my work clothes are revealing more than I intended

A reader writes:

I’ve been working at a large, well-known company for about six months now. It is my first job out of college and I’m eager to make a good impression on my colleagues since I am one of the youngest members on my team. The company as a whole is pretty buttoned up and slightly old-fashioned (e.g., men wear suits mostly every day, no casual Fridays, etc.) so I’ve made a very conscious effort to dress professionally and conservative.

Lately though, I’ve run into a problem. I realized that the combination of freezing cold conference rooms and fancier, thinner shirts and dresses has led to my nipples being fairly visible in a couple meetings so far. I realized this today when I walked out of a meeting past a mirror. Obviously I wear a normal bra to work, but I guess the padding in it wasn’t enough. I assume the solution is to wear thicker materials or layer sweaters over top of my clothes, but I really don’t have a ton of work clothes yet and my budget is limited. I guess my question is how do I regain my coworkers’ respect after they potentially saw my nipples, and what should I do in a situation where I realize I’m showing, but don’t have anything to cover up? (I imagine crossing my arms up above my chest would be a little too obvious.)

I had the exactly same realization at a job in my 20s and was mortified. I’d been wearing lots of silky shirts which I’d decided were the epitome of professionalism, and then realized to my horror one day that they concealed nothing. So … yeah.

Anyway. Your coworkers have not lost respect for you because your nipples were evident through your shirt. Or if they have, they are unprofessional asses whose respect doesn’t mean much anyway. Reasonable adults know that this is a thing that sometimes happens. It will not be a big deal to any sensible person you work with.

But there are ways to prevent it going forward. The easiest option is to buy a few bras with thicker lining (look at t-shirt bras and contoured bras in particular). You can also wear a tank top under your top, or you can even buy stick-on things meant for this very problem if that’s your bag. You could also keep a cardigan at work to toss on if you realize that you misjudged the opacity of an outfit.

I want to be clear that I would love to live in a society where I could tell you that you should just decide not to care if someone sees evidence that you have nipples. But the reality is that most women don’t want their coworkers checking out their nipples — just like most men don’t want to make the exact contours of the contents of their pants extremely clear — and it’s entirely reasonable for you to want to take steps to obscure them.

{ 336 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Justin

    eeeesh.

    Yeah I doubt they think poorly of you but I can certainly empathize – as a man, Alison’s male example happened to me at my first job and this was in a foreign country where none of my colleagues had really known an American before, which led to increased attention. I was like WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE SO RUDE (enters bathroom) oh noooooo

    Reply
    1. Jesca

      Haha I was coming here to say the same thing. My male coworker beside is so bothered about this about himself! It happens to him all the time!

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        It’s only recently that I realized why men wore undershirts under their dress shirts.

        Especially because it used to be that the only acceptable color under a suit was white, and the pigment change would show through even if the surface change didn’t.

        And of course, no wonder they want the thermostat colder–they have an undershirt AND a jacket.

        Reply
          1. Julia

            I hate taking the train in Japan. The heat is set so high that I sweat buckets, but it’s often too crowded to take off my coat. And then in summer, it’s freezing in there, which is odd because the same temperature they want in summer, they consider too cold in winter. Same in my former office.

            Reply
        1. Marillenbaum

          Oh, I always thought it was because of sweat–like, that way your shirt doesn’t soak through, or smell as bad.

          Reply
      2. paul

        It’s annoying. I’ve gone with a lot of thicker fabric’d polos to avoid it but that only works in a business casual type of place.

        Reply
  2. Rincat

    You could pick up some cotton or bamboo reusable nursing pads from Target or a baby store, and put those in your bras. They are thick, and since it sounds like you’re not nursing, you can wear them multiple times throughout the week, then just toss them in the washer. The only downside to them is they can shift (unless you tape them in) but they are inexpensive and one or two packs might be a quicker solution than new bras or clothes.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      There’s even an actual kind of product for this. I’m seeing “Braza Bra Petal Tops for Fashion Modesty” but that’s not the only brand.

      Reply
      1. Mabel

        This probably won’t apply to very many folks, but if you have a sensitivity to adhesive, maybe stick the thing you’re going to use to your thigh for a few hours to be sure it’s OK. My ex had a hell of a time when she had eye surgery, and her skin couldn’t tolerate the adhesive on the bandages. The last thing you want is to have sore, peeling, red skin in such a sensitive place as your nipple area.

        Reply
        1. Chickasaurus

          You can always put the adhesive between the bra and the pad, which will keep it in place and not let it touch the skin.

          Reply
          1. AnonForNow

            I have an adhesive allergy and find that with sweat or humidity it can still transfer at the edges, so do take care

            Reply
        2. Alice

          Or you could stick the adhesive side to the inside of the bra, that way it’s not on the skin but you’re still getting the coverage.

          Reply
        3. Gadfly

          On adhesive, I’ve stolen my husband’s compression stocking adhesive for costuming uses before, and the Jobst ‘It Stays’ is pretty good. You can glue practically anything you want to your skin. Just be sure to follow tbe instructions when you remove it.

          Reply
      2. sweetcaroline

        Hanes makes a bra with the petals built in, and I think it is fairly inexpensive <$10
        But if budget is an issue — fashion scarves. Keep a long scarf at your desk an drape it across your front. They come in various price points.

        Reply
    2. Liz Lemon

      That’s what I was coming here to say! There are even disposable ones, too, that have little built-in stickies on the back to keep them in place. You can get them easily off amazon. I’m a nursing mom and I like the medela brand for reusable.

      Reply
      1. Jan

        Yes! And since you’re not actually leaking milk, you can probably use the disposable ones a little longer than just one day.

        Reply
    3. No Mas Pantalones

      Cotton squares/pads (found near cotton balls in stores) could also work. And in a pinch, masking tape in an X over the nip.

      Reply
    4. BePositive

      This! Until you have a budget for bras that are designed to prevent your nipples to be visible, this is a cost effective solution. Note: try to get larger ones or you may see pad lines (like panty lines but on your shirt)

      Reply
    5. Parenthetically

      Bamboobies is a good brand to consider — nice and thin, and the heart shape makes them LESS visible under clothes, I’ve found. And they’re ridiculously soft.

      Reply
    6. TootsNYC

      Or go to a sewing notions store and buy a loose bra cup (intended to be sewn into swimsuits and eveningwear); extra padding, though, so it might change the fit….

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        These removable cups come as inserts in some bikini tops and sports bras. I probably have 10 sets, all with slightly different shapes and thicknesses. They are ideal for this exact purpose and have virtually no edges that can be seen (unlike square or smaller round shapes).

        Reply
      2. MerciMe

        You can buy fabric inserts at bra stores specifically for this purpose too, but IIRC they run a little pricy (~$25?). I can’t take the adhesive ones (oh, they can chafe), so I just slip them inside the cup of whatever bra I’m wearing that day. (I have used *post it notes* in emergencies – do not recommend!)

        Reply
    7. aldeka

      Having been a nursing mom: if your shirt/bra combo is thin enough to show nipples, it is likely to show the outline of the nursing pad too D:

      Reply
      1. Rincat

        Yeah, I found some of them did that – I had to pay attention to how the edge was sewn. Some are definitely better constructed than others. Although I have to say I still had nip issues even with thicker nursing bras just because my nips were SO AGGRESSIVE during nursing.

        Reply
      2. Agile Phalanges

        It’s been 16+ years when I was pregnant, but the disposable ones made by the same company that made the nipple balm were pretty invisible. They had tapered edges. I agree the cloth ones with multiple layers that all end in the same place with a serged seam are pretty visible, though…

        Reply
    8. Courtney

      I was also going to suggest nursing pads as an easy, inexpensive option! I used the disposable ones, which obviously you can’t just wash, but they’re cheap and do stick in place to the inside of your bra (but the adhesive doesn’t stick to your skin like some of the other options mentioned below.)

      Reply
      1. Rincat

        The disposable ones are definitely better for not moving around, but just be wary of irritation. I had a lot of irritation with the disposable brands so I had to stick with natural fabrics.

        Reply
    9. anony for this

      Another option (to the many great suggestions): If you look at training bras, many of them have removable cup things that are a good size to serve as an extra nipple cover up. (I get mine at target)

      As a small gal, I just use the training bras, it took me years to figure out that was where I could get bras that fit me (All the “adult” ones were way too big/too padded). When I was showing the insert things to a bigger friend, she said the removable cup liner padding things would be perfect for extra padding for just this reason and bought some herself. They are often priced at $12 for 2 bras.

      Reply
    10. Sterling

      Reusable silicon pasties are less than $10 at Target. I wear them every day even under lined bras because for some reaosn my headlights are really bright so to speak.

      Reply
    11. NorthernSoutherner

      I wear sports bras almost exclusively. They’re thicker and some brands have that ‘petal’ thing built in. Bring on the A/C!

      Reply
  3. SpiderLadyCEO

    This may or may not work for you, but you could wear bandaids under your bra. They will work about the same as pasties, but you can get them a bit cheaper. Layer two in an X, and that with the bra should be enough – it’s always worked well enough for me, but I am not well-endowed, just pointy of chest.

    Reply
    1. Lou

      The only downside might be a potential for the adhesive to irritate the skin after a period of time. This happens to me if I have to use the bandaid trick more than a few days in a row. Also happened to me when I was running and used bandaids/moleskin to prevent my sports bra rubbing against my chest. Could just be skin sensitivity on my part, though.

      Reply
      1. Lollygagging

        Agree. Keeping a stash of band aids in your drawer is a great emergency fix. The pasties and cotton bra pads are also a good option, as others have mentioned, if you can’t buy bras with a little more padding. Just test it out at home and make sure the pads don’t show through the shirt. And as others have mentioned, keeping a nice cardigan or pashmina is great for when you have to go to chilly rooms for meetings.

        Having dealt with this most of my life, I know that the self consciousness around an issue like this once you are aware of it can be really difficult to overcome. It sounds like you care very much about your professionalism, and I don’t think your co-workers are passing judgment on this. Continue to hold your head up high and work hard. This is just a little blip in the grand scheme. Good luck!

        Reply
      2. TootsNYC

        You could remove the adhesive on the skin side, and use double-stick tape (or fashion tape or toupee tape) to stick it to the bra side.

        Reply
      1. SpiderLadyCEO

        Not really. By the end of the day the adhesive is loose, and it doesn’t adhere to anything sensitive, because of the pad in the center of the bandaid. It comes off pretty easy. But you can also take them off in the shower if you’re especially sensitive to bandaid removal.

        Reply
      2. HannahS

        Heck yes. Everyone’s different, but I found garment tape on my shoulders (holding dress straps in place) painful to take off. So definitely no band-aids for me!

        Reply
      3. Tiny Soprano

        YMMV on this one. As a performer I’ve often used just plain old wound tape to lash the ladies down, and for me it’s painless to remove in the shower with a bit of soap. I did try bandaids one time when I’d run out of wound tape though and yowwww that was not fun. So it depends on your skin and the adhesive.

        Reply
    2. small jar of fireflies

      I’ve been caught by hot summer day/cold a/c before. A couple of layer of torn-up paper towel can work in emergencies, although maybe not if the white top is sheer. At least they help trap warmth as well as shielding.

      I also started keeping a small black shrug or jacket in a desk drawer. A loose scarf is also a good plan.

      Reply
  4. Doodle

    Agree with Alison the “t shirt bra” is the way to go, but I also want to emphasize that I don’t think this is a huge deal — it’s just something that accidentally happens sometimes! Your coworkers should not have lost respect for you (and likely haven’t!), and while I would also be mortified, I’d also feel bad if someone else was mortified about this. Sending good vibes!

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Agreed. I also find camisoles (I like Ann Taylor’s stretch cami, but Target also sells tanks) when combined with a t-shirt or padded bra (think Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy line’s amount of padding) work well. The big thing is not to wear a normal cotton tank top—you need a little bit of lycra or the like in there to help with nipple containment.

      Otherwise, there’s always K.’s team cardigan/jacket or College Admin’s team “cleverly placed scarf.”

      Reply
      1. Em

        I’ve never found t-shirt bras to be enough padding! I like the VS Pink ‘Everyday Push Up’ bra; which has just enough padding to keep things where they should be and not give anything away.

        Forever 21 actually makes fabulous camisoles, for about $4 each! If you take care of them (wash cold, hang to dry) they last really well. They make a great “base layer” under tops or thin/sheer dresses (paired with nude spandex shorts for the second one).

        I also keep emergency cardigans and scarves at my desk, but that’s mostly because I’m always cold and sometimes spill food on myself.

        Reply
      2. zora

        I’m all about camisoles/tank tops under my shirts at work for many reasons. They also keep me warmer in those freezing conference rooms, and give me extra coverage in the front just in case my neckline is lower than I thought. I have a bunch from Target and Old Navy.

        This is a way cheaper option than buying new bras or new work shirts, also. I keep an eye out for a sale or coupon and buy 2-3 at like 40% off, it’s pretty affordable!!

        Reply
      3. Middle School Teacher

        I love the cleverly placed scarf :) and scarves are fairly inexpensive and very fashionable right now!

        Reply
      4. RB

        I don’t know what level of Lycra the others have but the ones at Nordstrom that I like have 9%. The ones with less than that don’t, er, hold things in place as well. I wait for the Nordstrom ones to show up at the Nordstrom Rack and get them for less than $10 during the sales.

        Reply
    2. HumbleOnion

      Totally agree with this. Even if they noticed, it’s probably been forgotten. People are too busy worrying about their own insecurities to dwell on this.

      Reply
    3. Karen D

      People think of bras as pretty expensive, but there are very good, comfortable options available for around $10 at Very Very Massive discount stores, often made by the same manufacturers whose bras go for $30 a pop in department stores. Sometimes they are even the same name brands!

      Reply
      1. Arielle

        Depending on your size. I have yet to find a 34G at any Massive Discount Store, although I have had luck at discount-ish places like Nordstrom Rack.

        Reply
        1. JD

          Plug for Third Love for that size. I am a 32F. They also do half sizes. I used to buy Natori, mostly at Rack but I will never go back after Third Love. Some find them expensive, I think about $60 but for something that usually hurts me all day long and that I wear every single day, the price is no big deal. I used to tear my bra off in the car in pain, these bras I keep on with no issues. I really cannot recommend them enough for the bigger sizes.

          Reply
          1. Liz Lemon

            This is so good to know! I am a 36G and I assumed Third Love was only good for smaller sizes. I’ll have to give them a shot.

            Reply
          2. many bells down

            I am really tempted to try ThirdLove, but most of their offerings are underwire and I really hate those. I especially like their sizing questionnaire, though. “East West” boobs, unite!

            Reply
          3. Jessen

            My issue with them is they never seem to account for gore issues. They have an option for wide set breasts, but not for very close set ones. That’s always been my problem – when you bring the wires up into the center like their bras do, you end up with the wires sitting on breast tissue.

            Reply
        2. kible

          yeah, it’s pretty impossible to find any bra over a DDD for $30, let alone $10. “discount” for me usually means i’m still paying $50 minimum off the Bare Necessities website clearance section.

          Reply
      2. Jessen

        $30 a pop for bras is…not for everyone.

        I’m a petite 32G with a few other fit oddities. Usually I’m running $60 a bra minimum, unless I’m lucky enough to find one on ebay.

        Reply
    4. JD

      Also, this is something that happens that you truly have little control over. Some women, regardless of bras show more, even when not cold. At some point it is unreasonable to expect someone to wear ten layers to avoid it. Here in the summer it will be 110 out then feel about -20 in a conference room. I couldn’t exactly wear a padded bra (I cant wear that anyway), a tank top, a shirt, a sweater….. I run hot as it is.

      I think that if someone finds this in any way offensive it is THEIR issue. Reminds me of the woman offended by the pooper. Natural body functions we have little control over. I’ve seen men’s nipples show through shirts. I never think much of it. Assuming you are wearing an appropriate bra and your top isn’t see through I would not spend too much energy worrying. I do myself keep a sweater at my desk for those cold conference rooms, not due to nipple-gate but simply due to being freezing. This could be helpful for both reasons.

      Reply
      1. Tiny Soprano

        +1 to all of this. I run hot too, so the thought of adding a cami, a scarf or a jumper fills me with way more dread than headlights.

        If you also run hot and don’t like the thought of having to a) add padding to all your bras or b) hide it with a cami or scarf, my solution for days where I feel too hot for a ‘proper’ bra (as opposed to a bralette) is patterns. Through a patterned blouse even the proudest nips aren’t obvious.

        Reply
      2. Paula, with Two Kids

        Yes to this. 5 layers and I’ll still show, and tend towards yeast infections under the girls. Padded bras make it worse, plus give me “over”age since I am asymmetrical.

        I do my best to just assume this is a normal part of my anatomy, and go about my day.

        Reply
  5. AdAgencyChick

    Ooh, OP. I feel ya. Let’s just say it doesn’t strike ONLY the young and inexperienced! I once found myself stuffing literal Kleenex down my bra when I realized my outfit for a new business pitch was going to show the potential clients a bit more than I intended :/ And I was wearing a padded bra, too!

    Reply
      1. Cait

        Yes! My girls are always standing at attention now, even in hot weather, ever since I started nursing.

        OP – don’t freak out. It happens to the best of us. I second the suggestion of reusable nursing pads (cheaper than several new bras) or invest in a nice, padded bra in a neutral color that you can wear under all of your clothes.

        Reply
        1. Mabel

          Bras can definitely be very expensive, but I recently found a couple of styles at Target that I really liked, and they were $10 each(!), so I bought 4. They won’t last forever, but I’ve had them more than a year because I usually don’t wear the same one too many days in a row, and they never go in the dryer.

          Reply
          1. Aerin

            I found a T-shirt bra that I adored at Target, but when I went back to buy more they were sold out. Luckily I tracked it down on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2inWQ8N Ranges in price from about $15-35 depending on size and color, extremely durable (I wash them with all the rest of my laundry), and extremely comfortable. I wear these pretty much exclusively now.

            Reply
          2. Artemesia

            My trick for getting more life out of bras in addition to never letting them go in the dryer is to wash them when I take a bath. I just throw them in the tub while it is filling and then wash them with body wash or shampoo and rinse them before I bathe myself. So if you are a bather rather than a showerer that is an idea for delicate underthings that is easy.

            Reply
            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Yep, I take showers, not baths, but I do essentially the same thing. I don’t take my bra off before i get in the shower, and once I’m in there, I take it off and wash it with my gentle soap. That way my bras get washed every wearing but stay in pretty good shape.

              Reply
          3. zora

            The tshirt bras from Gap Body are my obsession. They are a little limited in sizes, but for my size they are amazing. They are comfortable, simple, and if I keep my eye out for 40% coupons from the Gap, I can get them for like $20 each, so I finally have 7 bras, and can wear a different one each day of the week. It has literally changed my life.

            Also, I recently found out about “Soak” a laundry detergent that is specifically for bras/lingerie, you just soak the items in cold water with this detergent for about 15 minutes and then let air dry. It is so much faster than trying to wash by hand the normal way, but avoiding the machine washer and dryer is the key to bras lasting much longer.

            Reply
    1. Anon non non

      My nipples get so hard they start to hurt in the cold…specifically the left one. I tend to do a lot of outdoor fundraising activities during the winter months and though I wear a lot of layers it’s not always helpful in stopping the issue. I’ve started wrapping hand warmers in a few tissues and stuffing them into my bra to help. I don’t recommend this for the office, but for those who have issues while working outside? It’s wonderful!

      Reply
      1. Anne

        Ohhhhhhhhhhh! You’re a genius!

        I have this problem with the back of my arms- no clue why, but my body just immediately sacrifices that area in the cold. I’ve been using peppery type lotions (sweet sweat, amilean) to try and up the blood flow, but they’re messy and barely help. I live in Chicago, so I buy hand warmers in bulk (also have some of the reusable ones), but I never thought about popping those babies in other spots. So smart!

        Reply
  6. K.

    Team cardigan, or if your office is more formal than that, team jacket. The temperature where I work is weird (it’s freezing in here right now) so I just keep a cardigan in my office. The weight changes with the seasons (I have a really warm sweater that I live in in winter, and I wear lighter cotton ones in summer). If you’re feeling self-conscious, throw it on!

    Reply
    1. namelesscommentator

      Team Cardigan 100%. Gap, J Crew, Patagonia all make ones that I’ve liked — if their sale prices are still out of budget, sometimes Good Will can have a few. H&M might also be a good place to start – but I find their more professional clothes expensive.

      It also helps with the office temp problem. Also do keep an eye out for some wool dresses/thicker shirts to get when you seem them affordably. Garnet Hill has a “sale of the day” section that my professional wardrobe is largely built from.

      Reply
        1. Elemeno P.

          Ross was my go-to when I had to build a business wardrobe, and I still have some of those very first pieces. I still go there all the time. I love Ross.

          Reply
      1. Purplesaurus

        Old Navy is good too. I have several cardigans from them that have survived well, and they tend to offer petite, regular, and tall sizes.

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      2. michelenyc

        Old Navy has them on sale this time of year and they have a million colors.

        My office is especially cold and I keep a sweater at the office that I can take to meetings.

        Reply
      3. Hallway Feline

        I’ve had great luck with H&M and, surprisingly, Forever21 for work sweaters for those occasions! I also never pay full price for anything because I shop primarily in the sales section so…

        Reply
      4. Optimistic Prime

        H&M’s cardigans fall apart too quickly for me for the price, and they are sized weirdly. Gap Factory Outlet has decent-quality cardigans that aren’t expensive. They’re always having sales on their already discounted prices – right now they have simple v-neck cardigans for $20 and crewnecks for $25.

        Reply
      5. Tuxedo Cat

        There’s that site that sponsors this blog, ThredUP. I’ve never ordered from them, but others have raved about it.

        I’ve used Ebay and gone to in-person consignment shops where I’ve found JCrew, etc.

        Reply
        1. Fortitude Jones

          I get my cardigans from thredUP. I just bought a 100% wool cardi by Banana Republic for $10 – the sweater looks brand new.

          Reply
    2. Engineer Girl

      OP is at a more conservative company so adding a third piece (such as a jacket or cardigan) will only add to their professional appearance. I’m also a big fan of the Uniqlo Airism tank. I have several near my skin tone that make a great base layer under semi sheer shirts.

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        +1

        I’m the queen of layers!! The tank top/blouse/cardigan or blazer over is my go-to combo.

        I’m also a “big long scarves” person – so right now, my boobs are also like 75% covered by the scarf (but doing that depends on the scarf and the office, I suppose?).

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        1. blackcat

          +1

          Cami + blouse + cardigan was what I wore every day as a teacher. Long camis also prevent the awkward skin exposure when you need to reach up high or bend over, so that’s a bonus. It also prevents anything from being embarrassingly see through, such as those days you aren’t thinking and leave the house in a black bra and light blouse. I get my camis from Aerie.

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        2. Hapless Bureaucrat

          Are you me? I am at this moment wearing every one of these items, scarf included.

          Scarves and stoles are the most versatile dress items I own for office wear. They can dress up an outfit inexpensively, hide a multitude of stains (or too- generous cleavage or persistent nips), come in all weights and prices, etc. And people love giving them as gifts.

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        3. Catherine

          Yes! I was also going to suggest the large scarf strategy. Other strategies are avoiding knits (especially, thin light-colored knits) and looking for shirts or tops that have a small-scale print in darker colors.

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      2. TootsNYC

        I think a vest could even work (which might help if jacket sleeves make actually working too awkward–they get in my way when I’m writing, etc.

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      3. LT

        +1! I know OP wrote about having a limited clothing budget, but a well-fitting blazer is practically an “investment” piece, especially in situations where the office might be cold. It even takes an outfit that might be casual to something business appropriate (I once wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a sports logo under a blazer and with some dress slacks to the office and no one cared). And, they range from pricey to super-affordable (channeling H&M, as other commenters have said).
        That and I’m also a big fan of the Uniqlo bra tops. In the summer, there’s Airism, and in the winter, there’s Heat Tech. Uniqlo might not be H&M cheap, but they’re not outrageously priced, either.
        And down the line, if OP is looking to purchase new bras, there are ones with concealing “petals” right around the nip area. This one’s on sale for $17: https://www.onehanesplace.com/shop/onehanesplace/bra/bra-category/wirefree-bras/bali-one-smooth-u-wirefree-bra-df6556

        Reply
      1. Iris Eyes

        Yep Team Blazer here. Most of mine I picked up for less than $10 at the thrift store. The office is always on the cold side and I’m usually on the cold side so it works for me.

        Reply
        1. Agent Diane

          Another team blazer here. Look for a grey marl or tweed (or other neutral darkish tone). Cheap black blazers get shiny and show their cheapness. A tweed can go through a lot of seasons without being too obviously old or cheap.

          Much as I love a cardi, if you’re in a formal workplace, a cheap tweedy blazer sells “professional woman” more than a woolly cardigan does. Wish it didn’t, but in my experience it does.

          Reply
    3. Nea

      Another vote for Team Cardi. Get a handful in neutral colors (I have 4: black, white, gray, khaki) and they’ll go with anything you own or will get in the future. Christmas sales are the perfect time to scoop them up for cheap, too!

      OP, I feel for you. I’m reading this thread for suggestions myself.

      Reply
    4. MeowThai

      There with you. Although I’ve seen, even in more formal offices, that cardigans fit in perfectly. But yeah, OP, cardigans are everywhere these days, and you can find some good quality ones at your local thrift shop. If you go the thrift shop route, beware of pilling or teeny holes in the knit–those will only grow as you wash them, and they’re often a sign of poor quality construction.

      Don’t fret too much, though. It’s normal and common.

      Reply
    1. k.k

      H&M is a lifesaver for affordable work basics. Pencil skirts, blazers, button ups, they always have them. Target is another good go-to. They always have a shelf full of cardigans that are in the $25 range, often lower for sales. You can usually find affordable blazers and other work friendly clothes there.

      Reply
      1. grace

        Cardigans are great! Target has phenomenal ones as well, and I’ve actually found great deals at Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe. They have cheap camis at all of those, too — you’ll probably want the ones with the built-in bra, because that’s extra layers of fabrics.

        Reply
        1. Optimistic Prime

          Actually the ones without the elastic may be better if OP lays them over a bra. The ones with the elastic aren’t sized very generously and I’ve found some issues getting them to lay correctly over my bras.

          Reply
          1. blackcat

            Yeah, depends on boob size. If you are smaller in that department, I think the extra layer is a plus. As a well endowed woman, I vote for plain camis.

            Reply
    2. Breda

      Yeah. A good blazer is worth investing in, but because we don’t always have that cash on hand, a Target or H&M one will serve you really well until you can save up for a nice one! Alternatively, this is a really good thing to ask your parents for for Christmas/Hanukkah, if that’s applicable for you. My parents gave me my first professional blazer the first Christmas I had a grown-up job.

      Reply
  7. EmilyAnn

    Clothes are sheer and not very thick. I wear a lot of tank tops underneath blouses. They can be as little as 4 for $20 at places like Target. All my bras are padded too.

    Reply
    1. Squeeble

      I also recommend wearing a stretchy bandeau over the bra. In my case it’s to make a deep V more modest, but it could work for this problem as well.

      Reply
      1. MerciMe

        Oh! This is helpful. Camis never seem to stay at the right height (and can look a little casual if they peek out), and dickeys aren’t really a modern solution, so they end up involving extra sewing. Thanks for thinking to mention this!

        Reply
    2. Chickasaurus

      Walmart sells them for $2 or $3. I know some people are opposed to Walmart, but if not, it’s a good place to stock up on some basics (even if they are just a stop gap until something better can be procured).

      Reply
  8. CollegeAdmin

    I had this problem yesterday, although I luckily noticed before I left for work. I threw on a scarf to hide it, nice and simple. You can often find budget-friendly scarves; I recommend keeping one at your desk for extra warmth and disguising stains, nips, etc.

    Reply
        1. AnonEMoose

          Especially silk scarves. Silk gives warmth without being bulky, and you might be able to find them at discount places or on sale. Get some in neutral colors or in fairly subdued prints that include colors you tend to wear, and they’ll go with lots of outfits.

          Reply
    1. Lady Phoenix

      5 and Below make wonderful, thick, and warm scarves for only $5. I buy them all the time, and the come in so many different colors.

      Reply
      1. Adhyanon

        Also team cheap thin cotton scarf. Not for really warmth but for covering cleavage, wearing under itchy wool coats, and adding color to a monochromatic shirt/pants combo.

        Reply
    2. Nea

      Secondhand stores are excellent for finding budget-friendly scarves too, especially if there’s an upscale one in your neighborhood. I’ve found handpainted silk and Liberty of London scarves at 2nd Avenue for less than $5.

      Reply
  9. BethRA

    +1 for tank tops under blouses and/or cardigans or jackets (you could probably find one or two that work with most of your other clothing items). They also have the added bonus of helping you not freeze to death in those conference rooms.

    And no, people who aren’t buttheads won’t think poorly of you for this.

    Reply
  10. Fergalicious

    I’ve always been self conscious of this because I have big nipples that are apparent even through sweaters. I buy very padded bras instead of the thin ones.

    Reply
  11. Amber Rose

    In a pinch, a thick-ish layer of paper towel/toilet paper in your bra should make them less obvious. It’s short term, but sometimes short term is the best you can do.

    As for your coworkers, please don’t concern yourself with that. They’re all humans too, and have probably been there. Dudes have this trouble without the advantage of a bra to pad. It’s not the end of the world.

    Reply
    1. Indie

      I do this too. On the days when I’ve forgotten my cami and blazer or it’s too hot for layers. It stays put very well.

      Reply
  12. palomar

    The odds that anyone actually lost respect for you because your nipples were visible are, like, a million to one… unless you work in a field like Christian publishing or something where “modesty” is part of your corporate culture. Please don’t worry about lost respect. This happens to everyone in the workforce that has nipples.

    Reply
    1. rolllingmyeyeballs

      Why of all the industries would you single out Christian publishing as the one that would lose respect for a woman if her nipples showed? This seems biased and unfair to me.

      Reply
  13. deesse877

    LW, my experience is that things like that are only problems when they’re not the only factor. In crude terms, one feature of your appearance being construed as sexualized is usually not enough to change how anyone sees you long-term. If there are 2 or 3 at once–example from myself, visible nipples PLUS patterned hose, which many people (to my lasting surprise) find lingerie-like–that could cause comment or rumors.

    Sorry to hear you’re dealing with this. My own solution is a black mohair cardigan.

    Reply
    1. JD

      I read some article about patterned tights and was shocked too! I get fishnets but I have some that are polka dots. I would never see it lingerie like! At most they look childish not sexy.

      Reply
    2. Lora

      Add me to the “What? patterned HOSE?” pile. I have some which are black with argyle type diamonds on them, which I thought looked pretty cute in a dorky way, and a pair that are small chevrons, similar to men’s dress sock patterns.

      Am also old enough to remember a trend when women did in fact wear fishnets to non-sexy places, in all different colors, sometimes with contrasting color tights underneath. We thought we looked pretty nifty with our jelly bracelets, okay?

      Reply
  14. Southern Ladybug

    Ditto to AAM and the commentators, as always.

    But, if it bothers you, I’ve found Dimrs work well for me. Tim Gunn had a show with a supermodel (no not project runway, some style show) and they were mentioned.

    Reply
    1. Rana

      Yeah, the silicone ones are nice, because they don’t slip. They can get sweaty, though, in hot weather. (And then the bamboo or even wool – breathable – nursing pads are good.)

      Reply
      1. Southern Ladybug

        Good point. I personally haven’t had as much luck with the nursing pads b/c I always seem to have the outline of them. I think some of it is psychological for me, too. I hate pumping at work with a passion so when I’m done I don’t want any reminders….like nursing pads in my bra. Totally a me thing!

        Reply
    2. Anon for this

      Dimrs are the BEST, hands down. At $30 they’re as much as a bra, but they last forever (wash with soap), are invisible, and don’t have any adhesive to irritate. Seriously, buy these and save your wardrobe.

      Reply
  15. CC

    My mom has a bit more trouble with this (I work in a less formal/pretty liberal office so I don’t really care), and she swears by those little pedal nipple covers. There are also bras that specifically have built in nipple covers. That being said, it happens to everyone (even men!)–don’t stress too much if you can help it.

    Reply
    1. JulieBulie

      There’s also a product that’s a pair of slightly domed silicone discs. They just stick by themselves, no adhesive. I got mine at Target but I think I’ve seen them at Walgreens and/or CVS too.

      They lose their stickiness after a while, and though not especially costly you wouldn’t want to buy them for everyday use – but they’d be handy to keep around in case a particular outfit turns out to be problematic.

      Reply
      1. Admin Alex

        I second this! I sweat a lot so I don’t wear padded bras (even though I’m well-endowed) and the nipple pasties from Target have been a godsend. They’re like $8 and I find I can make them last a couple of months if, like Rana said, I rinse and wash them gently.

        Reply
    2. SarahKay

      Seconded that it can happen to men too. A couple of the men I work with sometimes have visible nipples under their shirts. I file it under ‘we’re all human’ and move on. OP, if your co-workers are professional they will have done the same for you.
      That said, I absolutely sympathise; mine misbehave in the cold too, and have me reaching for my jacket.

      Reply
      1. Mabel

        Isn’t this why men wear undershirts (so their nipples and chest hair don’t show through)? Or is it so they can not create sweat stains on their nice shirts? Or both? I never actually thought about the reasons. (I’m queer, and I haven’t lived with a man since I moved out of my parents’ house.) :)

        Reply
        1. OhNo

          The sleeveless undershirts don’t do much of anything to prevent sweat stains, so it might be dependent on style and personal preference. Personally, I wear undershirts for the added warmth. My dress shirts are surprisingly thin, and not much use in cold office!

          Reply
        2. Hotstreak

          They also prevent sweat from showing on the outer shirt, and help control the contour of the body (so our bouncing flabby stomachs aren’t as noticeable).

          Reply
  16. jd

    I struggle with this as well and I’ve found wearing patterned shirts or textured sweaters helpful because it hides the shadow of a pointy nip. More of a long-term strategy as your budget sounds like buying new clothes is a limiting factor right now (also maybe patterned shirts are a no-no in a conservative-dress environment? I have no idea, alas), but another way of dealing with it.

    I empathize though. I have very, uh, assertive and large nipples, which is frustrating as heck because having my chest sexualized in any way is dysphoria-inducing for me as well as embarrassing. My mother and sister both have inverted nipples (so discreet!) and I envy them as much as they envy me for mine.

    Reply
  17. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    I’ve taken to wearing thin camis under my bras, and I would honestly not give this up for any reason. I started mainly for chafing reasons (big bust = underwires are mandatory and painful) but they may also help a lot for smoothing for you.

    Reply
    1. Anne of Green Gables

      A cami under the bra! I wonder why this has never occurred to me?! I also get chafing from underwire and will be trying this trick.

      LW, there are good suggestions here. I used reusable cloth nursing pads when I was nursing and like those a lot. They are not expensive and can be washed and should give you enough of an extra layer without adding visible bulk.

      Reply
    2. Lontra Canadensis

      I’ve got some triangular cotton half-bandanas that I tuck under the band of my bra when I’m getting chafed and don’t want to add an extra layer. They’re from Dharmatrading dot com, search for triangle cotton bandana.

      Reply
    3. CM

      I don’t understand how this works. Seems like it would either be so tight that it would ride up, or loose enough that it would bunch up?

      Reply
      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Nah, I tuck the cami into whatever bottoms I’m wearing that day, and I’ve found they only very rarely either ride or bunch — and if they do ride up, well, I’m wearing a real shirt (usually plus cardigan) over top!

        Reply
      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        That was part of my inspiration for starting it, and I’ve never looked back. It’s so much better — and it helps my bras last longer!

        Reply
    4. Struck by Lightning

      I’m big busted (42DD typically) but only 5’3″. I’ve never ever found an underwire bra that doesn’t cause actual holes in my skin within a couple hours. I tried multiple specialist fittings with no luck. I discovered Vanity Fair Full Figure Wireless Back Smoother bras (model 71380) and have never been more comfortable! They actually provide plenty of support, don’t cut into my shoulders or armpits, are invisible under clothes, AND thick enough no visible nipples in the AC. If they ever discontinue them, I’m doomed!

      Reply
      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Man, every wireless bra I’ve tried has been really oddly shaped on me, so I’m either spilling out of them or have crumple zones where they expected my boobs to be pointier than they are (and none of them have supported my ridiculous honkers). I’ll have to keep an eye out for those ones and see if I can try them on sometime.

        Reply
      2. Betty D

        I was about to comment the same thing. I’m big-busted but short (and short-torsoed.) Underwires are a nightmare for me, and that exact bra has saved my life! I currently own about ten of them because I stockpile when they are on sale at Kohl’s.

        Reply
    5. HannahS

      I am intrigued! I’m not super busty, but I’m a very sweaty lady and I wonder if wearing a cotton tank under my bra will keep it from getting damp with sweat, which then doesn’t dry the whole day….

      Reply
      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        I live in a sweaty part of the country, and the cami strategy has really helped mitigate the underboob sweat for me, and I break out less than I did using deodorant for the same purpose. And camis are waaaaaay easier to wash than bras!

        Reply
    6. Jess

      Another option for chafing is a Body Glide stick (although it wouldn’t cure nipple visibility or underwires digging into the skin). A lot of runners use it for nipple and thigh chafing. I know several women who swear by it for thigh chafing when wearing skirts to work in the summer. I use it on my feet to prevent blisters and could not live without it during the summer months!

      Reply
  18. Anon non non

    I like layers for this issue…and basically for the issue of staying warmer overall in the winter. Camisoles, cardigans, and lined leggings/tights under my pants help to keep me warm enough to help combat this and provide cover when the cold gets the better of my body.

    Reply
  19. Malibu Stacey

    I would get some camis to wear between your bra and your blouse. They help with this issue, plus 1) covering up for translucent tops, & 2) covering your chest and lower back as you move around and your top creeps up or down.

    Reply
  20. AnotherAlison

    I wish clothing companies would take note and make business clothes that do their actual job. I shouldn’t need 3-4 garments for coverage. It’s fine for other casual or night-out type clothes, but I would really like work clothes that I didn’t have to layer.

    Reply
    1. JulieBulie

      Yes!

      I’d also like more choices that fall somewhere between the conservative-looking business stuff and the sloppy-looking casual stuff, but that’s a whole separate issue.

      Reply
    2. Murphy

      I know! I was looking for a white blouse for work once. I have a large scar from abdominal surgery and every blouse I tried on was so sheer that you could see my scar!

      Reply
      1. Anon Accountant

        Same exact issue! My abdomen is scarred from surgeries and I needed a white dress shirt. They all showed my scar.

        Reply
      2. Lora

        Yeah, first thing I did after breast cancer surgery was toss all my white blouses. Between icky biopsy holes and surgical site underboob ooze, every blouse was ruined within hours of putting it on. Replaced them all with black, grey, red and blue.

        Reply
    3. Hope

      Ah, but if you didn’t have to layer, you wouldn’t have to buy all those layers from the clothing companies.

      I completely agree with you; I HATE the need to layer because it makes me feel sloppy.

      Reply
    4. Optimistic Prime

      OMG this, and ESPECIALLY bras. I am finding so many simple bras these days that don’t provide adequate nipple coverage – why is that even a thing?! I feel like I have to spend $$$ in order to just look modest. (Although I did recently buy two Aerie bras on sale, around $23 each, that are actually super comfortable and don’t have this problem.

      Layering also means I have to spend like 2-3 times as much money on my clothes.

      Reply
      1. Breda

        I think this is actually a pushback against the t-shirt bra boom: some people got tired of the artificial shaping & insistence on padding, and wanted a more natural look, and now that’s the trend. #freethenipple and all that. I do get it, but I still want some coverage, thank you!

        Reply
        1. Julia

          Not just for the “natural” look. I have E cups and padded bras look absolutely ridiculous on me. Like, no, I don’t want my boobs to look even bigger! But yes, I do wish they’d make something in between “thick & padded” and “nothing but lace” so there’s some nipple coverage.

          Reply
    5. Indie

      I like tweedy dresses/peplum tops for this reason. No layering required. The completely sheer summer blouses baffle me though. At least sew in a damn modesty panel.

      Reply
      1. Traveling Teacher

        +1 on the completely sheer summer tops!

        Where I live (France), people don’t even bat an eye if you’re only wearing a bra underneath. Seriously, I had two colleagues wear this look while teaching elementary school children! To be fair, it was 40C (100F) degrees with no air conditioning, but still…

        Reply
  21. Xarcady

    OP, I think a lot of us have been in your shoes. So it’s embarrassing, but I doubt most people will remember what happened.

    As someone with a bountiful bosom, I pretty much go with the contour padded bras. They really don’t add much in size and they hide everything.

    Other concealment tricks:

    Tops with a print, instead of solids.
    Crisper, stiffer fabrics, like crisp woven cotton instead of a knit or silky blouse.
    Loose-fitting cardigan.
    Shelf-bra tank tops or camis. These are harder to find than they used to be, but if you wear a tightly-fitting shelf-bra tank over your bra and under your top, it helps to reduce the projection.

    Reply
  22. BlueWolf

    I have a related issue. As a somewhat well-endowed woman, I have difficulty finding work blouses that don’t reveal too much cleavage. I have a bunch of the same blouse from The Limited that I really like, but they are all v-cut and none of them button up far enough! I have to wear camis under all of my blouses. I’m sure the same thing would work for this issue, or any of the other suggestions people have provided.

    Reply
    1. NW Mossy

      While it’s not necessarily a match for you, I ended up “solving” this problem by giving up on blouses and switching to dresses where I have more control over the neckline and don’t have to deal with the button-gap problem. There are a lot more options for crew/scoop/boat necklines that minimize the risk of wardrobe malfunctions.

      Reply
    2. Manders

      I have the same problem. Plus, if you’re short, taller people are going to be looking down at your cleavage and seeing things you don’t notice when you’re looking in the mirror at your own eye level.

      I wear a lot of shawls that can wrap around my whole front if necessary.

      (I’ve also had the OP’s nipple problem, and I recommend finding bras with thicker padding or blazers. Layering a clingy camisole under another clingy shirt never helped.)

      Reply
      1. Anon non non

        I’m very busty and when I was pregnant it got even worse. Scarves became a major staple of my wardrobe after a female supervisor stopped at my desk to chat once and said “Woah, those girls are busting out of your top!”

        Reply
    3. Emalia

      At a past job at a nonprofit, I attended an event to celebrate all the recipients of a grant from a local company. I thought my dress was very modest. However, in the publicity photo that was taken of me and an employee of the company, my cleavage was front and center (lighting created a very noticeable shadow).
      My embarrassment was compounded during a subsequent conversation with a male colleague who wanted to post the photo to our website. We discussed where the photo could be cropped.

      Reply
    4. Cassie

      Same! At some point in the last few years, most buttondowns became v-neck with too few buttons. I need more coverage than that. I’ve switched to buying from brands I used to consider dowdy, because I can’t find more stylish options that don’t leave my cleavage hanging out.

      Reply
    5. AdminisaurusRex

      Loft by Ann Taylor has a silky button-up called the Utility blouse that fully buttons to the neck. I replaced all my Express Portofino blouses because I didn’t like how low the neck was on them. Loft doesn’t have the dozens of colors available that Express always does, but new colors and patterns come out just about every season, and you can find older colors on PoshMark.

      Reply
  23. Ms. Meow

    The “sticky things” that Alison mentions, specifically reusable ones made of silicone, are a lifesaver. They don’t have adhesive, the natural tackiness of the silicone keeps them in place. I got a set from Amazon for about $20. They’re comfortable, stay in place, and stay clean with a quick rinse.

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      They’re called “concealing petals” (they’re shaped like flowers with petals, so that they can adapt neatly to the curve of your breast), in case you want to order them online, or you can usually find them in the bra section of departments stores or Target (on a bra-adjacent accessories rack with strap extenders, etc).

      Reply
  24. B

    Been there and done that. Yes, the new t-shirt bras and contour bras with thicker padding would be great. However, for cheaper options and good investments. – tank tops and cardigans are my best friend (old navy sells great ones), shawls can be professional looking and inexpensive, scarves are always nice to cover up, a blazer could also be helpful for your conservative place.

    Reply
  25. STG

    This happens to me too and I used to be really self conscious about it. Unless I’m wearing a suit jacket or multiple undershirts, they are there and noticeable. I’ve gotten used to it at this point and don’t particularly worry about it anymore. I’m not a woman though and don’t have all the added layers to deal with in the workplace. So, from this guy’s perspective, I wouldn’t lose any respect for you. I have had a few select folks make comments about it though so I empathize. Good luck finding a solution.

    Reply
  26. ballpitwitch

    I would echo the comments about finding somewhere you can just buy a million camis in different colors and wear one under everything. Although I have to say, this has never been a problem in my life. Maybe I just buy thick bras and never realized it haha. I never understood what those non-supportive sheer bras were even for.

    Reply
  27. Game of Scones

    Having perky nipples never bothered me until I noticed male coworkers and how they’d stare.

    Padded bras from there on for me, solely to avoid gross people’s gross behavior.

    Reply
    1. BookishMiss

      Yep. When I work my retail gig, I always have a bra on. My all-women office gig? I only bother about half the time depending on the top I want to wear.

      Reply
    2. Zen Cohen

      I have what I refer to as “emotional nipples.” When I am stressed out or my emotions are heightened, BAM. In my home life it’s a little funny and it will occasionally end an argument with my husband when I get worked up over something ridiculous and he points out (pun intended) that I must really be upset.

      On the flipside, when I am anxious about asserting myself at work the same thing happens. The first time I tried to be authoritative and a gross dude replied with, “are you feeling cold in here? Just wondering,” was the last time I wore a bra without heavy padding.

      Reply
  28. KHB

    No specific advice to add, just want to chime in with agreement that I hate that this is even an issue. To the buttheads out there who do obsess about their coworkers’ nipples: We’re mammals, people. Get over it.

    Reply
  29. NomAnon

    I’ve found that camis and tanks just don’t work for me. I can’t stand too many layers, especially during the summer.
    I swear by Wacoal cup liners. They’re thin enough to not be noticeable, but thick enough to provide coverage. They’re about $20 and well worth the price.
    I also usually keep a longish scarf and simple black cardi at my desk because the temps vary wildly across my office.

    Reply
  30. theletter

    I leave at least one extra thick chunky sweater or sweatshirt in the office year-round. The air conditioning is always on full blast wherever I work.

    Reply
  31. Salamander

    Search for “bra pads inserts” on Amazon. You can put these inserts inside your regular bras for the time being. They’re cheap and work.

    Honestly, this issue is the only reason why I wear bras. Even though I’m small chested, I always buy bras with light padding…not because I want to look bustier, it’s because I need the coverage. Hanes has a line of bras with “concealing petals” – search for that term – that are lightly padded and comfortable but have extra material in the nipple area to prevent this. That’s about the thickness of bra that you want going forward. In a work environment, I can’t wear bras without enough padding to conceal, but there are some good comfortable ones out there.

    There are a whole lot of bras that are beautiful but very thin and don’t do the job. I also suggest that you go to A Bra That Fits on reddit for more info. Those ladies know EVERYTHING about bras, and can give you super advice specific to this situation.

    Reply
  32. starsaphire

    I miss the days when women’s clothing was more opaque than tissue paper, and I didn’t have to buy four tops and layer them just to have adequate coverage. #iamgettingold #getoffmylawn

    Reply
    1. Observer

      There are actually work appropriate shirts out there, even for women, that are thicker that a tissue. One thing to look for is broadcloth. It tends to be dense enough that even in white (which tends to be more see through than dark colors) you’re still leaving something to the imagination.

      Reply
        1. SallytooShort

          Yeah and Talbots button up shirts (others not so much).

          I tend to buy pretty conservative tops and then dress up around that. You can still get some fun but professional blazers and skirts and stuff to not feel so dowdy all the time.

          Reply
      1. nnn

        They should invent a clothing shopping search engine where you can search all clothing stores by fabric so you could literally look for broadcloth. Same with things like colour, shape, etc.

        Reply
    2. NaoNao

      This exact reason is why I have a side gig selling vintage clothing especially for women’s sizes L and up. I wanted to provide other women with the very thing I was always looking for: vintage clothing for grown women! (*By which I mean the less whimsical or hip stuff that someone who is older and does not have a model figure can wear)

      Vintage clothing is *so* much higher quality in terms of fabric, construction, notions, thread, and finishings. It was often made in the US by union-affiliated workers, and it was produced in a time when most people purchased only a few items per year, so it had to be high quality to attract those limited dollars.

      I worked for a small boutique that sold mid-range ($30-200) clothing from small-ish designers and my boss asked me (as a younger worker) in despair one day where all the customers had gone. When she started in the late 80s, women would routinely come in and spend $30 on a shirt and then wear that shirt to death. Or $100 on a dress, which would then be worn for several years. Customers would come in and spend hundreds every season because they were dressing all from her store.

      At the time, I didn’t understand the market enough to respond “Fast Fashion”. That’s where they all went.
      When I was in high school, those paper thin tees seemed cool–they were lightweight and you could layer them, they moved *with* your body, and they were feminine and delicate. Now that I no longer have the body and lifestyle of a 18 year old…I need structured garments of substantial material, people!!

      I shop at thrift stores for my goods and can tell just by touching the fabric or looking at it if it’s vintage or contemporary, the difference in quality is that stark.

      Reply
      1. AnotherAlison

        When I was in high school, those paper thin tees seemed cool. . .

        As a high schooler of the 90s, we got to enjoy grunge-era flannel and oversized sweaters and sweatshirts. I had summer t-shirts that were “baby” t-shirt style, but double-knit! I had ribbed t-shirts, thick polyester shirts with zippers (thanks Merry-go-Round), short sleeve turtleneck sweaters (WTH 90s?), but seriously, it was not until much later that I had to deal with this sheer fabric crap. Very disappointing that fashion took the turn it did.

        Reply
        1. NaoNao

          I was a high schooler in the 90s as well (later 90s) and I guess I just have a terrible memory because I must be conflating the early 2000s with my high school years! I do recall garments being more substantial and of better quality in general, but I also recall Fast Fashion nipping at our heels around….oh, 2001 or so, I’d say.

          Reply
  33. ann perkins

    I have gynormous boobs so I basically wear tank tops under everything. Target’s tank tops are great because the are also long so will cover any potential ass crackage too.

    Reply
  34. eplawyer

    I get the limited budget. I do. So long term advice — THRIFT STORES. Seriously, they have a lot of nice stuff for incredibly cheap. You have to take the time to look for it. And if they don’t have that cute top in your size, you can’t just ask them to order it. But when you do score, you score. In the last six months I bought a silk suit for $15 and a full length wool coat, like down to my ankles long for under $30.

    No one will know it came from a thrift store unless you tell them.

    Reply
    1. Merci Dee

      I used to work with a lady who looked forward to going back home to her parents’ place for holidays, because she’d hit the local Goodwill before she came home. Her parents lived on the outskirts of a really well-to-do area, and she always claimed the Goodwill was constantly packed with great clothes because the “society” ladies would frequently cull items from their closets to make room for more. I can’t testify as to the accuracy of that statement (say, as opposed to the “society” ladies being mindful of the charities in their areas that they could assist), but she did frequently wear absolutely gorgeous outfits to work. And she wasn’t ashamed to tell us they’d come from the Goodwill, and had cost $5, $10, $15, $20 or whatever. So, yeah. Thrift stores are a great idea, especially if you can find one close to a more up-scale section of town.

      Reply
    2. CM

      If it doesn’t squick you out, you could also consider checking thrift stores for quality bras. (Go to a store in a neighborhood with lots of rich people! Seriously, they will donate high-end clothing that is barely worn and you can’t consign a bra.)

      I also give an enthusiastic +1 to the “keep a scarf in your office” advice. Perfect for days when you look in the bathroom mirror and notice something you don’t like.

      Reply
  35. A Non E. Mouse

    I second (third? eighteenth?) the t-shirt bra and camisole recommendations.

    I’m small busted but still wear cami’s under lower-cut shirt, or shirt that might gape at the buttons – my job requires lots of overhead lifting, or climbing under or onto things – there will be gaps, there will be movement of material! So if I’m not wearing a pull-over type shirt, like a polo or sweater, I wear a cami. Just a shell, since the ones with built-in bras really do weird things to my nursed-three-babies boobs.

    All of my bras for work are t-shirt bras. They aren’t padded, just lined, and do enough. Target has some ones that will see you through a budget crunch. You won’t have most choice in color, but all you really need in a pinch is a nude and white one.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  36. Footiepjs

    I wear unlined/unpadded bras so I sympathize. I largely don’t care, but I also have a scarf in my desk for when it gets to me. I used to have longer hair that I often wore loose and that could act as cover/camouflage like the effect of clothing patterns someone mentioned above.

    Reply
  37. crookedfinger

    How about a work-cardigan? Something you only wear when you know you’re going into the cold conference room. Get it in black or gray or whatever color would go well with pretty much anything you happen to be wearing. Then you only need to buy one thing, and it doesn’t need much washing if you’re only using it for an hour at a time.

    Reply
  38. MCM

    I recommend that you do what I do, I keep one cream colored and one black sweater on the back of my chair at work. I also wear T-shirt bras & have camisoles galore. But you have a limited budget. OP, go to your local thrift and secondhand clothing stores.

    I got 5 shirts and 2 pairs of blue jeans for $30 something this weekend. They were good brands (Talbot’s, St. John’s Bay, Coldwater Creek). I got a nice dress one time that was Ralph Lauren. You have to take your time and look through them. I work near a major university. It’s great to hit Goodwill and the Salvation Army the weekend after the students have gone home for the holidays, and when they return. Especially when they return after x-mas, they get high quality clothes for gifts that do not fit or they do not like & they donate it. I have gotten some designer clothing over the years for under $10.00. I got a brand new London Fog coat a few years back for $8.00 that the pockets were still sewn closed.

    The same when the students leave at Spring Commencement. I work at a small university, but really large one is in the town over. Doing move out, we have Goodwill Donor Boxes sitting out all over the campus near the various dorms. I suspect that they have similar.

    Reply
  39. Anon Today

    Padded bras is my solution, which always makes my friends laugh (because I have large breasts and certainly don’t want additional size).

    Reply
  40. Katie the Fed

    Having flashbacks to 23-year-old me being told by a male coworker twice my age that my “headlights were on”

    UGH. UGHHHHHH.

    Reply
      1. Katie the Fed

        yeah at the time I was just mortified. 37-year old Katie now realizes this was really inappropriate of him and I should have called him out on it.

        Reply
    1. strawberries and raspberries

      UGH. That’s so shitty. Captain Awkward had this great reply to a young woman saying that men always commented on her blushing, where she was like, “You know what else is an involuntary body response? An erection. Can you imagine if women pointed out every time a man had an erection and laughed at them for it?” Same thing. That guy was disgusting.

      Reply
    2. kb

      Someone once said that to my friend and she responded, “Sorry, it must be because you’re dim.” She is amazing. I wasn’t there, but I imagine the moment was glorious.

      Reply
  41. BePositive

    I don’t think anyone would lose respect for that. I once had my male straight co-worker discreetly tell me my button popped and I was showing unintended cleavage. He was so embarrassed. He said that I am always nice enough to tell men about their fly is down, he figures this was in that same realm of nice things to do. I agree

    Reply
    1. JD

      Oh dear god can we talk about my whole boob being pretty much out the other day. Luckily I am in a very comfortable office so my boss just said “hey your boobs out” in a completely non caring way and I put her back and moved on. Lucky we are in healthcare and go into surgeries daily so we have seen all sorts of things on people we never would want to. That being said he is an adult and not a horned up 15 year old. Any dang adult should be able to contain their “excitement”.

      I had been holding a clients new baby a few minutes before and little bugger flat out undid two buttons on my top without me noticing while he was wiggling around. When I handed him over his foot basically caught on my bra and pulled it down. Watch out for that little kid!!

      I do think the main difference another LW said is, intentional or not. People lose buttons, nipples get hard, we are human with human bodies and things happen. If you are wearing a sheer top or no bra or attempting to show a lot, it will be taken a lot differently.

      Reply
      1. Tiny Soprano

        Haha yes healthcare and theatre will both instill a casual disregard for other people’s accidental semi-nudity. Doesn’t translate so well in an office setting though…

        Cue story about the round of flu vaccines at my office this year. I (fresh off an opera contract) found my sleeve wouldn’t roll up far enough, so didn’t even think before I just whipped my shirt off instead. That was a bit awkward for the poor payroll manager getting her vaccination right across from me! I had to do a bit of explaining about theatre norms… Awkward!

        Reply
  42. Erin

    There are also these band-aid type things that cover your nipples. I can’t remember the name now (not sure it would help anyway since brands are not the same in Europe), but google literally nipple covers. Good luck!

    Reply
  43. Observer

    You’ve gotten some excellent advice.

    A couple of thoughts. One is that another source for nice cardigans is LandsEnd. They are not cheap, but good quality. Also, their sale items are often discounted enough to make them affordable. Also, they have cotton cardigans which are good when you need the extra layer, but it’s warm.

    The other thing is that you can stretch your clothing budget by starting with very basic pieces. So, for starters get colors that go with a wide variety of colors eg black, dark blue, cream. Same for styles – some styles are more flexible than others. That lets you get to a situation where you have that extra layer for most of your outfits without spending a ton of money.

    Reply
  44. Delta Delta

    Team Sweater over here. The combo of living in a cold place, with cold conference rooms, and my low blood pressure/poor circulation, I’m cold a lot. I’ve built up a cache of lovely sweaters (thanks, jcrew sale racks!) and cardigans. I’ve also started acquiring scarves/shawls that are big enough to wrap in several ways for maximum warmth. I also find that my feet get cold so I’ve started investing in nice wool socks (smart wool, darn tough) that look good with business trousers. If my feet are warm (well, warm-ish) I find it makes the rest of me feel warmer.

    Reply
  45. Erin

    Oh lady, we’ve all been there. My last job was at a conservative financial firm and I realized my top was too revealing when I noticed a (younger, male) coworker pretty blatantly staring. I wear a tank top under that particular top now.

    So be reassured that: A) This has happened to most women (even Alison!), B) You do not know for sure, really, if anyone noticed and C) There are a few steps you can take to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    If you’re really unable or unwilling to purchase anything new at this juncture I really like Alison’s suggestion of keeping a sweater at work just for this purpose. If it’s warm, just roll your sleeves up. I’m sure you have at least one sweater in your closet!

    Reply
  46. Arielle

    My style is pretty masculine-of-center so this may not work for you, but I have gotten really into vests recently. Good for disguising big busts and also preventing the button gap. (I also started investing in better quality button-ups which are better fitted and have an invisible button to close the gap.)

    Reply
  47. J9Laible

    Scarves or wraps were my best friend when I didn’t have a budget and needed a little coverage. They’re cheap enough at H&M, on the street, or even through Amazon. I also used them when I was pregnant and then nursing–they camouflage just about everything, and add a pop of color.
    Good luck!

    Reply
      1. NaoNao

        You just get a very long, lightweight scarf and then loop it very loosely around your neck so it’s kind of a fabric necklace and drapes just over your bustline. I think the advisers are referring to those lightweight blanket scarves, pashminas, or similar, not long, thin silky scarves or squares you’d tie bandanna style around your neck.
        I’m substantially-busted and I can’t get scarves to stay *clear* of my breasts unless I wrap them very tightly around my neck.

        Reply
        1. Hapless Bureaucrat

          That’s exactly it. I do have thinner scarves that I’ll do in a low- slung four-in- hand or necklace drape, but that only covers button gaps.

          My current scarf is 36″ wide and 72″ long, and its a crinkle gauze designed to be scrunched and loosely draped. It’s covering about 70% of my chest and doesn’t add much bulk. Thin pashminas work great too.

          Reply
  48. AnonEMoose

    This has definitely happened to me. And it’s possible people noticed, but I’m guessing that most people, if they thought about it at all, probably thought something like “yep, it IS cold in here.”

    Places like thrift stores can be really helpful, if you have them near you and can spend them time looking through things. Also places like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Burlington Coat Factory, and so on. Or…if you have friends/relatives who want to give you stuff for the holidays, ask for a nice blazer or two, or gift cards to stores you like where you could buy some.

    Eddie Bauer also has some nice cardigans, and they often have pieces that could be used for layering, too. Being a busty sort, I gave up on most button down shirts long ago. My office is more casual, so I tend to go with plain t-shirts (no designs), with a jacket over as needed. But I’ve had some luck at places like Lane Bryant and Torrid.

    Reply
  49. LoiraSafada

    Comparisons between genitals and breasts drive me insane. Breasts are secondary sex characteristics; genitals are primary sex characteristics. Nipples are not analogous to some dude’s package.

    The fact that multiple people are suggesting pasties as a day to day solution for women is staggering. Put some tape on your nipples for 12 hours and see if it’s something you’d want to do every day (or ever).

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      They’re the closest analogy we have, and we live in a society that sexualizes women’s breasts. It’s entirely reasonable that a woman wouldn’t want to deal with male coworkers focusing on her nipples.

      Reply
      1. Shadow

        In what world are visible nipples okay at work? Its the equivalent of wearing tight pants that Either ride too far up your butt crack or are so tight your individual butt cheeks are visible- its unprofessional. Sorry I just can’t ever picture a professional workplace where overly clingy/form fitting work attire fits in. No one cares if it’s the occasional chill inducing goosebump type hard nipples, but continuous all day nipple is not professional, man or woman.

        Reply
        1. LoiraSafada

          No one is saying they’re ok, but making nipples out to be as scandalous as a guy’s junk in too-tight pants isn’t helping matters. And frankly, nipples doing what nipples do under a shirt isn’t the same as ‘visible’ nipples, to me. I’d want to avoid it just the same, but there is a difference.

          Reply
    2. JD

      Agree! I am not going to be insanely uncomfortable all day with pasties (which I couldn’t even wear I have a tape allergy) or ten layers because someone cannot contain their obsession over the fact that I have breasts!

      Reply
    3. AnonEMoose

      I’ll admit that the idea of using bandaids (or anything with adhesive) on a daily basis makes me cringe. But that’s because my skin – especially in sensitive areas – tends to react badly to adhesives.

      As Alison said, our society does sexualize breasts. I think that if a woman decides “eh…nipples…people need to deal. They’re covered, if not fully concealed”…then that’s a decision she gets to make. And if she wants to take steps to make sure they are concealed, that’s also a decision she gets to make.

      Ideally, anyway. Realistically, I do feel like there is pressure on women on this kind of issue, which doesn’t seem right to me. But, there it is. We can work to change it, but we’re not there yet.

      Reply
      1. JD

        My mother is a pharmacist so she orders me these special band aids. I have the same problem. I break out in a rash with any plastic surgical tape, band aids, etc. I recommend looking for latex free band aids. Thought I’d share since it is a problem I have as well.

        Reply
    4. NaoNao

      I think, if I read all this advice right, is that people are offering a quick, easy, relatively low-cost solution to the OP, since she mentioned that she doesn’t really have the budget to replace the too-thin garments she’s kind of stuck with now–they are not suggesting pasties as a long term solution. Also many of the “nipple cover” suggestions were specified as non-adhesive.

      I actually agree that sexualization of women’s breasts is problematic since they are, ahem, multi-functional, but I would also argue that nipples, both male and female, are made of what is known as “erectile tissue” and erect nipples are one of the clear signs of arousal or have been coded as such.

      Of course nipples can be erect for hundreds of non-sexual reasons, but for women especially, erect visible nipples on breasts really reads as a sexual display. (Not saying it’s fair or endorsing it, it’s just how it is here in the US at least.

      The fact of having breasts and nipples is not the issue, per se, it’s the fact that certain conditions of the body read or code a certain way and this OP would prefer not to be sending that message, even if it’s incorrect or those people that are seeing it are over-reacting.

      Reply
  50. Dust Bunny

    Aren’t you cold? I’d be freezing.

    But by all means find a nice-looking sweater or jacket to keep at work as a cover-up for cold rooms. You can probably find a nice-enough one secondhand if you do a bit of searching. My first job that required nice-ish clothes, I scored most of my starter wardrobe in hand-me-downs, clearance racks, and consignment purchases.

    Reply
  51. Anoniemous

    I had to wear a sports bra for 2 weeks after having a minor operation, and also could not use adhesive in the area – so I was stuck going to work with nothing but sports bra and tops. I had a female co-worker I was close with, who became my designated ‘nip patrol’, and would sit across from me at meetings and give me the look if need be so that I could cover.

    While you sort out getting new clothing options or if you ever find yourself in the office without proper cover, this is a quick work around if you have someone you trust to do so.

    Reply
  52. Ashley Poreda

    I second the camisole/tank top ideas!

    I am of the mind though that as a woman, we have boobs. Sometimes others can see more of them than we would like and its not intentional – its just comes with the territory. I think you can make reasonable steps to update your wardrobe to prevent it in the future now that you are aware of the problem, but I don’t think you need to go overboard.

    Besides, most offices are designed to be colder BECAUSE men are in full suits – which doesn’t really help with nipple concealment. Most don’t account for women in professional clothing. I don’t think you need to wear a blanket to ensure you’re covered up and avoid pretty blouses because of it is all. (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/science/chilly-at-work-a-decades-old-formula-may-be-to-blame.html)

    Reply
  53. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins

    I live for threads like this. It’s all the situations that I, a shy plus-size lady, am too embarrassed to ask about. The advice from Allison and the commenting public is always so good!

    Reply
  54. Nervous Accountant

    And here I am, some days I deliberately wore no bra and gave no Fs (skin was in too much pain and there was no cooling in a 100 degree office). I wouldn’t worry about losing their respect. They’re just nipples, we al have them.

    If you do want to make an effort to cover, On days I can’t wear a normal bra and a soft cotton bralette instead, I wear those silicone cover ups along with lightweight pads.

    Reply
    1. Tiny Soprano

      It’s also amazing what people don’t actually notice sometimes. My gf pretty much never wears a bra and had a… large piercing for a while too. You’d think people would notice all the time, but they actually don’t. If most people miss that, I can’t imagine them noticing a pair through a bra and a shirt unless they’re looking for it. And if they are, that says more about them than about you.

      Reply
  55. Mananana

    I second (or maybe third, fourth?) the advice regarding cardigans, scarves, thrift stores, and petals, so have nothing more to add on that front. But I did want to add to the chorus of “it happens, and only jerks will hold it against you.”

    And here’s my anecdote: I’m busty, so underwires are a must. One day, I noticed something on my chest that was unusual. It was an underwire, poking out of my sweater. About 2 inches of underwire. I have NO idea how long I’d be walking through the office with that little piece of wire working it’s way out of my top like a cobra from a snake-charmer’s basket. But there it was. In the moment, I was mortified. Now it just makes me laugh.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      That is a really funny image. I can imagine that you were mortified. But I also CANNOT imagine that anyone held it against you.

      Reply
  56. Non-profiteer

    I just want to underscore, since the OP is new to the professional world, how normal it is to keep a sweater, big heavy scarf, or jacket at the office to wear when you’re cold. Don’t think you have to have a new sweater to exactly match every outfit. A lot of us keep one garment at our desks that we wear whenever it gets cold. Often daily in the winter. Mine is a big shawl that is basically a wearable blanket – since my office isn’t conservative, mine is brightly colored. You can tell when it’s a cold day when every woman in the office shows up to a meeting wrapped in our variously colored shawls. Totally normal.

    Reply
      1. Hapless Bureaucrat

        Or an entire shoe drawer. That way I can wear sensible shoes to commute and not have to carry the pumps in a bag.

        Reply
  57. YarnOwl

    I second the t-shirt bras! I also like to wear thinner shirts, especially in the summertime when it’s crazy hot, and t-shirt bras have totally solved this problem for me!

    Reply
  58. MotherOfRabbits

    I feel ya, OP. This happened to me today, even with a padded bra and a camisole under my blouse. It happens to all of us!

    Reply
  59. Ashley

    I haven’t seen many people mention this yet, but also think of investing in a good blazer. When I’m feeling self conscious, a blazer definitely helps me!

    Reply
  60. tunacat

    I have a shawl that I keep at my desk to carry with me to cold conference rooms or on quick jaunts outside. It is one item of clothing that I can throw on periodically throughout the day when navigating the different climates of our office. It was not super expensive, and because I only wear it during meetings and other short periods throughout the day it doesn’t need to match my outfit or look SUPER professional. My co-worker uses a silky black blazer that she keeps in her desk drawer. I launder the shawl once a week, and it’s lasted me years.

    Reply
  61. Old Jules

    I keep the basic, shawl, sweater and a basic formal coat at work for emergencies. Mostly because I don’t look at the mirror before I step out of the house/into the office. With kids, I could have a spit spot, or hand prints or food stains. I also keep basic safety pins, bobby pins, hair ties, spray sanitizer and stain remover pen in my desk. It’s always good to be prepared for the worse. Especially safety pins because I am generously endowed and something that looks great when I put on, might have shifted and look risque after all the moving I did getting to work.

    Just don’t make it obvious when you have a malfunction. Some people think it’s obvious, it’s not and people typically not notice until someone says something. Plus when I am that close to you, my eyes should stay above shoulder :)

    Reply
  62. Goya

    I don’t think they would look poorly upon you for it, but I’m a fan of padded (not cleavage creating, just padded nicely) bras for this reason. Sometimes those bad boys feel like they could cut ice in the winter so no thin bras in my drawer thank you very much.

    Reply
  63. MissDissplaced

    It happens. Don’t worry overmuch, if people are respectful.
    I’d invest in a good blazer or sweater to keep at your desk. Never hurts to have one for meetings anyway. I tend to wear a light tank or cami under blouses in a color that matches the blouse. They’re not expensive either! Walmart is my secret for these and at only $2-3 each you can buy a ton.

    Reply
  64. Jaybeetee

    Ugh, women’s clothing is too thin too! I’ve had on a bra, camisole, shirt, cardigan, and I’ll walk by a mirror and can still see the outline of my bra! I’m a large-busted woman and my other issue tends to be shirts that are seemingly normal/not scandalous, only when I wear them, then sit at a desk, and people are standing over me, I discover they’re getting a LOT of cleavage view!

    In terms of just nipples, I agree that camisoles will probably help, as well as padding in your bra. Keeping a cardigan around is also good, especially if you’re in a colder office. Just a plain black one that will go with most everything you wear.

    Reply
  65. 2 Cents

    OP, I’m sure your colleagues don’t respect you less for your body’s normal ersponse to temperature change.

    You’re not my coworker, who, despite being told not to, insists on coming in jogger pants and sweatpants. He’s a man. And these are more-fitted-than-they-should-be pants. We see more of him than necessary, so to speak.

    Reply
  66. Lady at Liberty

    A good jacket is a necessity in that sort of situation, IMO. Makes you look sharp and gets the girls to pipe down.

    Reply
  67. ArtsNerd

    RELEVANT REDUCTRESS ARTICLE: http://reductress.com/post/the-best-sticky-bras-to-keep-your-nipples-a-secret/

    **Warning: Not Safe for Work**
    A BUNCH of the articles on this (amazing and life-giving) satirical site are chock-full of NSFW text, including headlines.

    This particular link doesn’t contain and words or concepts that haven’t already been expressed above but things get a lot more gray area / NSFW below the social media share buttons at the bottom of it.

    Reply
  68. Legal Beagle

    Look for bras with built-in nipple coverage! Bali Concealers – they’re amazing. There’s a little petal shape on the inside of the cup that’s reinforced with extra fabric. It doesn’t show under clothing at all, and it doesn’t add padding to the whole cup (which you may not want if you’re already larger-chested).

    Reply
  69. Student

    Slightly padded bras help me out with this. I also wear at least two shirts at all times at work, because the fabric is so thin.

    I have a few of… I don’t know what they’re called… they’re like shirts, but open at the front, meant to go over a real shirt kind of like a jacket. Anyway, they cover the breast area, and they’re already loose at the front, so they do a good job of covering nipple.

    In a worst-case fashion scenario, where my clothes of the day aren’t quite fixing the issue, I will also wear my winter coat over my clothes at work and plead to being cold.

    Reply
    1. Landshark

      I call them shrugs, but I’m not sure if this is the proper term. They do cover things nicely if you need them to!

      Reply
  70. Landshark

    I don’t think they lost much respect for you, but if you want to prevent this going forward (which I totally understand), I know they make what are essentially pasties for the inside of the cups of your bra that hide your nipples better. That saves you from having to buy entirely new bras and shirts in the interim.

    Reply
  71. Dr. Doll

    Or if you subscribe to the *Cosmo* school of career management, you can take a piece of ice and make them stand up! ALL the men in your next big meeting will be paying VERY close attention to you! Bonus for wearing dominatrix stilettos in f*ckme red!

    I saw this in a Cosmopolitan randomly lying around my lab about 25 years ago, idly leafing through while waiting for a procedure to proceed. I have never voluntarily picked up that rag since.

    Reply
  72. Night Squirrel

    This is a whole lot of effort and money being spent on nipple-obfuscation. I am a profession with very big boobs who has nursed and is now, well, prominent. I will wear a padded/lined bra. I always wear an undershirt. This isn’t always enough to fully hide them. And you know what? If three layers, one of them padded, are not enough to obsure a feature of my person that I have no control over, people will just have to live with knowing it exists. I will wear bandaids on my nip when ever single man shaves every stray hair that comes over his shirt, front or back, and plucks all visible nose and ear hair.

    People, I am a human being. I have nipples, as do you all. I also have some chubby spots. And big boobs. I will not live in spandex so that everyone can pretend I am not really here. If they think less of me they can suck it.

    Reply
    1. Gadget Hackwrench

      Lol. I gave up bras and had the same feeling. I mean my tits are tiny, but I have fairly prominent nipples. I wear an undershirt to keep things a little under wraps, but if it takes a chill and they decide to turn extra-pokey then it’s not as good as a padded bra would have been. Oh-well. If they think less of me they can suck it. (Unless I’m being filmed/photographed, in which case I get more self conscious and reach for the pasties, or I’m going to be seeing someone high-level at work I’m afraid might fire me or something, and if that turns imminent there’s always scotch tape.)

      Reply
    2. rolllingmyeyeballs

      I completely agree. A reasonable effort is one thing, but if they show they show; it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

      Reply
  73. Sheworkshardforthemoney

    Buy a front button cardigan, you can unbutton or button up as the climate dictates. Buy one in black because it will go with whatever you are wearing.

    Reply
  74. Alternative person

    Shirts that are frillier on the front. It looks a little old fashioned but that layer of frills can make a good difference.

    Also, seconding everything else mentioned.

    Reply
  75. LT

    Aside from all the suggestions, there’s a bit of humor I’ve found from the TV show Friends.

    One is an episode where I’m sure it wasn’t intentional but Rachel was wearing a top and either no bra or clearly a bra that wasn’t padded enough. Seriously, this was on television and while being an actress might involve a little more revelation than a normal person would be exposed to, I sure hope that wasn’t intentional.

    The other is an episode where Monica gets on a stage to sing and doesn’t realize how much she’s revealing under the stage lights (this one was actually the subplot in that episode).

    Reply
    1. Cassie

      Rachel’s nipples are basically the seventh Friend. They’re everywhere, constantly, to the point that there are think pieces about it. She’s been asked in interviews if Wardrobe cut holes in her bras.

      Reply
    2. JulieBulie

      Nipples-through-clothing were commonplace on TV in the 70s. Very commonplace. This really didn’t used to be such a big deal.

      Reply
  76. Likeraccoons

    I know budget is limited, but having a black blazer around that you can throw on with (pretty much) any outfit will keep you looking professional and and a little coverage for cold rooms.

    Reply
  77. Vandals

    I walked into the restroom right as a coworker walked out of the stall and realized this exact issue about her top. I went to the employee first aid kit and stole two bandaids for her – which works in an emergency. She now randomly leaves candy on my desk so there’s always the chance this will lead to a new coworker friend.

    Reply
  78. Gadget Hackwrench

    I don’t know if it helps at all, but I gave up bras a long time ago due to dysphoria, so I do have a few nipple wrangling tips. A bit of medical tape or pasties can ring them in. In a last minute emergancy, scotch can be used but may need to be replaced hourly and you have to make an X (one strip pf medical tape will do.) Ribbed Boys (as in children boys) department undershirts are great concealers even without a bra on, paired with it you’ll be in even better shape. And an emergency blazer/cardigan/shawl will NOT look out of place in your office as so many of us of the boob-bearing type get cold in the office that we keep them around out of survival necessity, so “I get cold” will always be a good excuse for having an overlayer laying around.

    Reply
  79. Menacia

    I’m 52 and the same thing happened to me recently, it was only when I got home that my husband mentioned it to me. This was a few months ago (when the AC was on in the office), and while I did change my bra choice, I did not give it another thought. You’d be surprised when things like this occur, it’s usually better just to adjust and continue on as if nothing has happened. :)

    Reply
  80. rachel

    They are technically for nursing, but try LilyPadz. they are awesome for this because they are made of silicone, so they will form a shell around your nipple.

    Reply
  81. TardyTardis

    Thrift stores can be your friend, and you can find some surprisingly professional stuff with good labels there, if you don’t mind spending some time hunting. 100% wool lasts forever, and also helps with the problem of being too cold.

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