Alison linked to were associated with BDSM. However, I don’t believe they are appropriate for an office environment. Quite frankly, I don’t think that anyone over the age of 25 could pull off the eternity choker without raising an eyebrow. Under that age, I’d probably assume it was youthful fashion fun, but over 25….I’d definitely wonder if it either meant something or I’d think the person was really out of touch with professional office attire norms.

          Reply
          1. Elemeno P.

            I do think age would play into it. I met someone at work and her (very subtle) collar necklace immediately jumped out to me because she was quite a bit older. I’m very kink-literate due to open friends, but we’re in the south so I’m sure most people she worked with didn’t know…or, like me, just didn’t comment because that would be quite rude!

            Reply
          2. k

            Age is a good point, with choker style necklaces making a recent comeback for younger people. That impression will also change in a few years when their back out of style and not common. If OP plans to wear this for years to come, at some point it is going to stand out.

            Reply
        3. Anon today...and tomorrow

          YEP! I am super vanilla because one of those necklaces was very similar to something I looked at recently for my 12 year old daughter…and since she’s not dating yet and is even more vanilla than I am right now, I’m pretty confident that there’s no kink involved in her interest in it.

          Reply
      2. MegaMoose, Esq

        I might be more vanilla than I thought (or maybe you’re less vanilla than you think), but I see the solid torque-style necklaces around not infrequently and I really don’t think they’re all kink-related.

        Reply
      3. pope suburban

        I dunno. On the one hand, it does seem really obvious to me. On the other, I grew up in the 90s, when my middle-school friends and I were all really into choker necklaces, and had literally zero concept of what BDSM or collaring are. So I’m just kinda stuck on the fence in terms of what this could look like to other people.

        Reply
        1. ParisGellar

          Yes. I’m pretty sure I wore an actual collar at some point as a teenager because it was the “punk” thing to do in the mid-90s. I had no concept of people wearing them “for real”.

          Reply
          1. LNZ

            I had one as a teen to, a massive spiked red one with a big O ring. My mom found it and just looked at me for a moment before asking “is this a fashion thing or……..” I was like mom it’s fashion but if it wasn’t would you really want to know? She tossed it back into the moving box she found it in and was like good point and walked out of my room.

            Reply
          2. pope suburban

            Oh, me too! It was just a cool punk thing to do in the days of Blink-182 and all the other pop-punk bands. It went well with the plaid and the ties from Hot Topic. :’D

            Reply
        2. Bookworm

          Yeah. I almost wonder if there’s an unexpected generation gap here because I think all the chokers we wore in middle and high-school have inured me to any possible kinky associations with them. They don’t look kinky to me so much as late-90s, early-2000s.

          And I wouldn’t consider myself completely kink illiterate, either. That said, I agree that the subtalar the better…but some of those silver ones wouldn’t have me think twice.

          Reply
          1. pope suburban

            Some of the silver ones look strikingly like a necklace my middle-school best friend wore nearly every day for a year. Which is probably not helping the 90s part of my brain from reading this as innocent first and BDSM a surprisingly distant second (and I used to moderate a large internet forum; I have Seen Some Things by this point in life). Man. This is a really difficult one for me to opine on.

            Reply
          2. blackcat

            +1

            And there are some that I saw on pintrest (following images from the link Alison gave) that I’d really think are just a necklace. There were some examples that were a chain instead of a collar, with what looks like a heart locket or charm. Flip it over, and you see that it’s actually a lock. Something like that I would never guess had any purpose other than being a nice piece of jewelry.

            Reply
      4. SpiderLadyCEO

        I disagree! A lot of these necklaces are visually very similar to “vanilla” jewelry. I admit I would catch on if I noticed the necklace had a lock clasp instead of a regular one, but to be honest I don’t really notice how most necklaces I personally am not wearing would clasp.
        But even if I did notice – who cares? They have a piece of jewelry that is important to them in their relationship. I’m not going to go spreading that around, they’re my coworker, and it doesn’t really matter.
        (All this given they choose a locking eternity collar/necklace as opposed to like, a thick band of leather that would be more noticeable in the average workplace. But current fashion in mind, leather chokers ARE currently a fashion piece, and while likely would not fly in most offices, aren’t going to cause most people to think “ayo, BDSM”.)

        Reply
        1. Edith

          The lock on most of the plain circle examples is quite hidden. I would assume it had a magnetic clasp before I made the jump to master/slave marriage jewelry.

          Reply
      5. The Cosmic Avenger

        I had never heard of this before, and if I saw the one with the heart-shaped lock on it, I would just assume it was a choker with a heart-shaped pendant on it. If I really had cause to look at it closely and think about it, I would think it was a play on the “key to my heart” theme.

        If this kind of necklace/choker would be OK in general at work, then the OP should wear it and not cover it up. I know plenty of people who wear the same earrings or necklace or (non-wedding/engagement) ring(s) every day because they have a special meaning to them. As long as the OP states it in neutral relationship terms like Alison said, it should be fine.

        Don’t forget, there are people who will constantly look for oddities and make wild guesses about peoples’ personal lives, and if you have one in your life then you’re going to be the subject of gossip and supposition and rumor. We can’t go through life trying to keep off of those peoples’ radar, because they will eventually find SOMETHING to talk about with respect to anyone. We just have to assume that most reasonable people will not take gossip as gospel. The best defense to people like that is being okay with rather than defensive about how you live your life.

        Reply
        1. Bolt

          I have a couple of things with heart-shaped locks on them and I am now mortified that people may think my leather bracelet with heart-shaped lock was some sort of sexual expression.

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq

            I’ve been having the same thought about a couple of torques I used to wear. I’d keep in mind that the internet is nothing if not the home of hyperbole.

            Reply
          2. Dr Pepper

            Honestly, unless you wear it literally every single day it’s unlikely that people assume that.

            Reply
        2. Jessie the First (or second)

          “there are people who will constantly look for oddities and make wild guesses about peoples’ personal lives, and if you have one in your life then you’re going to be the subject of gossip and supposition and rumor. We can’t go through life trying to keep off of those peoples’ radar, because they will eventually find SOMETHING to talk about with respect to anyone.”

          YES. I have been trying to pinpoint what has been bothering me about this debate, and you’ve nailed it.

          If you are wearing something that looks like jewelry, you are fine. The fact that a few people will have an epiphany about it, or judge you for it, does not mean that you have to not wear it. If it is within the standards of your general office dress code, you are fine. Some people will be bothered, but then, some people are bothered by equal marriage rights and would be offended if a woman mentioned her wife and wore a wedding ring, even if she said nothing more than that – and I assume most of us here would not argue this is the sort of thing that should be hidden. OP isn’t saying she wants to discuss her D/s status or involve coworkers in her relationship or being sex talk into the office; just that she wants to find a way to wear a personally meaningful piece of jewelry. And I saw several on the link that Allison provided that read as jewelry. If anyone guesses what it really means to the OP, who cares.

          Reply
          1. Jill of All Trades

            I think you hit the nail on the head for what I’ve been struggling with in this thread too.

            Reply
          2. BeautifulVoid

            I’ve also been struggling with this thread and sorting through my own ideas/opinions, and I think this is a great comment. Ultimately, I think there are enough options that look like “regular” jewelry that OP should be able to pick something both meaningful for her and appropriate for the workplace. And if it means a few people start speculating on her sex life, I still don’t think she’d be doing anything wrong unless she started discussing it with them (which she doesn’t want to do). Also, as other people have pointed out, a lot of the simpler collars are so similar to currently trendy chokers, I guarantee you there have been plenty of people who have worn something like one of these collars who *aren’t* in a D/s relationship. So if people are going to speculate and make assumptions, that’s on them.

            Reply
      6. Jesmlet

        I am definitely not vanilla and the collars I’ve seen don’t resemble jewelry like those do. I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to assume it’s just decorative.

        Reply
      7. KR

        It’s funny because I am not vanilla and I didn’t know they make necklaces like that. Some of them reminded me of friendship necklaces I had as a kid where one charm was the lock and the other was a key. I’d just assume it came off with a hidden latch.

        Reply
    2. Manders

      Agreed. The ones that are just plain metal or metal with a small jewel could pass as a slightly unusual piece of jewelry. If those aren’t to OP’s taste, perhaps a bracelet or anklet might be better, maybe paired with a more traditional-looking necklace that’s personally symbolic but more conventional. I know torque necklaces had a moment recently–they look similar to collars but might read as a little more professional.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        I would argue that a cuff or bangle would be a much stealthier alternative. Or a simple chain necklace with a lock charm, which is symbolic but concealable and discreet. The collars at Alison’s link, I just don’t see flying under the radar. Even if one in ten people you run across gets it, that’s giving TMI to 10% of your professional contacts, and I don’t think that’s a good idea.

        Reply
        1. Salamander

          Yeah. I don’t think any of the ones pictured would fly under the radar, honestly.

          I mean, this is the lens I’m viewing this through: I’m pagan (and a 24/ pagan!), but I don’t wear my pentacle pendant to work.

          Reply
    3. Health Insurance Nerd

      I agree- although based on some of the other comments I am “vanilla” since I had no clue this type of thing existed (not D/s, the collaring part), and I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey!

      Reply
      1. Jill of All Trades

        Oh goodness, please don’t use Fifty Shades of Grey as a representation of any form of good D/s relationship. I won’t get into it here for the sake of being work appropriate, but there are so many problems with those books and films.

        Reply
        1. Health Insurance Nerd

          And also, to be fair, I didn’t say anything about it being a representation of a “good D/s relationship”.

          Reply
          1. Anon for This

            Fair enough, I just have met so many people who said this unironically and it was hard to judge your tone adequately through the internet.

            Reply
            1. Health Insurance Nerd

              Point taken, and I know there is a lot of (understandable) sensitivity about the content and misrepresentation of a true BDSM relationship in 50 Shades, so perhaps joking about it isn’t the most appropriate thing to do!

              Reply
      2. Mike C.

        Yeah, but the Fifty novels are a terrible introduction to this sort of thing – in terms of promoting stereotypes, ignoring things like consent and not actually understanding what goes on within such a relationship.

        Reply
    4. S-Mart

      I mostly agree. A lot of the eternity collars, even including some of the obviously locked ones, seem fine to me. What passes the line for me are the ones with an attached ring – where my mind presumes one would attach a leash.

      Reply
    5. Ann O'Nemity

      Eh, Tiffany’s has lock necklaces that would pass in most offices. Heck I got a lock and key choker about 10 years ago from Nordstrom. This was before all the 50 Shades hoopla and it wasn’t a BDSM thing, it was just trendy at the time.

      Reply
    6. piimrtl

      Yeah, I just checked JCPenney and Ann Taylor, because they’re both sort of bastions of “vanilla” middle-American fashion, and both are currently selling necklaces with a similar look to some of the eternity collars.
      (That’s not a dig at those stores, either! I like them both, but they’re not where anybody goes for edgy fashion.)

      Reply
    1. Jill of All Trades

      Did you look at some of the options? There are a number of locking necklace/collar options that are actually fairly work appropriate.

      Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I wonder if regional fashion sense is playing into the disparity of views on this. I feel like I see people wearing necklaces like this as a fashion statement not infrequently.

          I also wonder if the Google search results I linked to are generating different results for different people — that’s a thing, right? — so here’s a screenshot of what I’m seeing:
          http://imgur.com/a/fRDhr

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq

            I was wondering this too. I mean, that or there are a lot more “stealth” kinksters walking around my part of the country than I’d have expected?

            Reply
            1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

              +1! I’m in NYC (and consider myself somewhere between pretty and very kink literate) and see pieces of jewelry similar to the pics linked all. the. time. (and I’m in finance so I’m not in an industry that is generally considered artsy or liberal). It would not cross my mind that these are necessarily kink related. I have a couple pieces of jewelry that look pretty similar (simple with a sort of industrial aesthetic). I’m sort of loving the idea that someone might have taken my jewerly for a collar and been mistakenly scandalized.

              If I had a co-worker who wore this type of jewelry everyday I could see it maybe dawning on me eventually – the permanent locking of the jewelry + wearing it everyday that it was meant as a “collar”. Then I would just shrug my shoulders and consider it the same as my co-worker who wears their cross necklace everyday.

              Reply
            1. Sarianna

              Live free or die. And apparently this is the hill some people want to die on. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

              Reply
            2. Anon for This

              Same. NYC/New England. I’m really not understanding why so many people are so uncomfortable with people wearing one of these for D/s but not for fashion.

              Reply
            3. Jessie the First (or second)

              Another New Englander here. This just seems like something that a person could just… wear, without any larger or more “scandalous” meaning. I can completely envision a person just wearing this, with all its deeply personal intimate symbolism, and being able to just say it’s a favorite piece of jewelry, given as gift. With very few raised eyebrows from coworkers. (And as Cosmic Avenger states above, it’s not worth altering your choices for the few who get all upset about it.)

              Reply
              1. Lissa

                Totally – I’m now torn between horrified and amused that some of my current and previous fashion choices likely had people making very interesting assumptions about me!

                Reply
              2. Gadget Hackwrench

                New Yorker. Same. I wonder if the loud objectors are all non-Northeastern? Cause it really could be something that only “passes” in one region…

                Reply
            4. LBK

              Same here – it honestly would not even remotely occur to me that there was some ulterior motive behind wearing a necklace like that.

              Reply
            5. Anon today...and tomorrow

              New Englander here and agreed. I don’t think that any of these are awful. The thicker versions / leather might raise an eyebrow or two but more over “what the hell is with that choker?” versus “She must be part of the kink scene!”

              Reply
              1. Edith

                Okie here and agreed. As long as it doesn’t have an obvious lock or a ring for attaching a leash it wouldn’t occur to me to think anything untoward about these pieces of jewelry.

                Reply
          2. k

            I go to a lot of craft fairs where there is always a good amount of custom, handmade, etc. jewelry, so I’d say I’m more used to unique and eclectic styles. A lot of these I wouldn’t make me think twice. One of them actually looks a lot like the bracelet I’m wearing today! I live in a large liberal urban area, so now I’m wondering what people must think of my style choices when I travel.

            Reply
          3. Mints

            Oh I hadn’t considered it but definitely, being in a major city in California, I was surprised by some of the “nobody since the 90s wears chokers.” I’m 26 and I wore a choker to a party three days ago, ha

            Reply
          4. annalisa karenina

            It may be because, while I don’t automatically think “kink”, I do think they all look a bit tacky.

            Reply
          5. Rachael

            Seattle-ite here. A person could walk in with a straight on black leather dog collar and nobody would bat an eye.

            Reply
          6. Anon For Kink Talk

            Californian here, though not from a big city, and I think the dividing line for me is the “every day” bit. If I saw anyone wearing a toque style necklace every single day, yes, I would assume it was a collar. Once or twice a week? That’s a statement piece of jewelry.

            I thought the person mentioned up thread who has several different collars is pretty dang brilliant for camouflaged collaring, although I also understand that would defeat the purpose for some people.

            Reply
        1. chocolate lover

          I mean I thought there were some that were appropriate and wouldn’t stand out in a way that made people uncomfortable.

          Reply
  3. Jodi

    I’m very interested to see how this comment section plays out. I agree that wearing something that looks like a choker (especially since they’re “in” right now) wouldn’t raise eyebrows per se, but you need to be really careful with the collar you’re selecting. The fact is that this kind of relationship does still make people uncomfortable, because culture still widely says D/s = sex. I’m also genuinely interested in whether OP’s family knows about this relationship and is okay with it, I can see a collaring ceremony during a wedding getting real weird real quick when Aunt Jean starts asking around about what’s going on.

    Reply
    1. Sami

      I am sure many are curious about what the OP’s family thinks of this, any surmises on that will be off topic and probably quickly derail the work aspect of the OP’s question and focus of the blog.

      Reply
    2. Vertigo

      Though even above D/s in our culture being equated with sex, there are a lot of other reasons people get uncomfortable with things like people collaring other people or having a ‘master’ that are pretty significant. Even without the sexual aspects the symbolism can be peturbing to outright offensive, and I think that’s worth remembering.

      Reply
      1. Staunch

        Yes, the sexual aspects are the parts of a D/S relationship that are the least controversial. It’s kind of funny to me that so many people are responding with ‘Ew, no, don’t tell me about your sex life!’ and not about all the really fun questions that come up like what decisions do you get to make, are you equals, are you being coerced, are you sure you’re really into this, does your Master/Mistress have a say in all your choices, and if you’ve really chosen to give up so much of your power, what does it say about your judgement/ability to handle your adult life that you’d do that?

        Reply
  4. Dust Bunny

    I think the fact that this rides on the qualifier “within this lifestyle” is the difference between this and marriage. Marriage by itself isn’t really “within a lifestyle”–it’s marriage, regardless of your cultural background or other proclivities. And this is doing your own thing, but when you get into “lifestyles” . . . in this case, it’s sort of redundant. Marriage and your wedding rings already symbolize your commitment to and support of each other. Most of us belong to communities of one sort or another to which we are deeply committed, but the trappings of which we leave at home because they’re not workplace-appropriate.

    Reply
    1. Jill of All Trades

      I would object to the notion that many of us leave the trappings of our lifestyles at home. It shows up in how we dress, what we bring in for lunch everyday, and how we set up our desks. The OP specifically asked about this in order to figure out a way in which this could be workplace appropriate because it means a lot to them. A collar symbolizes something different from a traditional wedding ring, but that doesn’t make it any less important to the person wearing it and their partner.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Though many things mean a lot to people that don’t get an airing in the workplace. The fact that it’s meaningful isn’t enough to justify its workplace visibility. (Which the OP seems reasonably thoughtful about, so I’m not getting at her for asking–just pointing out that “meaningful” isn’t a pass.)

        Reply
        1. Putting Out Fires, Esq

          Agreed! My holey flannel work shirt I got from my grandfather is very meaningful and very work inappropriate.

          Reply
        2. Blue Anne

          Where’s the line?

          I don’t talk about the fact that I’m poly at work. But I should be able to.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Today is the day we finally figure out the line, dammit! It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride :-).

            I don’t know if people “should be able to” talk about aspects of their identity at work just because they’re important to them. What I’m mostly opposed to is people having to hide actual people in their lives.

            Some of this is likely generational, but at the moment to me there are a lot of sexual identifiers (and non-sexual identifiers, now that I think about it) that are very important to people who identify that way that I can’t see as important to self-identify with at work outside of a relevant action. That doesn’t mean I think nobody who identifies as, say, demisexual can ever mention it ever ever ever, but that it’s actually not important that co-workers have a full sense of how you see yourself, no matter how central it is to you. So “These are my partners Wakeen and Fergus” is cool by me. The shades of your triad, no.

            Reply
            1. Blue Anne

              I think that’s actually a really good place to draw the line!

              I don’t want to say “I am poly!” I just don’t want to have to hide anyone who is important to me. I just want to stop calling my girlfriend my “best friend”.

              Reply
              1. Temperance

                I totally think that’s fine, and you should be able to refer to your girlfriend as your girlfriend. There’s nothing shameful, inherently sexual, or weird about poly!

                Reply
            2. Marvel

              I think this really sums up how I think about it, too. I am both poly and semi-kinky, and what hurts is having to hide people who are important to me. I don’t really need to share the specifics of those relationships, and I would find it uncomfortable being around someone who wanted to tell me all about how their particularly polyamorous triad works.

              Reply
            3. Lissa

              Yup, I agree – this is why I don’t agree with the comparison between BDSM and gay couples, because with one you are hiding your entire relationship, your actual partner, and the other you’re hiding an aspect that’s really important to you but isn’t hiding a literal person. And by that standard I think poly is closer to gay in that sense, because you’re having to hide things that other people just wouldn’t.

              Reply
            4. Risha

              Yes, this is the comparison that works for me. You shouldn’t hide away your partner(s) because they are a major part of your life, but the details of how your relationship functions should be kept quiet in a professional setting.

              Reply
            5. Marillenbaum

              And once again, @fposte knocks it out of the park with a thoughtful, nuanced comment that says everything I’m thinking but better. Round of applause!

              Reply
            6. Dr Pepper

              This is a beautiful place to draw a line and I am going to use it myself in the future. Thank you!

              Reply
          2. Temperance

            I honestly think you should be able to talk about your partners at work. I’m a super prude, but you mentioning that you and Jim went to the movies and then you had dinner with Mary (with the implication that those are all dates and they are your partners) seems perfectly normal and work-appropriate to me.

            I see that as a wholly separate issue, because poly is how you manage your dating life, and it’s not a kink, or fetish, or whatever.

            Reply
      2. sunny-dee

        Yeah, but those are obvious signifiers, is the point. I wear a cross necklace; I work with a gentleman who wears a yarmulke. Some people may just think I like the pendant and that he likes little hats, but to the vast majority of people, that is signalling a personal lifestyle choice. (I wear this realizing that some people are going to be offended or upset and that the majority of people won’t care.)

        If she is wearing a D/S collar, that is one heckuva a signal to send. It’s like wearing a MAGA hat to the office; you can make that statement. But it is a bold and divisive choice.

        Reply
        1. yet anothor anon

          and both of you are being judged because of your wearing of those things. not always badly judged, but just that you are. You are giving a (possibly unintended) message about yourself to everyone who sees it. It’s exactly as you say – a signal of who you are and what your beliefs are, really no different than a D/s collar, in my mind.

          Reply
          1. sunny-dee

            Actually, the message is not unintended and I am fully aware of how intolerant and judgmental (some) people are. I choose to do this anyway. (I would not do this if I were in an office environment that didn’t allow any religious displays, for example. I also would not wear it if one of my Jewish friends invited me to temple with them.)

            I would not choose to wear a MAGA / “I’m with her” shirt to the office because there is simply no way that a political statement is appropriate in an office; it’s inherently divisive.

            With the D/s … advertising your sex life / personal kinks is a very bold statement. It’s possible to simultaneously believe that there is no judgment associated with that lifestyle choice AND ALSO to believe that that is not a statement that is appropriate in a work environment.

            Reply
            1. sunny-dee

              Oh, sorry, what I meant to say was — there is no way that a signifier doesn’t send a message. Its intent is to send a message. Some of those messages are largely socially innocuous (wedding ring = married, religious symbol = religion), but they are still messages with intent.

              In this case, sexual (or political or etc) messages are not socially innocuous and can have a very negative impact on work. Or no impact, but there is a really high risk-reward threshold here. And there is no way for that message not to be delivered.

              Reply
              1. yet anothor anon

                yes, exactly – you are very specifically choosing to show something/make a statement with your jewelry choice. I’m glad you recognize that! I completely agree that showing D/s is a much bolder statement, and I would caution the OP to be fully aware (which I guess is why she wrote in in the first place) of unintended consequences of making such a statement.

                Reply
      3. N

        I agree. Years ago, my mom was talking to a very conservative older manager who had a gay assistant. The manager said, “I really enjoy working with [Assistant] because he doesn’t bring his sexuality to work.”

        My mom said, “Really? Because I’m pretty sure that heterosexual people bring their sexuality to work every day. If anything, they flaunt it!”

        Reply
          1. fposte

            Lots of people, given that the timeframe was “years ago.” That was considered a progressive attitude in a lot of eras.

            Reply
            1. N

              Actually, to clarify, by “years ago,” I actually mean maybe 10 years ago. But you’re right that it would have been progressive in the 60’s or something.

              Reply
              1. LNZ

                It reminds me of that scene from Brooklyn Nine Nine when hold talks about his favorite old partner, how he was homophobic but not racist and in those days that was pretty good.

                Reply
          2. Lily Rowan

            Anyone in a heterosexual relationship who’s ever gotten engaged, planned a wedding, put pictures of their partner on their desk, etc. People talk about their relationships at work all the time!

            (Assuming your question was “who are these people flaunting their sexuality?”)

            Reply
          3. N

            Follow up–this was the manager of a crisis call center. The coworker was actually a center supervisor, not an assistant. The manager apparently said that he was glad “[Supervisor] doesn’t bring his sexuality to work, even though he’s gayer than the month of May!” Which prompted my mom’s comment.

            To sum up–this is why I worry about limiting a somewhat passive symbol of someone’s sexuality, especially because other cis/straight/vanilla people don’t necessarily have to do the same. Although I think some good points have been made that the collar could be upsetting or just a step too far for some.

            Reply
  5. LNZ

    What about a locking bracelet? I’ve heard some 24/7 couples choose those instead of collars because they are more discreet.

    Reply
      1. kms1025

        For what it’s worth….completely agree with Not Mad Scientist’s take on this. I do not need, nor do I want, to know what goes on in my co-workers sex lives.

        Reply
    1. Girl Alex PR

      Yeah, the couple of those I saw look like a normal bangle. I think that would be the way to go if you’re unsure.

      Reply
    2. paul

      That makes sense.

      Some collars can probably pass but it’d be very very dependent on what the collar y’all chose looks like. And for the love of god don’t get one that needs cut off if stuff changes.

      Reply
    3. Grayson

      My collar was actually a sterling silver bracelet with fashionable chains, and a silver bell. When I was at drill for the national guard, my drill collar was a ring. Collars can be discreet.

      Reply
    4. Tansy

      Seconding this. I feel like the reason why some of the more necklace-style collars are being seen as “ok” by us right now is because chocker necklaces are fashionable. Once they don’t become fashionable anymore, it’s going to stand out even more. If this really is a rest-of-your-life accessory, you want something subtle that will not look odd no matter how fashion changes – a locking bracelet is the way to go.

      Reply
  6. voluptuousfire

    Why not just opt for a really pretty solitaire diamond necklace (or other stone) and wear it every day? I say go more for symbolic vs. actual.

    Or why not one of those Tiffany Heart toggle necklaces or the ones with a lock? That would be appropriate in this case, I think.

    Reply
    1. SpiderLadyCEO

      The popularity of the Tiffany Heart necklace makes me think that if OP wanted an actually locking necklace, most of those would fly under the radar.

      Reply
    2. Anon Accountant

      I think that would look great and would appear as more of a “how pretty that necklace is” and wouldn’t be obvious to others.

      Reply
    3. PattS

      A former co-worker wore a Tiffany necklace with the lock every day. I’m fairly kink literate but was able to differentiate that she loved that necklace vs. a D/s relationship. Pretty sure that she wasn’t as she didn’t share about that part of her life (we all kept the bedroom hijinks to ourselves) and just bitched about our kids or sloppy husbands.

      Reply
  7. Health Insurance Nerd

    I honestly had no idea that collaring was a “thing”. If I saw someone with one of the collars in the link (and some of them are kind of awesome) I would just chalk it up to liking accessories (now that I know the significance, clearly I won’t be chalking it up to an accessory fetish).

    Either way, I think if you go with a more “conservative” collar you should be ok.

    Reply
  8. SpiderLadyCEO

    There are plenty of locking collar necklaces that look appropriate, just pick one of those. Lots of people have an object of jewelry they wear everyday, so unless what you’re wearing looks very out of the norm, I would think most wouldn’t ask. Some of the ones that Alison found look very similar to a Tiffany’s necklace that’s very popular.
    You could also get several different ones, if you want to switch it in and out? I think that is a thing some couples do, with the “at-home collar” and the “out and about” collar.
    But long story short, as long as it looks appropriate and you don’t draw attention to it, I think it’s going to be fine.

    Reply
  9. MegaMoose, Esq

    This reminds me of a former coworker who used to loudly proclaim that he would never work anywhere that wouldn’t let him wear a kilt every day (this got quite old, as no one at our job had an issue with him wearing a kilt every day). I think it just boils down to how much of a potential professional hit are you willing to take to maintain this particular personal preference. I don’t think anything that looks like a D/s collar will fly in most white-collar offices or corporate retail/food service jobs (I suppose it might be a bonus at Jimmy John’s), including probably most hospital environments, although I wouldn’t know first-hand. But I’d agree that the more necklace looking styles Alison linked would fly even in a conservative setting – some of them are actually quite lovely. The flashier the piece, the more likely it is to be noticed/commented on, but I think her script would work. I’ve certainly known people with signature jewelry of various sorts they never or rarely change.

    Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        He went with one of the black utilikilt styles (he might have also had a tan one, but it’s been over a decade so I don’t recall) with a t-shirt and usually combat boots. We worked in a collectibles store (think comic books and sports paraphernalia) so it really didn’t stand out.

        Reply
      2. Blue Anne

        A kilt is a formalwear. The normal things you wear with a kilt are appropriate for the office. Maybe not a sporran, but beyond that…

        Reply
                1. Aeth

                  And how many of them *weren’t* on tourists? ;)

                  Whether or not you can find a chicken tikka masala in Mumbai has no bearing on whether it’s authentic Indian cuisine (substitute Crab Rangoon and Beijing if so inclined)

        1. Aeth

          Yeah, but you wouldn’t wear a tux to work. Or a ballgown, for that matter. I wouldn’t call a kilt workplace-appropriate unless you worked in the Scottish tourist industry.

          Reply
          1. El

            When I was growing up in Scotland, using the kilt for everyday wear – whether in the office or on the farm – was pretty common. This included an elderly shepherd who would periodically come down from the hills to visit his family nearby.

            Reply
        2. Tau

          My first thought re: the kilt was that it wasn’t appropriate for the office because it’s too formal. You wouldn’t come to work in a tuxedo or ballgown either. Then I realised that this probably didn’t happen in Scotland…

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq

            @Aeth and Tau: Yeah, we’re talking corduroy with cargo pockets, not tartan with sporran.

            Reply
    1. SignalLost

      I think one aspect of this that I haven’t seen mentioned – even if you know what it is, and big whoop if you do; a wedding ring symbolizes the same thing but with less commitment – it will become background noise. I also worked with a man who wore a kilt every day and within about a week I didn’t notice it. I would have if he’d gone banging on about his kilt like you’re describing.

      As a quick thought exercise maybe everyone should try to remember what a coworker’s wedding ring looks like. Or think about how you feel if someone wears a cross necklace (I am more uncomfortable with that than the eternity collars, tbh.)

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        I think that’s a great point. The person I worked with was quite the over-sharer, and constantly ready to take offense. I don’t think anyone actually gave a rats ass about his clothing choices or anything else other than him doing his job, but it got really annoying hearing about it all the time in this overly defensive tone. If you don’t make a big deal about something, even something kind of odd will fade into the background.

        Reply
    2. Temperance

      There is a guy I know through gaming who was reprimanded for showing up to court in a kilt. He was a CYS worker and it wasn’t helping his child clients.

      Reply
    3. Talia

      I know a guy who mentioned wearing his kilt to his first day of law school and everybody immediately labeled him “the guy with the kilt.”

      Reply
        1. MegaMoose, Esq

          I can’t say 100% of guys fit this description, but certainly many of the ones I’ve known do. This was, of course, well before law school. I’ve never seen a lawyer in a kilt outside of a wedding.

          Reply
  10. H.C.

    I think some of the more normal looking ones (no chains, no locks) are fine, and I wouldn’t jump to D/s automatically if I saw one of those. But it comes w a caveat that I am pretty blind to how people accessorize (e.g. not noticing close coworkers got engaged until another colleague pointed out their rings)

    I also like LNZ’s idea of a more discreet bracelet too.

    Reply
    1. Pup Seal

      I’m pretty blind to how people accessorize too. I probably would’ve thought it was a choker since they’re pretty trendy now a days.

      Reply
  11. Sibley

    Well, this post (and the google search for pictures) actually gave me information I probably didn’t want to have about a previous coworker. Squick.

    OP, I understand your desire to wear something that to you symbolizes your commitment and relationship. There are versions that look like regular necklaces, or just pick a regular necklace and wear it all the time. Or bracelet, anklet, etc. I really don’t want to know about your d/s relationship just by looking at you.

    Reply
  12. Adam

    I don’t really know anything about this lifestyle, but I checked the link Alison gave for pictures of eternity collars and I honestly don’t think there was a single one on the first page or so that wouldn’t stand out to me as being kind of unusual/outside the norm of traditional neck accessories. Now that I know what they tend to look like if I saw a co-worker wearing one I wouldn’t ask about it because I.don’t.want.to.know. Before this post I might have been curious though, so I think you definitely need to find a prosaic explanation for it.

    Reply
    1. Jodi

      “Before this post I might have been curious though, so I think you definitely need to find a prosaic explanation for it.”

      That’s a really good point. If I saw someone wearing the same statement piece all the time I’d probably (I guess naively in this case) ask about it. And a lot of these look like statement pieces.

      Reply
    2. Beaded Librarian

      Even the chainmaille ones? That surprises me, I wear different types of chainmallie necklaces at my very public facing job and have never had anything other than compliments. My purple spiked hair and black lacy top on the other hand. That day I wish I’d worn a chainmaille necklace just to see how that would have added to the person’s barely indirect indication he didn’t approve of my style.

      Reply
      1. heatherskib

        That I can see being viewed as part of your persona. I have a coworker who has bright colored (Frequently shaved) hair, has stretched out lobes, etc. She could get away with chainmaille pieces easier than I can because my wardrobe is very classic traditional. But I do wear a distinctive custom brooch nearly every day and people talk to me about it a lot.
        Someone who’s aesthetic already leans towards goth, punk, etc will probably get fewer questions regarding this than someone wearing a suit with heels and a bun imho.

        Reply
      2. TL -

        I think for me it’s the every day thing – if you were a piece of jewelry every day I’m going to assume it has some deep meaning for you and I, in particular, would notice details like not having a clasp.
        If you’re switching out your jewelry, I’m going to think it’s a style thing rather than a symbolic thing.

        Reply
  13. WhichSister

    I needed this today. I also looked at the necklaces and there were a few that looked just like necklaces but most definitely leaned more collarish.

    I am not into this lifestyle. But I did work on the management team at a manufacturing facility. I know. Weird segue way. BUT because of the equipment, we did not allow employees to wear any jewelry. Rings especially because they could easily get snagged on something. This tended to cause a lot of problems at home for some employees because they weren’t wearing their wedding rings to work.

    Multiple employees ended up addressing the situation by getting tattoos on their left ring finger of a wedding band, an infinity symbol, or something along those lines.

    In this situation it was strictly a safety issue BUT the importance of the symbolism was still there for many, so they found a way to be safe and address both.

    Can you get a tattoo? Maybe of a lock on the back of your neck which symbolizes the collar and your commitment to each other?

    Reply
    1. Manders

      This is a good point. Maybe being restricted from certain things is the point for OP–but there are lot of personal and professional situations where you might be better off not having something that can get snagged around your neck. I practice martial arts, so my mind immediately went to “that would be a PITA to deal with if you ever wanted to do any kind of exercise that requires you to take off your jewelry.”

      Personally, I think the more discreet designs look fine, and I wouldn’t object to a coworker wearing them. But yeah, give some thought to whether you’ll have any situations in the future where you’ll want to have something that can be removed without calling your partner to come give you the key.

      Reply
    2. Graciosa

      Interesting idea.

      I’m not normally a big fan of tattoos, but this seems like a very clever idea if the OP is open to it. It avoids any concerns about frequent removals.

      I still don’t want to have too much information about the OP’s relationship, so a visible tattoo of a collar with “Property of X” would make me inwardly wince a bit, but presumably there are options that don’t overshare?

      Reply
    3. Lance

      I’m not sure about a tattoo like that; on the back of the neck would be a place that people would see, and it would be likely to raise (even if just curious in many instances) questions.

      Reply
    4. Gen

      Yeah some of those examples look like they’d need a bolt cutter to remove in an emergency, depending on the industry it might also be worth checking the employee handbook for any rules about nonremoval jewellery

      Reply
      1. heatherskib

        That is a good point with the OP working in healthcare in a patient facing role. If they remotely work with people who may endanger their safety by grabbing a piece of jewelry that will not break away, they may want to reconsider.

        Reply
    5. yet anothor anon

      I was also thinking of this from a practicality standpoint. We don’t know what exactly OP does, but that she works in an environment where she deals with students and patients. OP, are you ever near MRI equipment or other things that requires all jewelry be removed? If so, you definitely want one that you can very easily removed without needing help. A tattoo would solve that issue as well.

      Reply
      1. Anonfortoday

        If you work with patients you don’t want to wear any kind if solid non breakaway collar. Bad idea.

        Reply
      2. One of the Sarahs

        Yes, I was going to say exactly this too. Some workplaces have a “no necklaces at all” policy, in case front-line staff are grabbed by them (I’m thinking of the case against a UK airline, where someone was claiming discrimination because she couldn’t wear a cross necklace, even though no one was allowed to wear any necklaces, because of the chances of being grabbed) and I would imagine hospitals are more likely to be on this.

        So, OP, if you’re wearing something lockable where the idea is YOU can never unlocked it, only your partner, just work through the scenarios like being asked to remove it at work/if going through airport security etc, and what you’d do. That’s not a reason NOT to wear something, but just to contingency plan before you do.

        Reply
    6. Cathy

      One of my friends has done that, the necklace is a solitaire diamond on a silver chain – the clasp is what locks, and it’s at the back of her neck.

      Reply
    7. Risha

      Eh. I’m not thrilled with this as a solution (speaking as someone with a very visible sleeve). Neck tattoos aren’t quite the career killer that a face tattoo is, but it’s close, and people pay WAY more attention to them than to jewelry. Even with something small on the back of the neck, the OP would probably have to style their hair to cover it or wear high neck shirts, every single day. If not at their current job (at which point they’d have to come up with an excellent story about what it means to them), than at a future one. And is hiding away the symbol of their commitment (as opposed to being discreet) really what they’re looking for in the first place?

      Reply
    8. nom

      … And now I’m seeing my co-worker’s back-of-the-neck infinity symbol tattoo in an entirely different light. Huh.

      I’d say I’m reasonably literate, and the possible alternative symbology of that type of tattoo had not occurred to me before. Plus, if you wear your hair down and it’s even a bit long, the tattoo is pretty well hidden; I think not seeing it every day leads me to forget it’s even there when I’m not seeing it.

      So yeah, I think a back-of-the-neck tattoo could be a great option. If OP is set on the symbolism of a lock, IMO a heart-shaped lock tattoo could be reasonably discreet, esp if it’s pretty small.

      Reply
      1. No, please

        I have an infinity symbol on the back of my neck. It’s not at all related to a D/s relationship, but now I wonder what the tattoo artist may have been thinking. Oh well!

        Reply
  14. Putting Out Fires, Esq

    I guess the question you need to ask yourselves is: are you wearing this to send a signal, if so, to whom? Maybe it’s just an internal thing, a tangible reminder to yourself about your relationship. Maybe it’s meant to be a secret sign to those “in the know” that you’re in a 24/7 relationship. Maybe it’s meant to be as universal a sign as a wedding ring. I think your answer for what you should get and whether it is work appropriate lies in your intention.

    Generally, I think it’s not great to involve other people in bedroom activities without their consent. (Example: the “master” kerfuffle). But, do I see any problem with wearing sexy underwear under your work clothes as part of a healthy sexual relationship? (Part of the allure being the constant reminder of what will be happening later.) Absolutely not.

    I’d be inclined to push toward the secret underwear end of the spectrum.

    Reply
    1. MissDisplaced

      Just as when I see someone wearing a “cross” necklace. It sends a signal that they are Christian.

      Reply
  15. Princess Carolyn

    OP, have you considered some kind of jewelry or accessory that’s less… obvious? A regular necklace or bracelet can still be symbolic to you without signaling that same specific meaning to others. The fact that choker necklaces are coming back into style might be helpful, but anything that suggests BDSM to an unsuspecting stranger — and almost any type of collar would do exactly that — is not appropriate for vanilla life.

    Reply
    1. Blue

      Most choker necklaces would be fine now, but they won’t always read as “on trend” and may come across differently in five or fifteen years. Since this is a long-term decision, I think going with something that is entirely symbolic is probably the safest option. Because trends change and workplaces change – and recognition of kink will change. If OP wants something that is very likely to be discrete for a lifetime, that’s something they’ll have to consider.

      Reply
  16. Anon Today

    A friend of mine wears a very simple eternity collar and works in conservative government. This can be done.

    Avoid locks and black leather, go for boring/classic, and don’t bring attention to it. If anyone even asks about it, say its from your husband/boyfriend/partner and drop it. Talking about what it is and what it means would be bad/potentially endanger employment/make people uncomfortable. So don’t do that at work. (Good advice for talking about *any* deep personal commitment, really.)

    People who recognize what it is should have the sense to not talk about it at work, and most people won’t notice or care. People who are freaking out are freaking out at the term “collar” where “solid necklace” is more what they should visualize.

    Reply
    1. yet anothor anon

      It’s the wearing of it every single day that makes it noticeable. I would definitely question seeing something like that every day. Even if you have a necklace you really really like, every day is overkill and sends a different message. If people aren’t mentioning it, it doesn’t mean they still aren’t judging when they recognize it for what it is.

      Reply
      1. Nea

        I can’t agree. I know plenty of women who wear the same personally meaningful jewelry every day, including necklaces.

        Reply
      2. Excel Slayer

        I dunno. I know people who wear sentimental-value necklaces everyday. I think ‘it was bought for me by my partner’ is enough.

        Reply
      3. Morning Glory

        I’ve worn the same necklace every day for two years, since my MIL gave it to me on my wedding day – I have never gotten a comment about it at work.

        Reply
      4. Marvel

        I’ve worn the same necklace every day for years–and I’ve done that with multiple necklaces, over the course of the last decade and a half, until they break/get worn out for whatever reason. I usually am not wearing them for any other reason than 1) because I like them, and 2) because they have sentimental value for whatever reason.

        Reply
      5. Amy the Rev

        Hmm not sure about that- I wear the same necklace (and bracelet) every day because it goes. with. everything. And so I don’t have to think about jewelry in the morning when I’m planning my outfit. No one has ever asked me about the necklace, and if anyone was judging me for it, well that says more about them then it does about me. Call me boring, but I love how simple it is and how it makes me feel just a teensy bit more dressed up than I would sans jewelry.

        Reply
      6. Risha

        I wore the same sapphire butterfly pendent every work day for about five years, because I liked it, it was one of the best gifts my (now ex-) husband had ever given me so there was sentiment attached, and I dress as much to a uniform (black or grey slacks, black socks, black loafers, a brightly colored cami and cardigan) as I can get away with because I’m not great at fashion and I’m especially not great at fashion when half asleep. I don’t think anyone thought it was strange or had a deeper meaning.

        Reply
      7. Ignis Invictus

        I wear the most obvious eccentric pink sea shell necklace / choker everyday, think popular in the seventies. People comment, those who don’t I guarantee still notice. I explain it was my grandmother’s and everyone goes back to business as usual. So I gotta think an everyday collar is doable, with the right style of collar and a handy response if someone asks.

        Reply
      8. Tempest

        I never change my necklace and it’s purely because it’s comfortable and I’m lazy, not kinky at all. It’s a diamond pendant my husband got me. I put the matching earrings on every morning but I never take the necklace off. No one has ever commented on the necklace in any way.

        Reply
      9. TL -

        I agree – it would be seeing a collar-type necklace on someone every day that would tip me off. It would be different than seeing a more normal necklace every day – pendants are highly unlikely to go out of style and aren’t considered statement/fashion pieces for the most part. Everyday pieces tend to be simple and unobtrusive, and I assume sentimental value. Almost everyone I know who wears one has a simple, small silver/gold chain with some kind of pendant/charm on it. Any of the necklaces linked would very much stand out if someone wore them every day.

        Reply
      10. Gadget Hackwrench

        Someone mentioned up-threads that they know a person (as a friend, not a colleague) who has more than one, and they never cottoned on that they were collared until once when she asked her Dom to change which one she was wearing. Switching them up had kept everyone from noticing. It might be a very good idea.

        Reply
  17. cheeky

    Please don’t make people an accidental third party to habits/behaviors most people would consider private sexual activities. That’s something they can’t consent to. If you stick to the more inconspicuous jewelry like some of the options shown in that google search, you may be fine. But don’t give people any unsolicited explanations or go into any detail beyond “this is from my partner.” I’ve worked with someone with this lifestyle who was not quiet about it, and it was beyond awkward.

    Reply
    1. Mustache Cat

      OP never once indicated that she would be considering doing that, though. The entire reason she submitted a question is so she can avoid making people uncomfortable.

      Reply
    2. Mina

      Consent is essential, and it’s lacking here, for the public she encounters. I agree totally with cheeky.

      Reply
    3. MuseumChick

      To be fair to the OP, it sounds like she has some good common sense about this (unlike the person who wanted co-workers to call her boyfriend master).

      A very simple, classic piece of jewelry either a necklace, bracelet, whatever wouldn’t raise any eyebrows and the OP sounds to me she has enough awareness to not explain it’s full meaning to coworkers.

      Reply
    4. bridget

      Sure, but if I can pick up on a subtle-ish clue and make an educated guess about the general contours of someone’s sexual proclivities, I really don’t think that gets into “nonconsent” territory, anymore than a wedding photo tells me whether someone is gay or straight. Or in more sexualized territory, if I accidentally caught a glimpse of a red spot on someone’s neck and made the educated guess that one out of many possibilities could be that it’s a hickey. I really don’t think that I need to be insulated from any interpretable signals about the generalities of all people’s sex lives without risking a consent issue. If that’s the case, we’re all being continually assaulted by subtly and not-so-subtly sexualized marketing materials every day.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Agreed with this – I think suggesting that this is somehow involving people in her sex life without consent is a stretch, considering the likelihood that people will even be able to recognize one of the more subtle options is pretty low.

        Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        Agree. Unless the OP is loudly proclaiming that “THIS IS A COLLAR AND IT MEANS I’M D/s,” then it’s not anybody else’s business. She’s not wearing it AT you.

        Reply
    5. Blue Anne

      What makes you think the OP would do that? It sounds like they’re doing everything they can to avoid making people uncomfortable or subject them to anything they didn’t consent to. You’re assuming the worst.

      Reply
  18. Bye Academia

    I agree with everyone else that this MUST look like jewelry, not a collar. Go for the symbolism. I think some of the ones in the search Alison posted would be fine, as would a thin leather choker (especially since they are in right now). I am 100% behind your choice to do whatever you want in your own relationship, but I also 100% do not want to know anything about the sex/romantic lives of my coworkers.

    If you really want it to look more like a collar, what about one for your ankle? If you wear pants every day no one would ever see it.

    Reply
    1. LavaLamp

      Most of those honestly read as jewelry to me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is these are locked necklaces in which the partner keeps a key, correct? If so, I’d lean in the direction of an option that can be removed in an emergency. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m freaked out by the idea of something around my neck that I can’t remove, but it’s definitely something to think about.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this thread

        Yes, that’s what it is. And there are some that look like “vanilla” jewelry except for a very discreet lock or other mechanism where they are fastened. (NOTE: I’m vanilla but like our AAM guru, read about things)

        Reply
  19. NnonnyMousse

    If you live in an at-will state, it’s not illegal for them to fire you for wearing a “collar” (unless they tell you that you’re also fired because of age, gender, race, religion, disability / medical condition or whatever protected class)

    Reply
      1. Amadeo

        In that case, like many of the other comments have already suggested, I’d go with a necklace (not a collar, a necklace), a locking bracelet or as one person suggested, a tattoo, placed wisely. Even the pictures in the google link look a bit much to be wearing as a daily piece at work. Most really bold jewelry pieces similar to those get paired with an outfit and aren’t an everyday sort of thing.

        Reply
  20. Drea

    I think that even the locking collar option is going to be less discrete than you imagine. There is a growing baseline level of kink literacy — unintended consequences of things like 50 Shades of Gray entering a more mainstream consciousness.

    The question becomes are you okay with anyone at work having that level of knowledge about your sex life?

    Reply
  21. Libervermis

    A quick Google search suggests there are locking necklaces that just look like a thin chain, and the clasp is a tiny combo lock. Would the OP be open to something like that? Or even just a regular necklace chain – I have a number of (women) friends who wear a small necklace, usually gold, pretty much all the time and that’s fairly unremarkable. The symbolism is far less overt with a gold chain or similar, so the OP and partner would have to decide that they’re okay with assigning collar status to something that otherwise looks like a necklace, but that might be one way to navigate wearing this important symbol without crossing boundaries at work.

    Reply
  22. MAB

    I’m not in a 24/7 lifestyle but I get it and I have thought about what would be appropriate for work. A thin, basic in eternity collar that doesn’t have a visible lock would work. Basically if your grandmother would think its a cute necklace, than you are good.

    The other option you have here is an actual necklace that has an o-ring built into it. I own one and it looks like a normal necklace but when I wear it to meetups I regularly have subs complement and ask where I got it. It may not have a lock on it, but if your SO puts it on you with the explicit instructions that he is the only person who can take it off, I would call that a verbal lock. And lets be honest here, a verbal instruction like that requires even more trust and love to make work.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Psyduck

      This makes sense. I think the OP might want to step away from eternity collars and look more at day collars. By design day collars will be thinner, have a looser fit, and not look like they are locked on. They are going to read as necklaces.

      I would suggest etsy for something like this. The OPs Partner could work directly with a designer to create something with personal meaning to them – maybe something that integrates an initial or a symbol that’s important to them. That way there’s a balance of personal for the OP and regular jewelry for the rest of the office.

      Reply
      1. kinkycanuk

        Day collars is where my mind went as well. My fiance and I are in a similar situation and discussing collaring and day collars can be gorgeous. A quick google image search returned many that can maintain the symbolism and importance of a collar while looking completely appropriate for day to day usage.

        Reply
  23. Beaded Librarian

    I don’t know, I had heard of collaring before and many of the basics of D/s for various reasons but honestly I’ve made myself and have worn various chainmaille chokes that look very similar to some of the ones that Alison linked to. Granted I don’t wear them all the time, but if I saw someone wearing a chainmaille type locking eternity necklace I honestly wouldn’t think about it even knowing about collaring, I’d just comment on how awesome I found it to be.

    Reply
  24. Going anon for this one.

    More pushing back. I have a colleague who wears one of these (which I only recognize because I’m in enough nontraditional communities myself). The whole point of them (as opposed to the more overt collars that are made of leather) is that they look like jewelry, and I don’t feel when I’m talking to her that she’s making me a part of her scene. It’s just an accessory.

    Reply
  25. Stop That Goat

    If it looks like a choker without chain, locks, etc, I’ll just think it’s an accessory. Even with locks, I wouldn’t assume it was more than just a necklace but it wouldn’t be professional. Some folks are going to assume it’s more than an accessory (even though they shouldn’t) so that may change things for you.

    Ultimately, I think you could pull it off in some offices but a different option (like the bracelet mentioned above) may save you from some future situations.

    Reply
  26. Sara

    Looking at the link that Alison provided, I think you can get away with it. Most people won’t question it. Plus chokers – which is what it looks like to vanilla me – are making a fashion comeback. I would think with zero context, that’s what people would assume you’re wearing and just write it off as a fashion statement.

    Reply
    1. Cookie D'Oh

      I agree. Before reading this post, I wouldn’t have recognized any of the pics Alison posted as something used in a D/s relationship. But now having that knowledge, I still don’t think it would bother me.

      Reply
  27. Anon for kink talk

    Hi OP! I get your dilemma here–I’m a sub too, I know what a collar means, and I get not wanting to take it off at all.

    But Alison’s advice is spot on here. It’s not appropriate to wear something that’s obviously a BDSM-style collar to work. On top of that, it’s going to get massively misinterpreted–so many people outside the kink community assume it’s just about sex, for one, and for another, plenty still think it’s abusive and/or super weird and gross. Neither of those are things you want your coworkers thinking about you and your fiance.

    I suggest getting two collars–one for at home/within the community wear, and a different one for work/non-community stuff. Your home one can be whatever you guys want, of course. But for the ‘public’ one, get one that looks like normal jewelry. There are tons of styles out there, so I’m betting you can find one that’s locking and reasonably sturdy but also just looks like a regular silver or gold necklace. People in the community who know you wear a collar will know what’s up (lots of us do this, it’s pretty normal), but people who don’t already know those details probably don’t need or want to learn them.

    If anyone asks, tell them the truth–your fiance gave it to you and it’s a sign of your relationship. You could even tell them that you guys chose a necklace instead of an engagement ring (lots of people either don’t like rings or have some reason that wearing a ring with a stone sticking out of it all the time isn’t practical, so you could justify this pretty easily). That will convey its actual importance and value to you, without getting people hung up on their preconceptions about kink.

    Reply
    1. Anon for kink talk

      For what it’s worth, I would never want to sub out a collar for a bracelet the way many people are suggesting. The feel is just completely different, and it doesn’t hold the same symbolism for me, so I couldn’t consider it equivalent. Same for a tattoo or anklet. So I’m really glad that there are those necklace-style collars out there!! And if you happen to feel the same way as I do, then it’s worth putting in the effort to find something that will meet what you need and look discreet. (Of course, if you don’t and a different item would hold the same meaning for you, that’s worth considering. A collar is such a personal thing–you should do what works best for you.)

      Reply
      1. Blue Anne

        Yeah. It bugs me that people keep suggesting that. The OP made it clear that they’re aware of those alternatives and don’t want to use them if possible.

        Reply
        1. Hills to Die on (formerly AMG)

          People–myself included–don’t know. If only a collar is appropriate for this type of relationship, then fine, but they are just throwing out suggestions as best as they can. :)

          Reply
          1. Anon for kink talk

            Whether alternatives are acceptable is really up to the individuals involved. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer on whether it’s OK for the type of relationship–if the couple is fine with a bracelet or anklet or tattoo, then that’s absolutely fine! It wouldn’t be for me, and it sounds like it’s not really for the OP, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad across the board.

            Reply
    2. yet anothor anon

      This is a super important point – people who recognize it but may not know much about the lifestyle are going to assume it’s about sex, and may assume that as a sub you are submissive to everyone and they can take advantage of you. It’s not about what it *really* means, but about what people *think* it means.

      Reply
      1. Hills to Die on (formerly AMG)

        That’s where my mind went. I guess that’s not the case, judging from comments of those who know, but this is something a lot of people don’t know much about.

        Reply
        1. yet anothor anon

          Right, and is anyone commenting here really going to say, “I know what it means and I’m judging you and think you’re a bad person (or whatever) for being in that lifestyle”? No, but there are definitely people out in the real world who are going to be thinking that.

          Reply
          1. she was a fast machine

            Exactly, and that can definitely be harmful for OP, both personally and professionally.

            Reply
          2. Temperance

            So I don’t think that people who are into BDSM are “bad” or anything like that, but I would side-eye someone for wearing a choker/collar to work.

            Reply
      2. Lison

        I wear a Claddagh ring. Have done since I was given it on my 18th birthday by my mother. Thing is there are connotations to how it is worn and what hand and finger it’s on (The way I’m wearing it right now would traditionally indicate I’m looking for love). Its not my intention but that’s the implication. Wearing it facing the other way would imply I’m in a relationship and unavailable. Is that TMI about me? It’s very meaningful to me that this was given to me by my mother and my hand feels strange when the ring is not there, has done since I tried it on when my mum was buying it before my birthday but wasn’t allowed wear it until I turned 18.
        Also I was asked about my “sacred heart of Jesus” ring by an American co-worker. I was honestly floored that he thought it was a Catholic thing, i’m not in the least religious but in explaining the ring I then realised I’d basically told him I was available.
        All to say 99.9% of people say nothing but apparently some people see it as a religious symbol, others know the code, to me it’s just a ring I love that has significance to me. Is that any different to a discrete collar?

        Reply
  28. ZED

    I’m in a similar relationship and have what is called a day collar I wear to work. It’s more subtle than a traditional collar. I’ve worn it for 4 years, in traditional/conservative office environments and it’s never been an issue.

    Reply
    1. Not saying...

      Yes, I was coming to the comments to say Google “day collar”. It’s a category of collars designed specifically for subtlety and every day wearability. There are several for sale on etsy and other places.

      I think the key is less the jewelry itself, as long as it’s fairly subtle, and more your reaction to questions about it. If anyone asks, you need to be able to very quickly and neutrally say something innocuous like “Oh, it was a gift from my husband. I just think it’s so pretty.” or “My husband gave it to me as a gift after our wedding. It was so sweet of him, and it makes me smile when I wear it.”. People who truly recognize it for what it is aren’t likely to ask, people who ask innocently are likely to accept “gift from my husband that makes me smile when I wear it” as long as it’s said in the right tone, and people who suspect but aren’t sure aren’t likely to waste time/energy arguing about it if you have a well presented rationale for it.

      Reply
    1. Princess Carolyn

      There’s a post upthread about what some people do in that situation, but OP can probably predict with some accuracy whether she’ll find herself in a job that doesn’t allow jewelry at all.

      Reply
    2. MegaMoose, Esq

      I’m guessing the OP wouldn’t have asked the question if that were a concern, and those jobs are uncommon and specific enough that I really don’t think everyone and anyone needs to take it into consideration.

      Reply
      1. Malibu Stacey

        Wedding rings, and the commitment they symbolize, are extremely recognized in Western culture and someone’s hesitancy to take it off would be largely understood.

        Reply
          1. Malibu Stacey

            I get that, but if my employee said she didn’t want to take off her wedding ring, I’d say, “I get that, but unfortunately it’s a required because _____” and I wouldn’t think anything odd.

            If my employee said she didn’t want to take off her necklace, I’d say, “Unfortunately it’s required” and think she was a weirdo/pain.

            The LW DID ask how it would look.

            Reply
            1. Jessie the First (or second)

              I can think of so many reasons that someone would be upset about taking off a piece of jewelry that is not a wedding ring, that is seems really bizarre you would jump to “weirdo/pain.” Like, to pick real examples from my larger social circle: heirloom necklace from my mother who died/locket with the footprint of a stillborn baby/cross necklace of a very devout Catholic/random Celtic necklace symbolizing, to the wearer, surviving intense bullying and making it to the other side with self intact.

              So the idea that someone would wear some sort of really personal jewelry and would be loathe to take it off because it is very meaningful is not some weirdly strange, freakish thing. (But more to the point, there is no reason to think that LW is unaware that jobs exist that require all jewelry must be off, and that since such jobs are not the norm, there is no reason to assume LW is going off the rails for not addressing such a situation in her question.)

              Reply
              1. Forrest

                Yup. I think because the topic is about D/s symbols, people are saying differently than they would most likely think in a real life situation. Just because you say now that you’d recognize something related to D/s because we’re talking about it and there’s a google link doesn’t mean you’ll automatically recognize it in a real life setting.

                Because how many people pay attention to a coworker’s jewelry, especially when it’s a boring choker?

                Reply
            2. Fictional Butt

              To be honest, I didn’t really imagine a boss and employee having that involved of a conversation about it, because all the No Jewelry rules I’ve seen are so black-and-white. I’d probably think ill of any employee who tried to get out of the No Jewelry rule by complaining that their wedding ring is just so meaningful to them (unlike everyone else’s…?).

              LW is doing her due diligence here, trying to figure out how to make a collar appropriate for work. I think if she was applying for a job where she knew jewelry might be an issue, she’d figure out on her own how to deal with it without being a “pain” to her boss.

              Reply
      2. bloo

        We take ours off! I work in laboratory where jewelry is highly discouraged. Most of us take off our wedding/engagement rings during work hours.

        Reply
      3. Erin

        My father and my husband don’t wear wedding bands at all, because of work. Too likely to loose a finger. I take my wedding band off when I’m at home when I take my watch off. I rarely wear my engagement ring.
        My brother in law wears a quality ring made of rubber, they break instead of getting caught in ladders or machinery.

        Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        The OP specifically says she’d like to take it off as infrequently as possible, which certainly would allow for an unusual (for the average person) situation like an MRI.

        Reply
        1. gwal

          I guess I thought the D would be the only one with the ability to take it off, like a keyholder…if that’s not the case then my question is moot.

          Reply
          1. Elsajeni

            Even if that were the case, the answer would be the same: either you plan ahead and have him take it off, or it’s an emergency and the hospital staff will be prepared to deal with removing metal jewelry. Lots of people wear jewelry that’s difficult to remove.

            Reply
            1. LNZ

              Also you could just tell the doctors/nurses the truth, and because of confidentiality rules they can’t tell anyone (and lets be honest they see so much stuff this probably wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow). For non medical emergencies they could always just say the clasp is a locking mechanism and the key is at home, which is true.

              Reply
            2. MegaMoose, Esq

              Exactly. I mean, I know someone who had to have their wedding ring cut off after an accident. She was quite sad about it, but happier to still have the use of her finger.

              Reply
            3. gwal

              Got it, thanks! I had never heard of a potentially-un-removeable piece of neck jewelry before so I didn’t know that it would be so easily handled. I have learned a lot of things from this blog that I wouldn’t guess could come from a management-oriented website and its diverse commenters : )

              Reply
            4. Lilo

              Yeah, when they’re tying to save your life or fingers, the hospital always will just cut it off first. Jewelry is a lot easier to fix/replace than people, limbs, or digits.

              Reply
      2. Sarianna

        The same way they deal with things like wedding rings. Wearing as much as is practical, and removing when it’s impractical. Recognizing that it’s a symbol of commitment, not the commitment itself. :)

        Reply
  29. LisaLee

    I think some of the ones at the link read as jewelry just fine. I would go for a thinner one that rides lower on the neck, and probably one of the flexible ones rather that just a metal ring. Those heart-shaped locks are a common enough jewelry charm. You probably want to keep it in gold or silver so that it matches a lot of outfits and work environments.

    I really don’t think its a problem if someone else who’s into D/s relationships realizes its a collar–people in the same niche are going to pick up those signs. You just don’t want it so glaringly obvious that everyone is like “uh…that’s a collar, right?”

    Reply
    1. fposte

      This is where I fall. What I’d really be trying to avoid is the perception that I’m wearing it in the *hope* that it’s visible and comment-worthy.

      Reply
  30. Insurance

    Please don’t.

    I worked with a co-worker who wore something similar and it was a distraction. We were a business casual environment but it stuck out like a sore thumb and made meeting new hires, new customers and established business partners really awkward. The current choker fashion doesn’t look appropriate beyond the teen age/college girl age bracket. This might hinder your career later on.

    Reply
    1. ArtsNerd

      Did your old coworker’s collar look like the ones Allison linked to? Not a rhetorical question. I honestly wouldn’t have thought twice about seeing something like that, without being educated on why they are and what they signal, and I’m curious to know how many people both pick up on the meaning for the more jewelry-esque styles and have a ‘squick’ reaction.

      The fashion side is largely a matter of personal taste, industry, and office culture. Since OP works in a liberal environment, I assume there’s room for them to be a bit ‘fashion forward’ in that sense.

      Reply
    2. Arduino

      Have to agree that the issue is actually more that chokers don’t look great in many environments. The offices I have worked in they would look odd d/s aside.

      Reply
  31. DragynAlly

    Forgive me if this is off base but I have goth friends who wear collars as fashion. It wouldn’t hit me in an s/d context unless the person wearing it told me. And if it’s were silver I’d know even less.

    Reply
    1. Princess Carolyn

      I agree that these could just come off as “goth” or “edgy,” but that seems difficult to pull off in most white-collar offices. It just comes off as very casual, imo.

      Reply
  32. FormerLW

    This is nothing like a wedding ring – the fact of marriage alone says nothing about what you do or don’t do in the bedroom. Don’t make unwitting people a party to this. If it’s that important to you, wear something under your clothes.

    Reply
    1. Mustache Cat

      Unless you think people in a 24/7 D/s relationship are having sex literally every hour of every day, it is actually about equivalent to a wedding ring.

      Reply
      1. DragynAlly

        It’s a sign of a relationship. It’s exactly like a wedding ring or other relationship symbol.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Well, it’s not exactly like it; otherwise you couldn’t have both. It’s kind of like it and kind of not.

          Reply
        2. Aft

          It’s a sign of a very specific dynamic within your relationship. So really, not the same as a ring. Even without the sexual nature of d/s relationships it’s telling coworkers something about how you relate to your partner that many of them will regard as deeply personal information.

          Reply
          1. Laura

            A slave collar is not ‘exactly’ like a wedding ring. Good Lord, with the history this country has, you would think a white person would avoid making that comment. And yet.

            Reply
    2. k

      To be fair, I think the fact of marriage does say a little something about what you’re doing in the bedroom. It’s just so mainstream that people don’t think about it. Heck, as soon as you pop a ring on you get people asking when you’re having kids, which people find perfectly innocuous despite it basically being like asking someone if they plan on having unprotected sex soon.

      We tend to really know a lot about people’s personal behaviors from everyday clues, but our minds just don’t frame it like that if we consider it “normal”.

      Reply
      1. FormerLW

        I disagree. There are married couples who have sexual relationships ranging from complete celibacy to off-the-charts 24/7 kink. A collar is very specifically tied to the dynamics of your sex life. You’re not being oppressed if people find your BDSM stuff tedious, dorky, and out of line in the public sphere.

        Reply
        1. Biff

          Kink doesn’t equal sex. There are plenty of people in a kinky relationship who aren’t having sex. If you don’t know that, you aren’t part of the scene and need to not speak for it.

          Reply
        2. LNZ

          Ok but you can literally the same thing about 24.7 BDSM relationships. They too can be couples who have sexual relationships ranging from complete celibacy to off-the-charts 24/7 kink. Pop cultures misunderstanding of kink is the only reason it’s seen as always sexual.

          Reply
        3. Forrest

          There are married couples who have sexual relationships ranging from complete celibacy to off-the-charts 24/7 kink.

          But you don’t know that. You would only know that info if they (the couple) talked about it and it would be just as inappropriate as the OP talking about her relationship in detail past “he’s my husband.” Which she said she won’t do.

          Frankly, I think if you’re at the point where you’re saying this couple may be banging 24/7 or are celibate or any where between, that’s more of you problem than the couple’s problem.

          Reply
    3. Ann O

      Exactly – my wedding ring says that there’s a good chance I’ve done the do before in my life (although, of course, I could be asexual or a virgin for some other reason), as it does for all people. And if you know my partner’s gender, you know what gender I prefer to have sex with. It doesn’t tell you what specific sex acts I perform. A collar does, and that’s the difference. It’s way too much information for the workplace and if I would be very uncomfortable knowing that about the coworker.

      Reply
  33. newbie

    I wear the same necklace almost every day. In fact, I sleep in it and almost never take it off. It was the first present my now husband gave me and it is perfectly my style, so for both sentimental and aesthetic reasons I really love it. People occasionally comment on the necklace, but just to compliment it or say how much it suits me. Now, my necklace in no way looks like a collar (it’s a delicate silver chain and pendant combo) but I think that if you chose something that’s sufficiently jewelry-like and works with your personal style then it would be fine. If anyone asks about it you say something bland but true about how it’s special to you because it’s from your partner. But that really only works if it actually looks like a necklace and you treat it exactly like a necklace if anyone asks about it.

    Reply
    1. tiny temping teapot

      I wear a star of david on a necklace every day at work, no one ever asks me about it. Except one coworker who wanted to know where I got it to find something similar for a friend of hers. Granted, a star of david is a much more well known symbol, but I don’t think wearing the same thing every day around your neck necessarily always invites comment.

      Reply
  34. longtime lurker

    I find these comments interesting.
    I wear the same necklace every day. It has a short leather cord, tied in a knot. I cannot take it off by myself due to the cord length (MRI nurses are very good at untying knots, BTW).
    It’s not indicative of any lifestyle; it is just a lovely stone, in a nice setting, on a cord.
    Perhaps it is the fact it is a stone, instead of a lock, that makes it different?
    It is still on me until someone else removes it or I, myself, cut the cord.

    Most of the eternity necklaces seem to be the same thing.
    Partner A has one half, partner B has the other. It takes two to make things go right.

    It only becomes tacky when the message of being collared overwhelms the beauty of the piece.
    If you want a padlock, still OK!
    Turn the keyhole inward and to most of the world it will appear to just be a lovely piece of jewelry with personal significance.

    Reply
  35. The Expendable Redshirt

    I’d shift to picking out a symbolic necklace. Something that looks like typical jewellery, but pays homage to your relationship. Collars like what you are describing are very noticeable (in my perception) and I would sure do a double take if I saw a coworker wearing one.

    Reply
  36. Cucumberzucchini

    Some of the “collars” to me look just like regular ole jewelry. I wouldn’t think twice about seeing any of them. Plus, as mentioned several times above, chokers are back “in”. So while after my initial reaction to reading the question was, “No, no, no, no, horrible idea” after seeing what they look like, I think it’s totally fine.

    Reply
  37. TL -

    Hmm. I think a non-obvious choker necklace would be fine – if you really emphasize subtle and symbolic. Especially since you’re working with patients in hospital, you want to make sure you’re not making anyone feel more uncomfortable than they already are. And students – I don’t know what age they are but I would not want a 22 yr old or under to accidentally pick up intimate details about my sex life. They’re not great at discretion.

    Reply
  38. SometimesALurker

    As someone not in the scene, the things that say “collar” to me are the leather, anything that’s very visibly a padlock (but not every piece of jewelry with a locking mechanism!), anything that’s shaped particularly like a collar rather than like a necklace (I know that limits your options), and anything with an o-ring in the front.

    Regarding wearing a piece of “signature jewelry” every day, I’ve done that with a necklace that had personal significance, and it never got any more attention than other people’s jewelry.

    Reply
    1. k

      See that would raise more questions for me. There’s this popular scary story for kids about a lady who always wears a ribbon around her neck, and on her death bed reveals that it’s because she’s really decapitated and without it her head falls off. If my coworker suddenly started wearing a scarf everyday I’d constantly be thinking of that :P

      Reply
        1. Marillenbaum

          I LOVED those books when I was a kid! My father bought it for me, and I had nightmares about a spider laying its eggs in my face for WEEKS.

          Reply
    2. Elle the Bell

      I agree. My mom has a scar running across her neck from a thyroid surgery… she wears a scarf or turtleneck every day to cover it.

      Reply
  39. sehranon

    Do you have a dog, LW? You might be able to get away with a leather choker type collar for a while if you can’t wear metal, if you wear it unobtrusively and explain you wear it, if asked, because your dog died and you miss it.

    I wore my old dog’s collar (was 12 when my family got her, I was mostly responsible for her, and my family wasn’t good at listening or comfort- ergo, I talked to Dog; we were super close). That lasted for about a semester; I was 24 but still so sad about it.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I wouldn’t recommend that in most offices either, though, understandable though it might be to the person grieving.

      Reply
    2. Anonfortoday

      Yeah that just would make OP seem nuts. I am a dog person but yikes I would side eye someone who said they were wearing their dead dog’s collar.

      Reply
      1. N

        Yeah…honestly, I would rather hear that my coworker was in a 24/7 d/s relationship than hear they were wearing their dead dog’s collar…

        Reply
    3. Temperance

      Okay, if someone walked around my law firm wearing an actual dog’s collar, and then justified it by saying that their dog died, they’d get sent to HR and recommended to call our EAP. This is not good advice for most people in almost every professional setting.

      Reply
  40. PX

    I’m with everyone else who says it needs to look like *common, everyday jewellery* and as someone who is reasonably kink aware, all of the pictures at the link posted kinda hint a bit too much at BDSM for my liking, especially if you never take it off. If you want something unobtrusive to wear everyday, I think a bracelet would probably get less attention.

    But as someone upthread commented, think really hard about what it is you want to communicate with this, how much professional capital you are willing to lose for it (think future job opportunities etc), and why a wedding ring doesnt meet that criteria anyway.

    Reply
    1. LizB

      100% agree that the pictures at the link are a little too over the line. I would go for a much more standard-looking necklace – you could easily get one with a a medium-weight chain + a heart, lock, or circle charm that basically looks like any other piece of jewelry. Depending on how you wear your hair, you could also maybe put a little lock that your partner has a key for on the clasp in the back, as long as your hair would cover it. In my experience, if someone wears the same piece of jewelry every day, I just assume it’s something with a lot of emotional significance – I wouldn’t look askance at someone wearing the same cross pendant every day, and I don’t see why any other kind of regular-looking pendant would be different.

      Reply
    2. Trout 'Waver

      I’m in the same boat here. Those all look quite BDSM for me. But it’s not so much how it looks as how you wear it. If you wear it every day, it’s going to send that message. Not only that, but if you feel the need to wear it all day every day, your kink is going to manifest itself in other ways too.

      Reply
      1. ArtsNerd

        Even though they read as BDSM to you (and they wouldn’t have to me without context), as someone who is kink-aware, would that be an issue to you, personally, to see in the office? My assumption is the vast majority of people who would take issue with BDSM symbols are those who would not pick up that those collars are BDSM symbols. I could be way off, so my question isn’t rhetorical.

        As another commenter mentioned, subtle signalling like this doesn’t fall under ‘non-consent’ on my squick meter.

        Reply
    3. Gadget Hackwrench

      Upthreads there’s a discussion about regional style… mostly Northeasterners being confused how the collars in the link don’t pass easily as regular jewelry… I’m wondering if the people in this “It’s super obvious” thread are from a different area, or if there really is a regional difference in style that contributes to whether the collars pictured would pass or not.

      Reply
  41. AnonNurse

    I see people wear the same jewelry all the time and I don’t think a thing about it. I know some people wear the same necklace/rings/bracelets out of habit or due to sentimental value. I personally only wear a wedding ring and a ring my husband gave me as a gift. No one has ever commented that I never wear a different ring. I see people wearing the same cross necklace or other necklace/choker daily and it’s never occurred to me to care.

    I understand that the necklace/collar would be a more prominent piece of jewelry but I think if it were one of the very muted examples in the link (such as the silver with silver heart), I wouldn’t even give it two glances. Something leather/more collar-like could absolutely raise an eyebrow though.

    Reply
  42. Celeste

    Idea: have two collars at your ceremony. One for work, and one that you change into as soon as you get home. Don’t take one off on until you have the other one put on. It might add a special private ritual that you’d enjoy.

    A lot depends on your workplace, but I agree with keeping your options open to be able to rise to a new position or employer. I feel like there are a lot of parallels here to a decision to only place tattoos where they’ll be covered by clothing for a conservative office or field.

    Good luck with your decision and ceremony!

    Reply
  43. Giles

    I would say a reluctant no to the collar – as someone who would love to be in that kind of relationship, it’s a very reluctant no – but yes to the eternity collar/chain. That looks a lot closer to modern jewelry that it would probably go unnoticed.

    Reply
  44. Student

    Are you thinking long-term, full job scope?

    Jobs usually involve people you work with every day AND people you work with more rarely. They also change over time – hopefully, including promotions. I can see you’re thinking about your current co-workers and probably your manager. Are you thinking about how this is going to work out when you are managing someone else (formally as a boss, or informally as a trainer or senior colleague), a couple years down the road? Are you thinking about what will happen when you, say, present your work at an industry workshop? Will you likely work with the public, either now or in the near-future, either rarely or often? How about client interactions, or contractors?

    Maybe you can do this now, with the people you work with every day. You’d have to have a pretty boring, back-room job to get away with this all of the time for a couple years, though. In a lot of jobs, either you face the public and risk somebody complaining about it to your boss (the public complains about all sorts of things) and outing you, or face other business contacts and you risk scaring off a client or contractor and having them comment on it to your boss, or you eventually manage others and weird out an employee.

    You’re entitled to your private life at home, no question; you should leave it at the doorstep if you want to have a relatively normal career. Nobody wants to know that about you, you aren’t trying to convey the info to them, so I don’t fully understand why you want to wear it to work anyway. You compare it to a wedding ring – plenty of us take those off when there’s a good reason to do so, if it’s a personal symbol instead of a thing to show off to others.

    Reply
    1. Sarianna

      Depends on the industry. I know someone who’s a software project manager who wears their collar full-time. IIRC it’s simple, silver, and locking, and I doubt anyone there even cares. But again, knowing your industry is important, because “a relatively normal career” can vary widely!

      Reply
    2. aaanon

      Agreed with all of this. It’s a sad fact, but there are people out there who will complain about anything, and there are a lot of jobs where a client/customer complaint can be the end of that particular job. Is this something you’re willing to risk, OP?

      Reply
  45. Arjay

    If it’s a 24/7 D/s relationship, I don’t see how the collar is any more a symbol of their sex life or their “scene” than my wedding ring is. I’m married 24/7 and if that means you’re going to look at my rings and think they’re a symbol of my sex life instead of my commitment, I would find that very odd.

    That said, I’d opt for the most discreet option I could find that met my and my partner’s needs. I wouldn’t compromise on a bracelet or anklet if that didn’t hold the meaning we were looking for.

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      Because the collar is showing that these people are in a 24/7 D/S relationship, not that they are married. It’s not the same thing.

      Reply
      1. Arjay

        Right, but it’s a symbol of their relationship, not of their sex life. It’s not bringing people into their bedroom (or dungeon), any more than my wedding ring is an invitation to strangers to imagine me having vanilla missionary position sex with my husband.

        Reply
        1. The Expendable Redshirt

          I can’t define why a ring vs collar are different. But my feelings say that they are. Maybe it’s because the collar conveys a specific type of sexual/relationship information. I am in a Relationship and This Action Is What We Do. This Is Our Coupling Dynamic. It’s informing the world of a lot more details than I, as a casual coworker, would want to know.

          Reply
  46. Bookworm

    Personally, I am unfazed by the collars pictured, and I don’t consider myself completely kink illiterate. Chokers are pretty trendy now.

    That said, I do think that by wearing this, OP is running the risk that someone will catch on and there could be speculative gossip. That’s not necessarily a problem (it sounds like OP is pretty open) but something to be aware of. Additionally, a visible cue about your D/s lifestyle could be perceived as a conversation opener, whether you want it to be or not. You increase the risk that someone might feel comfortable asking you inappropriate questions or volunteering personal information about their sex life. Again, not necessarily a dealbreaker, but something to consider (and possibly have scripts ready for).

    Reply
    1. LNZ

      that’s a good point.
      a lot of post are mentioning how someone could catch on and then they’d know to much about her life and that’s horrible. But there are actual social risks, up to and including being fired, to being outed as kinky.

      Reply
      1. Matilda Jefferies

        Thank you both for this. I posted below wondering what the actual harm is in people knowing or guessing – this is an excellent example.

        Reply
  47. Mustache Cat

    Reading some of these other comments, I think some people’s perceptions of the collars you linked to might be colored by the context, since they’re already looking at it thinking about D/s. I think in a workplace where people aren’t looking for it already a lot of these necklaces would pass muster.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      Agreed. In a kink setting, I’d know what these meant. Out in the world I don’t think they’d set off bells for me.

      Reply
  48. Mononymous

    What about an omega necklace in gold or silver? Granted, it doesn’t have a lock, but it’s typically worn closer to the neck and wider ones might feel collar-esque enough for OP to feel it’s still meaningful, while also still being typical/mainstream jewelry that wouldn’t raise eyebrows at work.

    Reply
  49. Kimberly R

    Didn’t read all the comments but…

    What about a more subtle collar that can have a charm hanging from it? Maybe a charm can be switched out for work every few days to make it look more fresh, but the OP can take the charm off when not at work and the collar can then function the way its intended to. I am not in the kink community and if I saw someone wearing a necklace like the one Alison linked above in comments, I would assume it was a weird looking choker necklace, but I wouldn’t infer anything about that person’s sexual preferences. I don’t think the OP cares if people think her jewelry is weird, just that her collar doesn’t scream collar to everyone in the office.

    Reply
  50. LNZ

    Just an idea, and totally dependent on how much discretionary funds the coupe has, but could you order a custom made one? that way you can specify exactly how casual it need to look? Something that sits on your clavicle as opposed to on the neck looks a lot more vanilla imo

    Reply
  51. Chatterby

    Choose one that is thin, unornamented with padlocks or tags, and of a higher-end metal, such as white or yellow gold, and 9 out of 10 people will think “Favorite necklace” when they see it, especially if that’s what the wearer calls it.
    The 10th person may go “Are they…? Hah, that’d be funny, but none of my business” and carry on with work.

    But for safety reasons, please pick something that is loose enough not to leave marks or choke you, and that someone else can take off easily in an emergency situation (or going through the airport. TSA has been known to cut off eternity bracelets/necklaces).
    And if it is a permanently locking one, have it made with a soft enough metal that it can be easily cut–don’t get steel, tungsten, or titanium.

    Reply
    1. Manders

      Also a good point! I said upthread that I wasn’t sure whether being restricted from certain things is part of the appeal for OP, but I recently started wearing a wedding ring and I’ve already run into so many situations where I need to take the ring off for safety reasons. And that’s *the* most common piece of jewelry that people feel sentimental about and try to wear as much as possible; OP’s possibly going to have some very awkward conversations in the future about why they can’t remove a necklace.

      Reply
  52. bloo

    i had a coworker who wore an obvious d/s leather collar to work. it was really awkward! for everyone’s sake, please choose something that resembles normal jewelry, OP.

    Reply
  53. BananaPants

    Maybe it’s just this region and industry, but in my business casual office wearing a collar of any kind would come across as being unprofessional and “young” at a minimum. There are also times where all jewelry has to come off for safety reasons; most women don’t wear necklaces at all. Outside of work I just don’t see people wearing chokers/collars around as a style choice.

    If you do this, OP, I would go for the most discreet and mainstream-looking option possible.

    Reply
  54. Matilda Jefferies

    I think the lariat style ones are beautiful, and they do not immediately say “sub” to me.

    Two other thoughts occur to me:

    First of all, in terms of safety around machinery, or OP’s next job which may or may not be like her current one – I expect OP has thought of these things already.

    And second, it’s safe to assume that most adults who are known to be in a committed relationship are having sex of some sort. (Not all, but enough that it’s a reasonable assumption.) And we make other assumptions as well: we assume someone is heterosexual, homosexual, other, based on what we know of the person’s partner; and you could reasonably assume that a woman who is pregnant every 18 months is having a lot of sex. It’s not necessarily reasonable to expect to know *nothing at all* about another person’s sex life.

    What we do assume is that people are generally discreet about it – that if they do find something out, they won’t say anything, and won’t otherwise let it affect their perception of that person. We all follow these rules of social etiquette – we probably did hear that giant fart coming from the next bathroom stall, but we’re sure as heck going to pretend we didn’t. It’s part of existing in a world with other people, that sometimes we know things about them that we would rather not.

    Say you (general you, not the OP) did see someone wearing a discreet collar, and then made an assumption about that person’s sex life – then what? What would you DO with that information, other than file it away under “things that I know about that person that are probably none of my business?” Sure, now you know something that maybe you would rather not, but where is the actual harm in that?

    Reply
    1. LNZ

      The harm really depends on the situation of the kinky person in question. If they live in a small conservative town and the person that found out gossiped they could be labeled as sexual deviants and be social isolated/ostracized. Even in a more populous setting rumors that the sub is an abuse victim could go around. It’s mostly social harms and it really depends on a lot of factors in their lives.
      Unless you live in the uk, there while BDSM isn’t criminalized per say anything that leaves a bruise on your partner is considered assault (or battery not sure which) and something the sub can’t consent to the crown can prosecute the dom even over the objections of the “victim”

      Reply
    2. blackcat

      This is a great comment.

      Every now and again, the thought of “So and so has sex with their significant other” pops into my head, particularly if someone is pregnant. I banish it out of my mind, pretending that thought never existed. That is what polite people do.

      Reply
    3. LBK

      I like this a lot. Any time a straight married couple talks about their kids, that’s usually an implicit indication of their sex life (assuming they didn’t adopt, use in vitro, etc). We’re just more accustomed to not letting our imaginations run wild in those scenarios; we have more practice mentally detaching children from the act of making children. If somehow you learned about your coworker’s D/s relationship, exercise some of the imaginative self-control you have when your other coworker talks about his wife being pregnant, and move on.

      Reply
    4. ParisGellar

      I agree. I sometimes know that coworkers are on their period because I hear the familiar rustle of a feminine hygiene product wrapper in the stall next to me and then we both end up washing our hands at the same time. Do I want to know that my coworker is on their period? No, not especially. Am I going to pretend I didn’t hear anything and continue along as I would if I didn’t know? Yes. You can argue that having one’s period is not a choice and being in a D/s relationship is, but they come out the same in the wash to me.

      Reply
  55. Thoughts

    I will say that the necklaces shown as examples made me think “out of date 90’s kid wannabe”, “ex or weekend goth”, or “teenager”–all of which may be as damaging to a career as “possible D/s collar substitute”. Find something that says “classy professional” before committing to one.

    Reply
      1. Chalupa Batman

        Yes, at least in the area where I live. Unfortunately, in the 30 something crowd that’s moving into management positions, “goth” was a very defined social group in their teenage years, and had quite a few negative connotations. Some people still think of goths as mentally unstable and unable/unwilling to submit to authority, both qualities that are negatives on the job. I had friends who were very deep into goth culture as teens, some who still are and some who have moved away from it, and it was very much a badge of belonging to be vocal about how messed up you were. Not exactly the group you want representing adult goths. My adult goth friends are a little quirky, but hardly “messed up,” and are generally very good at their jobs. But if all someone knows of goth culture is what they saw as a teenager 10-15 years ago and from television, it could certainly make them view that person differently. Not saying it’s right, saying it happens.

        Reply
    1. Is it Friday Yet?

      We don’t even know what the OP’s career is. Attire has varying degrees of importance, so I don’t think it’s fair to say this would impact anything. Many places have casual dress codes where this might not matter. Our office dress code is casual, and I have a co-worker who spends most days walking around barefoot. It doesn’t seem to be damaging his career.

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      Eh, I don’t agree with this at all. I used to have hot pink hair and when I’m not at work (or on dress down days, let’s be honest), I wear Nintendo / Marvel Comics / Toy Story shoes and/or neon pink everything. I accidentally wore a My Little Pony hairtie on my wrist today.

      I think having weird fashion sense outside of work isn’t quite the same as broadcasting your kink.

      Reply
  56. EmKay

    I’m quite knowledgeable about this lifestyle, so let me share my personal thoughts about this specifically.

    If you wear a collar that can easily be recognized as such, some people will be judgy af towards you. Those people are at best misinformed, and at worst just jerks. But those people could also be your colleagues or your boss (or your landlord, or or or) and they could make your life more difficult or unpleasant. You have to make a choice now if you want to deal with that for the rest of your life and/or relationship. It’s a difficult decision to make, and not to be made lightly.

    Me, I wouldn’t want to deal with the judgy people. So I’d go for something more subtle, like a locking bracelet Hermès-style, which can easily be read as “just fashion”, or even a piercing with a piece of body jewelry, which can be invisible if you are dressed.

    Reply
  57. saffytaffy

    I’ve worn D/s collars off and on at school and admin jobs for, wow, about 14 years, and no one’s ever noticed. Not once. Get a metal one that looks like as much like a necklace as makes you comfortable, and that locks discretely rather than with a keyhole or a dangly padlock. If you get it engraved, have it done on the inside. You’ll be fine.

    Reply
  58. Merci Dee

    OP, you can find some pretty lovely Turian collars that look more like jewelry than like an actual collar.

    Also, you have some other options. For instance, you could go to a jewelry store (even one of those little kiosks in the local mall), and find a length of heavier chain that would do for what you want. Maybe not get it fitted so close to the neck — maybe something that drapes down a little at or just past your collar bone. Just a plain, tasteful gold or silver chain necklace. And the benefit of that is, so many people have those simple chain necklaces that they wear every day, because they go with just about any outfit you could wear. So if its simple and plain enough, nobody will eve pay much attention to what you’re wearing. The meaning will still be there, but will attract far less comment.

    Reply
    1. saffytaffy

      +1
      There may be something kind of giddy, if it’s your first 24/7, when you might want something showier the way you might want a showier wedding. Or not.
      I like your idea a whole bunch.

      Reply
  59. Anon for this one

    Ok OP. I know one person who wears an eternity collar, and I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t know they’re in a 24/7 D/s relationship thinking it’s anything different than a kind of usual necklace. However, they have a kind of unusual career path and spend most of their time freelancing in work from home jobs.

    I know other people who use a fairly ordinary looking necklace as a kind of collar substitute for places where the collar might be considered inappropriate (see: work, dinner with parents etc) and wear the collar the rest of the time.

    It’s really where you want to draw the line and how you feel most comfortable (given all the advice from other commenters)

    Reply
  60. Pwyll

    So, I can’t google these things at work, but if these locking eternity collars are sufficiently close to a necklace, I’m not sure I see the problem. If anyone did ask for some reason, you could also something like, “Oh, my husband and I decided to go for necklaces instead of wedding rings; I just find it more comfortable!” or, if you wear rings as well, “The necklace was a part of our vows, so I prefer to wear it like I do my wedding ring.” That’s about as much as I think work appropriate, and is still accurate.

    Reply
  61. Turtlewings

    I’m surprised by, first, the number of commenters to whom it would even occur that a necklace was something “more,” and second, the number who would care. Of course you want to be work-appropriate, which these necklace-collars are, but what’s with the pearl-clutching? Sheesh. OP, I agree with Allison 100%. Find something discreet and wear it with pride.

    Reply
    1. Is it Friday Yet?

      My first thought if I saw this and it was a more leather style collar would probably be that OP has a more Gothic style. I had no idea about collaring ceremonies, so my mind wouldn’t even have gone there.

      Reply
    2. MegaMoose, Esq

      Yeah, me too, although the first is much more surprising to me than the second. I wouldn’t want to *talk* to any of my coworkers about their D/s relationship any more than I’d want to talk to them about any number of intimate things (sexual or non-sexual), but if I somehow managed to indisputably identify a necklace/collar, I can’t imagine doing anything other than shrugging.

      Reply
    3. Printer's Devil

      This is the comment that comes closest to how I feel.

      There are a lot of hypothetical people described in the scenarios laid out by some of these comments that I would tell to mind their own business.

      Reply
  62. Shadow

    I almost want to say screw it and get a real gaudy thick leather one with a big padlock. Partly because nobody ever should have this dilemma and partly because I want you to write back to tell us how it goes.

    Reply
    1. Venus Supreme

      Hahahahahahah! I’d love to read that update, thought it’d probably go something like, “I got a couple stares but otherwise no one said anything.”

      Reply
    2. paul

      I used to wear one of those as part of my punk-goth phase (nothing D/s about it) but ew, not at work. 2″ wide collars and spikes aren’t appropriate at most jobs.

      Reply
    3. Temperance

      If someone shows up to my office in the next few weeks, wearing that, I’m putting the blame on you.

      Reply
  63. JKP

    I have a friend where the cultural tradition from her country is to wear a necklace instead of a wedding ring, so all the women in her extended family have wedding necklaces they wear all the time. She’s very vanilla and private, so I’m terribly amused by the idea that her coworkers may secretly speculate that she’s in a D/s relationship.

    Reply