my coworker’s butt crack is always on display

A reader writes:

There is a time and a place for everything, right? Not really. There is no place for butt cracks and certainly not at work.

Our offices have an open floor plan, and groups get rearranged from time to time. We recently had a new team moved in next to us. The noise level has increased but their tone is mostly conversational, so we can deal with that. However, one employee who sits with this new team has his back to the walk way. If he is standing up, his untucked shirt covers the top of his pants. However, when he leans over to collaborate, up goes the shirt and there for all to view is his butt crack. At least four inches of it! I mean, there is some serious butt showing!!

He is a very large person, so perhaps this is a size issue? We can tell when he is standing that his pants are at half-staff (is half-mast saved for flags?). Maybe wearing his pants halfway down is more comfortable for him?

In any event, do we have to see butt cracks at work? And if not, who do we talk to? The best thing would be for one of his coworkers to say “Hey Fergus! Pull up your pants!” but that’s not happening. Do we ask HR to talk to him about pulling up his pants?

Try to leave poor HR out of it. The best thing to do, as you note, would be for a coworker to just say something directly. If that doesn’t work, then someone should ask his manager to deal with it.

It sounds like you’re thinking the coworker who says something needs to be someone from Fergus’s own team — but there’s no reason that has to be the case. Your team counts as his coworkers too, and one of you can speak up! A quiet, privately-delivered “Hey, Fergus, your pants are slipping down” would do just fine.

If the problem continues after a couple of rounds of that, then you could talk to him — again privately — and say: “Hey Fergus, we are regularly seeing parts of you exposed that we shouldn’t be seeing at work. Can you fix that?”

And if that doesn’t work, then ask his manager to intervene. But give the guy the chance to avoid the mortification of an official talk about his butt crack by saying something directly to him first.

{ 288 comments… read them below }

  1. JennyFair*

    Perhaps a private word would be better than calling it out in front of everyone? People of size have dealt with a lot of negative public comments, and this could feel like more of the same.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Yeah, saving a private word for after multiple public callouts feels backwards to me.

      That said, I don’t know that I’d feel comfortable speaking to a coworker publicly OR privately. Like body odor, this seems like a message that should come from a manager. The manager certainly doesn’t need to make it A Big Deal, but a quick, kind, private word from a voice of authority seems like the way to go.

    2. Leatherwings*

      I tend to agree with this. If it’s said in the wrong tone, saying “pull your pants up” loudly enough that others can hear can end up sounding an awful lot like crap mean kids say on the playground.

  2. self employed*

    To minimize his embarrassment, is probably toss in an, “I’m sure you don’t realize it, but we can see your rear end when you’re sitting. Can you make some adjustments?”

    1. Leatherwings*

      This is pretty good language. It minimizes embarrassment and doesn’t make it into a huge *thing* but still alerts him to the issue. I think doing it quietly when others aren’t around is ideal.

    2. Temperance*

      I might tell a white lie and let him know in the moment that we can see his butt, but I probably wouldn’t let him know that we’ve all been seeing it for weeks/months and no one has told him. I think keeping the polite fiction that you just saw it and wanted to let him know would probably be kindest.

    3. Bonky*

      I like the language there. BUT.

      We have a very big guy who has the same problem who works in another office but visits ours a couple of times a month; I don’t think anybody’s considered it a big enough deal to say anything about. I’m his boss’s boss. Customers can’t see it, we’re all grown ups, and god knows it’s tough enough being very obese. He’s often mentioned how stressful and difficult he finds his weight – he’s a nice, open guy and I don’t think this would be a difficult conversation – but I do think it might well be an unkind thing to mention.

      I’d respond differently if it was something like terrible body odour that was impacting on other people, but this? Not a big deal, at least in my office environment.

      1. Cranky Pants*

        Thank you for this!

        I’d also like to add – I am a female and on the large side. While I’m sure I’m not exposing my butt crack to the world, I cannot help but expose cleavage. Even in professional clothing, anything short of a tight to the neck cut is going to show cleavage on me. Buttoned shirts don’t usually work for me without significant tailoring and turtlenecks are just a…NO. Slight v-necks (all professional looking) look good but when your “cleavage” goes to your collarbone, there’s going to be cleavage. I try to minimize this by wearing camis but there is only so much I can do without covering up completely in a mumu.

        1. Cube Diva*

          This is me! I try to sit up as straight as possible, and I rarely lean over when I’m directly in front of someone.

        2. Koko*

          This makes me so mad! There’s a difference between “I can see your underwire because of your plunging deep-V” and “I can see that you have breasts because of the fact that you are not wearing a muumuu.” It’s like, how dare you have a woman’s chest and not figure out some way to make it look as flat as a man’s.

          (And honestly, women with ample breasts who wear collars high enough to eliminate all trace of cleavage just end up making their chests look even larger because of the way proportions and design work.)

          1. Susan C.*

            All of this. Also, reading the word muumuu also puts me in an inexplicably good mood, so thanks for that.

        3. Ted Mosby*

          This is totally different. There is no professional clothing that can’t help but show ass crack.

        4. YoungBustyProfessional*

          I have had variations on this problem since I was 11 years old (I’m in my mid-20s now). School uniforms were always “unseemly” on me – think cheap white button up shirts that are slightly see-through when stretched. I wore only plain white or ‘nude’ bras for the entirety of high school and still got in more trouble than the smaller chested girls who would wear bright pink/blue/purple patterned ones.

          For fellow busty workers can I recommend boat-neck tops/dresses? I find it’s a fairly flattering style for a large chest that doesn’t allow cleavage to be seen unless I really lean over and press everything together.

          1. JustAnotherNonProfitManager*

            Yes to boat necks! I have a massive and growing collection – just watch out for the width of the neckline

      2. Ted Mosby*

        How in god’s name is this not a big deal. 1) IMO to have some man’s ass crack exposed where I’m forced to look at it is waaaaay worse than BO, and I think many women would agree. 2) Why do you think saying something would be unkind but letting someone be embarrassed in front of their coworkers every day and never telling them isn’t? It’s like not telling someone their fly is down… for the sake of kindness. Sound more like an awkward conversation you’d rather avoid. 3) There are plenty of obese people in the world who manage to keep their but cracks covered in public, all the time. Obese people aren’t incapable of dressing themselves. 4)”We’re all adults” absolutely does not apply here. This is not a locker room. It’s a workplace.

        There is seriously no reason anyone should be subjected to a naked ass at work when they don’t want to be. So so gross.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Ehhh. Not trying to say what people should do, and I’d err on the side of saying something because if you could fix it you’d want to know! But I’m a woman and “so gross” really is strong for my feelings. Either second hand embarrassment or mild amusement would be my emotional responses. :P

        2. Mookie*

          Woman here (though I don’t see what that has to do with it), and emphatically do not agree. Most people wear off-the-rack clothing, and off-the-rack clothing is not tailored to a T because people are people, with differing proportions and shapes, and not mannequins constructed along mostly unrealistic, culturally narrow lines. Human bodies are not gross and we are not discussing nudity but improperly fitted clothing. There is always room for empathy when aiding and assisting people in recognizing and following basic work norms.

          1. Kate*

            But we are discussing nudity. OP specifically said they can see about 4 inches of his (for lack of a better term) crack.

          2. M-C*

            But Mookie is totally right, the butt crack problem is entirely a fitting issue, not just a matter of size. Young thin people seem to feel -their- butt crack is fine to expose, which I don’t agree with, but you still see plenty of theirs around.

            I’m a seamstress, so please bear with me as I try to explain. Someone who suffers from the common big belly/flat butt combo has basically 2 choices in waist placement: they can go low, or they can go high.. High is the best bet for coverage, but it’s been unfashionable for decades. Low is almost easier to fit in read-to-wear because you’re basically ignoring the most problematic area. But the drawback is that you’re then very prone to butt crack exposure, as there isn’t really enough fabric to cover the butt, much less allow movement.

            If your coworker already wears untucked shirts, it’d be easiest for him to switch to dorky over-the-belly high-waisted pants, nobody would notice once his shirt was on.

            Let me also point out that custom clothes are not as out of reach as all that.. The first pair of pants, with at least one careful fitting, would set you back as much as a decent suit. But subsequent ones can be cranked out without hardly any fitting for probably not much more than the pants the poor man is wearing. All of you butt-crack or busting-out-busts people could have a much, much better grade of clothes without necessarily shelling out that much more. Decent fabric quality does show to the naked eye, and good fit fools everyone into thinking your body is much closer to the norm. Custom clothes can do a world of good to your professional self-confidence.

            1. Jill*

              I”m a seamstress also and wanted to say this. I developed a Texas-sized muffin top after having back to back babies. Wearing my pants high would put them up to my armpits and wearing them low meant my belly popped over the top and out from under my shirt. I started to convert my store bought work clothes to me-made extra long shirts and blazers that both go to my hips, covering up my belly.

              Yes, the first fitting session and initial pattern alternations will cost some, but after that you wouldn’t pay much more than going to a nicer clothing shop to get professional clothing tailored to your unique shape.

          3. Ted Mosby*

            He’s not 100% naked, but he’s exposing a private area. Work really isn’t the time or place to celebrate how beautiful all bodies are. I don’t want to see anyone’s butt in the workplace. That is 100% reasonable.

            This has nothing to do with a lack of empathy for this man. Privately approaching someone and telling them about a very embarrassing issue isn’t showing a lack of empathy.

            What I’m saying is that 1) to ME, it is gross 2) Many, not all, and not most, but many people feel similarly and 3) it is emphatically not ok to have your ass showing at work if you work in a standard office job.

            No matter what your shape is, you can get suspenders, get a belt and pull your pants up fairly often (yes, it will be annoying! I have to do this because I’m a small woman with a big butt. I do it anyway.), wear a long under shirt, wear higher underwear, etc. This isn’t an insurmountable challenge he’s facing, and it’s also in no way *nice* to let someone do this without even giving them a warning. If he doesn’t know, he’ll likely be mortified.

          4. cinammoncookieroll*

            But men have big and tall options that they can use. And there are vendors like Duluth trading who sell shirts specifically designed to prevent exposed cracks

      3. Penelope Pitstop*

        Bonky’s comment + 1MM.

        Additional note for anyone considering self-employed’s suggested language. While the words are good, the delivery is even more important. “I know you don’t realize…” can feel patronizing if it’s not delivered with empathy and kindness.

    4. Anon Accountant*

      Yes I think this is polite and will let him know without being harsh or embarrassing. Wardrobe issues happen.

    5. Beezus*

      The best advice I’ve seen about sensitively raising wardrobe malfunction issues is to never mention the bared part, always raise it as a problem with the article of clothing that should be covering it up instead. So instead of “I can see your rear”, say “Your pants have slipped” or “Your shirt is riding up.” Never “I can see the color of your undergarments”, instead “your dress is too sheer”, etc.

      1. Ask a Manager*

        It’s because this kind of thing isn’t really what HR is there for. Ideally you’d say something directly and if that doesn’t work, the place to escalate is to the manager. HR is supposed to be for more business-relevant stuff.

        1. HR Girl*

          Thank you so much for this. My very first manager in HR used to say “We are not the fashion police” and I’ve always agreed! Too often managers expect to dump the uncomfortable conversations on HR to deal with instead of addressing the issues head on.

      1. HR Caligula*

        Why do you disagree? This is not a discrimination or retaliation claim, no employment law needed. No need to mediate this either.

    1. Anon 12*

      It’s actually a hundred times more mortifying for the employee to be “reported to HR” than handling it privately and respectfully.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        This.

        I have had to have conversations with many a staff member about what is and what is not office appropriate (one of the perks of managing college-age employees), and the conversations truly go a lot further when handled privately.

      2. Jennifer Needs a Thneed*

        This. I still have bitter memories of the time I was called in to HR because I’d made another employee uncomfortable with something I’d said (innocently but a bit cluelessly). Nobody said anything about it to my face at all, but I got “talked to” by HR, and then they FOREBADE me from discussing it with the other person, and all I ever wanted was to apologize for my gaffe.

      3. HR Girl*

        So true. I had to explain to a manager once (who was going to approach an employee about body odor) that it would make the employee feel much worse to be told “I’ve received complaints from people about your B.O.” rather than telling the employee you’ve noticed it yourself. I mean, would you rather think that all of your coworkers are gathered together talking about how bad you smell, or just that your boss walked by and caught a bad whiff?

      4. The Supreme Troll*

        Definitely agree to just having a verbal conversation one-on-one. Don’t assume the worst; it is more than likely something the “displayer” is not aware of.

        However, if the displays keep continuing (after a 2nd private conversation has taken place), then it is time to give the displayer’s manager a heads-up.

    2. HRG*

      As an HR professional I 100% don’t mind coaching a manager on HOW to best have this conversation but I straight up refuse to have it for them.

      1. Juli G.*

        Yes, this. If you don’t know how to
        tell someone they smell/you’re tired of hearing about Ohio State/it’s too early for Christmas music, come see me and I’ll prep you for that conversation. I will not have it for you.

  3. AMG*

    Start singing, “I see London, I see France?”
    Yell, ‘Say no to Crack!”
    Stick a quarter in the coin slot?
    I’m kidding. Only kidding.

    1. Dan*

      My contribution is “Crack kills!”

      I’d actually go with something light the first time, so I’m actually fine with “say no to crack” or some variant.

      (London/France only applies when you can actually see someone’s underpants, which isn’t quite the case here.)

      I never heard “stick a quarter in the coin slot”, that’s funny.

      1. Rachel*

        “Stick a quarter in the coin slot” has me cracking up uncontrollably. Good thing I have a door I can close!

      2. Cheesehead*

        “Crack kills!” is the first thing that popped into my mind too. (Never used it, just heard someone say it.)

        Maybe something like (softly, so only he can hear) “Dude, crack kills. You should probably pull up your pants.” I vote for a somewhat jokey tone for a first ‘reminder’, so it doesn’t turn into some BIG EMBARRASSING THING.

    2. Seal*

      Come on now – no wise cracks!

      This brings to mind the Community episode Basic Intergluteal Numismatics the featured the Ass Crack Bandit, who went around putting quarters in unsuspecting students’ exposed cracks. Not that I’m suggesting this as a solution or sideline!

      1. General Ginger*

        …out of the shadows, down the coin goes, why oh why, do you suppose (only the Bandit knows)…

    3. Chickaletta*

      “You know you’re a real crack up, Fergus”.

      (When it’s time to collaborate):
      “Let’s get crackin’!”

    4. Moonsaults*

      I know this is a joke but just so some people may stop and think before they do make some kind of cute remark or try to put something down his pants.

      I had this happen to me in high school at an assembly. Instead of tapping me on the shoulder and saying that my pants had slipped down, the jerks behind me put gum down my pants thinking they were being cute.

      So yeah, I just had a gut reaction to this joke.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I had an aunt stick her finger down the back of my pants as a way of telling me she could see my butt crack. It was humiliating enough in itself, but I was struggling with some health problems that caused me to gain weight and didn’t have the money to buy new clothes that really fit me. I *knew* my butt was showing and it made me feel horrible every time I went out in public.

        I do think someone should say something to the butt-showing coworker, but I really feel for him.

        1. Moonsaults*

          A finger? That’s so icky and since she’s older than you (or perhaps isn’t but most likely is), it’s a power play to boot, ick.

          I don’t have any problem with mentioning it to him in that “we’ve noticed and it’s distracting” kind of way but in the scheme of things, I still don’t understand why this bothers so many people so much…it’s a wardrobe malfunction in the end. It should be addressed in the same manner as if you saw a woman with her top tucked into her undies or a zipper being down.

      2. Adonday Veeah*

        This! I already know I’m fat. Why try to humiliate me over it?

        (I’m sorry that happened to you, Moonsaults.)

    5. Jane*

      I’m sure you meant this in light humor, but it’s bullying and the suggestion to stick anything in someone’s butt is suggesting assault. Be kind.

      1. AMG*

        I did not suggest someone actually do it. In fact, that is specifically why I said it was a joke. I’m not really sure how you can acknowledge that it’s light humor and simultaneously call it bullying, especially when no malicious actions were taken.

        1. Jane*

          Because poking fun at people’s bodies, weight, and wardrobe malfunctions, even if the intention is not malicious, can be hurtful and shaming. As Moonsaults and others shared on this thread, these jokes are in the company of not uncommon bullying, humiliation, harassment, and assault that people experience at their workplace, schools, and homes. If you can acknowledge that they’d be hurtful there, perhaps also imagine they may be unkind here.

          1. Kate*

            There are plenty of people who have their backsides showing who don’t have weight issues. Having “crack” showing isn’t always about weight.

            1. Jane*

              Yes, true. There are many examples in this thead of how to address this wardrobe issue in a respectful, kind way that doesn’t mock, humiliate, or shame the person or focus on their body–or suggest assaulting it– regardless of the reason their butt’s hanging out. I’m sorry to be a spoilsport naming this humor as harassment, but this is a blog about how to act professional, and that includes avoiding mean humor targeted at individuals with whom you work. These comments provide a lot of guidance to readers and I hope no one reads the jokes and thinks they’re ok to repeat in a workplace.

              1. AMG*

                Except that –again– I did not actually say those things to anyone, ever.I have not bullied or harassed anyone. I have not targeted mean humor at anyone. You are really making a lot of incorrect assumptions despite my clarifying Multiple times. If you want to red this the way you want to see it then fine, but otherwise maybe you should just quit correcting me for something that didn’t actually take place.

  4. kiki*

    Really, no backsides should be showing at work, whether the owner is male or female. I’m grateful that too-short-shirt fashion has almost run its course.

    1. Koko*

      I honestly don’t understand why shirts aren’t made in a variety of lengths every year. Some women are long-waisted and need longer shirts to avoid baring their tummy; some women are short-waisted and need shorter shirts to avoid unflattering bunching at their waist. Women’s fashion drives me insane, it’s like, “Will this be the year fashion swings temporarily back towards clothes that only look good on my body type, or will it be another year of clothes that only look good on a different body type?”

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this: I’m slightly above average height (like 5’7″-5’8″; tallish but certainly not TALL tall. And I’m maybe a size 8-10 so height isn’t competing with circumference for fabric) and have a long torso, and I’ve been stuck in midriff-baring shirts since the Nineties, not because I like them but because *all* shirts are midriff-baring when you’re built like a dachshund. And forget tucking stuff in–it never stays.

        1. Anon for this*

          Try “tall” shirts! Old Navy sells cheap ones. I’m very slightly taller than you and they are a great fit, even if you don’t need extra length in sleeves. The waist part will sit at your actual waist!

        2. Ktelzbeth*

          Or Duluth Trading Company. Shirts are pretty much all casual, but they are LONG in the waist and I can keep them tucked in! Also run quite large–I’m a medium usually and wear XS to S depending on the style.

        3. Annby*

          I’m going to start using “built like a dachshund”, so thank you for that. I’m about the same height and have the same problem with shirts. When the styles change to even-more-too-short shirts, I bust out my stock of long-enough camis and pretend that visible layering is in fashion.

        4. Lady Montworth (née Janice in Accounting)*

          Dust Bunny, I’m your height and I *rarely* wear a top without a long cami from Target or Old Navy underneath it, tucked into my pants or skirt. Granted, I work in an over-air-conditioned office so getting too hot isn’t likely, but I never have to worry about my top riding up and baring any skin.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, what is up with that? I would love so much to find more structure and thick material, but it’s like “hahaha no” any time I try for that. *sigh*

    2. Moonsaults*

      It was hell trying to find long enough shirts when I first started working. I ended up going to a second hand shop for cute-enough tunics for my temp job that was a real stickler about “your shirt cannot ride up when you bend down”. Not just “don’t show your butt” but “don’t show a sliver of your back either”.

  5. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    Eeew. Well, I’m wondering if he even knows his butt-crack is exposed? I’m guessing probably not. Is there a co-worker that he is friends with there? It may come across more gently from a friend rather than a manager. I’m betting he’ll be mortified that this is happening.

  6. Former Retail Manager*

    My husband is a large individual who has this exact same problem. I assure you he has no desire to show people his ass and he is just as annoyed with pant slippage as the poor souls who occasionally catch glimpses of his rear. It is a function of how his weight is distributed and how clothing fits, as I suspect is the issue with this gentleman as well. As a few others have said, this should definitely be mentioned privately, and ideally, come from another guy if possible. My husband is by no means a wallflower, but I can tell you that it would make him uncomfortable to have a female be the one to raise the issue with him, if it were at all avoidable. Sort of like having a guy mention a menstrual malfunction to you. I’d personally much rather it come from another lady. Just sayin’.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Yep, I think the way it usually happens is when you have a larger body area above a smaller body area. You buy your pants to fit the larger area, and then when you move, they slip to the smaller area and start falling off. So if this guy has a large waist and a smaller butt, as many men do, his pants slip from his waist to his butt and keep slipping. For women, this happened a lot during the low-rise trend when you’d buy pants to fit the largest point of your butt and then they’d slip down to where the butt started curving back in, and fall down.

      Yeah, I think a guy can say to another guy “hey man, crack kills” or whatever, and it would be less awkward than a woman telling him.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Not necessarily–you’re fastening the belt over that larger circumference, so it can potentially slip right along with the pants. This was a large part of why I gave up low-rise jeans!

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Yup, this is the scenario I was picturing (hmm, phrasing?). As a pear-shaped lady, I wear a belt to keep my pants from gaping in the back, but a more apple shape would definitely run into slippage issues even with a belt.

            1. Manders*

              Yep, I’m apple-shaped and this is definitely a problem with many pants. Since I’m a woman, I have a pretty broad range of options like dresses and high-waisted skirts to choose from. When I wear pants, I either choose something with a very high waist and tuck a long shirt into the waist in case of slippage, or wear a very long tunic top to cover any possible crack.

              Options for men are much more limited. He might have to bring in a fleece to tie around his waist, or get used to wearing extra long shirts.

                1. LCL*

                  The Duluth side clip suspenders are awesome for holding up my ski pants. I am a woman, most suspenders hit right over the bust and are horrible to wear. The sideclip ones are so comfortable!

                2. Hrovitnir*

                  That’s a great suggestion! My problem is pants that are loose in the waist and tight in the legs so a belt works for me, but I have observed it seems to be a problem for others, great to hear a solution.

                  I quite like the idea of wearing suspenders anyway… :D

                3. Office Plant*

                  Or overalls. I know they’re not for everyone. But depending on the person and the workplace, it could be another option.

              1. Tavie*

                +1 Also an apple, also have occasional slippage and long shirts/tunic-style shirts/long jackets etc work for me but a man has more limited options. If it’s an untucked-shirt type of office, he should definitely be wearing long shirts.

                My boyfriend has this problem occasionally as well (he has a tummy and wears his pants underneath rather than around the widest part of it) and long shirts are definitely his friend.

                Also wanna amplify everyone’s who’s saying to treat this sensitively, as this isn’t something the guy is doing on purpose, and it can be very difficult to be a fat person working in an office, believe me.

          2. Epsilon Delta*

            Yeah, my experience has been that belts in this case just slow down the inevitable pants-slippage, because you are still fighting gravity.

          3. Wendy Darling*

            Augh, yes! Where most women’s jeans want to sit is actually where I am widest, so they tend to slide down. I usually wear long (think tunic-length) shirts to work when I’m not wearing dresses to keep from accidentally exposing things. It’s also one of the major reasons I now primarily wear dresses and leggings.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              I have wide hips but a narrow(er) waist. So most pants- especially jeans- that fit my hips want to ride down constantly because they don’t fit my waist at all.

              I have a lot of extra-long tanks and camis.

              If I weren’t lazy, I’d spend the $10 to get my waists all taken in at a tailor.

              1. Lizzybee*

                ^^^ This. I was going to make this exact comment.

                My husband is on the larger size as well as tall. Amazon sells long line men’s undershirts and they work perfectly to banish crack. It’s a simple fix.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                Same here, and I deeply resent being expected to pay twice for pants.

                I wear a lot of skirts and dresses. Luckily, I can do that in my job. If I had a pants-required job, I’d be pretty grouchy.

            2. Junior Dev*

              Where do you get your tunic-length shirts? I can’t seem to find ones that are work appropriate, though I haven’t looked too hard.

              1. Wendy Darling*

                Online. ASOS and Evans, mostly. I also get a lot of Old Navy dresses that are sort of tunic length.

          1. RVA Cat*

            I was just going to ask about suspenders. They can be very professional (the Wall Street style with coordinating tie is one of the few 80s fashions I would like to see make a comeback…).

        2. alter_ego*

          Think of it like trying to put a rubber band around a balloon. eventually it’s going to slide down the the bottom, no matter what.

        3. Jessesgirl72*

          Not a belt. Suspenders would prevent it, however. But most men feel weird about wearing them unless they are into that style.

          1. Tarah*

            To me, suspenders on a big guy sort of scream “I’m too big for belts to work”, and I can understand why they don’t care for them.

            1. Sarah in Boston*

              I have a coworker who has GERD and he wears suspenders to avoid putting pressure on his digestive system.

            2. Anon for this*

              If you’re too big for belts, you’re too big for belts. Refusing to wear suspenders won’t make people think you’re any smaller.

              It will only show them your buttcrack.

        4. Cathy*

          Nope – my dear husband has this issue and he’s not all that big. The combination of large abdominal area + no butt to speak of = pants falling off a LOT. He has given up on belts and gone to suspenders.
          Although for some reason he won’t wear the rainbow stripe suspenders I got him.

        5. Anon for this*

          I had this problem during an unfortunate period during the early 2000s when low-rise pants were in and I was kinda fat. Tightening your pants with a belt can make them slide down more, as they are sort of squeezing you out of them.

          The answer is to buy long shirts and pants with a higher waistline.

        6. Bigpersonanon*

          If he is larger than a 38 waist it can be nearly impossible to find a belt at a reasonable price and forget about finding one in a store (online only). Suspenders won’t work unless he also wears a suit jacket or sweater each day. If he is large like me, he is probably always running hot. The idea of wearing a jacket or sweater every day over suspenders would be a nightmare. Then you’d be writing in about his sweat. If his office is more casual he will not want to wear suspenders with jeans/khakis and a polo.

          1. Anonhippopotamus*

            So find another solution – wear a long shirt either over your pants or tucked into your pants to protect your butt. Don’t make it everyone else’s problem.

      1. Loose Seal*

        This happens to my husband and to his dad who both have that shape. Neither one have an excessive beer gut but their hips are super narrow. It’s inevitable slippage. (Makes me grateful for my hips and I never thought I’d be saying that!)

        My husband deals with this by buying shirts with the “extra-tall” designation even though he’s only 6′, so not super tall. But those shirts have longer tails so they cover the crack.

        It’s weird that men’s pants makers don’t tap into this market.

        1. Oh no, not again*

          Probably easier to crank out one basic shape, like with women’s pants. I got tired of explaining how clothing manufacturers just up the proportions of the legs with each move up the size chart, so it looks like I’m wearing hammer pants at work even though they fit in the waist.

          1. Manders*

            I think this is a big part of the reason why stretchy fabrics are becoming more popular in pants–that “standard” size at least sorta fits a wider variety of body types if it’s got some give to it.

        2. Hillary*

          Duluth Trading Company plumbers t-shirts are amazing for this. Everything they sell is expensive, but it’s amazingly sturdy. My boyfriend’s year old clothes look like new even though they’re mostly worn and washed weekly.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Yes, these or an extra-long undershirt might be just the thing. I don’t think anyone really cares what fabric they’re seeing instead of skin in this instance.

          2. It'sColdToday*

            I was going to say the same thing. Duluth Trading “dress” shirts are also extra extra long and last FOREVER. They’re expensive to start (although 25% off and free shipping today) but over time you come pretty close to even. Obviously that’s not possible for everyone (if you don’t have the money now, it doesn’t help that you break even in the long run), but if you do, they’re great.

            Costco “wrinkle free” dress shirts for men also run super long.

            * No financial interest. Just a person with a long torso.

      2. Koko*

        Relatedly, the size ratio thing is also why so many women struggle with pencil skirts riding up on them. Every time you take a step, you increase the distance needed to wrap fabric around your legs, so it slips upward to where less fabric is required.

        Luckily in the case of pencil skirts the larger area is *below* the smaller area, so there’s a fairly easy remedy in that you should just buy one size larger. Pencil skirts aren’t suited to being close-fitting the way other skirts can be.

        1. Fake coffee snob*

          Ack that just makes me think of how pencil skirts always slowly rotate to the right on me. It makes no sense. Is that a problem other people have?

          1. Elsajeni*

            YES! Although for me it’s all skirts, not just pencil skirts. The nightly struggle to figure out where the hell my zipper has ended up so I can change.

      3. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I highly recommend suspenders (braces for those on the other side of the Pond), especially the kind that use buttons to fasten, not clips. It is possible to buy a couple of nice (even pretty!) pairs and the buttons come with them for under $50, take the trousers to a tailor and they can put the buttons on and remove the belt loops (so the pants don’t look odd). Even buying extra buttons for this won’t break the bank. I’ve known people who have done this with even jeans. I’ve been told that braces(uk)/suspenders(usa) are a lot more comfy.

        Might seem like overkill, but it is a good solution for the fact that there is a lot of variation in the human body.

      4. Isben Takes Tea*

        Freakonomics just had a story this weekend on the absurd fact that fashion clings to belts when the physics clearly recommends suspenders!

        1. Ted Mosby*

          hahaha i love the idea of the concept of pyhsics making that recommendation. I assume it’s wearing tweed and smoking a pipe.

        2. Withans*

          But is there a knack to using the bathroom in braces/suspenders that I’m just not aware of? I can see that for people who don’t need to take their trousers off to pee, it’s less of an issue, but for those of us who do, braces are a pain, especially if you’re wearing layers of formalwear over the top. Is there a secret to it?

          1. Julia*

            This is the first time I hear of someone having to take their trousers off to pee. May I ask why that is?

                1. Mirax*

                  I think what Withans means is just the part where pants need to be pulled down–if you have anything on over the suspenders (jackets, etc) those layers need to go too in order to move the suspenders to pull your pants down and it turns into a Whole Thing, especially if the bathroom doesn’t have enough hooks for all the garments you’re removing.

          2. froggie*

            Just slip ’em down off your shoulders, then pull ’em back up when you’re done. You don’t have to unfasten them. (Living history reenactor who is a girl but plays as a guy, and braces are part of the uniform).

            1. froggie*

              …layers over the top make it harder, but the hack for that is unfasten just the front of the braces, leave the back attached, and hang onto the loose ends to stop them slipping down your back. Practice is key.

    2. Zip Silver*

      The solution to Fergus’s (and your husband’s) problem is suspenders. They are a little old fashioned, but have more resilience than belts do.

      1. Lizabeth*

        Or use both…Justin Wilson from an old PBS cajun cooking show comes to mind. He always wore them and always said something about them…

        1. AW*

          Suspenders to keep them up and the belt to hold them down!

          I don’t know that he actually said that but that’s what I’ve heard about wearing both.

        2. Gene*

          I wear both at work. Suspenders to keep the pants up and a belt to hang stuff like keys and tools from.

          See above for my suspenders of choice.

        1. Talvi*

          +1

          I am in favour of bringing back wearing nice hats when I go out. Clearly, vests are also something we need to be bringing back!

    3. BRR*

      The people I know who have pants slippage problems who are larger (myself included) have larger bellies and the pants get pushed down by the bellies. Just sharing the data I have.

    4. Elder Dog*

      Your husband needs suspenders, as does the man in OP’s office. This is why they were invented. There are lots of styles and they can look very professional – way more professional than slipping pants do.

  7. AnotherAlison*

    Is it really worth mentioning it to the coworker? I’m sure he’s aware of the issue and tries to keep covered. It doesn’t sound like he’s making a fashion choice to raise eyebrows or anything like that.

    He’s okay as long as he’s not leaning forward. It does not sound like the OP’s desk/chair are right behind him where she faces his butt all day. If that’s the correct assumption, she only sees crack when walking by while he’s leaning forward for collaboration. She could look straight ahead since she knows the issue.

    I’d say something if I literally was looking at his backside all day, or if we had a lot of guests who routinely walked by his desk, but this doesn’t sound like it’s really getting that much air time.

    1. OP*

      Correct. I don’t have to see his butt all day long (and for this, I am grateful). It is only when he is leaning over collaborating with somebody on his team. I don’t know anybody on his team – I’ve never seen any of their faces, or anything else, before so I wouldn’t know who I should mention it to.

      1. nonymous*

        In this case, I personally recommend introducing self to the culprit, buy him some coffee/chocolate and bring up this issue with apologies for giving constructive feedback (maybe a compliment sandwich?) & an open invitation for their team to provide feedback to your group. Then follow up with a cheery-but-professional hi/smile/nod whenever you see him going forward. Maybe some weather chitchat if you run into him on the elevator.

        Treat this as if it’s a stinky fish complaint. Polite, matter-of-fact, and move on quickly. No biggie – we all have butts!

    2. Catalin*

      Worth mentioning? Yes. He probably doesn’t realize it’s happening and very few people WANT to make others uncomfortable with their clothing choices.

      Story time! When I was very young, I tended to wear rather short skirts. My reasoning was that I had shorts on under them, so the length wasn’t an issue. Sometime around 19 or 20, an older avuncular coworker quietly caught me outside of the office and gently told me that my skirts were too short. Was it embarrassing? Yeah! Was I glad he did it after those first 5 minutes? Definitely.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I was at an all-day training once and went to the bathroom before I went into the classroom. After coming out of the bathroom, I had to walk down a long hallway to get to the class. When I got to the sign-in sheet outside the classroom, a man who had been coming in behind me leaned over and quietly said that my skirt tail was caught in my underwear. I reached back and grabbed it out, finished signing in, and went into the room.

        Even though it was obvious the poor guy had to follow me down the hall and then tell me about my wardrobe malfunction, it was not the least embarrassing. I think it’s because he just said it so matter-of-factly and then we both acted like it hadn’t happened. And we were in this class all day together so it had the potential to be embarrassing for both of us.

        So yes. I’d say this guy needs to know. But not with a whole lot of fanfare and preferably without having to talk to a lot of people in the office first to see if they are willing to take on the discussion. You can do it, OP!

  8. Nona Moose*

    I still remember the first year my company decided to hire interns. The hire ups thought that the college students we were looking to hire (to their defense most had never worked in a formal office environment before) would understand how to dress professionally without us having to tell them or give them a dress code. I can recall my boss asking me to have a word privately with more than one intern (because he felt uncomfortable doing it as a man) about her pants or skirt being too low and revealing her thong and/or crack. A dress code was added the following year that made the expectation for dress perfectly clear and we have rarely had a problem since and certainly nothing like that first year.

  9. AW*

    This is not too suggest that the OP should be offering clothing solutions to their co-worker, but I recently found out that garters for shirts is a thing. They go on your thigh and they hold your shirt tail down inside your pants much like regular garters hold stockings up.

    If anyone reading this was looking for a non-visible solution, this might work.

    1. (different) Rebecca*

      Do you have a link? I’m seriously trying to picture the logistics here, and failing badly.

      1. BethRA*

        I googled “shirt garters” – seems there are multiple configurations (and greetings from the land of the easily distracted!)

        1. Chuckling over here*

          If you scroll down that link you’ll find a description that ends, “unisex boys.”
          Thanks for the chuckle.

    2. NW Mossy*

      Or you could tackle it from the other direction with suspenders. Not necessarily a favored option because they have their drawbacks, but probably preferable to an overexposed rear view.

      1. KR*

        USMC does too! Forever laughing at my husband that he has to wear more undergarments than I do to a ball.

  10. Christine*

    I had to tell a young woman that worked under my supervision that when she bent over at the file cabinet that everyone could see her “crack” years ago. My boss told to inform her that if she couldn’t afford new clothes at present, she was welcome to borrow a lab coat for a couple of months which made it even worse. She had just graduated from college & had lost some weight so some of her pants were just too big.

    It was horrible feeling for me, and made her angry. The lab coat offer & affordability were the worse comments to add to the statement.

    As bad as me having to tell someone that the particular outfit she was at work wasn’t acceptable. It was a romper that slid up her crack when she walked, she would go down the hallway pulling at it. Never figured out why she felt that was acceptable professional dress. We were not work casual at all, not dressy, but slacks & blouse or sweater, etc. because we supported the Dean.

    1. Trig*

      I think a lot of students with on-campus jobs have a hard time compartmentalizing work from school. In their minds, they’re at school, not at a place of business, so they aren’t thinking they need ‘professional dress’ and their at-school outfits should be totally fine. I can definitely see how they could make this mistake, and if no one said from the outset that there was a particular dress code, I can see the thinking “I’m just a student, I wear student clothes. These people wear fancy clothes because they are fancy people with real jobs, unlike me”.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        Agreed. I’ve mentioned before, I was once a student with an on-campus tutoring job and never once did it cross my mind to wear anything other than… whatever I was wearing that day! In retrospect, everyone else wore the same kinds of clothes I did (so there were no clues that I wasn’t fitting into the office culture), but an on-campus student job should really be clear about dress code expectations, if there are any.

      2. Arielle*

        Yeah, this happened to me in grad school. I was a graduate assistant in the student affairs office and it didn’t occur to me to wear anything other than what I’d worn to class that day – until the end of my first week when someone had to pull me aside and tell me not to wear jeans to work.

      3. mskyle*

        Very true! I used to supervise student workers and the library where we worked was actually in the same building as a dorm (this was on a compact city campus)… one of my student workers lived upstairs and I had to tell her that pajama pants and slippers (like, fluffy bunny slippers!) weren’t acceptable work wear, even if she didn’t have to go outside to go from bed to work.

      4. Mrs. Batts*

        I agree with the compartmentalizing aspect. I worked in college at a campus library and had a few wardrobe moments that made me realize that context matter with clothes. The worse/my favorite was when I wore a mid-drift exposing shirt to work and thought nothing of it until I went to shelve books and that damn shirt rode up way more than I was comfortable with. Never wore it to work again.

    2. OP*

      I volunteered to give wardrobe feedback to a younger co-worker and it went really well, but we’re both female. I think that matters.

      She had a large chest and a lot of her clothing was too revealing. I started by telling her that she was a great hire and I was impressed with her ability to catch on quickly (all true). I told her that she had done a terrific job organizing an event for our department. Then I told her was worried for her because if Mr. M saw her, he might decide she was nothing but a pair of boobs and he would never see how smart, capable and talented she was. She took it really well and changed how she dressed overnight.

      1. RyantheEngineer*

        I managed a couple of Co-Op students for a couple of years and the most difficult task was speaking to the young lady who wore a nice dress in that it was too short to wear in the lab. The lab manager had asked to address the issue since she was showing more than she should when she bent over to look at the underneath of the car. As a Mid-30’s male engineer it was a little awkward but I framed it much like you did OP. You are a good employee but that clothing choice is not appropriate for the work place. A little embarrassment but moved past it and had no further issues.
        For your situation I would recommend just being straight forward and discreet. Highlight that the issue occurs when he leans over his shirt rides up exposing the gap between his shirt and pants. Do it more in an FYI type of fashion and hopefully that is the end of it.

      2. KR*

        I frame it to my team like this when I’m discussing dress code. Especially since we’re all very young in a government office where most people are older – I tell them that if they’re not dressed on-par with everyone else, they’re going to continue getting comments like “So do you do this for fun?” and “Is this a school project?”

    3. Sled dog mama*

      I had to have the wardrobe conversation with more than one of my husband’s female student workers the first two years he was at his old job.
      Year one it was shirts. There was one particularly large chested young lady who wore tanks that she nearly spilled out of, every single day. He decided to have them wear polo shirts at work the next year to avoid the problem.
      The next year it was the pants, they all either wore super short shorts or super tight leggings.
      He was mortified about needing to tell them their choices weren’t appropriate, which is how I got roped into it. By the third year the returning student workers took care of gently letting the new ones know when they made a poor clothing choice.
      Not that any of this really helps OP but if you can find a male co-worker (not necessarily who knows the guy well) who can gently and privately say “hey man we can see your crack and it’s kind of distracting, could you be more conscious of which direction you point your rear when you bend over?”

  11. periwinkle*

    Did anyone skim through the sidebar, see the title of this post, and then read the next one as “everything you need to know about your rear-end performance review”?

    1. Allison*

      That’s how I read that headline too, and I thought “how odd to review the performance from a car accident . . .”

  12. ACA*

    Poor guy. I know someone with a similar issue – he’s on the heavier side and is tall with a long torso, but not big or tall enough to buy clothes from the “big and tall” section…which means that, inevitably, his shirts end up being not quite long enough a lot of the time. I think a quiet word would be fine, maybe focusing on sitting or standing to collaborate instead of leaning, rather than “Get a longer shirt/pull up your pants.”

  13. HannahS*

    I don’t think that the OP should suggest it, but I volunteer with a lot of older people, and I’ve noticed that some of the men that are apple-shaped wear suspenders to hold their pants up.

  14. animaniactoo*

    “Hey Fergus, when you stand up and lean over, you’ve got a wardrobe malfunction happening.”

    No need to ask him to fix it on the first go-round (because you really may not need more than one). Assume that he’ll fix it as soon as he’s aware it’s noticeable. You’re doing him a solid by pointing it out, not asking him to fix it for your benefit, it’ll come off a lot better.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Oops, sorry – I was reading through comments and lost that Alison said it the same way – the first time is a notification to him, nothing more.

  15. It'sColdToday*

    I have a sort of distant colleague (not a co-worker, but same job at another organization where we often co-host functions) who has this same problem. For her, I think it’s too-short shirts combined with “skinny” style womens’ pants and no belt? We often work with high-school aged students, so it’s even more awkward in this case. Alison has given me a good script (and some motivation) to say something next time.

    For the letter writer, I’d strongly encourage you to say something sooner rather than later. Otherwise you’ll be in my situation and the other person will have to think, “But I’ve worn these pants for years and no one has said anything… does this mean I’ve been exposing myself for years?” Not good.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Worst fashion trend combo I’ve seen (and I’ve seen more than one person do it now, so I have no idea how it’s a thing): low-riding skinny jeans. Apart from it just looks all kinds of odd, I can’t imagine the mechanics of how you walk normally when dressed like that.

      1. nonymous*

        just think of the yards of fabric manufacturers are saving! and they get to charge more b/c it’s trendy

  16. Liz2*

    I’ve noticed a certain male body type which gets a belly in the front and pants with belt seems to go lower and lower on the waist so their shirt tails just barely tuck in, almost always coming undone before lunch. Going up a few pants sizes in the waist makes it harder to find legs which are still short enough- but it makes the overall aesthetic and fitting much better.

    Hard to tell that to someone in person though. It took me years into college before realizing that wearing oversized sweatshirts actually made me look far messier and bigger than just wearing clean lined well fitted tops.

    1. Office Plant*

      Clothes aren’t made for all body types. Well, they are, but it’s unfortunate that some people can just buy clothes at the mall while others, to get stuff that fits, would have to seek out a specialty company or get their clothes tailored. That stuff costs more and isn’t in everyone’s budget. I think this is slowly changing. I hope it will continue that way.

    2. TootsNYC*

      “harder to find legs which are still short enough”

      Pants–even jeans–can be shortened easily. The biggest problem might be the crotch rise, which usually can’t be adjusted.

      1. Jane D'oh!*

        Not easily at all, depending on the cut. I need to cut pant legs so much shorter that tapered styles wind up with weirdly large leg openings. Fixing that would require taking in the entire leg down the outseam, and at that point I might as well make my own pants.

  17. Allison*

    Say something, discreetly but directly. “You’re showing some plumber’s crack when you sit down.” Done. If he’s been aware of the situation, either he’ll know he’s not doing enough or he’ll know people are noticing, and he needs to figure out a solution.

  18. BePositive*

    I would just discreetly let him know his bum is showing in a way of, not sure if you knew type manner. I did that once or twice and never had them back lash. More embarrassed. I told both cases not to be embarrassed, reminded that it’s worse that I didn’t say something.

    There was a repeat offender of a short skirt and she bent over talking you people and I just went up and said whispered, “hey I see your underwear, letting you know” .. someone did go to HR on that one though as she didn’t get the hint

  19. Anon in NOVA*

    If you can’t find a male colleague to say something, maybe lighten the mood with “now you have to promise to tell me if I have something in my teeth! haha” to give off a “hey this stuff happens to all of us” kind of vibe?

  20. Zona the Great*

    All the teachers out there would be wise to start pestering their students to pull up their pants. I taught for several years in Elementary Schools. I was shocked at how many teachers monitoring the hall would watch little Stanley walk down the hall half-exposed. It happened with most little sagging Stanley’s, actually–no one said anything. I was always telling them to pull up their pants, show some pride, be aware of what their body needs to remain covered, and have respect for those around them. If little Stanley hears this from adults, he will be less inclined to be a grown man who somehow doesn’t feel his ass-crack exposed.

    1. Office Plant*

      Wouldn’t a school dress code cover that? Even schools that don’t have dress have basic rules like, “You have to be fully clothed at school,” right?

    2. Liz2*

      Teaching these days it’s amazing if a teacher manages to get please and thank you out in between all the red tape, changing standards, insane schedules, and violence. Nope, not gonna make it the teachers job to also decide and enforce real world dress codes- most schools only use their own dress codes as sexist hammers as it is.

      1. Zona the Great*

        I’m not sure that was a dress code thing as much as a need to correct issues that would present problems as adults. I felt the same way about telling students that they should brush their teeth not because mom makes them but because society rightly expects it. This helps set them up for success.

        1. FYI*

          You’re that teacher everyone hated. Especially if you make a habit of trying to convince kids to do something because OH NOES, SOCIETY! instead of using a valid argument like, I dunno, a future of horrific dental misfortunes (I know whereof I speak and it was not fun.. but just think: if only some miserable, decrepit hag had told me how much I was failing to conform, that could have all been avoided).

          Telling them that their newfangled youth culture fashion doesn’t show enough respect just proves how out of touch you are and the only thing it sets them up for is a life of tiny, insignificant rebellions.

  21. Office Plant*

    If you catch him sitting like this when no one’s close enough to hear, tap him on the shoulder and whisper, “Hey, your pants are slipping.” Then with a warm smile, “I thought you’d like to know!”

    It’s really important to make the tone one of, “I’m trying to help, to save you some embarassment. We’ve all been there,” and not mocking or condescending or confrontational. If you think about it, the roles could just as easily be reversed. Wardrobe malfunctions can happen to anyone. There’s that blouse that looks fine at home but under bright office lights, is transparent. The shirt that slips and shows your bra straps. So many things. If you’re nice about it, someone may return the favor when/if something similar happens to you.

  22. SlickWilly*

    A p-ass-ive aggressive technique:

    Point a desk fan in his direction so that when the butt is out, he will feel a draft and perhaps think to pull up his trousers.

  23. Mrs. Fenris*

    I’m smiling as I read this thread, because my job involves a lot of leaning over things and squatting on the floor. Butt cracks can be in constant view if preventative measures aren’t taken. Most people take to wearing very long undershirts or camis. I still know more about my coworkers’ underwear choices and tramp stamps than I would like, and vice versa.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Long undershirts FTW! They make my life so much easier (I’m a TA, and the last thing I want is for my students to know that I own underwear with dancing pancakes on them when I’m writing at the board!) Also, thankfully there seems to be a trend towards longer tops in women’s clothing, so more stores stock things that go over the rear.

  24. Lovemyjob...truly!*

    I’ve honestly never had to deal with the exposed butt crack conversation, but I did have to tell a co-worker that she had wicked B.O. It was, hands down, the most awkward conversation I’ve ever had with another human being. She’d recently had surgery on her chest which prohibited showers or soaking from the waist up. She had thought that her sponge baths were doing the job, but given the amount of complaints we fielded from others, they weren’t. I was actually her peer and not her manager (we were both same level management) but our boss (a male) begged me to have the conversation with her. Literally begged me – offered me whatever I wanted to have the horrible conversation. Funny though…after the awkward conversation was over my co-worker smirked at me and asked “so what did he give you to get you to do this instead of him?” I told her the truth…I told him that he needed to treat her and I to lunch. LOL! I figured it was the least he could do for making it so rough for us both.

    I like to think I handled it as delicately and as tactfully as possible though. Given the fact that we’re still friends more than 10 years later I’d say I was successful. I was honest and it went along the lines of: “I don’t know if you’re aware but since your surgery there have been some lingering body odors that have been a bit distracting. I know that you can’t get your post surgical area wet yet. Did the doctor offer any alternatives to water as he knows that you can’t get the area wet for at least another 10 days?” Turns out…he did and a medicated powder was our friend!!!

    1. OP*

      Ugh!! I used to work with a woman who had terrible BO. The worst was when you walked into her office after she had been working with the door closed. One day she complained to a coworker and me that her manager had just told her that she has terrible BO and had to wash herself and her clothes more often. “Can you believe he said that to me?” There was a lot of shuffling and mumbling in response, but she was cleaner going forward.

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        Ugh, how awkward. If someone had had that conversation with me, the last thing I’d do would be to complain to others about it.

        *My* stinky coworker was a very nice, proper older lady who had horrible, foul breath. When she spoke, the air in front of her literally smelled like skunk. Not a single other person in our office ever said anything about it, either to her or behind her back, so for all I know I’m the only one who smelled it. You could literally smell it in her work area after she had been there for an hour or so. Worst of all, she was one of those people who liked to lean in close and speak in a stage whisper for emphasis. I had to hold my breath while she was speaking.

        1. Simonthegreywarden*

          So as an aside, a friend of mine had halitosis for years. She was embarrassed by it; sometimes I would have to lean away when she talked, etc. She brushed, used mouth wash, went to the dentist, nothing helped.

          Then she had a tumor removed from her intestines.

          Bad breath instantly gone.

      2. seejay*

        We had a friend in our social group that smelled badly. Even after he showered, within 5 minutes, he’d just stink. We weren’t even sure what it was… combination of BO and something else? He lived in his parents’ basement and we think the mold in it had gotten into his clothes so even keeping those washed didn’t help, plus the family dog would go down there and wee on his stuff. He was also overweight which probably didn’t help.

        One day, one of our male friends blew up at him and gave him a lecture on how to shower, including graphic descriptions of where to put the bar of soap (young men in their early 20s are… not very nice sometimes). Funnily enough, within six months he lost weight, cut his hair, started grooming himself better (facial hair mostly) and started smelling better. He looks amazing now. And the guy who told him to put the soap where the sun don’t shine is still his friend. >>

        Not that I’d ever suggest having a conversation with someone *like that*. ><

    2. Anon 12*

      I had to have the B.O. conversation once with a leadership level person. She was so bad that if she left my office, later visitors came in and thought it was me because of the odor she left. Once we cleared that up I just marched in and told her we were about to have an awkward conversation and I was willing to stay and brainstorm or deliver and leave based on her comfort level. It wasn’t comfortable but it wasn’t as bad as I thought and we never spoke of it again.

      1. Astor*

        I really like that you said up-front that you were willing to stay and brainstorm and deliver and leave based on her comfort level. That’s a really kind and useful thing to hear <3

      2. kiki*

        I had to have that talk with a coworker who was into natural deodorant. Which, in her case, wasn’t effective enough. Then she got into the no-poo thing and the hair smell…omg. Pretty happy I got a new job!

      3. Hrovitnir*

        Ditto on liking the extremely direct approach with options of discussion/no discussion. I think that’s a good way to do it rather than wincing through a conversation trying to pretend it’s not painfully awkward!

        On the anecdata train, I had a coworker who had BO – not at the level of some of these comments, but if she had to reach over you it was pretty bad. We found out she didn’t use deodorant. Our manager talked to her and it improved for a while but unfortunately eventually slipped and no one wanted to do it again.

    3. Anon, anon*

      I once had to tell one of my employees that he needed to pay more attention to his axillary hygiene. It was not a fun conversation, but in this case I had two outs: he was spending part of his time moving boxes in our un-air-conditioned storeroom (in summer! in the South!) before coming back into the main office for the rest of the day, and he was anosmic so he actually didn’t realize that he stank. Once I told him to please spritz some deodorant after his storeroom work, and BTW there are some body wipes in the cabinet of one of the restrooms, the problem cleared up.

    4. Julia*

      I once had to tell a cleaning lady at work that she had bad body odour, and she flat out denied that she was the problem and blamed it on everyone and everything else. It was our trash (nope), it was my allergies (what?), it wasn’t her. Several people complained about odour only after she was in, but she just wouldn’t believe it and got pretty rude with me in the end.

  25. Bwooster*

    We had an issue like this with a co-worker until someone (not me, I wouldn’t dare) walked up to him and dropped a pencil down his crack. No the way I’d recommend you solve it, but it worked.

      1. Zombii*

        Technically it may be battery because the victim is being touched, not just threatened (assault).

        PS – I would love it if the term “bullying” would just die. Calling something bullying infantalizes an actual, defined crime that already has civil and/or criminal remedies. When I was bullied in high school, I never called it bullying, I called it harassment and assault; I never threatened to tell a teacher or a parent, I threatened to call the police and report the crime by it’s real name.

  26. AnonAgain*

    As the wife of a “person of size” I can assure you this is not due to his size. Just like the rest of us a belt works perfectly, as does wearing the correct size. He may also need to buy Tall sizes, which are readily available at Casual Male and it’s affiliated companies to a 6X at least. Tucking in a cotton t-shirt also helps, and gives additional security to know nothing is showing.

    Not that I would ever expect you to address this with the offender, just that the options are available.

  27. seejay*

    Having dated a guy who was quite on the large size, I can assure you, 9 times out of 10, they know about it. Pants slipping like that is due to the shape of the belly/gut and the way the pants fit. Maybe something can be done with different fitting pants, but I know my ex had a hard time finding pants that fit around his middle and stayed up well enough to hide his backside all the time. Longer shirts helped, but when he bent over or squatted down, especially on airplanes, there was usually 4 to 6″ of visibility to anyone behind him.

    Sorry, don’t have much else to provide on how to approach it, other than “he’s probably quite aware of it already so you’re not telling him anything he doesn’t know”. Approach with caution and sensitivity, I know my ex was *really* super-sensitive about it.

    (On the flipside, I never heard the term “coin-slot” for it until my sister told it to me. And I did once stick a quarter in hers when it was flashing around. I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you know you can get away with it with someone. Of course my sister decked me for it, but if you can’t get away with jokes with family….)

    1. Sadsack*

      I don’t intend to be insensitive and I am sorry if I come across that way, but if a person knows his pants are exposing his butt crack, especially at work, I expect the person to do absolutely anything necessary to prevent it at all times. It shouldn’t be up to everyone else to just try to ignore it. I am hoping that in the case of the OP, he will make what ever adjustments are necessary once the issue is kindly and politely brought to his attention. I truly do not expect him to say, “yeah, I know, nothing I can really do about it though.”

  28. kckckc*

    TLDR: Big people know they are big. He’s most likely not doing it on purpose. A gentle word from a friendly coworker will go far.

    Expanded thoughts:
    As the wife of a man of size, I can pretty much guarantee you that he very likely isn’t aware of it. However, what most large people ARE acutely aware of is their size and all of the issues that come along with it. A gentle word from a coworker (especially if there is one that is close to him) is a much better way to go than dragging in managers or HR. Large people already have trouble fitting into the world, and the fact that most clothing now is cheaply made overseas (and doesn’t fit anyone well) doesn’t make it any easier. Being spoken to about an issue by your manager or HR is infinitely more awkward and embarrassing than hearing the same message from a coworker.

    The next time it happens, stick around and when you have a private moment gently say something along the lines of, “Hey, Fergus, I’m sure you aren’t aware of this but your hiney is showing when you bend over like that… I just wanted to make sure you were aware because I know I sure would want to know.” Then smile your warmest smile and either move on to the next subject or take your leave. Above all, be kind and realize that it’s not something that he is doing on purpose or probably even aware of. We all have embarrassing things happen, and it’s the way that the people around us respond to them that makes the difference.

    1. Christine*

      My father had this issue and refused to go up a size when needed. It took his pants splitting at work before he was willing to give Mom the go ahead to purchase him new pants. She bought all his clothes, part of the problem was that he refused to go shopping and try them on. If it was up to him, he would be walking around in skin tight pants until the split open along the back seam. I guess he did kind of do that, every time he put more weight on, he would have to split the pants before buying new ones than one of us would get a call to take him a new pair of pants.

  29. Jeanne*

    The headlines I see when I come to this site. I hope you can get someone (male) to talk to him. No one wants to see that. Ask the guy to be nice to him so he’s not completely embarrassed. (I was recently at a church function where a 5 yr old sat in front of me and had a crack problem. I didn’t say anything. Maybe I should have.)

  30. Photoshop Til I Drop*

    Several years into my current job, I am still going overboard doing favors for the woman who discreetly told me at a corporate dinner that my button-down had popped a button across my breasts. That is how grateful I was that she took the time to whisper that to me! Tell him privately, he will appreciate it.

  31. Big Red*

    My husband is a school administrator and is 6’4″ and around 300lbs. With absolutely no heiney. ;-) He wears suspenders under his suits and that has solved all of his plumber’s crack issues. And he says his belly feels much better now that his pants aren’t cinched so tightly trying to keep them up. And I, for one, think suspenders look snappy!

  32. memyselfandi*

    As a Master Seamstress knowledgeable of pattern adjustment and tailoring, I am well aware of the joy of wearing clothing that fits perfectly without having a perfect figure. So many people struggle with the fact that clothing manufactured to standard sizes does not fit our non-standard bodies. The answer is to have clothing tailored to fit your body. It is not as out of reach as you might expect and the payoff in comfort and improved appearance is tremendous For a large person who suffers “slippage” of trousers, I would like to suggest trousers and suspenders. You might have to go to a specialized menswear shop, and it might mean fewer pieces of clothing (but of higher quality) butt (pun intended) you will feel better about yourself and others will feel better about you.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I have a pipe dream / fantasy of starting a Custom Pants business that makes simple trousers for heavy people.
      Pants with a proper* crotch rise (to come all the way up AND over your butt–since today’s pants are sized to fit “just below the waist”).
      With proper thigh circumference.
      With appropriate ease across the butt.
      And whose dimensions take into account the reshaping that the body does when it bends.

      (also, today’s shirts are often sized shorter than they used to be–that doesn’t help.)

      *i.e., “proper” for the specific body)

    2. Tarah*

      I have to get about 50% of my clothing tailored and it does get prohibitively expensive sometimes. I have a beautiful shirt in my closet waiting til after Christmas to be tailored because tailoring it now means less Christmas presents for my family.when the average nice item I buy costs $50 and tailoring is another $30-$50, it adds up.

  33. MyTwoCents.. Hope it helps*

    http://www.duluthtrading DOT com sells long tail shirts for both men and woman, casual styles and button down. This should help those in the comments that said they had the problem or have someone they know with the problem. They sell via website and catalog.

  34. Jane D'oh!*

    FWIW, as a woman with a disproportionately long torso, I love the extra-long layering tees from LA Made. I wear them under sweaters all winter long, tucked into my pants. My only complaint is that they only have super-high crew necks, and no v-necks.

  35. TootsNYC*

    The other thing that makes this tough for men AND women of larger girth is the trend for all pants to “sit slightly below the waist.”

    It’s HARD to find pants that come TO your waistline. Where you might be able to get the belt to ride over the hipbone.

  36. MuseumChick*

    Haven’t read all the comments so I’m sure someone has already suggested this. But I would approach this in a similar way to having to tell someone they smell. Do it quietly, in private, and as gently as possible.

    For example, next time you notice to much crack, at the end of the day approach this man and says something like “Hey, this is really awkward but I would want someone to tell me…today I notice that you pants were, um, riding a little low and you were pretty exposed.”

  37. h*

    This is really dependent on your relationships with coworkers, but if there is a male coworker you are close with and could trust with the task, I would ask them to be the ones to mention it. Something like that may be a little less embarrassing to hear from someone of the same gender.

  38. Sadiemae*

    I second the suspenders idea! But in addition, guys of size sometimes need to bite the bullet and buy bigger pants. As they gain weight, men tend to buy pants in the same waist size and just fasten it lower and lower, under the expanding belly. So even with a belt or suspenders, it doesn’t take much to expose a buttcrack gap! As a sizable woman, I feel these guys’ pain, but…sometimes it’s just time to kiss the 36″ waist goodbye and buy the 42″, fellas.

  39. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I think it’s a size/fit issue. I’m young, female, with cleavage, kind of a belly, and no hips. It’s hard to find pants that stay up when my stomach is larger than my hips!

    No matter what I do, they slip down, belt or no belt, whatever size. So I wear plain shirts with a somewhat stretchy material (the Target ones, not specifically made to stretch, but with more give), wash them before wearing so they will have that give and not irritate my skin, and then pull them down when wearing them. Pair with blazer or button down.

  40. Artemesia*

    I don’t believe this is by accident. People showing this much ass all the time know they are and it is a form of exhibitionism. The distinguished doctor who sat on the edge of his pool with his thing visible in the leg of his trunks because it had ‘escaped’ the net mesh suit liner ‘accidentally’ knew it too. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, thrice is enemy action. When someone repeatedly exposes themself, they are exposing themself. someone should bluntly call him on it — privately of course and pretending it is accidental, but the rest of the office should not put up with it. This is one of those things you can fix if you want to.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I know enough about clothing fit (and lack thereof) to reject the idea that this guy is intentionally showing his buttcrack to people all the time because he gets his jollies out of it.

      He may be lazy–because yes, he has to be aware, and he could do something about it. He can fix it if he wants to. But he may not know how on earth he could do that effectively.

    2. Bigpersonanon*

      Cleary you are not a large person. You are making a HUGE jump from what is actually likely what is going on. Bigger clothes already cost more to begin with. If he is very large, he won’t be able to find anything in a store, he will have to special order online (add shipping). THEN if the clothes don’t fit, it can cost more $ to return them. It is very VERY hard to find clothes that fit properly when you are a large person. Hard and expensive. I firmly believe he wishes nothing was showing either.

  41. New to Miltown*

    Just curious. I work with a number of women I respect in a professional office that always have open blouses or loose collars to where you can daily get an eye full. I don’t try to look anymore than the OP here tries to look, but it’s there in front of me. Is this the same or different?

    1. Zip Silver*

      They can see their cleavage in the mirror, whereas the guy in the OP probably doesn’t look for his buttcrack before he leaves the house.

      From what I can tell, cleavage is normally intentional.

        1. Sadsack*

          Yeah, we are looking at ourselves in the mirror from a different perspective than everyone else who sees us throughout the day. Certain fabrics can stretch during the day, also people who are taller or end up standing beside us as we are sitting have a different perspective. That is not the same as someone’s pants falling down.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yep, this has happened to me a few times because I looked fine from straight on, but looking down showed a completely different view, and I forgot to check the looking-down view before leaving the house. Another time, I had a silky-textured top that would slip down over the course of the day if I also wore a silky-textured bra, which took me a little while to figure out.

        2. New to Miltown*

          I wouldn’t say that this is exclusive to mid/end of day. First thing in the morning before I get to my desk isn’t unheard of.

        3. Hrovitnir*

          Haha, I love the description of “sneaky” tops. I definitely think it’s unusual the woman who deliberately “shows cleavage” at work so much as clothing movement as you say, or just underestimating how booby they really look in that top, or possibly feeling like “fuck it” since if you have very large breasts *everything* shows off your breasts!

          I don’t have large breasts but a lot of sympathy for people who do – even if you really like them, there are a lot of downsides, many of them social. :(

      1. Anon for this*

        It’s sort of intentional. If you choose between a crew-neck T-shirt, a V-neck, and a deep V, you know what’s going to happen. But some can slip on you. Wrap dresses or tops and cowl necklines are terrible about this. A new wrap dress did that to me during a meeting with a professor in college. Awful!

        This isn’t to say that showing that much skin is okay, though. More to say that it’s important to move around a bit when you’re trying on clothes in a dressing room.

        1. Jane*

          I always try to dress very conservatively for my job with super-high necklines, but sometimes get blind-sided by the boatneck that swoops down exposing everything when I lean over!

    2. BePositive*

      I think of this as the same. Gently tell her that you are uncomfortable telling her but its a respect thing. You don’t mean to look but you see her undergarments. If they get defensive that tells me theyes know they are showing.

      I had that happen when a shirt looped open and people saw mine (embarrassed)

  42. De Minimis*

    Something like that happened at my spouse’s workplace. The boss’s solution was to walk over to the offender and pull up her [the offender’s] pants!

    Not recommended, though nothing ever came of it. The incident is referred to as “Pantsgate” and “Buttgate.”

  43. matt604*

    At a company I used to work, it was common practice to toss objects into the exposed chasm.

    While this isn’t appropriate for all work places, I recall a teaspoon taken directly from a cup of tea and dropped, still warm and wet, into the void.

    It is still talked about this day and serves as a word of warning for all.

  44. tubbymanager*

    I have to admit, I am slightly overweight and no belts or pants types beyond athletic pants and long shirts have been able to prevent some buttcrack from being shown. He is probably aware of it and can’t do much besides lose weight.

  45. Pennalynn Lott*

    I’m way late to the party but wanted to say that, at one point, Boyfriend “knew” he was showing a bit too much when he bent over in front of clients. He felt the cooler air from the exposed skin. But it wasn’t until I surreptitiously snapped a pic when he was bent over in our house that he understood just *how much* he was showing. He was mortified. He bought longer shirts. And now, with a quick hand movement, he makes sure those shirts are tucked in before bending over.

    Not that this helps the OP initiate a conversation with Fergus, but I thought I’d throw out there that the one exposing themselves might be #awarenotaware.

  46. sundaysunday*

    I once had my fly unzipped and someone approached me and said “this is really awkward but your fly is unzipped” and I felt it was a really good phrasing as it acknowledges that this is just awkward all around but also that you are trying to help.

  47. Lucky Duck*

    My husband has been showing off butt crack since before we were together – in fact, I thought he musn’t have liked me because he didn’t seem too embarrassed about it. Actually, he is just very unaware of it – for whatever reason, he doesn’t feel the cool breeze on his bare bum. My husband is just an average height and weight type guy. He really tries though – belts don’t do a lot, and men’s t-shirts + whatever pants he is wearing don’t seem to do the job either.

    I asked his advice, and he said – someone should tell him when it happens – politely.

  48. Mookie*

    What you do, LW, should in part be informed by what you know of your colleagues’s attitudes about this. Have other people mentioned it, reacted silently but ostentatiously to it, registered it clearly but moved on without remark? I think it’s kindest to give him a gentle, not-humiliating shout if it’s truly become a distraction or source of cruel amusement for some, but if you have any doubts about this I’d err on the side of letting it go and allowing adults to manage their own clothes. I can’t count how many times I’ve wardrobe-malfunctioned myself (starting with tucking my dress into my underwear in second grade during recess, whereupon everyone pointed and roared with laughter at me, including proctors and staff, all the way through a few weeks ago when a pair of trousers decided to just flee my body, legs-first, across a large and crowded quad) and I’d rather forget all of them, but barring that, I wished I’d’ve a kind ally on my side to help me discipline my clothes and laugh away the embarrassment.

  49. Elizabeth West*

    I haven’t read all the way through because I got bored with the clothing discussions, but I think:
    1. Someone does need to mention it to him. If he drops a paper clip and goes to get it, it could be embarrassing for him.
    2. Suspenders would be a good solution if he has problems keeping his pants up. Plus, they look cool.
    3. JUST TURN THE DESK AROUND. If he’s facing the walkway, and there’s room for him to get behind it, then the view problem will be solved.

    1. OP*

      We have those pods with desks that snake along. An individual can move his work surface up or down, but going from here to there is not an option. He works with a bunch of guys; i’m thinking they no longer see it.

      1. nonegiven*

        Take a picture. Write a note along the lines of, “You are showing way more than I am comfortable with seeing. Might I suggest suspenders?” Drop it on his desk when he has stepped away.

        1. Jane*

          I see how this can help you avoid having the awkward conversation, but it would make me very uncomfortable to know a coworker had filmed me (a) in secret and (b) exposed. Please don’t do that, eww.

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