visible bra lines at work, my boss repeats my ideas as his own, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Is it okay for bra lines to show at work?

I have an ongoing battle with my bra cup lines showing under my shirts. It’s not like I’m wearing sexy silky tight shirts! I buy fairly expensive shirts from business-oriented clothing stores, but alas, they don’t always see fit to line their tops. I also have to wear a lanyard at work which pulls in exactly the wrong way and exacerbates the problem. Clothes that seem fine in the store have turned bad by lunch time.

I worked at Victoria’s Secret in college so I like to think I know how to fit myself. I’ve tried buying “full coverage” bras but it seems they just relocate the line somewhere else. I’ve tried t-shirt bras. I’ve tried wearing camisoles under my shirts, but find them so uncomfortable, and still a line shows (albeit not a bra-shaped one).

I was lamenting about this recently and my husband told me I was being crazy and no one cares. I do notice female coworkers with the same problem ocassionally. But I still walk around feeling paranoid. Do I have a reason to be?

Nope. It’s normal and no one cares! Bras just do this sometimes unless you’re wearing a top made of thicker material. Seamless bras and t-shirt bras can minimize it, but they’re not foolproof. (That said, if you’ve never been fitted at a non-Victoria’s-Secret shop, it’s worth doing and could possibly lead you to a solution. Victoria’s Secret is notorious for getting sizes wrong. But if you don’t feel like doing that, it’s fine! Bra lines are not a big deal.)

2. My boss repeats my ideas as his own

I’m writing because I have a certain situation that I encounter semi-regularly and I don’t know how to deal with it. When in large meetings (that include the head of the office), often I will give my thoughts and then directly afterward, my boss will repeat the exact same thing I just said. I feel its incredibly undermining and I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve spoken to him about it before, and asked him not to. He apologized and said he’d try not to do it. Then it got better for a bit, but now it’s back with a vengeance. Should I go back and ask again? Is there anything else I can do?

It’s great that you talked to him about it and he apologized and said he’d try to stop, which indicates that he was willing to acknowledge he was doing it and wasn’t defensive about it. That makes it a bit easier to go back to him now and say something like, “You know how we talked last year about how I was offering thoughts in meetings, and then you were repeating the same thing I’d said without giving me credit? I really appreciated that you were open to hearing that and did stop for a while. But it’s back to happening, and I’m not sure why so I wanted to raise it again.”

Also: It’s pretty well documented that this happens to women far more than to men. (There’s an interesting story here about how the women in the Obama White House dealt with it.) If you think your boss is someone who wants to do the right thing on gender equality, you might consider adding something like, “I don’t know if you know, but this is a well-documented thing that often happens to women, and so I’d really appreciate you being conscientious about not doing it.”

3. My boss keeps winking at me

As a whole, I loathe winking. I find it condescending. I’ve voiced my opinion about this lightheartedly with coworkers, and most people agree that winking is weird, at the very least.

However, my boss has starting taking up this habit. When asking me to do tasks or projects of any size, she winks at me. It’s usually when she’s under pressure or is trying to just get me to complete something without asking any questions. It drives me insane because it feels like she’s just trying to put me in my place.

Many friends and coworkers say that winking is a generational thing and, as odd and out of touch as it may be, that most people mean it as a friendly gesture. But it makes me really uncomfortable when a superior is winking at me in stressful situations. Am I overreacting? How can I address this? Can it even be addressed?

I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU on winking. I do not get it; it seems oddly smarmy to me. And I would be irritated by a colleague winking at me all the time, particularly my manager, and particularly if my manager were using it as a way to say “don’t ask any questions about this.”

But yes, it does appear to be generational and yes, I do think you’re reading too much into it. I doubt she’s trying to put you in your place (that would be a really odd way to use winking, as well as just an odd thing for her to be doing in general). Your best bet is to write it off as a weird quirk and try to ignore it.

If you absolutely must say something, you could say, “I’m never sure how to read it when you wink — why do you do it?” But that’s making too big a deal out of it, and it won’t necessarily get her to stop. (And you don’t really have standing to ask her to stop if this is just a communication quirk of hers.)

4. Can we pool our funds for an office couch?

I work for a large nonprofit organization that has several offices across the country. Our location is considered the “main office” and has by far the most employees and office space (think hundreds of employees in our office versus 7-12 in the other ones). Until recently, we had a small couch in the break room for people to sit and rest, but earlier this month the couch seemed to mysteriously disappear. We later found out that administration removed the couch because some visiting staff members from the offices across the country complained that they didn’t have couches in their break rooms and it wasn’t fair that we had one in ours. Instead of giving every office a couch, our organization took ours away. I understand the other employees’ frustration, but removing the couch has made it harder to find an open place to sit during lunch and the handful of chairs that are left in the room are very uncomfortable.

I suggested to a few of my coworkers that we could put some money together to buy an inexpensive couch for the break room, and many were enthusiastic. Is this something that would be appropriate for the work space? I would obviously check with administration to see if it’s okay to put a new couch in there, but is even asking about this out of bounds? Also, do you think I’d be potentially striking up some bitterness between our office and the smaller offices across the country if they found out we had a new couch?

Whoever complained about this is ridiculous, and whoever gave into them is even more so. Different offices have different amenities, and a couch is hardly up there on the scale of unfair perks. It’s a couch. It’s not like your office has company cars and weekly massages and the others don’t.

Anyway, I think you can ask about it, but be prepared for the answer to be no … not because it should be no, but because your organization is being silly about this. But if you get the go-ahead and there’s bitterness from other offices when they discover this amazing luxury you’ve obtained, you can say very matter-of-factly, “It’s employee-provided. We pooled our funds. Your office could do the same if you want to.”

Read an update to this letter here

5. Should I check in monthly with a hiring manager who sent me a personal rejection?

I recently had a phone interview for a job, which did not lead to a job offer. However, the interviewer personally notified me via email that I had not gotten the job, which is very odd for this organization. Further, in the email she stated and I quote, “If anything changes in this area, which it does often, I will personally reach out to you.”

A friend suggested that I email her about once a month or so just to say hi and touch base. I know that you often say to not keep contacting the hiring manager, but given that she said that she would personally reach out to me, is it worth me just sending a simple email once a month or so (or even less frequent) so that I stay on her radar. I do want to note that the interviewer and I had met before and that I had attended seminars she had given. She did remember me from the seminars.

No, definitely do not email her once a month. That would be way too often and would be annoying. She’s going to feel like basically no time has gone by in between each of those emails. At most, I’d say to do it maybe twice a year.

{ 492 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, I strongly suspect she’s not doing it to put you in your place. You can totally despise winking, but I do think this is a generational thing that may require a certain level of tolerance. There are contexts in which winking is 100% never ok, but I’ve been backing off of my hatred of winking because it truly does seem generational.

    It’s odd that she’s doing this when she’s under stress and doesn’t want to answer questions, but perhaps she’s trying to communicate “please do me a solid and handle this”?

    I had a winking boss (who I love and adore and respect), and he only winked (1) when we were on a phone conference with crazy litigants (i.e., similar to eye-rolling), or (2) as a form of self-deprecation. He did it equally with male and female subordinates, so I never felt like he was being lecherous or overbearing or sexist or pulling rank.

    1. FTW*

      I’m a winker. I’m not sure how it happened. Likely I was practicing in the mirror as a teenager, and it just stuck.

      It usually just comes with one of my friendly smiles, and I’m sure half the time I’m not even aware I’m doing it. I think I do it like mentioned above, on conference calls, but I’m sure there are other times too.

      Winking likely depends one the context, and the person. I would check with your boss, but be prepared for it to mean fairly little and you’ll have to just deal with the weird quick.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Me too – although in my case it’s because one eye has always closed more than the other when I smile (when I was born my eye lid was partially fused shut and needed a minor surgery to separate the skin and the muscles(?) never really reached the full openness, and close quicker and more fully than the other one). I can always…. not smile at people…?

        1. Persimmons*

          My spouse has a droopy eyelid, and he’s had people at work accuse him of being under the influence because of it. Once MY boss accused him of being drunk when we were short a car and he came to pick me up. It’s like “No, I’m just not perfectly symmetrical, thanks for drawing attention to it and for thinking I’m a scumbag who endangers everyone else.”

          1. Anne Noise*

            I am also cursed with droopy eyes, and blessed with gorgeous silver-green eyes that can’t handle bright lights or direct sunlight without squinting or sunglasses. I’ve been accused for decades – from junior high through my now mid 30’s – of being high or drunk fairly regularly. Usually not, and obviously never at work, but talk about an uphill battle!

      2. jackers*

        I used to be a winker. And then I winked at a coworker outside of the office (ran into him and his wife at the grocery store) and his wife questioned him about it (thankfully, not in an accusatory way, just “did she just wink at you?” And his response was “yeah, but she does it to everyone all the time.”). I had no idea how I had started the habit or how it became so prevalent, but I was slightly mortified, decided it was unprofessional and focused extremely hard to drop it. Probably took 6 months for me to do so.
        OP, your boss may not even be aware of how much she is doing this and if you feel comfortable mentioning it, you would probably be doing her a service to bring it up casually to her.

      3. AKchic*

        I wink at small children. But only because I can wink both eyes and it makes them smile / giggle. I also pull silly faces at them behind their parents backs in public to distract them from fussing.

        Now… my *character* winks at people. But, she is an incorrigible flirt and has absolutely no shame whatsoever and gets into too many shenanigans.

      4. corinne*

        I almost never comment but I came here to say: If you can, have a little mercy on the winker. I wink without meaning to, most often when things are tense and I’m trying to make a lighthearted joke. I don’t know why it pops up in those situations, but it certainly isn’t meant to convey anything except lightheartedness. I try not to because I know some people don’t like it, but I don’t always succeed.

        All this is negated if there are finger guns and a snicking sound. In that case, be annoyed.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      I’m a young woman and I like winking. It always makes me smile. I always interpret it in a conspiracy tone… like we have an inside joke. I find it to be a friendly gesture, at least from the people that have winked at me. I’m sure there are people that wink in a sexist or lecherous way, but that’s on those people, not on the act of winking.

      1. CMart*

        That’s my same interpretation (also a medium-young woman in a young-adult professional role). I can especially see it happening under stressful situations to try to help lighten the mood.

        “Hey OP3, we have a looming deadline on the Spout Report and we’re all going to need to hunker down and potentially work late tonight so VP of Spout Operations doesn’t just lay off our entire department ;) Let me know if you run into any hiccups ;) ;)”

        Wherein the winking is conveying “haha oh god this is stressful but let’s just laugh about it so that we don’t cry instead. Haha. Ha…” The conspiracy or inside joke is “life is about to be terrible but we’ll get through it together.”

        Or something. I don’t know. It’s clearly subtle and open to vast interpretation but unless it’s a leering kind of wink I always see it as something used to convey good will.

        1. Persimmons*

          I’ve always experienced it at work in the context of “Let’s pretend this thing we have to do isn’t totally bat$hit insane. Smile for the tyrants!” It’s a way for a superior to convey safely that she knows things are jacked up, but she can’t actually say so.

        2. Birch*

          Do you think the power dynamic has anything to do with it though? I think that’s why in this situation it’s off-putting; it brings up that feeling of being a kid when adults are trying to “be cool” while telling you not to do drugs or something. It’s a feeling of someone with power over you pretending like you’re in it together, when really you’re always very aware that they have power over you. It’s like trying way too hard to make a situation intimate, which is weird when it’s your boss. But I also hate winking in general so I may be a bit biased here.

          1. CMart*

            For me personally? I think the power dynamic is indeed important and it’s actually better for a superior to wink (in this playful, mood-lightening way) than a subordinate.

            My boss trying to cheer us up about the fact that something stressful is happening could be nice. A peon like myself winking about a stressful situation to my boss might look like I’m not taking the situation seriously.

            1. Birch*

              Interesting! I find it weird unless both winker and winkee are equal in power or really have a good sense of familiarity, and strongly do not like it in a stressful situation, but that’s also probably just me preferring things to be straightforward. I don’t mind a :) at the end of an email in those situations though, I just think that winking implies that there’s something else that’s not being said and I’m left to wonder if I know what the secret is or not. IMO it’s good for the winkers here to see that it’s occasionally interpreted badly and to be aware of that!

    3. Pollygrammer*

      I think of the wink emoji/emoticon–it communicates that a message isn’t meant to be unkind/critical/negative in a slightly humorous way (as opposed to the regular smiling emoji). Some people use real-life winks the same way, just to soften what they’re saying.


      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I am a middle school teacher and I found myself winking at students with a smile at the end of difficult conversations (grades, behavior, teen drama, etc.) as a way to let them know that things are okay betweeen us. Overall I think winking is pretty cheesy but I learned quickly that a lot of kids aren’t used to adults who are upfront about things and don’t hold grudges. If winking helps them know everything is okay between us, I’ll keep doing it. (Sometimes high-fives work better. YMMV)

        I do not wink at anyone else, ever.

        1. Episkey*

          That’s hilarious! I don’t know why I find this so funny but I am literally LOLing at my desk, especially at “I do not wink at anyone else, ever.”

    4. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      I have never been a winker and I am pretty sure, due to the power of suggestion, I am now going to wink 10 times today against my will. #Doomed

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        *raises hand as someone who kept winking reading this thread*

        I’m pretty sure I never normally wink, either.

          1. Hey Nonnie*

            I was a natural right-eye-only winker, but taught myself to wink with both eyes as a kid, because my uncle could, and demonstrated it often to me. I was literally holding my left eye closed while attempting to wink for a while. It seems preposterous, but I succeeded! and can now wink with either eye. ;) (;

        1. Your Weird Uncle*

          Haha, me too! I’m glad no one can see me now, they’d think I suddenly developed a disturbing twitch.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          I’m pretty sure the *only* time I wink is when I do so in a very exaggerated way as a joke – you know, like a *literal* ::nudge::nudge::wink::wink:: :-). But I don’t generally mind it if other people wink. Sure, it can be misused in a lecherous or otherwise obnoxious way, but then again, so can pretty much anything else, up to and including “Hello. How are you?”

          It would never have occurred to me that someone would even attempt to use it as a way of putting someone “in her place,” though. I can’t even imagine what that sort of wink would look like.

    5. MagicToilet*

      I had an absolutely wonderful boss who “was a winker”. In the five years I worked for him, I think I got 3-4 winks from him. In every situation stress was high, and we were at our wits’ end (this was during the recession, and it was a small business, so we were sort of living moment to moment trying to keep the place afloat). For some reason the winks helped ease the tension a bit every time.

      He was a good boss.

    6. Emily K*

      My boss on his mid-40s winks at us all too. He’s a great boss – supportive, reasonable, funny, generous. His winking is just a funny (sometimes hilarious) quirk to us.

    7. TricksieHobbit*

      I’ve just realized that I wink at one of my kids. Only one of the three of them, though! I’ve never thought this through before. It’s mostly a conspiratorial, hey-I-see-you, did-you-think-that-was-funny, let’s-talk-about-that-later kind of wink.

      Maybe I sometimes wink at other people, but I swear, I mostly wink at my youngest kid. I guess it’s, like, our thing.

      How strange.

      1. BF50*

        I find this hilarious.

        I also have a mischief maker who would likely illicit that type of response. He’s the child who frequently makes me suppress laughter when I’m trying to correct his behaviour.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        My kids think it’s hilarious when I wink at them (can do either eye) and they immediately wanted to know how to do it. So far they have learned how to wink (kind of), finger guns, and the Spock raised eyebrow from me. There’s your future workforce!

        I don’t believe I have ever winked at a coworker or other adult though, just children. I wouldn’t be bothered by it in general, I don’t think. If it was all the time, that would be annoying (just like any habit, though nothing is as annoying as demanding high fives).

    8. Funbud*

      Funny, my (male) boss just winked at me yesterday. At the time I thought “Hmmm..I’m almost 60 and men are still winking at me.” And I’m a guy!

      Upon reflection, more than one male boss has winked at me. I used to think it was a generational thing, dating from those old men in the A&P winking at me when I was a cute blonde kid. But maybe I’m just the kind of person who gets winked at? I’m gay but I don’t think that has anything to do with this. The bosses have all been straight and one who was a real ladies man winked at me the most often.

      I can understand how some might find this a dismissive gesture but it never bothered me.

    9. GradNowLawyerLater*

      I had a professor — a female math teacher — who was a winker. She was incredibly brilliant and chic, and she would give you directions or a tip when you were stuck. Her winks were much more along the lines of, “Don’t worry, you got this — I know you know how to do this!” Actually, my whole class thought her winking was very very cool.

    10. Kittymommy*

      While I don’t “get” winking, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it being used or intended as condescending. That throws me for a loop. If anything I’ve always seem it used more as a way for people to show a mutual identity/understanding about something or someone.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        My winking oddity: I can only wink with my right eye, at the cost of distorting that entire side of my face. I can’t convey anything subtle by winking.

    11. Totally Minnie*

      I usd to have a grandboss (male, early 40’s, so probably born early 70’s) who would wink at female colleagues as he passed them in the halls. Several women tried to explain to him that the winking made him uncomfortable, but he could never really grasp why. Eventually, I asked him if he thought it would be weird to walk around winking at all the men in the office. He said yes. I said that’s how women here feel about being winked at, so please, please stop. That seemed to work.

    12. Hey Nonnie*

      The whole winking thing at work is just SO WEIRD to me. As far as I know, it means one of two things: 1> I’m flirting with you, or 2> I’m making a joke! Ha ha!

      I… would have no idea how to interpret anyone at work winking at me, absent actual sarcasm/a joke. I’d probably just be confused enough to blurt out “Why are you winking at me? Are you being facetious?”

  2. Cornflower Blue*

    For OP 1:

    If you want zero bra lines and you’re a B cup or below, try nipple covers! I absolutely hate wearing bras so I just wear nipple covers instead and they work great. No visible lines, only about $20 for a pair that’ll last months, so comfortable that I completely forget I’m wearing them.

    1. Fashion Don’t*

      I had no idea that was an option for some women. I’m a DDD at the least (largest cup size I can find locally, and I’ve had terrible luck online) and have prominent nipples. Even wearing a lined bra and a spanx style tank, my nipples are sometimes visible. I try to disguise them with patterned tops. I’ll add nipple covers to my bra if I’m giving a big presentation or an interview, but Too much of a hassle for every day. I’ve mostly quit caring if someone notices. It is what it is.

      1. Lizabeth* – they have a BIG range of sizes. Be sure to follow their size taking tho – bought one their size and one the normal way of measuring. Theirs fit perfectly, the other is too tight in the band but the cup size is good.

      2. Cassandra*

        I buy bras at herroom dot com, which imports a lot from the UK, where designers seem not to have this mystifying allergy to large cup sizes that US designers do. If you have a local bra fitter, they may also import UK bras, and can help you sort out sizing (UK/US sizing is different).

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          Second herroom dot com for their fitting videos, especially. It was LIFECHANGING to be measured correctly. My band size was smaller and cup size bigger when I ultimately got myself sorted out. (Had to buy one of those flexible fabric tapes to measure around). I’ve sent links to the videos to both my nieces. It’s a family problem to have a small back, and nothing else small. LOL.
          Macy’s, other stores that don’t carry DDD,E, F…. they don’t measure you for those sizes, really. So you wind up with bra bubble in the front, pull up in the back, or any of the host of other sizes.
          And, their customers service folks took back my one poor selection and talked me through one with better side coverage and higher/more depth.
          In my case, I feel like I’d rather pay more for the bra and less for the tops (can seldom find blouses that work out to button in the front). It’s an investment that’s worth it for me. YMMV.

          1. Gumby*

            I cannot wear front buttoning shirts either, but if that is a style that you want to wear – try Bravissimo / Pepperberry. They make clothes with extra allowances built in to handle larger busts. Also “strappy tops” which are camis with built in actual bras (not useless shelf bras). I can’t wear a lot of their clothes because I wear plus sizes, but I do get my bras there. In fact, stopping by a Bravissimo went on my written itinerary when I visited London. It is *so* a tourist destination…

      3. JSPA*

        Men don’t wear athletic supporters to hide the fact that they possess primary sex characteristics. Yet so many women tie themselves in knots trying to erase any suggestion that there’s more detail to their chests than the chest of a barbie doll.

        If a decent bra–as needed (to control bounciness to the degree needed for your comfort)–doesn’t entirely disguise your nipples, then…so what? Surely nobody reaches the workspace without having twigged to the fact that women have nipples?

        I know, there are “standards.” But “standards” used to almost universally include high heels–until women took stock of the health, safety and budget implications and pushed back a bit.

        Women can be objectified, discounted, harassed and raped even in cultures where the standards are a full chador. There is no level of coverage that will prevent a “my eyes are up here” problem. If you’ve put taste and money into your wardrobe, such that it is professional for your profession, the idea that you should further disguise or modify your body is one of those cultural burdens you’d may feel better consciously shaking off.

        1. CMart*

          I would say that men (in business contexts at least) do take care to hide some of those characteristics– it can be cringey and uncomfortable to see men wearing dress shirts with no undershirt, thereby making their chest hair and nipples visible through the fabric.

          I’m certainly not arguing that women have much higher standards and much, much more drastic repercussions when failing to meet those standards!

          Just pushing back that “no visible nipples” is actually something fairly egalitarian in the workplace as a standard. And again, I do know that if my womanly nips were visible it’d be judged more harshly than my male colleague’s. But he’d still be judged a bit.

          1. Triple Anon*

            Right. I took a cue from the men and started wearing undershirts. It hides the bra lines and makes my chest look a bit flatter. Women shouldn’t have to do this; breasts are natural. I just personally prefer a smoother look, especially at work.

          1. JSPA*

            Not the parts that are supported by an athletic supporter. My point being that if there’s something possibly swinging in someone’s boxers, we look AWAY. We don’t tell them to truss up.

            1. Lora*

              …or laugh.

              Oh, you don’t know how I have longed to be able to tell dudes to remove the back hair that crawls up out of their shirt collars.

              1. SWOinRecovery*

                If I had to pick any military grooming standard to apply in the civilian/business world, that would be it! No chest/back hair is allowed to show above the collar. Can we like take a societal vote to make that happen?

                1. Visuon*

                  So it’s not enough for you that women are shamed for their body hair, you want to start shaming men, too?

            2. Anne Noise*

              NGL if there was a swinging dong somewhere in the office, I would be hard pressed to keep my eyes away from it. Maybe I need help. That kind of thing is distracting, sexualized or not.

        2. Workerbee*

          I hear you so hard on this.

          I’m only coming from my experience and hoping some use will be found for the OP out of it–I am not yet at the point where I am comfortable with my nipples pointing out (because they do, through layers and layers) at work, but I have stopped wearing a bra at work and am “getting away with it” by opting for patterned fabrics, tops with those attached popover poncho-like pieces, cardigans, and scarves. Etsy and Amazon have scarf slides/sweater clips/etc. to keep things closed if I feel the need.

          It’s definitely more comfortable for me to go braless, so one day I hope to be more comfortable with pointing out in non-disguising tops while at work, but I’m not there yet.

        3. Dankar*

          I used to be really opposed to visible nipples, but I’ve found I’m relaxing a bit nowadays. Of course, I’m still very anti-nipple in professional settings (for both men and women), but on the weekends? Hell no, I’m not wearing a bra if I don’t want to.

      4. Could be Anyone*

        FYI – Amazon now carries lots of affordable bras in bigger cup sizes! Just search ‘bra + size’ and several should come up. I even finally found sports bras that work for me.

      5. AKchic*

        Nordstrom. That is the only place locally for me that I can find anything (and I was a 36J until my weight loss finally hit my chest. My chest is always the last thing to lose any weight. I’m back down to a more manageable G cup now).

    2. Almost Violet Miller*

      Could you share which brand you’re using?
      I’ve only tried the stickers and they worked well for special occasions. Reusable ones would be a great yet seaess addition to my office attire.

      1. Boop*

        Dimrs – love them. Can’t believe I went so long wearing sweaters and scarves in all weather so my extremely exhibitionist nipples wouldn’t show.

      2. Cornflower Blue*

        I’m trying a bunch of different brands to see what has the best staying power – basically, just search for ‘silicone nipple covers’. A good pair will last you a couple of months.

        In my case, I’ve got small breasts but I’m fat, so bra bands tend to dig into me painfully. Silicone nipple covers have been such an improvement.

        Just make sure to get one with padding! If it says ‘gel’, that means it’ll cover up any pointy-ness.

    3. DiscoTechie*

      Something I learned from my breastfeeding days, breast pads as all of my nursing bras with proper support for the DDDs had zero lining in them. I didn’t need them much for moisture absorption but they kept things not at attention. Disposable, easy to find, and they stick to the bra, highly recommend. My bras these days have an industrial amount of lining, so not an issue.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I hated nursing pads; I used my husband’s handkerchiefs. Maybe this would work for you. If your husband doesn’t use cotton handkerchiefs, you can buy them at a reasonable price, they’re more comfortable, and reusable!!

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          They make reusable nursing pads in softer fabrics. I had some that were flannel, and there was a company that had kind of soft microfiber ones that also worked. I used them for comfort rather than actual leakage while nursing; there is no reason they are limited to use only when nursing.

        2. Atalanta0jess*

          I’m sure they could also be purchased by one who did not have a husband at all, even! ;)

    4. Specialk9*

      Or those no back fat bras.

      But also, OP, I lol’ed hard at the idea that because you worked at Victoria’s Secret, you knew about bra fitting. Oh honey. Go to Soma or Nordstrom’s for a real bra fitting.

      1. Allison*

        I actually got one of those from VS recently! I wasn’t going to, until I saw that it came in rose gold . . . but I like it, my back definitely looks and feels smoother.

        1. Chinookwind*

          In defense of VS, they are the only place that I could find front closing, extra support sports bras for my DDD’s. And they work – I jump rope and nothing moves!

      2. Healthnerd*

        yes please go to a local bra shop and get a real fitting. I wore VS for years and then got fitted and realized that I was wearing bras 3 cups sizes too small! I’m a pretty frugal shopper but I’ve realized that its worth paying the money for some of the more expensive bras. Especially if they are going to be more comfortable for you and helps reduce weird bulging/ lines in certain places. Bras and supportive shoes are the 2 items I will spend my clothing money on.

        1. Justme, The OG*

          I don’t think good bras are more expensive in the long run. I remember a VS employee telling me that bras should be replaced every 6 months. Ones I bought from better places have lasted years.

          1. Teapot librarian*

            Every six months?!?! That’s one way to up your sales, but that’s preposterous. Maybe if you never wash them?

          2. AKchic*

            If my weight isn’t fluctuating, I can keep a good bra for 2-3 years if I have enough bras in rotation. Now, I’ll admit that my bras are expensive (the cheapest bras for my size in Alaska are $70), and I don’t exactly go easy on my clothes. Then we factor in the critters (yeah… I lost a few bras to a chewy puppy… oh that hurt) and the “helpful” husband who always thinks he’s doing me a favor even though he’s been specifically told that if he touches my bras he will be fed to a sea monster (dude… how many bras can you ruin before you just stop “helping”?)

            Being properly sized/fitted is so crucial. Getting good material, design, and overall build is important. I don’t want “cute”, I want “built to last more than 10 wears”. I want my money’s worth.

      3. ThatGirl*

        Or a local lingerie shop. I found one in the Chicago suburbs that does amazing work — Tina’s Closet in Lisle, IL, highly recommended.

      4. OP #1*

        I know that VS is notorious for screwing up fitting based on the measurement, but in my time I’ve seen a LOT of boobs and learned to be able to tell what fits and what doesn’t once its on. All I’m saying is that gapping and ‘quatraboob’ are not the cause of the VBL. Obviously VS is not the highest quality nor the widest variety bra, but at a 34D I’m a pretty ‘easy’ size to fit.
        Ironically, I went to Soma last week after hearing friends rave and had a terrible experience. They dumped me in a dressing room with a bra that was far too small and then forgot about me for 15 minutes… and then the next size up was so huge, the underwire was cutting into my armpit. FWIW, I’ve also been to Nordstrom’s and several other department stores. They all agreed on my sizing, although obviously some brands run differently than VS so a 34C fit like a VS 34D.

        1. Ennigaldi*

          The only bras I’ve found that don’t do this are non-molded-cup ones that have a lace along the top. But then you’re dealing with lace lines/nipple visibility in an unlined shirt. The struggle is real!

        2. M_Lynn_K*

          RE: Your first paragraph. I’m glad you’ve said this! There is a weird pile-on of “oh you worked at VS? You actually know nothing about bra fit from your years of experience!” Not to mention knowing your own body. It’s really out of style for this website/commenting community.

          1. OP #1*

            Thanks. Weird to me so many people are seemingly asserting that my experience at VS actually makes me LESS capable of telling whether or not a bra fits than an average person? Its not rocket science… The measuring tape thing is a silly marketing tool, and obviously VS does not cater to the exceptionally well endowed. But I’ve found that most people with a few years experience in ANY bra store are quite good at helping you into the right size if you’ll actually let them see it on.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think it’s because VS is notorious for telling people they’re a size that’s far off from their real size (in order to sell bras, which is pretty awful, given that they’re the default bra store for a lot of women). So when you know that VS is terrible at sizing, a lot of us are assuming it might be helpful to point out “hey, don’t take what you learned there as gospel.”

        3. Matilda*

          34D! Like a couple other commenters, since I managed to replace all my molded-cup bras with seamed ones, I haven’t had to worry about a visible line. Some lace textures can play nice with most shirts too. (:

      5. many bells down*

        Yeah. VS will only tell you you’re a size they actually carry. If you’re outside of the standard A B C D progression, they’ll give you the wrong size so they can sell you a bra. My sister is like a 32F and VS has measured her as a different, incorrect size every time because they don’t carry 32F.

        1. Sophie before she was cool*

          Same if you’re out of the standard band sizes. I was measured at VS as a 34B, which “fit”, but didn’t do anything at all in terms of support. Switching to a 30D in other brands was life-changing.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Amen! When I was a 34C I was measured by a Nordstrom fitter as 32D. The bras fit okay but not great, and not any better than the 34Cs I’d been wearing.

          The removable cup liners you get in some sports bras and swim tops are magic for lining an unlined bra. They’re not always the best material but you can find some that are (like the sew in cups for making your own clothes).

          As for the cup line showing, I have avoided any kind of padded cups for exactly this reason. Unlined bras + cup liners to provide the lining usually lay flat so they don’t show.

      6. NotAnotherManager!*

        Having a bra fitting at my local Nordstrom’s was life-changing. I was guilty of the band size too big/cup size too small issue, and having a well-fitting bra has been amazing. I bought the first two from Nordstroms at the fitting and subsequent ones of the same size/brand from eBay (mostly new) for 1/3 to 1/2 of the price (since I do not fall into the size ranges carried by VS or Target or Costco). Not wearing a bra is not comfortable to me, unfortunately, so having something well-fitting is the best I can do.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I learned last year that women who work in the bra department at Nordstrom go through extra training and some kind of internal certification because they often help women who have had mastectomies and wear prosthetics. It might have been just the store I went to (in a large East Coast shopping center). But it made me feel so good about being there. I learned this after I complimented a few salespeople on how cohesive they were as a team, and after my 87-year-old grandmother was helped by a woman who impressed me with not only her knowledge but with her ability to instantly figure out what my (rather difficult) grandmother needed and wanted.

          Tl; dr– Nordstrom’s bra department is awesome.

      7. CX*

        +1 to Specialk9 and Healthnerd. VS is notoriously bad at fitting and will often steer women above their cup range to larger bands so they can attempt to sell them something, anything, regardless of whether it’s really the best size for them.

    5. Dizzy*

      I used to get bad bra lines and cup gaping no matter what kind of bra I wore. I switched to unlined lace bras and they totally disappeared. Part of it is just practicality–I often work outside in 100 degrees with 100% humidity, so any kind of extra layer is out of the question. Granted, everyone can usually see my nipples now, but I’ve decided (yes, consciously decided) that I don’t care anymore. The vast majority of humans have nipples, and I’m done playing into this “they’re inherently sexual on a woman” BS.

      YMMV, because I don’t work in a terribly professional environment. But I do work with small children in the American south, and there haven’t been any comments yet.

      1. Workerbee*

        I hear you so hard on this. So many things to keep up with, from the smooth-as-an-unpeeled-egg look to beyond, that my current lifestyle at least can’t support, not being a lady of leisure (as it were).


    6. LiveAndLetDie*

      This may not work depending on their attire; small breasts or not, bra-on vs. no-bra-on still has a very different shape and movement for a lot of people, and it’s the movement more than visible lines that would seem “inappropriate” to some folks.

    7. Cringe-y*

      Cornflower Blue – this made me laugh. Back in the 90’s I worked for a major airline as a ground supervisor. When I got pregnant, my navel protruded–third nipple status. My male manager told me I had to cover it with a bandaid. No. Just no.

      1. Atalanta0jess*


        Not cool. I think there is a high level of general social support for pregnant belly buttons poking out.

      2. Cornflower Blue*

        omg! That’s ridiculous of your manager. Like being pregnant isn’t already tough enough.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Ugh, OP#2, this happens to me so often (along with me making a statement, someone turning to a white cis-guy to ask if he thinks the same thing, and then that white cis-guy basically saying, “Everything she said was correct, I agree with her, and I don’t understand why you keep asking me if I agree?”).

    It sounds like your boss is open to the feedback, so I agree that it’s worth bringing up again in the framework of, “Hey, why is this backsliding/happening again?”

    And to the extent that you may have coworkers in the room who can serve as allies and run the “women in the Obama administration” defense that Alison cited, it can be really helpful. My friends and I used to run this defense in law school when professors would avoid calling on women and racial/ethnic minorities (or would ignore their questions), or would misattribute their ideas to white men. At work, I now have a pretty wide swathe of coworkers (of all genders and ethnic/racial backgrounds) who will subtly call this behavior out by repeatedly and explicitly crediting the appropriate person during discussion.

    1. Safetykats*

      It is really annoying to have someone turn to a man in the room to validate what you just said – although in some cases it’s possibly reasonable. I work with some very senior, male experts in their areas who just aren’t always that forthcoming in meetings, so I often end up stating the case for our group. It’s completely reasonable for someone, in this case, so ask the experts if they agree, and they are usually pretty good about starting their answer with something like Yes, Safetykats is absolutely correct.

      However, I can’t tell form the letter if the boss is really trying to claim OPs ideas as his own, of if this is just a bad habit or conversational tic. Surely nobody in the room can think something is his idea if the OP just said it? I might try to relax a little about it, and try to view it as reinforcement of my ideas, rather than an attempt to claim credit.

      It also might be helpful to ask someone who is also at these meeting and has some experience with the boss how they view this habit. If other people view it as the boss thrill to usurp OPs ideas, obviously there is a problem. But if they don’t, then maybe it is just a conversational tic that can be effectively ignored.

      1. MassMatt*

        “Surely nobody in the room can think something is his idea if the OP just said it? I might try to relax a little about it, and try to view it as reinforcement of my ideas, rather than an attempt to claim credit.”

        Sorry, but given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this is clueless.

        People (mostly men) DO repeat something a woman says in a meeting, acting as though it was their own idea, it is extremely common. And no, it’s NOT FLATTERING!

        1. OperaArt*

          Yes, very common. Last month, it happened to me three times in two weeks. I propose a solution, no one acknowledges it, one particular man repeats it a few minutes later, everyone thinks it is a great idea.
          I went to my supervisor, a good guy who’s aware in a generic sense of the issue of women’s ideas being co-opted. I pointed out the pattern at our group meetings and gave specific examples. He was horrified that 1) he hadn’t noticed it at the time, and 2) he had participated.

          1. jackers*

            It can be very helpful to call people out on this. In my experience, it is generally not a cognizant thought to engage in this behavior, as in Joe isn’t rubbing his hands together in his head and thinking “I am SO much better than women!”
            One specific example: I used to work with a man, Ron, who consistently, but subtly, treated women differently then the men on the team. For me personally, he would skip around me in the approval hierarchy and go straight to my male boss, would ask a man the same question he had just asked me (who would give the same answer and then it was accepted), would interrupt and talk over me, and once, did his own thing during a majorly planned sales meeting vs following the agenda that I had set and worked on for months. That last one pushed me over the edge and I started job hunting, which I was open with my manager about. He was shocked I was pulling the sexist card but I told him to watch the behaviors of Ron and how he did these things to the women of the team and not the men. Within a week he had seen it for himself and sat Ron down for a heart to heart (Ron reported to him as well). Ron was also shocked to be told this, but self reflected and chose to add a diversity class to his masters course work. This was a guy who was married and had a daughter who I know he was so proud of and raising to be a strong, independent thinker, so think it really rocked him to be told he was exhibiting behaviors like this. People can change but they have to be made aware.

            1. Specialk9*

              That’s a really heartening story. The fact that your manager listened, paid attention, apologized to you, then actually talked to Ron. That Ron actually listened instead of attacking all women as evil like usually happens. That’s like the perfect storm of thing actually changing. Thanks for pointing this out.

            2. MtnLaurel*

              I have had luck with humor: a deadpan “That’s a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?” when a male colleague has repeated my idea. Most often it garners a laugh and an apology. I’ve noticed, too, that when I do this, the repetition happens less.

          2. Mona Lisa*

            Yes, so common. I pointed out to my manager that I don’t speak much on conference calls because the men tend to talk over me or reiterate my ideas and take credit for them. They also don’t seem to take my experience seriously even though I am the most familiar with a topic and will ask each other for their opinions after I voice mine. My manager was horrified, had never noticed it was happening, and freely admitted it’s probably because he’s a white man who has never experienced sexism in the industry (tech).

        2. Myrin*

          Although I do think that it is worth pointing out that it might be that everybody else in the room is indeed aware that the same thing was literally just said, and are internally (or externally!) rolling their eyes. Which doesn’t help the person who’s actually in the situation, doesn’t make the ‘splainer aware of their asshattery, and probably happens less than I’d like it to because people are garbage at drawing connections like this, but it is something that is possible.

          (FWIW, when I’ve seen this happen in the past – which was like five times because my field is very female-dominated and in any given group, there often aren’t any men at all – I’ve always taken to yelling “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID” which is very satisfying. I mean, I’m obviously more professional than that – like “And that is different from what Lucinda just said how exactly? Huh? No, that’s really the same you said, right, Lucinda?” – but the reaction is the same. So if OP has a friend in these meetings, it might also be worth it to enlist them to look for this behaviour and call it out if they feel comfortable. (I highly recommend it, btw. It’s the best feeling.))

          1. Cat Herder*

            Even better — Bob finishes repeating what Lucinda just said, you say, Thanks Lucinda, that’s a great idea!

        3. Marion Ravenwood*

          Yep. And not just in meetings – I’ve had this happen to me a lot in social situations as well, where I’ve made a joke, nobody laughed, a man said the same thing and everyone thought it was hilarious.

          1. Myrin*

            Which – beyond being infuriating – is utterly mystifying to me.
            Do they simply not listen when a woman speaks so the joke escapes them the first time around? Horrible.
            Do they not laugh about jokes made by women out of some weird principle? Horrible.
            Do they actually not find the joke funny no matter who tells it but they show the man the courtesy of mildly laughing anyway while not extending the same courtesy to the woman? Horrible.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              My father, who adores his daughters and is a wonderful and caring man, once got upset and literally sputtered out, “I don’t listen when you [his daughters and my mom] talk!” Everything got very quiet once he realized what he’d said, because it was true (he’s working on it, but 65+ years of a habit is hard to break).

              Some men literally do not hear women or zone out when women speak.

              1. Kat in VA*

                I’ve heard the excuse from many men (including my own husband) that women “talk too long and include too many details.”

                My response may or may not have included a tart, “Sorry I can’t parse how taxes on capital gains from our stock sales plays out into a 30 second soundbite for you, brochacho.”

                Along with the “too many details” plaint: you’ll go to explain something complicated, and they’ll interrupt, and you’ll attempt to answer that question, and they’ll interrupt THAT answer with another question.


                1. Jadelyn*

                  The funny thing – if by funny you mean “I laugh because otherwise I would cry” – is that when it’s actually been studied by linguists, it’s actual, demonstrated FACT that men talk more, interrupt more, and have wildly inaccurate perceptions of how much women around them talk. When women, based on word count/time speaking in a group conversation, took up about 30% of the conversational time, men perceived that as women “dominating” the conversation.

                  Similarly, it’s been shown that men perceive a group that consists of 70% men and 30% women to be “balanced” in terms of gender representation.

                  As I once saw someone sum it up, men think women talk too much or are represented too much because they’re not comparing women’s speech/presence to men’s – they’re comparing it to women’s silence and invisibility.

              2. Myrin*

                That’s disheartening, but honestly explains a lot. (And I have to wonder, without wanting to become too personal, if he only really adores the idea of you he has? Because if he never listens to you guys, he can’t have much knowledge of your personalities, which is just sad.)

                I can’t even imagine having a brain that works like that. Sure, I have certain people who I usually tune out but that’s because of them as a person, not because they fit into X category. I’m even angrier now!

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I think he thinks we talk and complain too much, which is not true. If you’re in a one-on-one conversation with him, he’ll usually listen and engage in super thoughtful conversation. But if it’s a group, he zones out.

                  The context for his sputter was that our flight was significantly delayed, and a family member had anticipated picking us up at 10 p.m. When our arrival time was pushed past midnight, we had a very quick discussion (not a lot of details) basically saying, “Let’s let the family member off the hook and call a cab.” My dad is cheap; a taxi ride is an unnecessary and lavish expense in his eyes (my sister and I paid for it to eliminate this line of argument). But our family member had an early shift, and we decided it was rude and uncaring to ask that person to show up at 3 a.m. to come get us. We explicitly asked if he was ok with our proposal, and he said it was fine.

                  We finally arrive at 3:30 a.m., and we head to the taxi area instead of the arrivals pickup area. He got upset, and we said, “Hey, remember when we asked if you had concerns before we got on the plane?” And that’s when he said, “I don’t listen when you talk!” His behavior has changed since then, but it’s still a process.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I should qualify and say that my mom can talk your ear off, and it will be the most convoluted story you’ve ever heard. If you ask a question, her answer has so little to do with the question that you have to engage in some real brain teasers to try to figure out why it’s related to your original question (or even try to recall your original question).

                  So I think he zones out when he thinks she’s about to tell a story or go into a diatribe. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it makes it a little less awful to know it’s relatively specific. From what I can tell, he doesn’t zone out or stop listening when other (non-nuclear-family) women are speaking.

          2. Specialk9*

            I’ve heard that from several female to male transgender folks. They said it was shocking how much funnier they suddenly were to everyone once they presented male.

            1. Tammy*

              I’ve experienced the reverse of that as a transgender woman. I was suddenly perceived as less funny (as well as less intelligent, capable, and all the rest) after my transition. I get why people who just know me now perceive me with all the feminine gender stereotypes (I transitioned 20 years ago). But it happened when I transitioned, and I was at the same company and on the same team for about 8 months after my transition. And somehow those same people I’d worked with for 3 years thought I was magically different when I transitioned. I don’t get it.

              1. Jadelyn*

                It makes more sense (after a fashion, anyway – insofar as any prejudice can be said to “make sense”) if you consider that we grow up literally marinating in a culture with deeply misogynistic (and racist, etc.) roots from birth. That stuff sinks in and it can be so, so hard to root out once it’s taken hold – which, by the time you’re an adult, it very much has.

                And so much of it happens below a conscious level that those people probably weren’t even aware that they were responding to you differently – it’s just that when you do [thing], where before your transition they’d have parsed it in their heads as “a man is doing [thing]” and had one reaction to that, now they’re parsing it as “a woman is doing [thing]” and their reaction to that, on a below-conscious level, is different (the good old “you suck at math” vs “women suck at math” thing). I imagine, if someone had pointed it out and asked them, they’d have been baffled, and hopefully a bit sheepish, by the realization that their behavior toward you had changed.

              2. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

                Ugh, that’s really crappy. Thank you for sharing that experience – see we’re not imagining it!

                “Surely nobody in the room can think something is his idea if the OP just said it?” Yeah, they sure can. I wonder what it will take for people to believe that this actually happens. Stories from people who have experienced both sides will hopefully help.

        4. LizM*

          “Surely nobody in the room can think something is his idea if the OP just said it?”

          It happens to me all the time. To the point that my male colleagues have gotten plum assignments and an award based on my ideas. When I brought this up with my boss, she and my grand boss were completely oblivious to it happening, as was the colleague.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Sadly, people DO think it’s a male repeater’s idea.

          The same thing happens with race, too. I was the only POC/WOC on the team. I had a white, female coworker (same level in the hierarchy but way less experienced) who would be cruel, rude and dismissive when I said anything, and folks would ignore my comment or act like it was an embarrassing error. And then a day or two later she’d repeat what I’d said to acclaim, and everyone acted like she came up with these ideas.

          After two months, I finally lost it and said, “That is exactly what I said last week, and you rolled your eyes, told me I was wrong, and suggested I was incompetent for saying it.” And the whole table of self-identified progressive allies looked shocked, got quiet and then said, “you’re right. We totally forgot.”

          It didn’t get much better except that my other coworkers began to listen to me and give credit (sometimes) where it was due. Coworker from hell continued to behave like a complete asshole.

      2. Yorick*

        Since this is OP’s boss, I read this as though she discussed the ideas with him and then he presented them as his ideas. So everyone in the room didn’t actually hear her say it. But maybe I was reading it wrong.

      3. Specialk9*

        I used to seethe that a male boss would steal my ideas and then mansplain them back to me, slowly so my little female mind could understand.

        At the exact same time, I had a deeply disquieting senior person who systematically harassed women in a scary way, and me in particular, which kind of permanently reset my meter for ‘ok that’s annoying but not as bad as that guy’.

        So my solution for my boss was to choose to be content with my ideas happening, since they were good ideas. I started to act like it was his idea, and a damn fine one! ‘Oh yeah, I agree, that’ll really solve this problem too. Good idea, boss.’

        It’s not the ideal situation, but it was what I had to do in that situation. I’m no longer a govt contractor so the amount of shit I have to swallow has reduced by 4000%, but even so I still see and experience male redemption of female ideas, though less.

      4. Anna*

        Unfortunately I’ve seen this happen to too many women friends to think it’s a one-off. It happens in companies where education is important, too. I have a friend with an MS whose ideas were constantly ignored until brought up by a PhD (who wasn’t taking credit for them, but knew my friend wasn’t being heard and the PhD was using her educational privilege to my friend’s benefit.)

      5. JSPA*

        I suppose it would be fine if every statement made by gender A was cross validated with a random person from gender B, and vice versa (but that’s not really the dynamic).

        On the other hand, if there are few women in the room (a huge problem in it’s own right) the search for validation is likely going to land on someone with a Y chromosome. That may be part of the dynamic.

        But whether the split is 30/70, 50/50, or 70/30, the same thing keeps happening; just the explanations about why it’s happening, change.

      6. Jadelyn*

        “Surely nobody in the room can think something is his idea if the OP just said it?”

        You’d be amazed. People very much do, in fact, attribute ideas to the man who proposed them even when they literally just seconds before heard a woman propose those same ideas. It’s a subconscious thing – culturally, people are trained to believe that women’s voices matter less, so they don’t pay as much attention when women speak – but we’re trained to believe that men’s voices are Very Important and we must Pay Attention To Them, so that combination results in people half-zoned-out while a woman said “We should try X”, but paying attention when a man immediately thereafter says “We should try X”, and attributing the idea to the man as a result.

      1. Anonymosity*

        Open the link in an incognito window and you can see it. With ads, but it should work. I can’t afford a WaPo sub right now so that’s how I read everything I see on Twitter.

    2. STG*

      I need to be more cognizant of noticing when this happens but I see no indication that the writer is a female in the first place.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, it’s not a site rule! I default to female pronouns when I’m writing when the gender is unknown, but I don’t assume actual gender for the sake of the substance of the answer. (And other people are free to do whatever they want.) In this case, I knew from the person’s email that she’s a woman.

  4. Really*

    For #3 – If this is a new habit it could be a twitch not a wink. Especially as you say this happens when she’s under pressure.

    1. Denise*

      Exactly! I nearly mentioned a wink to a colleague and only realized just in time that it was a nervous tic. Think it over before yo speak up!

    2. Thlayli*

      This is what I was thinking. i believe OP that she is actually winking, but it could still be a form of facial tic. The fact that it happens “under stress” is the thing that really stood out.

      OP try thinking of it like that and see if it bothers you.

      Off-topic: I’ve heard of winking being used in a conspiratorial way, and as a way of flirting. But I’ve never heard of it being used to “put someone in their place.” Is that a thing?

      1. Specialk9*

        Agreed on the tic, and on what an unusual interpretation that is. If it were male to female I could see it as sexualizing, which has an element of keeping one in one’s subordinate place, but it just doesn’t have that same historical weight from a woman.

      2. Myrin*

        I’ve heard of winking being used in a conspiratorial way, and as a way of flirting. But I’ve never heard of it being used to “put someone in their place.” Is that a thing?

        Certainly not that I know of, and that part actually made me wonder if there’s something else about OP’s relationship with her boss (because why would you think someone wants to put you in your place by facial movement in an otherwise amicable relationship?) and OP is kind of channeling her frustration with boss into the winking issue because that’s a concrete thing.

    3. Fashion Don’t*

      Like the old joke about the guy who has a wink twitch that stops when he takes aspirin. Shows up to an interview and accidentally drops a condom when removing something from his pocket. Has to explain he went to pharmacy for a packet of aspirin for the wink, “But have you ever gone to a pharmacist and asked for a packet of aspirin while winking?”

    4. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      ooooh, I just said further up that I have never been a winker BUT, I have a wicked left eye twitch under stress. Wicked. Maybe people think I am a winker!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        When my eyes twitch, I always think it’s one of those things that no one else notices. Now I’m worried people will think I’m winking!

    5. Thursday Next*

      I have a pronounced, one-eye twitch as a side effect of some new medication. Twitching is probably a fairly common response to medications, stress, etc.

    6. Bowl of Oranges*

      Yep – my husband has a facial tick that’s usually caused by stress or anxiety. He’s mostly gotten over it any embarrassment about it, but he has been asked about it at work and it can be awkward.

    7. Anonymosity*

      I thought of that too. I get an eye twitch when I’m very stressed. It looks like I’m trying to wink but can’t quite get there.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, this is ridiculous, and I’m sorry that (1) people complained, and (2) higher ups listened to that complaint. You shouldn’t have to pay for a couch. I suspect that even if you did pool money and buy one, the same managers who penalized your office because of a frivolous complaint will likely not authorize a privately-funded couch purchase.

    This is why we can’t have nice things. :P

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        We don’t know that the coworker that complained asked for the couch to be taken away. If I were in the remote office coworker’s shoes, I could see myself complaining and saying “its not fair for the main office to have a couch and for the other offices not to,” I would be asking that the company would buy a couch for the other offices as well not that they remove the one from the main office. It could be that this was an unintended consequence of the complaint and that whoever is in charge just decided to ignore the request for more couches and that it was cheaper to just get rid of the one couch.

        1. Random*

          It would be pretty petty to complain in this case since the office with the couch has so many more employees than the other offices. If your office has enough seating in the break room, why would you care if another office has a couch?

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Because I would rather sit on a couch than an uncomfortable chair. If you just see it as an issue of enough seating then the company can purchase more of “uncomfortable chairs” that OP mentioned. But my sense is that OP prefers the couch over the chairs as would I. I wouldn’t want the main office’s couch to be taken away, I would want a couch added to all other offices. It could have been that people “complained” and advocated for all the other offices to get a couch as well, I don’t see that as unreasonable, but that the hire-up decided instead of buying 4 couches we can just get rid of the one couch.

            1. OP #4*

              The people visiting did not ask for couches, they just said it was unfair their offices did not have a couch as well (Which maybe by default means they wanted couches too, but I feel like there is a little distinction between those complaints). On the same token, they did not ask for ours to be taken away.

              In regards to the last point, if every office were to get a couch, it would be much more than 4 couches, closer to around 25 if every office got one. I am not sure how much money out of the budget that would cost the organization. I think there might be enough money, but we are non-profit so maybe it is too expensive.

        2. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

          Main offices tend to have lots of stuff that small branch offices don’t. It would never in a million years cross my mind that that was unfair.

    1. Thursday Next*

      Yes—OP, if they already removed a couch because everyone doesn’t have one, I wouldn’t consider a new couch safe from removal either.

      Also, this is terribly childish on the part of your colleagues/management (and that’s insulting to children, many of whom can understand that Neville has a Remembrall at his house, Ron has a bunch of chickens, and Hermione has tons of extra toothbrushes—it doesn’t mean Neville’s going to pitch a fit over his one-toothbrush existence, or that Hermione’s parents are going to insist that the Weasleys give up their chickens so Hermione doesn’t feel deprived).

      I think I got carried away by my analogy. My apologies.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I would buy the new couch and hang a plaque on the wall behind it.

        “Couch donated by the following: Harry, Hermione, Ron, Pavarti, Seamus, Luna, and Neville”

    2. Collarbone High*

      I once worked in a three-person payroll office that was 6 floors away from the break room. Lunch theft was an everyday problem, and we couldn’t grab a shot of creamer without being waylaid for a 30-minute rant on I Told You To Stop Taking FICA Out Of My Paycheck. So, with maintenance’s approval, we pooled our money and bought a dorm refrigerator for our office.

      Oh, the fits that were thrown. “It’s not fair!” It took almost a year for the complaints to die down.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        I bought myself some nice headphones. For the longest time, my co-workers kept complaining that it “wasn’t fair” that I had some nice headphones. I went to the store and purchased them! You could do it too!

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Reminds me of the “Great Holiday Party Kerfuffle of Ought-four” at my company.

      We have a lot of locations around the US, about 4 main ones and a bunch of smaller satellites. One year somebody (Henceforth known as Guacamole Bob (the bean counter not the regular poster)) a little bit nosy in the accounting department in LocationA (actual HQ) noticed the receipts for the holiday party from LocationB. LocationB’s receipts were for all the prizes/gifts handed out at the party (which was a normal thing for each location to do). LocationB’s prizes were epic (think TV’s, multiple game consoles, $50/$100 gift cards, Tools, etc). LocationA higher ups were informed by Guacamole Bob about the pricey gifts.

      LocationA higher ups got their noses out of joint about the gifts and told LocationB they weren’t allowed to do this anymore and set a price cap on individual gifts. Apparently it didn’t matter that LocationB was well within their budget as they deliberately choose a very cheap venue, didn’t pay for entertainment, ordered the cheapest menu options possible, all because the employees there liked the gifts better than the party itself. Meanwhile LocationA spent the lion’s share of their budget on fancy venues, entertainment, and more expensive food.

      Let’s just say that morale at LocationB nosedived all because a few people in LocationA got pissy about it. Mind you, nobody else would really know about it other than the accounting department.

      1. Thursday Next*

        That is a kerfuffle of epic proportions.

        People never look at what they already have, do they? Just at the thing someone else is getting. I’d have thought it would be clear that fancy venue + expensive food +entertainment = something’s gotta give, and it’s probably the gifts.

      2. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

        In defense of the accounting department, depending on the value of the fancy gifts, they could be considered taxable wages and would need to be added to the employee’s W2 with taxes withheld and FICA paid. Which is a pain in the a$$ and I wouldn’t blame them for not wanting the payroll people to have to deal with it.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I think this is inevitable for some folks. I agree with Alison that you should think about getting re-fit at a non-VS location, but otherwise, I’ve found camisoles are the only way to really smooth out bra lines (and even then, they’re not fool-proof). The alternative is to switch up the material of your shirts. But again, this is so common that as long as you’re not wearing a black lacy bra under a sheer blouse/shirt, you should be fine in most workplaces.

    1. Ginger ale for all*

      I think you might be making the bra lines showing into a bigger deal than it it. In the library where I work, the only times that people have gotten riled up over bras is when overly blessed women make a habit out of not wearing bras, especially the one who was fond of wearing thin white cotton shirts without a bra. I am convinced that is part of the reason why she was let go because otherwise, her work viewed from other departments was stellar.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I work at a large fashion brand in their corporate office right now. It’s really common to see the braless look (my bosses boss never wears a bra in fact). I’m loving it. Let the nipples be free I say! (within reason though…. exposed nipples under thin white shirts might be too much for work :P).

      2. Sereknitty*

        OP 1: I am not from the US but I wasn’t aware that showing bra lines is even an issue. It’s just happens sometimes especially with fitting clothes. I have sometimes bra lines showing and I see it with other women too. I never heard anyone having an issue with it.
        I try to avoid panty lines showing because it’s easily possible with the right underweard and I don’t like how it looks but nobody cares about bra lines. I guess the only way to avoid them is to wear no bra or one which is less fitting, thus offers less support which due to my cup size is not really an option.

        1. Specialk9*

          I think this is an OP quirk, not anything universal. We all have things that make us self conscious, and this is theirs.

          1. fposte*

            It’s been a thing, though, on par with the tragedy of visible panty lines. That was a big selling point of thong underwear, in fact–that you wouldn’t have panty lines. So I think the demand for invisibility is, thankfully, slipping away, but it’s been around.

    2. HannahS*

      I hate when my underwear shows through but I’m trying to be at peace with the fact that retailers make women’s clothes impossible and unless I stop wearing underwear or prioritize people not being able to tell that I’m wearing underwear over my comfort, there are going to be times when people may be able to tell that I have underwear on.

      Anyway, for the bra thing, I’ve found that the only way to be sure that bra lines don’t show at all (including the outline at the back, which bugs me) is to wear a semi-fitted cotton dress shirt. I also find that older bras are guiltier–sometimes the upper cup edge rolls outwards over time. Lastly, making sure that the bra is snug enough over the back and that I’ve really “scooped” myself in helps. But then the horizontal lines under my arms and around my back are more prominent. So…I gave up. Sometimes, people can tell I wear a bra. (I’m also becoming increasingly irritated by underwired t-shirt bras and am fairly sure that a well-lined sports bra or bralette would be more comfortable and look less like I strapped two hemispheres to my chest before getting dressed but that’s a whole other discussion.)

      Basically, the outline can be mitigated but rarely 100% eliminated.

      1. Lumen*

        But… but if they start making women’s clothing with actual quality and lining and real fabric and things, how will they get us to buy a bra, camisole, two layering tees, the top we like, AND the cardigan/wrap/blazer that “completes the outfit” (and keeps us from dying in subzero offices)?

        1. Strawmeatloaf*

          And as we all know, women just LOVE all of these things! Otherwise they wouldn’t be buying them even though they don’t have a choice!

          Just like purses! It couldn’t possibly be that some women would rather have REAL pockets in their pants and don’t want to carry a purse around, that’s just impossible!

          1. Jadelyn*

            I just got a new pair of jeans (my previous jeans had gotten the thigh-rub hole in them, ugh), and I literally can’t even get my whole hand into the stupid pocket, it’s so shallow. I can barely get a tube of lip gloss in there. My partner sometimes teases me about keeping my phone in my bra (I’m very generously endowed so I’ve got a good amount of space in the gap between the front of my shoulder and the strap, my phone fits there perfectly and doesn’t even show), and actually happened to say something the other day while I was wearing the new jeans.

            I took my phone out and snapped at him, “Here, you wanna see what happens if I try to carry my phone in my pocket like you do?” Jammed it into the pocket as far as it would go, which was about a third of the height of the thing, let him see that; turned it sideways and tried it that way, which got most of the phone in and covered by the pocket but was a very tight squeeze, and pushed out a weird little corner at the front of my thigh where it was jammed against the corner of the pocket. Then said “If my pants had pockets, I’d be happy to keep my phone in them, but until then, I’m going to keep putting it somewhere that there’s actually space for it.” and shoved it back into its usual spot, while staring him down.

            He very meekly apologized and went to make dinner. It was unbelievably satisfying.

            I also have a pair of men’s jeans I bought for working around the house and working on my car, since women’s jeans are made of hopes and dreams while men’s jeans are made of strong fabric that will hold up to rough conditions. I can get like…my whole hand and half of my forearm into the pockets in those pants! It’s amazing! I drop my phone in, and it actually *falls* for a second before it reaches the bottom of the pocket!

            My kingdom for women’s jeans with pockets like that…

            1. Kj*

              Lands End. They used to have jeans with that sort of pocket. I’m not sure if they still do, though. But I LOVED my jeans from there.

            2. Really Rosie*

              I bought several pairs of jeans at a certain store and years later bought several more online. Same “serial number” and everything from the same store. The pockets are miniscule!? WHY!? I can’t even fit my phone in the pocket. And I’m a plus sized person.

        2. fposte*

          To be fair, they do make those. They just don’t usually sell at a mall price point and therefore are not in mall stores. (Even Boden has some pretty decent linings and fabrics, and that’s not that pricey a brand.)

      2. CoffeeLover*

        In response to the underwear lines… I bought some seamless panties from victoria secret (5 for $35) and they’re a) super comfortable and b)don’t show lines (or very minimal lines) even in really tight cloths. I recommend them!

        1. General Ginger*

          CoffeeLover, how do you stop those from riding up/rolling? Mine always did, regardless of whether I sized up, down, exact, etc.

          1. OP #1*

            I also love the seamless panties in the hiphugger style. Have you retried them recently? They changed the material like a year ago and now they’re awesome. Before, I agree, they rolled.

            1. General Ginger*

              They’re less relevant to me now (I wear men’s stuff almost exclusively at this point), but might be worth a look for some occasions, thank you!

      3. Kat in VA*

        I wear a 34DDD bra size. The issue of bra cup edges showing seems to be more prevalent with “lightly lined” bras (because heaven knows, I don’t need a padded bra). It mostly disappears with unlined bras, but sometimes you want that bit of lining because showing nipples at my size is…distracting to others, at best. This isn’t to say I’m ginormously modest or trying to hide the fact that I have breasts, but the combination of nipples + larger bra size is…upsetting (?) sometimes to others. (I wore an unlined bra with a more fitted shell top once, and the word “unprofessional” was used. Yes, it’s 64 degrees in the office and my body has a reaction to that, now my breasts are unprofessional?!)

        Even if I have a perfectly fitted bra, and I usually do, you can still see strap lines, whether under my arms (thank you mid-40s fluffiness), across my back, or over my shoulders, or whatever. I just accept that under certain shirts (usually fitted tees) and fabrics (anything modal or rayon) is going to show a certain component of my clothing. Silk is the best for not showing any lines, but it’s also expensive and not always possible to have as a go-to for tops.

        What irritates me more is people thinking that underwear lines are a problem (“visible panty lines”). Yes, I’m wearing underwear. Yes, with some types you can see the edges of it as it goes up and over the outside edges of my butt. I have the VS type that are raw-edged and don’t show, but they have a habit of riding up (no matter the size) and I’m not a fan of thongs or g-strings for various reasons. Can we just accept that most of us don’t go commando and sometimes those lines will show?

        1. Murphy*

          Yup, I agree. Yeah, don’t go out of your way to flaunt your undergarments, but acknowledge that the vast majority of us are wearing them, and they’re really no big deal!

          1. Thursday Next*

            I couldn’t agree more, Murphy.

            I think the key is to make sure your undergarments are covered by your outer garments. Visible lines—who cares? Visible bra straps—probably wouldn’t fly in most workplaces. Visible underwear waistbands—a no-no anywhere I’ve ever worked.

            1. Kat in VA*

              Exactly. I’m not going to go hugely out of my way to cover bra cups or underwear lines in standard clothing (think jeans or khakis or even a suit). I don’t let my bra straps fly, sure, and my underwear line is firmly below my waistline if I have, say, a tucked-in shirt. But yes, I do wear undergarment, and yes, you can sometimes see the lines, depending on construction and fabric!


            2. Jadelyn*

              Eh, I’m not all that willing to worry about my bra straps, either. Unless I wear nothing but turtlenecks (which I hate) or crew-neck t-shirts (which are even less professional-looking), there will be times when a wide neckline exposes a bit of strap. That’s just life.

              When people get all “oh no, her bra strap is showing” I mostly just feel like…okay? So we know she’s wearing a bra, is that bad somehow? Was her bra supposed to be a secret?

              1. Gaia*

                Hard agree, Jadelyn. Do I go out of my way to show my strap? No. But if it shows am I going to be scandalized? Nope. It isn’t some state secret that I, a grown human with breasts, might be wearing a bra that has straps over my shoulders. It isn’t like I’m flashing the cups.

              2. Chinookwind*

                Considering I have only seen one manufacturer (Eshakti dot com) that does bra strap keepers in their clothing, I believe it is asking too much of us to hide our bra straps 100% of the time.

              3. Kat in VA*

                Jadelyn, I wonder if the “I have on undergarments but nobody knows” thing is also in line with how we’re supposed to be a certain way but not supposed to show it?

                That’s a terrible sentence, but I’m thinking of the “natural no-makeup look” that actually requires 14 products, 45 minutes, and a fair amount of cussing on my part to achieve. Or how we’re supposed to have awesome highlights but are tagged for being high-maintenance because most folks go to the salon to obtain them. (I don’t – spending days by the pool with the girls takes care of that but people still don’t believe me. Harrumph.)

                Undergarments that are there-but-not-there are another symptom of how women are supposed to have it all together but never betray the efforts required to…have it all together.

                (It’s early. I haven’t had my prescribed amount of Red Bull yet. Forgive the incoherency.)

        2. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, I feel like this is such a BS catch-22 for women with breasts. Not wearing a bra is unprofessional, but being seen wearing a bra is also unprofessional? F that noise.

          1. Kat in VA*

            Ah yes, the “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” judgment line that women walk every day for just about every situation.

            Everything from (random selection):

            How assertive your conversation (too bitchy vs too wimpy) is
            How much makeup you wear (too much makeup vs “Are you sick?”)
            How loud you laugh (“God, she’s cackling again!” vs “God, she sounds like a schoolgirl tittering!”)
            How much you color your hair (“Such an obvious bottle blonde!” vs “Her hair is so mousy, she should DO something with it!”)
            What type of clothing you wear (“She dresses like a teenager!” vs “She’s so frumpy-looking!”)

            ….and on and on and on. It’s an endless list of things that we’re judged on in an endless variety of ways. Frustrating.

          2. Gaia*


            The only way I would deem seeing evidence of a person wearing a bra in the workplace as “unprofessional” is if I can actually see the cups. And even then, I guess it really depends on your industry.

          3. Lumen*

            Ding ding ding ding ding. You hit the nail on the head.

            This is why my favorite part of Mean Girls will always be when Regina sees that her shirt has been cut to reveal the front of her bra, just SHRUGS, and struts out.

            May we all have at least that much in common with Regina George.

            1. Kat in VA*

              I aspire to that level of “don’t give a damn”!

              I am finding, as I approach the line toward 50, that those levels of DGAD are going way, way up. I wish I could impart some of that to my younger self – I would have saved Young Me yea grief if I’d realized that the only person in the world I can make truly happy is myself.

        3. Specialk9*

          I put those removable liner cups in my thinner bras. Somehow I have a bajillion that come out in the wash. I pop one in and friction keeps them in place.

        4. Iris Eyes*

          I have noticed that lightly lined can be the most problematic, I think it has something to do with fabric tension as often the barely there lace does a better job of keeping things smooth. I think my worst offender has a knit outer fabric (which of course is going to stretch.)

      4. fieldpoppy*

        You didn’t ask, but there are seamless panties from calvin klein that I love — super comfy, cover your whole booty and are easily available on amazon or suchlike. /OT

        1. Kat in VA*

          Interestingly, the most commentary I hear about my VPL are from my husband and my mother lol.

        2. Essess*

          I used to assume that until recently I’ve been noticing a LOT of flimsy summer dresses that are all smooshed into the buttcracks of women walking in front of me on sidewalks. The only way that would be possible if they are wearing thongs so there’s nothing to smooth out that indentation, or they aren’t wearing anything. I try hard not to speculate which one it is but it’s really not a pleasant appearance either way.

          1. Lumen*

            Then don’t look at their butts.

            I mean I’m not being flip: if your eyes get “drawn” there, realize that what you see and how you feel about what you see is your issue to deal with. It is not a problem that the women you’re talking about need to be aware of, care about, or fix for you.

            Catch yourself, check yourself, lift your eyes up, and go about your day.

            Problem solved.

      5. Totally Minnie*

        I had to wear sports bras to work for a few weeks after I had a lumpectomy a few years ago, and I’m convinced that a well fitted sports bra can be a much better choice than underwires a lot of the time.

    3. Mad Baggins*

      Agreed, this is a super common problem. I’ve noticed it happened frequently with the bras I bought from VS, but not as often with the last batch I got from Soma, so it might be worth looking into different manufacturers. Also it’s less of an issue if your shirts are looser fit and lined.

      That said, where I live many undergarment manufacturers put lace and details on the cup of the bra, so no matter what you wear over it, your chest looks like the surface of the moon. I don’t know why Lumpy Boob is the look and it drives me crazy, but at least you don’t have that problem??

      1. Xarcady*

        Where are you people finding all these lines tops? I’m struggling to find tops that don’t need a camisole under them. A lined top would make life so much easier.

        1. Annie Moose*

          I don’t know if they still have them, but earlier this year, New York & Company had these amazing sleeveless tops that had a layer of flowy material in the front (without making me look pregnant, always a plus). I bought five!! Regardless of what bra I’m wearing, you can’t see a thing–no color, no lines, nothing. It’s great. The only downside is that they’re sleeveless, but what isn’t…

          1. Inspector Spacetime*

            The sleeveless thing drives me crazy. It’s freezing in my office so I need a blazer or cardigan every day, even in August.

      2. Cathedralcity*

        Have you tried Gossard glossies? They’re amazing! No lines at all, they fit well and are super comfortable Nude doesn’t show up under white clothing.

      3. Annie Moose*

        Ahhh, my favorite bra is covered in lace, and yep… I can’t wear it under most shirts without some form of layering. It fits beautifully but just. Is incredibly visible.

        A little bit of a bra line, I don’t care about that, but when my entire chest has weird lumps, okay, that just looks bizarre.

    4. Marzipan*

      The ‘A bra that fits’ subreddit is a good resource for anyone looking for, well, a bra that fits…

      1. annejumps*

        ABraThatFits was how I learned about sister sizes and the fact that a 30D or 32C from Aerie actually fits me better than a 34B.

      2. M. Albertine*

        I was just coming to recommend this! The shape of your breasts makes such a big difference in fit. My nursing bras are beginning to have this problem (where the cup line shows) because I am not producing as much milk and so my breast shape/size has changed.

        Definitely try resizing and evaluate shape, especially if it has been a while since you’ve done so.

    5. Flower*

      Or measure yourself! There’s a lot of info if you look up “A Bra That Fits” – you can use their online calculator, go to their subreddit, join their facebook group… It’s an incredibly helpful group and while your self-measured size might not be perfect (and certainly not in every bra of every brand), it’s a great starting point, and they give you a good guide to determining your shape and therefore, which bras would work well for you with that shape. Usually also guides to which bras of which brands have worked for other people with your size and shape.

      A well fitting bra actually shouldn’t have the top of the cup visible, because it shouldn’t be gaping. Sometimes if the shape of the bra is conical (or the shape of your boobs are!) or they have a lot of decoration on the cups, they might push against the shirt, but it should be doing its job supporting and containing your chest, not gaping, slipping, etc.

    6. Aquila*

      I’d recommend Uniqlo’s seamless line for camis and panties that do not show. I’m very sensitive to heat, and their airism line keeps me cooler than anything else I’ve tried.

  7. Shoes on My Cat*

    OP#4 There is a great online group that may be active in your area-as well as those sattelite offices (that those employees can reach out to). It’s called Freecycle and is spreading all over. The idea is people don’t want to frivolously fill up the dumps with perfectly good furniture/clothes/etc so they put up an ad and someone who want the FREE item picks it up and transports it to a new home where it can be appreciated & enjoyed. It’s rare to see a week go by without a couch offered within 50 miles. All you’d need is two or three strong backs and a pickup truck. Good luck!

    1. Not Australian*

      I don’t know about the USA, but in the UK this would be problematic for fire safety reasons. There are very stringent regulations about the kind of filling furniture is allowed to have, and it’s unlikely the PTB would be willing to allow second-hand furniture into the building unless it still had its fire safety labels attached. (Many people cut them off.) It’s almost certain they’d want any couch to come from an approved office furniture supplier, and to be brand-new.

      1. Thlayli*

        I never cut those label off. Lots of people don’t bother. They’re usually in unobstrusive places and you just don’t notice them. Occasionally I notice them and think “I should really cut them off” and then forget about them for a few months.

        Freecycle is awesome I have some freecycled stuff in my house and have freecycled a bunch of stuff, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a couch that’s gonna be used by loads of people in a professional officplace.

        But since there are apparently loads of people in OPs office, it should be affordable to club together to buy a couch. Ikea have good ones that are cheap.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I think living in the age of bedbugs a secondhand couch is risky, at least in some regions. Personally, even though I’m all about secondhand, I just can’t do upholstered furniture.

      1. En vivo*

        Me neither, concerning upholstered furniture. Yuck. I don’t like it even in upscale hotels. It may look clean, but I don’t trust it. Now that I think about it, I feel the same about carpet :I

        1. Birch*

          Most of them don’t even look clean! I’m currently trying to find a sofa for a short term apartment and I CANNOT with the freecycle and secondhand groups and their saggy cushions and stained upholstery, leather that’s flaked off, suede covered in pet hair and dust… They ALL look disgusting.

          1. En vivo*

            You’re making me laugh with your descriptions, but I feel for you. Don’t forget grimy feeling and damp looking.

    3. Cucumberzucchini*

      I will NEVER get used upholstered furniture unless I know 100% where it came from. And I used to love to get used furniture and reimagine it. When my tenants recently moved out, they had left everything they owned and we were scratching our heads why? Turned out it was bed bugs. It cost a lot money to have a company dispose of the infested furniture and $2,500 to do the heat treatment for the bed bugs. The security deposit didn’t even come close to cover all the damages.

      1. Anonymosity*

        Me either. I only buy wood or something like that. I need a sofa so badly (this futon is killing me) but there is no way.

    4. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Yeah, random stranger couches are a no go for me (for all the reason’s mentioned). But it probably wouldn’t be hard to find one from a trusted friend or family member that is getting rid of one.

        1. OP #4*

          Yes, that’s what we were thinking of doing. There is an IKEA relatively close to the office and there are several people who would be willing and able to drive over and put a couch together in the break room. It would be great if someone in the office had an older couch to donate, but in all honesty that might be harder to transport to our floor on the elevator than a boxed up IKEA couch.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Then definitely go with the Ikea it sounds like it would look better than a hand-me-down.

            1. Kat in VA*

              Agreed. You can get a perfectly decent couch for a couple hundred bucks that no one is going to scream FAVORITISM over because it’s not an obvious tufted-leather $5000 lounger situation.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yes, we got our couch (that we’ve had for nearly a decade) from the Ikea scratch-and-dent section. We have no idea why it was there as it’s not scratched OR dented, but it was substantially cheaper than the new price.

  8. Observer*

    #4 You have a fairly serious culture problem if people seriously complained about the terrible unfairness of the existence of the couch in your office. And that is being exacerbated by the way your management responded.

    What to do about that is a good question.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        We don’t know that the coworkers advocated for getting rid of the couch. We know a coworker complained and said it was unfair, I don’t think that is something completely unreasonable, but the coworker might have been advocating for the company to provide the other offices with couches as well. It could have just been the higher up who decided that buying couches for the other office was too expensive and just decided to get rid of the one in the main office.

        1. LCL*

          Based only on my previous experience, I think management wanted the couch gone and had it removed. And when questioned deflected blame. I’m sure the branch employees commented, but only to say ‘Gee, I wish there was a couch in our breakroom.’
          As to why management wanted it gone, probably they saw something they didn’t like. They saw someone sleeping, or worried that some people sitting together appeared too friendly, etc. So when management tells you no couch, ask if some stuffed chairs would be OK instead.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      I wonder if they would also complain that their 7-12 person satellite office didn’t automatically have a minimum of 15 normal (if uncomfortable) chairs in the breakroom, because apparently only 7-12 out of a hundred staff in the main office should be entitled to the same treatment.


    2. Dust Bunny*

      Who wants to be their management has a long history of nitpicky and unreasonable restrictions, so now everyone is fighting for whatever they can get?

      1. Observer*

        The way to do that is to advocate to get whatever, not to complain about what the other guy has. In any case, if you are right then that’s definitely a culture problem. Of course, it’s a management problem too, but that’s no surprise. Management hasn’t show itself to be very good in this case.

      2. OP #4*

        Yes, in many cases there are a lot of restrictions, including having very specific rules about what people can hang in their offices (only art/posters that relate to our industry and approved by administration), very minimal decorations during holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, etc. On the other hand, they are usually helpful when it comes to trying to make sure people are comfortable including getting standing desks for employees who ask and other ergonomic needs. Honestly, I think the larger issue is that the smaller branches have a history of feeling left out (whether that is warranted or not, I’m not completely sure), so they may have seen our couch as another example of how our office gets “better treatment” than them.

  9. Lumen*

    #1: If it’s a big deal to anyone to the point they’re gossiping about you or (saints forbid) talk to you about it, they are 100% the one with the problem and you should feel fine saying slowly “Why… are you… looking… at my… breasts?”

    1. Videogame Lurker*

      This was going to be my advice, actually. As an (unfortunately) blessed woman in the chest department, I had to give up on shirts successfully hiding my bras, since I have narrow shoulders that require the crossback straps.

      “My goodness, I am wearing a bra indeed. Better I wear one than not, that would make me seem unprofessional!”

      1. Perse's Mom*

        Yeah, I’ve gotten tired of being jabbed in the armpit by underwire so I switched the type of bra I wear most of the time and now the straps are the issue. Any shirt that shows my *gasp!* collarbone will also show my *double gasp!* bra straps.

    2. Les G*

      Yusssss. This is my wife’s go-to line when someone points out that her fly is down or (god forbid) her underwear is showing over the top of her pants. Fill in body part as needed; use whenever dealing with boundary-crossing fools.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Huh. I was always taught it was polite to alert people if their fly was down. And that seems different to me than the bra lines, because that’s an easy and immediate fix.

        I’d rather a coworker point it out to me than walk around like that all afternoon.

      2. Ego Chamber*

        What the hell? Your wife is being kind of a dick if she thinks it’s appropriate to shame people for pointing out wardrobe malfunctions that most of us would rather be politely informed of than not. If it’s something I can fix in less than a minute and I might be embarrassed when I find out about it—zipper unzipped, skirt tucked into my underroos, whale tail on full display, etc, especially if any of this is at work—PLEASE TELL ME.

        Wait. Is walking around with your fly down on purpose considered fashion these days? I don’t understand the young people!

      3. What's with today, today?*

        What? That’s incredibly odd. It’s common courtesy to let someone know their fly is down, a tag is out, etc. I would seriously look at your wife like she had lost her mind if she responded that way.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t get the sense that the OP is worried about anyone saying anything, just that she’s concerned it won’t look polished/professional.

      1. Kat in VA*

        I think for most of us women (or women-presenting), a bra is a fact of life and as long as we’re not wearing a black lacy bra under a tissue-thin white shirt, it should just be accepted that yes, women do wear an undergarment designed to tame the sweaty chestbeasts and that sometimes the lines of that undergarment will show!

          1. Kat in VA*

            I tell you, being in the office without having some armor to contain these things…it can turn into a Saint Michael Killing the Dragon situation super fast. They weeble, they wobble, they bounce, they get all…damp underneath. (Definitely would fail the Pencil Test.)

            I’m firmly Team Bra when in public, and then that sucker goes flying into the bedroom corner AS SOON as I get home.

            The running joke in our household is you do NOT ask Mom “What’s for dinner?” (or any other question, tbh) if I’m still in heels, still holding my briefcase, and STILL WEARING MY BRA.

            1. AKchic*

              That’s my rule.
              The dog is allowed to greet me at the door (we can’t really deter her). She is the only one allowed to bombard me and tell me about her day (because we can’t hold her back from her vocal complaints of my lack of attendance to her snuggle desires). The cats are allowed to voice their complaints at being left with the ebil woofer all day.

              The kids are *not* allowed to ask me what’s for dinner, if they can go somewhere, if someone can come over, if they can have anything, if they can do anything, or generally bother me until my work clothes are changed and I am appropriately braless and the dog is done making her complaints and greetings known.
              Depending on the day, it can take the dog 5-7 minutes to finish her vocalizations. A good day is 2 minutes. Either way, by the time she’s done, I’m usually changed out of work clothes and can hear the crotch fruit.

              1. Kat in VA*

                I am glad to know I’m not the only one for whom the approximate location of the bra = approximate approachability of Mom!

                Also – kids. Text. You all have phones. If there’s some question you need urgently answered, text it to me. I have enough red lights in my commute to be able to glance at my phone and answer your CAN I HAVE A SPRITE or CAN KAYLEE COME OVER or ELDEST SISTER HIT ME IN THE HEAD (the latter would be TELL YOUR DAD since he’s usually home a full hour or more before me – why he doesn’t deal with the dinner situation is, sadly, a whole ‘nother rant.)

      2. June*

        Alison, I agree with your answer to OP#1, but was slightly surprised by it since I remember you always came down hard against visible bra straps in the past. I personally feel that a black bra strap peeking out from a black sleeveless dress isn’t any less professional than visible cup lines, but was wondering if you could explain where you see the difference?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t know that I’ve come down “hard” on visible bra straps; I’ve said that no one should freak out if your shirt shifts and they get a glimpse of your bra strap, but if the strap is visible even when your outfit is positioned correctly, it’s probably not an outfit you should wear to work.

          But the reason for the difference is that there’s a “no visible underwear” rule to professional dress. That doesn’t mean you can’t have panty lines or bra lines.

        2. Kat in VA*

          I think the big difference is between “peeking” from a sleeveless dress or top versus wearing a racerback top with a regular strap bra, or a camisole-style dress with regular bra straps underneath situation?

          I have weird sloped shoulders and unless I wear my bras crossback, I always have a strap slipping down. I’ve been sized and wear the correct size bra for me, but my shoulders slope severely so barring having silicone on the underside of the straps (works wonders!), I’m forever pushing a strap back into place if the bra isn’t the kind where you can unclip and then reclip the straps in an X pattern across the back.

  10. MassMatt*

    #3 winking at work is weird, but there are so many different kinds of weird it might be ranging from harmless quirk to incredibly creepy depending on context it’s hard to know how to respond. If it were a colleague I would point it out and ask about it and see what was behind it, especially if it were only directed at me and others. With a boss it’s probably best to just roll your eyes internally.

  11. GM*

    OP#1 – I worry about this too sometimes but I realize its common enough that I shouldn’t stress about it.
    OP#2 – In a public meeting with senior officials, your boss is just repeating what you say? Isn’t that undermining his credibility? Are his seniors watching this and ignoring it? Or is it that you are saying something which is audible to none except him and he grabs the chance to echo your words and take the credit?

    1. AJ*

      Re OP#2, it can be shocking how a room of people (particularly when that room is either mostly male, or if most or all of the senior people in the room are male) can watch this happen in its most blatant form and not pick up on it or object to it.

      I’ve worked in writers rooms for years and have had it happen to me in ways so blatant it can make you feel like either you’re crazy or everyone else is. Like, literally: Woman X says a thing (loudly, clearly, for all to hear and process) and two minutes later, Man Y says the same thing — sometimes ACTUALLY VERBATIM — and the other men at the table either don’t register or don’t care. Most of my female colleagues have experienced this infuriating phenomenon, to the point where ideas for combatting become a regular topic of conversation wherever female TV writers gather.

      The more senior I get, the more I embrace the blunt redirect the second it happens: “I just said that” or “Emily actually just made that same point” or “Interesting, how does that differ from what Katie just said?” And in rooms when I’m *most* senior and it happens in its most shocking/verbatim forms: “Don’t repeat other ideas as your own in this room.”)

      1. Lora*

        Indeed, it says something about the men in question:
        -They didn’t think anyone would notice
        -They didn’t think anyone would care
        -They don’t care that every woman in the room has silently thought to herself, in unison, “You jackhole.”

        1. Jenny Next*

          But also, “They didn’t consciously hear her, so when their brains finally processed it, they believed it to be their own original thought.”

          (There’s some interesting research out there suggesting that men process women’s voices in the area of the brain that is devoted to music, rather than the area that’s devoted to speech. I’m not sure I believe it, but it would explain a lot.)

        2. Jennifer Thneed*

          I think *they* truly don’t notice. Which, yes, is based on decades of socialization but can still be true. And that’s why it was so brilliant, what the women on Obama’s team did: they repeated each other. So when and idea finally penetrated the men’s heads, it was a woman’s voice with the idea (even if it wasn’t the original woman who had spoken).

    2. Specialk9*

      I’m kind of shocked that you think this is an odd thing. It happens to most every woman you know. And people really don’t notice, because so often ideas from women often need to be validated and redeemed by a man before people can even hear, much less consider, them. It’s such a weird phenomenon.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      > In a public meeting with senior officials, your boss is just repeating what you say?
      Yes, that’s it exactly.

      > Isn’t that undermining his credibility?
      Nope, because probably nobody really noticed the LW saying it the first time.

      > Are his seniors watching this and ignoring it?
      They don’t notice it either.

      This can happen when there is an imbalance of power at play. Executives ignore low-level workers. Men ignore women. Most people ignore children. White people ignore people of color. And in this case, we’ve got multiples in play: male/female dynamics in a work setting.

  12. Mystery Bookworm*

    I think winking is often used in situations to convey that the speaker feels a kinship with you, sort of a ‘we’re-all-in-this-together’ or a ‘we’re-both-in-the-know’ sort-of-thing.

    I agree it can be misused, but like others, I’d err towards seeing it as a friendly gesture!

    (Although the way OP described it, it does make me think of, like when the serial killer gets let off by the jury and he walks past the brooding detective, who’s just starting to consider that he arrested the wrong guy and then the killer winks and we all know – it WAS him! Then it cuts to the credits, alas.)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this. I don’t work with many winkers but the few winks I have gotten have all been in this spirit. It’s uncommon enough that I do notice when it happens but it doesn’t bother me.

  13. Not Australian*

    OP#4: the bigger problem surely is that (a) there aren’t enough chairs and (b) the ones you do have are uncomfortable. Is there some way you and your colleagues can ask management to revisit the seating in the room as a whole, rather than trying for another couch?

    1. East Coast Girl*

      This is where my thoughts went too. I think the other office(s) are being ridiculous for complaining about the couch. But rather than lobby for another couch, the better battle to pick may be asking your employer to supply enough (comfortable) chairs to accommodate the number of folks using your break room. It wouldn’t be a full “win” but a compromise for which you and your coworkers wouldn’t have to foot the bill.

      Really, though, I don’t get the complaints about the couch. Did people from other offices think that nap time was a thing at head office or something? It all feels very kindergarten.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Why is it ridiculous to ask for comparable amenities as another office has? I understand with different offices it is impossible to make everything exactly equal/fair, but if office A has a couch why is it wrong for office B to complain and ask for a couch.
        I agree if the coworker actually asked for the couch to be taken away that is pretty crappy, but the if the coworker asked for a couch and it was the higher up who decided to take something away instead of giving it to everybody that is not the coworkers fault.

        1. Observer*

          Head office didn’t take the couch away from satellite A, so complaining about it is, at best childish. It’s perfectly possible to ask for yourself without complaining about what the other one has.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Yes you can ask for yourself without complaining what the other has, but pointing out that other offices have x thing that you are asking for I think is part of crafting a well rounded argument and presenting evidence for your case to make it stronger.
            I agree if the coworker actually said “we don’t have a couch why does the main office get one, you should get rid of it unless satellite office A gets one also.” that is childish and petty, but saying “I see that main office has a couch in their break room, satellite office A would really appreciate it if the company provided one for us as well.”

            1. bonkerballs*

              I mean, OP literally says the visiting staff complained and said it wasn’t fair they didn’t have one too. That doesn’t sound like someone crafting a well rounded argument.

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                Yes but we don’t know if that was all they said or if they actually asked for the couch to be removed. I asked OP #4 below about that to try and get some clarification.

                I grew up with 3 siblings, if my parents bought sibling A and B an ice cream cone sibling C and myself would complain we might even use the exact same words “it wasn’t fair that sibling A and B get an ice cream and we don’t have one too.” In that situation I wouldn’t be asking for my parents to take away the ice cream from the first two siblings, we would be asking for our parents to buy sibling C and myself ice cream as well. Now when we complained we would never imagine or hope that our parents would take away the ice cream from the first two siblings, we just wanted our own.

                1. Observer*

                  Oh, come on. Carrying over that kind of childish argumentation to an office environment is, well, childish at best and toxic at worst.

      2. OP #4*

        Personally, I think complaining about the couch was silly, but I also acknowledge that their complaint is probably rooted in tension between the smaller offices and our office that has existed for years. The smaller offices often view our office as getting certain luxuries that they don’t get, while at the same time they do not see how much autonomy they have compared to us (they have much more relaxed rules when it comes to taking time off, working from home, decorating their office space, throwing office parties etc).

        In all honesty, if we asked for different chairs from management, we would likely be told “There’s no room in the budget for that.” And, if there was room in the budget, we still probably wouldn’t see a change in the room for another 6 months (at least) because things like that move very slowly for us. That being said, there’s nothing to lose with asking, so I will suggest to my other coworkers we try.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          OP #4 do you know if the person(s) that complained actually asked for the couch to be removed or if they asked for a couch for their own offices?

          I agree with you about the complaint being rooted in the tension between smaller offices and the head office. I work at a smaller regional office compared to our bigger main HQ and have similar issues. When I started 2 years ago my workstation had a desktop that was running Windows XP. I lobbied for and with a supervisors support I was given a “new” computer. When I received it, I found what looked to be some personal pictures that had been saved on it (nothing inappropriate) just family pics. I suspect that I was given someones old computer from the main office, and that person was actually given a new computer.

          Another issue we have is my satellite office along with another one is much more reliant on public transportation to get to work, but the main office is in a heavy driving city. We have asked for commuter benefits for a while now but feel our request have been ignored because they don’t really impact the main office. I know commuter benefits can be used for parking costs as well but I don’t think people in the main office have to pay for parking so they don’t see it as necessary.

          While you are right that your satellite office might get different kinds of perks the main office does not get, they might not be perks that people in those office necessarily want. The time off and work from home are major, but decorating their office space not a big deal (I have one maybe two decorations I brought from home and that is because it was either bring them to work or they were going in the trash.) What you see as autonomy the smaller offices might see as being ignored.

          I agree asking for the couch to be removed is petty, but asking for fairness and other offices to get their own couch I can understand.

  14. Annisele*

    OP1 – go look at the calculator on the subreddit “abrathatfits”.
    I used to have your problem. Turns out I’m a 32H, not a 46D. Victoria’s Secret are not always good at measuring people…

    1. Ego Chamber*

      Actually, they’re very good at measuring people in a way that makes sure there will be a bra in stock for people to buy. Try to see it from the VS perspective: if they fit you to a bra size that they don’t sell, they’d be missing out on a potential sale, and no way should they fix that very real problem by expanding the range of sizes they carry, right?

      Source: I’m kind of bitter about being mis-sized for over 2 decades.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Agree, and I was about to say something similar. The last time I set foot in VS was years ago. They measured me as a C cup, which of course didn’t fit correctly when I tried it on. I went to a fancy department store and they measured me to a DD. That fit.

      2. Just Employed Here*

        Every time I hear/read about bra sizes being wrong (as mine was for about a decade), it’s always the circumference below the breasts being measured as being too wide and the cup size being too small (logically, as it is the relation between the circumference below the breasts and the one on top of the breasts). Never the other way around.

        Why don’t they (the companies in general) just make bras with smaller circumferences and larger cups sizes, one might ask. Rather than selling their customers stuff that doesn’t fit them well.

        1. notanon*

          I’m not following your logic or what the other way around would be, but I definitely agree that since bodies come in all shapes and sizes it would be wonderful if companies would accommodate more than one ideal. Don’t forget some of us need smaller cups and larger band sizes…like 38AA. VS tried to shove me in a 32C. In theory, the cup should be the “same” as the cup on a 38AA, but 6″ difference in band is not exactly unnoticeable. I sometimes like to inhale.

          1. boop the first*

            Are you saying that VS carries 32 bands? It seems like such a common size but I can never find 32″ ones anywhere so I have to shell out $70-$150 for one made in europe.

            They ARE tight but that’s the idea, the band is the only thing holding up the breasts. Straps just keep non-rigid cups from flopping over.

            1. Sunflower*

              VS does carry 32 (I’m a 32DDD). They’ve started carrying more and more varied sizes and now there is a decent amount of variety available in larger sizes. I tend to wear unlined bras because they just fit best!

            2. Tammy*

              Victoria’s Secret carries a wider range of sizes online than they do in many of their stores. I live in a college town, and if your band size isn’t 34/36, the local store typically has nothing for you. They definitely slant their inventory toward the slim and petite college girls…which is what sells, so I can’t fault them for it, even though it means they have nothing that fits me. (On the other hand, I can – and do – fault the salesperson who once told my friend “you should go somewhere else to shop – we don’t sell clothes for fat people here.”)

              1. Gaia*

                I will never, ever, ever shop at a VS again after I was told I was “*looks me up and down creepily* really just too big overall” to buy things there. I wear a 44D now but at the time was a 40D and it had never occurred to me that they wouldn’t carry my size. The manager overheard and just snickered. I was humiliated and I even complained to their corporate offices. When I received a response it was along the lines of “sorry we don’t carry your size, we’re always expanding our options” and didn’t even address the way I was treated.

                Side note: I find it amusing that no matter how I gain or lose weight, my cup size never changes. Well, of course the actual measurement does but the end result is always the same. They are committed, I guess!

            3. notanon*

              Yes, bands should be snug. Not 6″ too small, to the point that the fabric is tearing, underwires are stretched out of shape (if they don’t simply snap from the extreme tension), and elastic is literally cutting into one’s skin and drawing blood. 38AA is indeed the size that fits me. The fact that the VS salesperson wouldn’t simply admit they don’t carry my size and instead tried to dress my ribcage with a tourniquet was the problem.

          2. Just Employed Here*

            The other way around would be, say, to find out that you always thought you were a 34B, but you really are a 36A. Instead, what I always hear (and is repeated often in this thread) is that you thought you were a 34B, but actually are a 32C or 32D.

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          I think it’s more difficult to make a bra line with a wide range of cup sizes. I’ve seen legit bras for DDD and up, but there’s structural engineering involved, so they’re expensive. But changing the band size is easy.

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          But they DO make bras with smaller band sizes and larger cup sizes. It’s just that you have to actually buy that combination to have it. Cheaper bras won’t have it. Bras that do have it are pricier, and by the same token they tend to last longer too.

          Here’s the thing: measure for band size around the ribs. *That’s your band size*. Measure around the fullest part of the bust. The ratio between the 2 measurements gets you the cup size. That’s It. But traditional bra-fitting instructions told us to use the larger measurement for their band size and then find the cup size that fits least badly.

          Like with Annisele, my bra size changed dramatically when I got fitted correctly. I used to be 36-C or -D and I went to something like 32-J. It actually got better when I gained a little weight because my band size got bigger but my breasts didn’t, particularly. These days I think I’m wearing a 34-DD? Not sure and it’s not handy to check.

          Easy check: if you’re wearing an underwire bra, that wire should stay against your chest, even right between your breasts. If it doesn’t, the cups are too small.

      3. londonedit*

        Marks & Spencer here in the UK are notorious for being awful at bra fittings. They make a big deal about their fitting service but they always tell people they’re bigger around the back, and smaller in the cups, than they actually are. They told me I was a 34B, which I faithfully wore for years, and when I went back for another fitting because the straps were falling down, they told me I should try an A cup because obviously the cups were too big. Nope – straps falling down is a sign that your bra is too big in circumference and you should probably go down a back size or two and up a cup size or two. Sure enough, I had a proper fitting at Rigby & Peller and came out a 30D. With bras that actually fit. Goodness knows how many women are still wearing totally the wrong size!

        1. Anon Anon*

          I can’t see that, but they are an excellent place to buy affordable bras (and they have a US website) for those of us who have larger cups and smaller bands. Because at least they sell G, H, J cup sizes. Most of the stores here only go up to a DD. And the stores that don’t, well you can pay $70+ on one bra. I get the same size at M&S for $25.

        2. KRM*

          Rigby and Peller is a dream! They’ll fit you right, and they’ll help you pick out a bra style that works with your breast shape.

          1. londonedit*

            That’s what really impressed me about R&P – the way they took shape into account rather than just using arbitrary sizing. Their bras are expensive, but I’d rather have two or three really good bras than the 15+ ones that didn’t fit that I used to have cluttering up my underwear drawer.

            1. Positive Reframer*

              And once you figure out what works for you you can go to the less expensive stores and see if you can find something that works.

        3. annejumps*

          I had a similar situation. I was so shocked to get a 30D in the mail, try it on, and have it fit perfectly. I would never have believed it.

        4. strawberries and raspberries*

          I had a really validating experience at the Rigby & Peller in NYC, until my 36Gs had to pay like a quarter of my rent on the bras. It’s great reading threads like this and knowing that I’m not some freakish enormous-chested beastmonster, but it’s also like, hey, if this many of us are this large-breasted, wouldn’t it make sense to start designing better bras and not marking them up so high?

          1. Flower vase*

            I usually get a fitting at a reputable shop, buy one bra at the shop to compensate them for their time, and then once I figure out what brands and sizes work for me I buy new bras (brand new with tags) on eBay for like $30CAD a pop. Good way not to spend a quarter of your rent! (For reference I’m a 34GG UK size and buy a lot of Freya, Fantasie, Chantelle, etc.)

        5. Just Employed Here*

          The bra fitting service at Debenhams in the UK provided my revelation 20 years ago…

      4. Allison*

        I remember when I was rocking the 32C, which was usually in stock, but rarely the styles or colors I wanted – just the neutrals and ugly prints – and I once mentioned it to an associate, not as a complaint, she asked me if I was finding everything okay and I gave her an honest answer . . .

        So the told me I should try 34B, which was 32C’s “sister size” and basically the same thing.

        Um, no.

        But I get it, they’re not bra experts, they’re 20-something women who needed a job, took one at VS because they were hiring and they liked the store (the discount is probably nice), and they received basic training in bra fitting, but it’s a big corporation, so naturally everyone from the high level executives down to the general managers, want there to be some suggestive selling in every customer interaction, whether someone wants a suggestion or just wants to know if you have this cute pink bra in her actual g-darn size!

        1. Flower vase*

          That doesn’t seem so outrageous? They are sister sizes… and that’s not a bad technique – sometimes a “sister size” can work pretty well for some people.

          1. Gaia*

            Sometimes they *can* but for many women sister sizes are really not a thing. I’ve sister sized up and down and it is a hot mess.

            1. Flower vase*

              Fair enough. It has worked for me. I just think of it as the equivalent of “I usually wear a size 8 dress but in this style a 10 fits better.” Like most things it depends on the person, I guess!

              1. Jennifer Thneed*

                Yeah, but that’s because manufacturers don’t have any sizing standards. Totally different thing. They can have the same number size and still be different actual sizes, be the same actual size and have different number sizes, between mfrs, across lines of one mfr, etc.

          2. Allison*

            I am sorry my comment on that was rude and ignorant, all I knew at the time I wrote it was that the “sister size” didn’t work for me AT ALL and the whole concept seemed kind of ridiculous.

      5. Annie Moose*

        Yup yup yup.

        I’m lucky in that my proper size is right on the edge of what VS sells–I’m really a 30D but fit okay in some 32Cs, depending on the construction. VS does not sell 30D, but does carry 32C. By some weird coincidence that I’m sure is totally explainable, I’ve repeatedly been measured as a 32C in VS. (and as a 30D in stores that carry 30Ds!)

        (in fairness, I’m sure most VS fitters aren’t doing this maliciously–they probably are doing their best with the training they’ve been given and trying to find people something that fits in the store. I will always be grateful to a VS associate who was actually the first to tell me about sister sizes and explain to poor 18-year-old Annie that she wasn’t actually an A cup. But. I’m not a 34B.)

    2. nnn*

      I think Victoria’s Secret bras are actually a different size than other brands even when the label size is the same. I’ve compared multiple bras with the same label size, and the length of the band and size of the cup on the VS bra was noticeably different. (Can’t remember offhand if it was bigger or smaller.)

      1. Lynca*

        I think they’re smaller personally. I float between D to G cup depending on weight. The only VS bra I could wear was a D cup that started to spill over if I gained any weight. Other bras I had in the same size could handle some weight flux.

      2. Persimmons*

        VS bras are the special snowflake of the undergarment world, so I’m not surprised to hear that they have “special” sizing. They fell apart within a few washings for me, and when I complained, the clerk outlined what was basically a religious ritual to clean them. No, I am not going to buy your special “bra shampoo” and hand-wash in room-temperature filtered water that’s been blessed by VS angels or whatever TF you’re carrying on about. I’m going to toss them in lingerie bags and add them to a regular washer cycle, because I have a life to live. If your product can’t hold up to regular use, then I’ll find a brand that can.

      3. cbackson*

        When I worked there we had a special little chart thing that told us what size a person was based on the measurements. The person who taught me fitting did explain sister sizes, although that wasn’t on the chart. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the fit is specific to VS – you’re only taught how to take the measurements and match them to the chart (or at least that was the case back in the day).

      4. OP #1*

        Agreed. I’m a 34D at VS, but have also gotten fitted at other department / fancier stores and was told I was a 34C. Bras from both stores in different sizes fit me the same. I do think many VS associates (me included) are pretty terrible at the measurement thing- especially since we have to do it over clothes, varying bra sizes, etc… and then align it to an existing VS size. But if you let them actually see you with the bra on, they’re pretty good at seeing what needs adjusting and getting you into the right size through trial and error.
        But when I hear people complain that VS had them in the wrong size for years it is a bit frustrating. Maybe VS didn’t carry your size- in which case they should have just told you, not smooshed you into something… but maybe you’re just a different size in different brands, just like with shoes or pants.

    3. Katy*

      OP #1: +100 for abrathatfits
      Same story as above: I also used to have this problem and also discovered it’s because I was wearing the wrong size. Nordstrom fitted me into a 32DD… but once I went to abrathatfits and switched for 28FFs, I’ve been so much more comfortable and never looked back.
      That said, I also hate camisoles… but only the ones with the shelf bra inside. Instead, I wear one of H&M’s $5 jersey tank tops under my shirts almost every day.

    4. straws*

      Yes, this! Many stores that fit bras fit to their own sizing and use a “+4” measurement for their band sizing. This automatically puts you in a bra where the band is too large, which results in the support being shifted to the straps (which additionally causes shoulder issues — ask me how I know!) and pushes the breast tissue down and back (creating more bra lines all around). So the proper fit can help a lot. Also, with “full” style bras, those work best with top heavy breasts, where more tissue sits above the nipple line and fills it out. If you have bottom heavy breasts, they’ll settle into the cups, creating gaps and making the bra lines a lot work. If that’s you, a balconette or plunge style will work much better for a fitted look. Another good resource is Boob or Bust. They have a website, but their Facebook group is really great for fitting advice and bra recommendations (it’s mostly UK though, so you’d have to keep conversions in mind).

      1. Copier Admin Girl*

        THANK YOU for this sizing info! And thank you OP for writing in about this so we could all learn a little more about bra sizing! I know it’s not exactly related to the question so I apologize for derailing, but I definitely needed some of this info as I also deal with bra lines. I for sure have bottom heavy breasts- I definitely noticed that full bras weren’t cutting it. Back to balconette I go!

        1. straws*

          I’m also bottom heavy (in many ways… but that’s a separate issue) and purchased one of the molded full coverage bras back when I thought big meant needs full cover. Oh my goodness, the gaping was so ridiculous. I left it on way too long because I was laughing too hard to unlatched it! There are just so many facets to bras — how wide the wires are set, projection of the cups, size of the gore, etc. That’s why I love the FB group, because they talk about all of it. I’ve learned so much beyond just my correct size.

    5. Anon Anon*

      Vs is horrible, primarily because they have such limited sizes. I think it’s critical to get fitted in a speciality bra shop, one that carries a very large range of sizes. Then they are not motivated to get you into a size they carry, they are motivated to get you in the right size. And the right size bra makes a huge difference.

    6. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I finally let a bra sales lady measure and fit me, instead of just buying a couple more bras in ‘my size.’ I told her what I wanted and she said, ‘Nope, you should be wearing XX size.’ She was right, and I was WAY off. A good fitter KNOWS THINGS.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I had a great fitting at a specialty bra store. It was owned by a mother-daughter team, who had both been trained in France. Those ladies are miracle workers. They could eyeball you (no measuring tape — according to them, a good fitter doesn’t need it), and 90% of the time, bring you the right size the first time. Then it was a matter of styles and shapes. Their bras changed my life.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          You are so right. This lady told me my size without a tape measure, but she did use one to at least prove I wasn’t a 36C . More like a 38E. That number took some getting used to.

          She also introduced me to minimizers, something I didn’t know even existed. Yes, a bra CAN change your life!

  15. nnn*

    I’m super curious what exactly happened to #4’s old couch. Was it taken somewhere else? Did they throw it out? If they threw it out, was it originally obtained with office funds and they basically just threw out office funds?

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        The Natori Pure Allure style #736099 is similar, and, since I have (no lie) seven of them in a larger-than-standard size, I can vouch for the lace being pretty soft. It does show very slightly sometimes under certain tops, but I don’t think it’s a big deal and no one’s said anything to me about it (and I work with people who would).

    1. Kat in VA*

      Those are great – except for the ones where some oblivious designer thinks a band of pretty, yet wildly itchy lace rubbing all day on a somewhat sensitive area is a great idea! Do they not have models or fitters or someone at least WEAR the bra for a few minutes who might say, “Well, yeah, Wakeen, this *looks* great but I’m going to need cortisone cream after an hour, this durn lace is so scratchy!”…?

      1. EPLawyer*

        You mean the same designers of women’s clothing who 1) don’t put damn pockets in dresses and 2) design clothes that look best on a hanger not a real person?

        The bra designers design bras that look pretty. Because all women care about is looking pretty, even if we are uncomfortable.

        Bra lines show. It’s a fact of life. But definitely get refitted. Your body changes. Years ago I went to Soma and was one size. Recently went back because I needed a nice bra for my wedding. Guess what? Different bigger size.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Ah, yes – no pockets, useless pockets, “decorative” pockets…another peeve of mine!

              1. Murphy*

                He’s starting to get it because I show him so often. He just laughs at me when I’m like “WOO POCKETS!” He once told our then infant daughter, who was wearing pants that inexplicably had little baby pockets, that she better enjoy it now because her pockets would never get any bigger.

                I’m wearing a skirt with pockets right now, so today is a good day!

          1. Susan Calvin*

            Last time I bought an interview suit and had the pants altered, I learned from chatting with the seamstress that many women *deliberately* have her sew perfectly good pockets shut, to remove the temptation of putting something in and ruining ‘the lines’ – I’m still mad about that.

          2. Tammy*

            Same! A friend of mine is actually starting a business making “custom clothing for people with actual bodies”. I have two skirts they made me, and the reaction I get every time I wear them is “I love your skirt — oh my god, does it have POCKETS?!?”

            1. Positive Reframer*

              and of all things A-line and fuller skirts are perfect for pockets, big giant pockets!

              I do love coat season, I’ve been known to forgo a purse all together and just have a coat pocket purse situation.

        2. Dr. Doll*

          My most beloved suit jacket has two functional outside pockets *and an inside pocket*. I love that jacket so much.

      2. A Non E. Mouse*

        A guy I work with recently discovered that the pockets in most women’s pants are “decorative” and was HORRIFIED. He just could not believe it. Absolutely flabbergasted.

        Buddy, that ain’t even the half of it….

        1. Annie Moose*

          One day at work, I and some coworkers were heading out to lunch. I was wearing a pair of skinny-ish jeans, so obviously only about half my phone fit in the pocket.

          One of my male coworkers was so shocked by this. He was like, “but you can’t fit your phone in your pocket? That’s all the pocket you have? Why don’t they make bigger pockets?? I can fit a way bigger phone all the way in my pocket!”

          It was a real eye-opener of a day for him.

  16. Former call centre worker*

    I usually wear a cotton jersey vest top under anything that might show my bra (i get cold easily so usually need the extra layer anyway). I don’t know what sort of thing you mean by camisole exactly but if they aren’t stretchy maybe something stretchy would be more comfortable?
    I agree that this isn’t something you should worry much about though.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Are you from the UK? What you call a vest is usually called an undershirt in the US, and a camisole is an undershirt for women that’s particularly thin, usually with spaghetti straps.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Oooh pick me miss, I think I know this! *holds hand up*

        Yes, a UK vest is a US undershirt
        A UK vest top is a US tank top (t-shirt with no sleeves/cutaway armholes
        A UK waistcoat is a US vest (goes under a suit)
        A UK tank top is a knitted sleeveless jumper like the Monty Python Gumby man wears. I don’t know if there’s a US version. If it has buttons on as worn by Chandler from Friends, that would be a US sweater-vest and a UK…knitted waistcoat?
        A UK jumper is a US sweater
        A UK sweatshirt is only the type made of fabric like a tracksuit; not knitted wool
        A US jumper is a US pinafore dress.
        And a camisole is the same in both places – a ladies’ undergarment usually microfibre or satin etc with string (spaghetti!) straps, performing the function of a vest/undershirt on a child or man.

        1. OP #1*

          Oh dear… we are only across the pond from each other… how did we manage to get these particular terminology signals so crossed?

  17. alice*

    OP1 – sports bras. This solved my problem. They’re cheaper than normal bras, the sizes don’t matter as much, and I have no bra lines whatsoever anymore. I also wear a lanyard, so I know what you’re talking about.

    1. Justme, The OG*

      My last sports bra was $70. They’re only cheaper if you have small breasts and don’t need a lot of support.

      1. Julia*

        I mean, I haven’t even found one that allows me to run painfree.
        That said, if OP doesn’t actually exercise in the bra, she doesn’t one the best one. Personally, I just think that sports bras make the chest looked squished together, and would go for a regular bra with, as Some Sort of Management Consultant suggests above, one that ends in a bit of lace or thinner fabric.

        1. Fiddlesticks*

          Try the Buband! It’s not a sports bra, it’s an additional accessory that stops you from bouncing when you’re working out — it’s been life changing for me and it’s only $20-$30 I believe. I’ve been recommending it to all of my friends who have struggled with this our whole lives and honestly it’s a miracle worker.

        2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          Try Title Nine. They performance test their bras with women who do the sports they are designed for. Shocking, I know. They are not cheap, though.

          1. raktajino*

            btw title nine mostly sells bras from other companies under new names. It’s often a smaller color and size selection than actually exists. So if you find something you like at T9 and want a different color or a different size, do some googling!

            Anyway, this is absolutely tangential to LW1’s issue.

            1. Julia*

              Thanks, everyone! I’m not in the US, so I’ll have to look into those brands and overseas stores (bras aren’t something I buy unseen), but I also just quit running because between my boobs and weird ankles, it’s not the sport for me.

        3. Positive Reframer*

          I’ve yet to meet a sports bra I actually liked (and if its $70 I can’t even imagine how amazing it would have to be for me to pull the trigger on that.) They make your boobs look stupid and sweaty and they are darn near impossible to get on and off unless you get the zip front ones.

          -signed Contentedly Does Zumba in an Underwire

      2. Lynca*

        That’s how much mine cost. To be fair I love it, but finding a good sports bra that would fit my cup size was a chore. Things you could buy at Target, etc. didn’t fit at all.

      3. Kate*

        If you are a D cup or larger its like finding a unicorn getting a sports bra that doesn’t give you uniboob or let them bounce around, and not paying a small fortune for it. They are not cheap unless they are crap.

      4. Never*

        I don’t know what you mean by “small,” but TJMaxx has everyday (not for intense exercise) sports bras up to XL for <$20.

        1. Lexi*

          Small is C cup or smaller. Larger than a C cup and you cannot find a sports bra in a tj maxx, target, etc or at least not one that does what you need it to.

          1. Never*

            Yes, I can. I’m a 32D/DD and fit just fine into the L size sports bras at TJMaxx, with enough support for everyday wear.

            For exercise, I use VSX bras (unpopular opinion). The ones for heavy intensity are so supportive I can run in them with zero bouncing. (Pain in the neck to get off again, though.)

            1. Kat in VA*

              Back when I still pounded out the miles on the treadmill, the only bra that worked for me were the VSX double-layered ones that had a kind of regular underwire bra and then a zip-up enclosure over that. Until the zippers started separating, that is. But that was truly the only zero-bounce bra I could ever find because I didn’t want to spend $75+ on Enell and the like.

        2. Justme, The OG*

          XL is more the size of the person and not the breasts that need to be supported in the bra.

    2. Sereknitty*

      A good sports bra which offers support is definitely not cheaper and needs to fit otherwise it’s useless.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Could, yes, but really depends – I love my Nike compression bras to bits (and find them super comfortable), but it can’t be denied that in the taxonomy of undergarments they’re probably closer to a binder than to my normal bras. Being in the D area, they alter my body shape enough that any non-loose/stretchy shirts, like my nicer button-ups, wouldn’t fit right at all anymore.

        1. Thlayli*

          That doesn’t sound like a normal sports bra. Is that for a really high intensity sport? I’ve had tennis bras and martial arts bras and wouldn’t consider them like a binder.

          1. Susan Calvin*

            Oh, not *exactly* like a binder for sure (would be kind of counterproductive, since iirc those are normally so constricting you’re specifically not supposed to exercise in them on danger of damage to your lungs or ribs), but there’s definitely some significant flattening going on!

            I can’t recall the name, and the model seems to have either been discontinued or gotten a re-design, but looking at their website it’s pretty similar to the “classic swoosh”, cut-wise (i.e., like an extremely sturdy racerback bustier).

            1. anonish4this*

              Conversely, if someone large-breasted is seeking the “binder” effect without actually binding, the Frog Bra from Title 9 is amazing for this. I own 3 of them and rarely wear regular bras anymore.

          2. Alton*

            I don’t know…I’m somewhere in the ballpark of 38G, and the only difference between my sports bras and my binder is that the sports bras sort of have cups whereas the binder just has a flat compression panel. It’s hard for me to find supportive sports bras that aren’t super constricting. I find my binder a lot more comfortable, honestly (though I don’t wear it to work out in).

          3. What's with today, today?*

            I’ve always considered sports bras like binders. They flatten everything out.

          4. TL -*

            That’s a normal sports bra for me and I’m a D cup.

            I have the S, M, L type but they’re only good for yoga and sleeping in – basically no impact activities. They’re not even sufficient for going up stairs at a brisk pace.

    3. Alton*

      The sizing and support depend a lot on your size. Those stretchy sports bras you can find in most department stores that have sizes like “medium” and “large” worked okay when I was smaller, but now they don’t offer any support and the bands are almost always too large if I buy based on cup fit, meaning they must ride up. I have to buy heavy-duty compression bras that have closures and are sized by cup and band like regular bras, and they don’t always result in a smoother line under clothes.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Bali Comfort Revolution Bra. Looks like a sports bra, but without the compression. Underwire free. You can get them on sale for about $20 – $25. These are sized S, M, L, XL, XXL, and XXL, without cup size.

      I’ve been measured at several stores and was told I am a 38 D, a 38 C, and a 36 D, all at the same time. *insert eyeroll* I gave up trying to find bras that fit until I found this one. I wore size Large for a couple of years; recent weight loss dropped me to Medium.

      I’ve pretty much replaced all of my bras with these. They don’t show, they breathe, there’s no lace to itch and no underwire to poke, and they come in lots of colors. And they have matching seamless underwear: brief, hi-cut, and thong.

        1. fposte*

          It’s definitely a YMMV on those, that’s for sure–I’m between you two in that I wouldn’t use them for work but I’ll use them for home and gardening.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            I use that type for sleep bras. Anything not wired for me has to have super moulded cups and a lot of engineering to hold everything up.

    5. OP #1*

      I actually used to do this! I worked as a manufacturing supervisor in Florida with no AC, so the sweat was too real. I got those VS not-actually-a-sports-bra sports bras (not nearly enough running support and honestly who wants underwire for exercise?) and they were great for the purpose. Very washable, they came up high enough to prevent lines, and they didn’t give me uniboob. But I tried to go back for more lately and they’re all so bedazzled that while I wouldn’t have bra line, I would have lumpy boob.

    6. Anonymosity*

      I wear sports bras almost exclusively but then I have uniboob. They don’t make lines–however, sometimes you can see the racerback under certain shirts because the straps don’t go over my shoulders. I’ve seen (and own) some that have regular straps, though thin ones.

  18. Emma*

    A simplex solution tog #1 bra problem is the Sloggi brand bra skin coloured.

    They have many different types of bras but the one I favor the most is the zero feeling bralette.

    It’s comfortable and i’ve been able to wear clothes you could see the skincolour through without the bra being visible.

    1. Yorick*

      She’s talking about lines showing under the clothes, not the color of the bra showing under a light-colored shirt

  19. BRR*

    #1 I think as long as you’re otherwise dressed professionally, nobody will (or should) care.

    #4 definitely ask before buying it because I imagine they might say no and be prepared that people are going to use it who didn’t put money towards it. I might ask management to address the lack of seating.

  20. Bookworm*

    #5: Agree. I’d even go as far as not contacting that manager unless you see a job that you’d like to apply for at the same organization. I haven’t checked in with them monthly, but I’ve found that even when checking in with someone for an organization who has rejected you doesn’t really lead anywhere. More often than not I’ve been told to re-apply (as in, do the entire process all over again) or re-directed to the job listings.

    If they really do feel they want you, they’ll reach out. But who knows? Maybe you really impressed this HR manager and a twice yearly check-in might lead to something.

    1. OP #5*

      OP#5 Here – Thanks for the information and it is nice to hear from someone who has been in the same place.

  21. Nox*

    3. Really? This cracked me up but then again I love winking and I could totally find any complaint about innocent winking to indicate “hi, I’m immature”. I’d not try to escalate this item. Too first world problem-y.

    1. Les G*

      Basically everything on this blog is a first world problem. It’s about mostly American white collar workers, what do you expect? What a strange comment.

    2. alice*

      Agree with Les G, and also something that’s so unconventional in the workplace like that is okay to call out I think without sounding immature. I’m young, and I’ve encountered two people *ever* who have winked. If I saw it in a workplace, I’d honestly assume it was an eye twitch until I saw the pattern. I think it’s totally okay to ask someone to not do it, just like asking someone to not touch your shoulder when asking you to do something.

      1. Cat Herder*

        Yep, I’d do the same and I’m in the generation that apparently does this (I’ve been working for about 45 years now and winking at colleagues has never been acceptable in any place I’ve worked)

      2. Thursday Next*

        I dunno, if it’s not a twitch, it could be a tic, and I don’t think that’s on par with someone touching another person. I see asking someone not to wink as closer to asking someone not to use verbal filler like “uh” as much, or not to gesticulate while talking. I wouldn’t feel comfortable regulating other people’s bodies by making those requests.

        A leering wink would be another matter, but that’s not because of the wink per se, but the harassment.

      3. ShipLeigh*

        Years ago in my temping days, there was a guy in the office who used to wink at me when greeting me in passing. Since it made me uncomfortable, I sent him an email telling him how I felt and telling him to stop. He wrote back in profuse apology and said he’d make a conscious effort not to do so toward me again.

        I find out later on through the grapevine that this is a facial tic that he had and couldn’t always control. That took the wind out of my sails for having stood up for myself as a temp to a full-timer, but fortunately I didn’t have to work there much longer.

        To date, I haven’t seen any more winkers lurking about in my subsequent jobs.

      4. fposte*

        But they’re not touching you. They’re making a gesture. It’s a known gesture with no particular profane, disrespectful, or evil meaning in daytime use; it’s just fallen out of favor. I would think it was weird and police-y to be asked to change my gestures by a co-worker, and I’d really side-eye, if you’ll pardon the phrase, a direct report who asked that.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think it depends whether you take Nox’s complaint to be delivered to the winker or to another coworker. “Why does boss always wink when they tell me to do the Boston numbers, and to not ask questions about it?” (The not wanting questions is the odder part of boss’s behavior to me, but the winking isn’t making it less weird.) To which coworker might say “eh, it’s a quirk” or “yeah, weird, but whatever” or “I find it charming,” but “you are immature to ask that” isn’t doing it for me as a normal reply.

          It’s a “you and I are conspiring together” gesture, but in a context where the winkee can’t decide not to conspire, and so–to me, in the context of this letter–weird.

        2. Observer*

          I agree – asking someone to actually stop is out of line. On the other hand ASKING about it, in an “I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean” kind of way, is totally NOT immature.

          1. fposte*

            I definitely agree with that–there’s nothing to be pejorative about here, and I probably misled by riding on that comment. I just think that there are generational differences in familiarity.

      5. McWhadden*

        I don’t think asking someone not to move their eye lid a certain way would be very well received. And it’s very different from actual touching.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s immature to find winking–in the context of asking your to check the totals on the Meerkat account–weird?

      1. fposte*

        It’s funny–I don’t think it’s immature, necessarily, but I think winking’s heyday was a while ago so I think older workers are more accustomed to it.

        1. Observer*

          Really? I’m not the oldest on here, but I’m on the older side. And I’ve never seen winking as a normal thing. When I did see it, it was always in the context of a “I mean something slightly different that I’m officially saying” or “This is something between you and me” context. Generally inappropriate and often creepy.

          1. alice*

            That’s how it reads to me. In response to some of the other comments, no, it’s not touching, but it’s equally as unnerving.

            1. fposte*

              For this gets into the “I may find it unnerving but that doesn’t mean the other person has to change” area. It’s not breaking any known boundary; it’s just a taste issue. It’s like somebody who shrugs all the time.

          2. fposte*

            I’m in my mid-fifties, and there was a lot of winking in teachers and parents when I was younger. It was a jaunty, informal kind of visual punctuation.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            I’m 50, and I think the co-conspirators definition downthread matches my instinctive interpretation. If your boss winks at you while grandboss is ranting on, it means don’t worry about this, boss has your back. If your boss winks at you while asking for the Rivendell numbers, it means boss trusts you to pick up on the secret meaning. (Aspirin? Condoms? The Rivendell letters? Book a hotel room for noon for him and his mistress?)

            With a power differential, I mostly associate it with customers trying to get a low-level employee to bend the rules because the two of them are in a conspiracy together against The Man, and so can the clerk just not charge for the soda?

    4. Jessie the First (or second)*

      So, disliking winking is immature, but it’s not immature to wink at people randomly during business interactions?
      It’s not okay to be irritated by something unless it is a Very Serious Problem?

      1. Thursday Next*

        It’s fine to be irritated, but as fposte says above, that doesn’t mean the other person has to change.

  22. Traveling Teacher*

    To OP #1: Honestly, I’ve had it with all of the polyester/acrylic/see-through-unlined crap that gets marketed to us women. Whatever happened to a simple cotton button-down with no spandex or spangles or whatever that can get washed with whatever detergent with whatever else when it gets dirty instead of hand wrung and preciously laid flat to dry?! Why is it that I have to get that custom made or pay $$$ for the most expensive work-clothes money can buy when my husband can walk in to anywhere from H&M to Hugo Boss and get something that he can mistreat with abandon but will last for years? Makes me furious.

    I’ve started wearing my husband’s button-down shirts myself. Even his old ones are still sturdy after heavy washing and stain removal, and nothing shows through the front or the back. And, best of all, they actually button up to the neck! And there are no awkward cut-outs of any kind! Tucked in to trousers, plus a blazer or similar, and I’m good to go. (Disclaimer: we’re about the same height, both with broad shoulders. But, nothing says that you can’t take a peek in the men’s section of the store for yourself…).

    1. alice*

      I wear men’s shirts too! I buy them for myself. I find I’m much more comfortable in clothes that don’t accentuate anything like most women’s button-downs do.

    2. Lexi*

      I do this with suits, my MIL had a fit and took them and switched out the buttons and holes in all of them so no one would know. I completely agree I only get rid of them when they quit getting that crisp white look.

    3. Laura H.*

      Men’s athletic shorts. They cover! And have wonderful BIG pockets! And men’s/ unisex tees are way more roomy!

    4. LawBee*

      I wish I could do this! I also wish women’s jeans were made with the same denim as men’s, because I am sick of my perfectly fitting jeans being stretched out baggy messes at the end of the day.

    5. OP #1*

      Yes! Thank you! It’s not like I’m shopping at Kohl’s (learned that lesson after throwing out far too many shirts after one wash). Its inconceivable to me to have to pay $50-100 for a top and that’s not even lined.
      I had gone the button down route for a while, but my boss’ boss’ boss asked if I was pregnant… I’m not, and I’m also a healthy weight. So that kind of spurned me to dress a bit more ‘fashionably’ which then reminded me why I don’t (stupid bra lines on the stupid under-blazer shell type clothes).

  23. AvonLady Barksdale*

    OP #1: I was thinking about this just the other day. I like to wear long-sleeved t-shirts to work (I have some really flattering ones and a casual office), and the other day, I could see the whole outline of the edges of my bra through the fabric. It’s a high-quality, well-fit bra, so that’s not the issue– it was the combination of that bra and that shirt, and the shirt looked good. So this happens. While I’m not paranoid, I don’t like the look, so I tied a long flowy scarf around my neck. Took the focus off the side of my bra, and not even I noticed the outline anymore. It’s hot and humid here but my office is cold, so it’s not horrible to wear scarves year-round. Maybe that’s an option to make you feel more comfortable? To be clear, I don’t think anyone actually cares about your seams, but a scarf might help you take your mind off them.

  24. Delta Delta*

    #4 – I almost can’t even with this. Visitors from another office complained that the main office setup is not identical to theirs, and is thus unfair, and so management decided to take away something from the main office. Never mind that these satellite offices are all likely physically different in some respects; maybe one has a nice view of the forest, maybe one has shade in the parking area, maybe one is close to a pretty good coffee shop that runs a 2 for 1 latte sale on Wednesdays. Different people are in different places; they aren’t going to be identical. It would be preposterous for visitors from the main office to visit a satellite office and whine that they have a pretty view of the forest but the main office doesn’t, and therefore the satellite office must have blackout blinds. If Satellite Office B wants a couch, they should put in a request for a couch and get a couch, not Main Office should lose its couch.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Satellite Office B may have pointed out that it was unfair that one group gets a couch in their break room and the other group does not…but it’s extremely unlikely their intention was to get Group A’s couch removed. They just wanted a couch of their own, which is pretty reasonable. Who would actually expect management to come up with the stupidest possible solution to the unfairness?

    2. Kate R*

      The bizarre response to this makes me wonder if it was even complaint in the first place. Like someone from Satellite Office B saw the couch in the break room and thought, “Man, I wish we had a couch in the break room”, and thus requested one for their office. So now nobody gets a couch. I just don’t understand this reaction at all. What happened to the couch? Did they just throw it out?

    3. McWhadden*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a satellite office to ask for the same amenities as the other offices. There are lots of reasonable reasons to turn down that request. But there is nothing wrong with wanting that and asking for it.

      Management is the one being unreasonable. I sincerely doubt the other employees demanded the couch be burned or anything. They just wanted a couch too.

  25. Yesterday's Girl*

    My boss, who is female (as am I), constantly takes credit for my ideas with other people. It is infuriating, but even worse is when she does it with me. By that I mean I will tell her an idea I have, she will enthusiastically agree, and then later she will come to me and tell me about her great new idea. The first time, I was too shocked to do anything but nod. Now I just look at her and say, “yes, that’s what I said the other day.”

  26. LadyByTheLake*

    #3 — A wink as “putting someone in their place”? That’s not a wink means. A wink means “we’re in this together.” It’s a sign of a special bond, not a put down.
    But it is weird to have your boss winking at you.

    1. Birch*

      I think that’s why it’s weird and comes across as condescending. Because you’re not in this together with your boss, they have power over you.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I think the boss means it as “this is work we need to do, we’re all in this together, thanks.” I think the boss means it to build camaraderie. Weird way to do it though.

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Wow… you seem to have some boss baggage.

        Of course you are in it together with your boss. You presumably share the similar goals, work closely together, and are trying to accomplish similar things.

        Winking is often used in a conspiratorial setting (not in a nefarious way), it’s not weird or condescending at all!

        1. Birch*

          I guess I just don’t understand why it has to be conspiratorial or why there is a need for such an overt and meaningful gesture when a simple smile would do. Who are you fighting against and why is it a secret? It’s just a fact that bosses have power over you, so by definition you are working on slightly different perspectives. I’ve had awful bosses and great bosses (no need to diagnose ‘boss baggage’ here, thanks!) and none of them has ever winked at me. I do, however, get winked at by people who are being condescending or creepy. So maybe it’s just good to be aware that that’s a situation that happens too and not everyone reacts well to being winked at all the time.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            I think it’s because the comment you made came out of left field a bit. Winking falls under the friendly side of things and presumably somebody winking would also be on that side.

            I guess I sometimes can’t keep up on all the things bosses aren’t supposed to do with their employees.

          2. Kate R*

            I think it depends on the context. In my experience, when a boss has winked at me, it’s been when dealing with a client who was being particularly contentious or weird in some other way. It’s a way of acknowledging the client is being weird, and we’ll figure out how to handle their issue together rather than her dumping it on me. It does sound like the OP’s boss is doing this simply after tasking her with something though, which would make me question whether she really wanted me to do that thing. Then sometimes you just get random creepers who want you to think you’re in something together, and you’re just like, “omg, no.” So I think the lesson is, wink wisely…or not at all.

  27. MLB*

    #1 – Unless you’re showing an uncomfortable amount of cleavage, or your shirt is see through, I wouldn’t stress about it. Women wear bras, and unless you’re wearing layers, you’re probably going to be able to see the bra lines. BTW, as others have said, you may have worked for VS, but they’re only worried about fitting you into a bra size that they sell.

  28. Birdie*

    Did anyone else look down at their chest to see if their lines were showing after reading # 1? LOL Apparently I have this problem too and just noticed.

    1. CanCan*

      I had to search google images to understand what OP1 even meant. I don’t have any bra lines today, but it’s entirely possible that I would with another blouse on.

      I’d say, don’t worry about it. If your shirt is not super-tight / transparent / cleavage showing, who cares about bra lines under clothes. I would just call it a fact of life. Unless your workplace is super-duper-formal.

  29. Strawmeatloaf*

    You know, I be the couch complainers were more like “they have a couch, can we have one too?” And management went “oh no, that would mean we would have to get another couch! Instead let’s get rid of the current one. Because who cares about making our workers somewhat happy! Another place wanted a couch!!!”

  30. Allison*

    OP #1, don’t worry too much about it. It’s great when you can minimize them, but they are a fact of life these days.

    That said, I recently learned on Corporette that bra lines are more common with molded cups, and a LOT of bras at VS have molded cups – I know, I feel you, it’s where the vast majority of my bras come from so no judgment here, their loyalty program is pretty rad, I just recommend trying on a few different sizes and figuring out what looks and feels best on you. You might want to try unlined bras, OR tops and dresses that are lined, if bra lines are an issue.

  31. OP #5*

    OP# 5 here – Alison, thanks for the advice. I will definitely not reach out but maybe once or twice a year at the most. To clarify something, this was the hiring manager (not HR) who said that she would reach out to me if anything changed in her department. We actually work for the same very large organization but totally different areas. As Magic Toilet stated, it was well intended advice, but it was bad.

    Thanks again!

  32. Lacie*

    I live in Japan and was just telling my coworkers that no-one in the West cares about bra lines! Here everyone wears camisoles, even when it’s 40c/100f. Bra lines, collarbones, an accidental glimpse of your back if your shirt rides up– all are a Big Deal here. It sucks!

    1. mkt*

      Visible collarbones? Scandalous, lol.

      and I love my Uniqlo camisoles and wear them under everything. Specifically the ones with built in bras and don’t bother with traditional bras to avoid the lines too.

  33. Fabulous*

    #1 – I was going to comment the same thing that Alison said in her response: Victoria’s Secret is notorious for getting sizes wrong and you should go to a professional (a.k.a. non-VS) store to be properly fitted.

    I’ll give you an example. I used wear a 34D but knew that I needed resized, so I stopped in VS to see what they said. The lady suggested to me a 38C! I know for CERTAIN I was not, nor have ever been, a 38. I humored her and tried on the bra she pulled, and I was right – it was terrible. The band rode up terribly in the back and the cup sizes, while they covered me, the gore (part in the front between the cups) did not touch my chest at all when it’s supposed to lay flat. I then went to a professional non-VS fitter and turns out I was a 34DDD/36DD.

      1. Fabulous*

        That only works if you know how to properly measure yourself. Several guides explain different ways of measuring – such as bend over and let things free-hang; measure with a well-fitting bra on; and also add +1 or +3 inches for band size to account for squish, depending on how much you weigh as well. Also, I believe European sizes do not add any inches/cm’s to the band size from the ribcage measurement, resulting in further confusion with sizing. If there is any question, just go get it done professionally.

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      I think 38C is the biggest size they sell, so if you’re bigger than that, they’ll try to convince you that you aren’t.

      (Can’t confirm…I’m actually a 38C. But I’ve heard this from more than one friend.)

      1. Kat in VA*

        Some of their bras (Angel Demi, Body by Victoria) do go all the way up to 36DDD. I think VS has vanity sizing – where I wear a 34DD in “regular” brands is a 34DDD in VS sizing.

        I read somewhere, long while ago, that VS designs their bras for women who have augmented breasts versus natural ones. There can be a distinct difference in volume and shape between an augmented DDD and a regular DDD (and I fall into the former category in case folks think I’m judging). That could be why they fit some women better than others?

          1. Kat in VA*

            Yep – I’ve tried other brands of bras (Wacoal, Bali, etc.) in the size that I wear in VS and they’re way too big for me. Bolt-ons have a different volume and my particular jubblies are wide-set anyway. I’m fortunate that I can wear VS bras and don’t have to pull a second mortgage to get bras at Soma, but it deffo explains why many naturally large-breasted women have trouble finding fit at VS. (That, and the whole “Oh, sure you can totally wear a 38A bra, it’s a SISTER SIZE” to my 32C daughter speech /eyeroll/.)

        1. Fabulous*

          I’ve purchased 1-2 bras from their Angel collection before (in my REAL size, not the crap they tried to sell me) and they lasted maybe 2 months before they completely warped out of shape and started breaking down. Also, their demi bra started pushing my nips right out into the air after a couple weeks so I couldn’t even wear it anymore without expecting to free-fly within an hour. Total waste of money.

        2. Fabulous*

          But yes, I have also heard this as well. They will size you into something that they carry so they can make a sale, rather than tell you what you actually are.

  34. Adaline B.*

    Ooh interesting question about the winking. When my boss (rarely) winks at me it’s usually in a “I got your back” kind of way when we’re in a conversation with my grandboss.

  35. Anonodoodles*

    Winking as a generational thing? Unless the manager is in her 80’s, I doubt it! While there may be some baby boomers who wink, I don’t think winking is “a thing” baby boomers are known for. Perhaps Gen Xers are notorious winkers?

    I can’t say that I have never winked but I can’t think of a specific time when I have. I can’t even remember being winked at and I have spent my life among baby boomers.

  36. LawBee*

    It never occurred to me that winking was annoying or a generational thing. Now I am reevaulating my past winks. Do I even wink? I’ve typed it, but do I do it in person?

    Hello, new obsession.

  37. misc.*

    OP1, for what it’s worth, Victoria’s Secret is absolutely horrible at fitting bras. In the bra fitting community their name is like a curse word! If you are serious about looking into a truly well fitting bra, google “A Bra That Fits” and check out their calculator and reddit page for more info. It totally revolutionalized my bra fitting life. I do agree with Allison though. Nobody is paying attention to it.

    1. OP #1*

      I have a pretty easy to fit bra size (34D) so their ability to fit me has never really been a problem. I know what you mean, that measuring tape scheme is such a lie… but I fit myself through trial and error and definitely don’t have gapping or ‘quatraboob’…. I think they just cut the bra cups so that the bra ends on the ‘furthest jutting’ part of your boob which results in horrid lines. And I think their sizing is completely different from other brands, because we all know clothing manufacturers love to change up sizes arbitrarily.
      I will give a bra that fits a try!

      1. JJ*

        Betsey Johnson’s have always fit me perfectly while every other bra brand is a crapshoot (including VS)…maybe hit up someplace like Nordstrom Rack and try a bunch of new brands if you’re in a brand-loyalty rut?

        Are there any alternate ways to deal with the lanyard? Can you clip it to your belt or collar or shirt pocket? If there’s a heavy part on it (like keys) could you remove it so it’s just the lighter ID? Related: This is the exact reason I don’t buy cross-body purses.

  38. arcya*

    oh my word I did not know that visible bra cups were even like a THING, good good now one more aspect about my physical appearance at work to obsess over haha EVERYTHING’S FINE I’M FINE

    1. Inspector Spacetime*

      Isn’t that the worst? I’m constantly discovering new things about my appearance I, as a woman in my society, am supposed to be self-conscious about. For me, the big one that surprised me was stretch marks.

      Yes, I have stretch marks? It’s because when I was a teenager I…grew????

      It’s absolutely ridiculous to have to worry about so many natural things and spend so much time and money on “correcting” them.

      1. Observer*

        Except that stretch marks don’t come from normal growth. Most common cause is pregnancy. Other significant changes after adulthood can also cause stretch marks.

        And I can’t imagine them being an issue in a workplace. Even casual dress code tends to cover the areas where stretch marks are likely to show up.

        1. Armchair Expert*

          They do, though. I hit puberty running, and I had horrendously dark purple stretch marks across the tops of my breasts and down both thighs for most of my adolescence – and I was your standard skinny teenage girl. Rapid change in size or shape causes stretch marks, and the younger you are the more likely to have them (this is true of young mothers, as well) – and adolescence is, of course, a time when girls experience a rapid change in size or shape.

  39. SoCalHR*

    Ahhhh the notorious “hepeating” of question #2….
    I’m glad to hear your boss was at least initially receptive to discussion on the topic.

  40. Karyn*

    OP1: I am a member of the “no bras ever fit me” club, but the best bras in the WORLD as far as what I wear to work are the Spanx ones. They’re the only bra I’ve found that doesn’t show lines AND they don’t make me want to rip them off the minute I get home. Here’s a link to the ones I buy: – I can’t speak to any of the other lines, but this one has been a godsend. I have them in multiple colors/patterns.

    OP3: Believe it or not, I have a nervous tic that makes me wink – I hate it, and I feel it when it happens, but it’s like I can’t really control it. I’m guessing that’s likely not what your coworker is doing – it probably is intentional but a generational thing – but it IS possible that she doesn’t even realize she is doing it!

  41. JS*

    OP#1 Bra lines are OK as Alison said but I understand how it would seem unkept or unprofessional since we generally say pantylines are a no-no. My advice would be to stop buying VS bras. I used to be obsessed with VS (still have their credit card which only reason why its open is so my credit doesn’t take a hit from closing it) but their quality isn’t great and it has nothing to do with the fit being wrong. Their bras tend to fold weirdly at the top after a while of wear which causes the lines to be more prominent.

    Understandable that the are popular because they are affordable but I would check out a Third Love. @Alison, this might be good to promote as well! Third Love makes the most comfiest bras I have ever worn, they are inclusive as they make nudes in various tones and they help women in the workplace as if you return a bra they donate it to programs which help dress women for success. They are around $60-70 though. But I have never worn a better bra in my life. Even better than La Perla!

    1. SoCalHR*

      Ugh – I have a love-hate with Third Love… I thought mine was really comfortable/fit well/no lines/supportive but the no-slip strap thing is complete BS! Those straps fall more than any other bra I’ve ever owned, even cheapy $8 ones.

      1. JS*

        I have really broad shoulders so I never really have a problem with slippage (but a major problem with most tops being too tight in the shoulders). That’s too bad though they slip, they have different styles though like racer back which wouldn’t slip by design and might be worth trying out.

        1. SoCalHR*

          yeah I think the problem may (partially) be the problem, but they tout the no-slip feature so I expected it to at least be a little better than average (and certainly not worse). Can’t do racer back for any length of time, it pulls on my shoulder muscles too much (weird, I know)

    2. OP #1*

      I will pay any amount of money for a bra that doesn’t require me to wear 3,000 layers! I will give Third Love a try. I just keep going back to VS because their stuff is reasonably cute and I don’t notice a significant difference in fit compared to other brands. You’re right about the tops rolling over though- especially the Body by Victoria line. Can’t even buy those anymore.

      1. JS*

        You should! I think for new customers too they still have a 30-day try-out policy for your first bra before they charge you, nothing to lose.

        1. OP #1*

          Do you have a specific style recommendation? It looks like all their bras have almost like a “hem” or thick seam along the top of the cup?

          1. JS*

            The 24/7 t-shirt bra is what I usually wear. I havent had an issue with it showing through even with the hems, they arent that raised and pretty smooth, not rigid so they aren’t noticeable through any of the shirts I wear for work.

  42. Price vs Value - You decide*

    PLEASE don’t pool funds to buy an inexpensive couch–not because you don’t need one, but I’m emphasizing the “inexpensive.” With that many people potentially sitting, the inexpensive couch will probably break down and become trash with in just a few months. Can you ask for additional seating? Maybe a folding cafeteria-style table with benches so that you would have enough seating?

  43. Anlina*

    OP3: I once thought that someone was winking at me pretty regularly and read a whole bunch into it, and then later realized that they weren’t winking at me with any meaning, they had a eye condition that cause them to wink involuntarily.

    I died a little inside from embarrassment at misinterpreting this.

  44. ummmm*

    “I worked at Victoria’s Secret in college so I like to think I know how to fit myself”

    This has nothing to do with fit or expense & everything to do with style choices. The last time I went into a VS looking to buy a bra—admittedly a couple years ago, but I don’t think they’ve changed—every single one they had was lumpy. Not only were all of them padded or molded, nearly all of them had embellishments that look terrible under anything but the heaviest sweater — heavily-textured lace, little bows, etc. I asked a saleswoman if they had any bras without padding and she said there might be one in a corner in the back, and it had textured ribbon trim on it. This is very simple: if a bra looks like it won’t disappear under clothing, it almost certainly won’t. If a bra has foam cups that hold their shape even when it’s not on your body, it’s probably not going to be invisible under most shirts. That it seems to sell well or that lots of other women are wearing the same style is beside the point if you want a more subtle look. Try Wacoal or Sloggi. Avoid seams.

  45. Essess*

    I had the same bra line issue with all my bras but didn’t use to have that problem. I finally realized that as I aged, the tissue firmness had softened and I actually need to go down a cup size because my ‘girls’ were melting and sagging down into my regular cup so the cup edges were higher than what was filling them. I bought a cup size down from what I’ve always worn and now even my thin tops don’t show a bra line.

  46. Armchair Analyst*

    I almost never disagree with Alison, but #5, *when job-seeking* i.e. unemployed, I’ve actually gotten 2 interviews & eventually jobs because I had a monthly/6-week update newsletter that I sent out to networking contacts. This was in 2008 and again in 2014. I was unemployed but networking, attending events in-person, webinars, etc. etc. I just sent out a few-liner: Hello and Happy (seasonal holiday)! I hope you had a restful break. I was able to connect with a few prospective employers in the area, attended a great conference on X topic and heard Name of Amazing Speaker on Keynote Adress. I’m taking this class to keep uptodate in this skill. However, I am still available for position or industry – full- or part-time, contract or temporary. I look forward to being in touch with you to find out how I can help out you and your clients. Sincerely, MyName, LinkedIn Site, Phone Number

    So honestly probably most contacts deleted it or were annoyed. No one told me to remove them from the list. Two great long-term jobs came from it.

    It’s up to you. I just want to present an alternative viewpoint.

    1. OP #5*

      Thank you very much for the alternate view. I am very happy that it worked out for you. My case is significantly different than yours. In my case, the hiring manager actually told me that she would contact me so this is a case where I may want to err on the side of caution.

  47. BananaRama*

    OP3: I’m late to the game, but I had this happen to me. I was so shocked that the first thing that came out of my mouth was an aghast, “did you just *wink* at me?” The person ended up being slightly embarrassed because it wasn’t meant rudely or anything negatively, but they stopped winking at almost everyone after that.

  48. SKA*

    OP #1 – A couple years ago, I found out my “true size” and assumed the bra-line issue was going to go away. Surprise! There’s still gapping on most bras — turns out, it was more of a style thing for me. Plunge-style bras actually work the best for me to avoid lines. Balconettes are also decent, though some of them have seams across the cups that can be visible through shirts (making it a pick-your-poison situation).

  49. Kitty*

    I like winking! I don’t do it myself, but I always see it as a friendly, “we’re on the same team”, informal fun thing. Obviously the context matters, but I know younger people who do it and it’s nice. YMMV

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