my boss excludes me from social events, I’m leaving my job after promising not to, and more

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

1. My manager excludes me from social events

I have a manager who likes to keep things professional with her direct reports, but she takes it a little too far. She’s very cold and non-communicative in general (her general management skills are another issue) but the biggest thing is her approach to socializing.

She is really friendly with a lot of people in the office and is a key part of the only real social group that like to go out to pub quizzes, Friday drinks, etc. With them, she is really outgoing and friendly. However, she likes to keep things professional with me, her direct report, and the way she does that is just by kind of excluding me from these events. She makes it clear she doesn’t want me to be there if I tag along (I’m friendly with others in the group so get invited by them) and generally acts really standoffish. I like to have a professional boundary with my manager too, but wouldn’t a better way to enforce this be to not attend every single event so I get a chance to make friends too? I think there’s an element of “she was here first,” but I want to socialize as well. It’s really affecting my morale.

Is there anything I can do about this? There’s no concrete behavior I can point to, just an attitude, but I know I’m right because someone who used to be managed by her told me she used to be even worse, and she told them outright that they shouldn’t try to sit with her group at lunch and didn’t introduce them to anyone.

She sounds like she has some maturing to do. When you’re a manager, the job requires that you prioritize your role as a manager over your desire to be friends with people at work. You can’t call dibs on particular friends, exclude people, or be part of a clique. It sounds like her social relationships are getting in the way of her management responsibilities.

If you’d like to socialize with those same people, the best approach is probably just to initiate events yourself. If you’re the one organizing drinks, etc., she can’t complain that you’re going since you’re the one who put it together. You probably do need to accept that you won’t be able to go to everything you might like to go to if she’ll be weird about it, but organizing things yourself should let you build relationships without giving up all control to her. (Or, of course, you can go to the other events and ignore that she’s being standoffish, but I’d be concerned about getting into a power struggle with your boss. It’s not a good thing to have your boss actively resenting you, even when they’re in the wrong.)

2. Should I tell my toxic former company about my toxic former boss’s other job?

This month, I secured a new role that allowed me to quit my toxic job. My direct boss, Larry, was one toxic cog in a toxic system. He would often acknowledge the toxicity and mismanagement of the organization at large, venting to us and dumping his frustrations and issues on us.

When I told him of my resignation, he was supportive, congratulating me on “getting out.” Then he shared that he had been working at another full-time job for four months and would be resigning himself on the last day of my notice period. He asked me to keep it in confidence, which I did for to preserve the relationship. But I was really uncomfortable knowing he was working this other job, especially since a major complaint we (his team) had about him was that he talked about how busy he always was, but never had any tangible outputs and was often unavailable when we needed him. Our employee handbook did specify that holding other positions that interfered with one’s availability and output at our company was forbidden.

Well, the last day of my notice period came and went and he didn’t resign. A few days ago, I googled him to see if he had updated his LinkedIn to reflect a new role and found that he had not, but I did find a publicly available announcement of his new job. I checked with my old team to see if he had resigned yet — nope.

It would feel *so good* to send this announcement to my old company. I’d love for my old boss to be confronted with his unethical behavior, and I’d love for my old company to see what kind of dysfunction their mismanagement is causing. But I don’t work there anymore, and my old boss’s absenteeism and frustratingly poor management isn’t my problem anymore, so there’s no real reason for me to do this at this point. I could offer the justification that my old boss has asked me to lie by omission to help him cover up unethical behavior and I’m not comfortable with it (which I feel is true), but fundamentally I just want to do *something* about this situation.

Is it a bad professional move to out him? Is it unethical? Or would it be a justified move after all I dealt with? And if I did it, is doing it anonymously okay?

I don’t think it’s unethical to tell the truth about something that’s hurting other people. And you didn’t ask Larry to confide in you; he burdened you with this knowledge on his own without checking to see if you’d be comfortable keeping his secret.

I don’t love the idea of sending anything anonymously because that makes it feel like you’re doing something sketchy when you’re not. Is it an option to simply share the info with someone on your old team and let them decide now to handle it from there (since it’s much more relevant to them than to you at this point)?

But there’s also an argument for just walking away from this mess. You got out, so let yourself be fully out without your old company’s issues taking up room in your head anymore.

3. I’m leaving my job after promising not to

For the past year, my full-time employer has allowed me to work a flexible schedule so that I can teach a college class part-time. My boss has been generally supportive, but when I initially asked for approval to start teaching, my boss said, “Yes, as long as you promise not to leave us for your teaching job.” My boss has made this “joke” a couple of other times since then. I always laugh it off and say, “Nope, just a fun hobby!” but teaching is actually my dream job, and now, after using my employer’s flexibility to help me gain teaching experience, I am leaving them for my teaching job.

I know that I need to do what is best for me, but I can’t help but feel guilty. I also worry that my experience will cause them to be less accommodating to others in the future. Do you have any advice for giving notice without burning bridges?

So many managers make jokes like this without realizing that it’s probably not landing as a joke with the recipient. I think I’ve probably done it myself in the past, although I wouldn’t now. With managers who are otherwise reasonable people, it’s usually intended as a light-hearted way to express affection and appreciation, without recognizing it’s going to make people feel just as you do now.

Sometimes, of course, there’s a layer of truth in the joke — it really does mean “I will be upset if you leave us after this.” But when that’s the case, the manager should be explicitly talking through what they want from you in exchange for their flexibility so that it’s all out in the open and communicated through real conversation (and a written agreement if they’re really serious about it). It’s not your fault your boss didn’t do that.

It’s understandable to find it awkward now though! You can acknowledge that when you resign by saying something like, “I didn’t expect this to happen, but I’ve realized I really want to do this work full-time and I’ve been offered an opportunity to do that.” You can also say, “I really appreciate that you gave me the space to experiment with this” to help counter any “she doesn’t even appreciate what I offered her” narrative forming in your boss’s head. She might be a little miffed, but no reasonable boss will consider this bridge-burning. People leave for other jobs! It happens. It’s normal.

They might be less accommodating to others in the future, but hopefully the lesson they’ll take away is that if they really want specific things in exchange for offering flexibility, they need to negotiate them more directly.

4. Should my resume explain what kind of work my company does?

I’ve been job hunting and have gotten a few interviews, so I think my resume is in at least decent shape. However, I have talked to two headhunters who have reached out, and in each case they assumed from my resume that the company I currently work for is a fund administrator. This is incorrect; my company does outsourced accounting for fund clients, which is very different work.

I’m now wondering if the companies I have applied to have also assumed that my company is a fund administrator. In my industry, I could see the headhunters possibly assuming this based on the name of my company. But also, I would think you could tell that I am not a fund administrator based on the job description I included. Also, one headhunter kept forgetting key details from our first conversation, and I had to point out to him I did indeed have a certain skill even though it was in my first clearly written bullet point on my resume. And the other claimed he was very familiar with my company, but obviously he is not if he did not even know what type of service it provides. So maybe they assumed wrong about my company due to lack of attention and time spent looking at my background.

Do you think it’s worth it for me to somehow clarify on my resume that my company is not a fund administrator? How would you recommend doing this?

As a general rule, people don’t need blurbs on their resume explaining what each employer does — generally employers will be more interested in what you do (or did). But when you’re finding that people are misunderstanding the context in which you did your work, or when it’s just highly relevant to being able to explain your accomplishments, it makes sense to include a (very brief) line about what the company does. You can do that by either (a) listing it right after the company’s name like in example 1 below or (b) incorporating it into a description of your work like in example 2.

That said, you will always encounter recruiters who skimmed and missed important info or didn’t retain it or who are over-confident about their understanding of your work. That’s just part of the process, and no amount of explanation on your resume will ever ward that off completely.

Example 1
llama spiritual guide, Llamas United, June 2018 – present
Nonprofit encouraging llamas’ spiritual development through music and ancient rituals
* accomplishment
* accomplishment
* accomplishment

Example 2
llama spiritual guide, Llamas United, June 2018 – present
* Led seven-person communications team for nonprofit encouraging llamas’ spiritual development through music and ancient rituals
* accomplishment
* accomplishment

5. Dress clothes for bigger men

As the pandemic is starting to wind down, I’m beginning to job hunt to get out of my current work situation. I’m starting to interview where the attire is business professional (this is my first time having to think about a business professional attire in the workplace).

I’m having trouble finding affordable and fashionable clothes as a bigger guy. I’ve tried on clothes at some retailers but I find that most of the time they either fit poorly because they aren’t made for fat people, or I don’t feel like myself in the clothes. As someone who is queer, it’s really important that I show off the best parts of my personality and that I look and feel professional in my work attire.

I was wondering if you could ask the readers if they know of any affordable retailers or shops that specialize in fashionable clothes for fat people. This process is really putting a damper on my self-esteem since I’m absolutely desperate to get out of my current job situation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I’m happy to throw this out to readers!

{ 368 comments… read them below }

    1. Chris*

      I am a large man who dresses business casual for both work and free time (I find slacks more comfortable than jeans), and I love DXL (formerly Casual Male XL). After years of horrible weird shirts and stretchy, hideous pants where it was one option or nothing, walking into DXL was like that scene in Willy Wonka, going into the edible room. I can just BUY stuff, like RIGHT THERE. And it will fit. And I can choose colors, patterns, styles. It’s magical.

      It’s not the cheapest in the world, but generally the quality is quite high, and I don’t think it’s generally more expensive than non big/tall clothing of equivalent quality.

      I will also sometimes used Kingsize, but as that’s strictly online, you run the risk of needing to return stuff until you find brands/sizes that work for you.

      I’m too poor for higher-end stuff, but DXL is very much worth it

      1. turquoisecow*

        My husband is a big and tall guy and he loves DXL but yeah they’re not cheap. I will say that he’s very happy with the quality there and has pants and shirts that last a few years.

        He’s also had luck buying some stuff at Walmart – he says they have a larger big and tall selection than Target or Kohl’s, though I think this probably varies by individual store. I’m not a fan of them for various reasons but you get what you pay for regarding quality. The button down shirts, khakis, and jeans he’s gotten there seem to fall apart faster than the stuff he’s gotten at more expensive places.

        And sometimes he’s had good luck at Burlington Coat Factory, and other days not so much – that’s the kind of store where you get lucky sometimes. He went in once and came out with five or six shirts and several pairs of pants, but he’s also come out with nothing a few times (which has been my experience as a plus size woman also).

        1. ellex42*

          The key to Walmart is to avoid the “city” location and head for the more rural areas. They’re usually cleaner and nicer, and have more extensive selections than the Walmarts in areas where people have more options for shopping.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            Another point is that it’s important that clothes fit you well, it’s worth trying on a lot to find your brands. Because when you’re bigger, “baggy” clothes will only emphasize it, while clothes that hit your body the right way make you look “well dressed.”
            If you find a brand fits you well, it’s worth stocking up. It’s worth getting a suit tailored if it’s an investment, too.
            And, of course, darker colors are more flattering. It’s amazing how often people wear light colors that do their body no favors.

            1. Joan Rivers*

              Consignment stores sometimes have great finds, too, at a third of retail. You may find that one guy who consigned a batch of his large-size clothes.

              1. Harvey JobGetter*

                You are not a bigger person, I take it. Going to consignment or other second hand stores for bigger people is torture. It’s true, you might find one store where somebody dropped off a lot of clothes, but most likely you’ll just go to 20 stores where the only thing you can buy is a hat. The reality is large men, on average, don’t donate clothes all that much because we assume nobody else wants our clothes.

                1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  Also, I just learned a couple weeks ago that lots of “crafters” buy the larger sizes from thrift stores for the material, depriving larger people of selection at cheap prices. (Information from an acquaintance who repeatedly has dealt with this, including finding an Instagram video of someone very slim showing off their find from a shop she had been in literally that day and left empty-handed.)

                  So, tangential advice to any not-large readers: please buy your own size or buy fabric by other means. There is so much waste in the textile biz, surely there’s options for you

                2. Dahlia*

                  I am a bigger person who has also worked in a thrift store, when we got a big batch of plus size dude clothes, it was like hitting gold. They sell SO fast.

                  We had a guy come in looking for larger clothes the day after we got a big donation and you could tell he was NOT expecting us to give him an armload.

              2. TootsNYC*

                My FIL just passed away, and he was portly; a lot of his clothes are going to show up in a thrift store all at once.

                But I don’t know that someone who needs them will be in that store when that happens.

      2. Bryce*

        I can vouch for their quality. Been a while since I’ve been in, but I got t-shirts there that held up well to a huggy and claw-having cat. My current shirts are clearly old but still usable after 5+ years, and I’m not gentle on them. They were also my first introduction to tall sizing, a couple more inches of length doesn’t sound like much but it really makes a difference.

        But yeah, price is an obstacle. Folks my size can’t just drop into a secondhand store.

        1. Bryce*

          Also, my mom’s a sewer and I got a button-down shirt from DXL that fit so well she “stole” it to figure out how they did so. I think she said it was just a couple extra panels on the sides instead of the basic tube default. Got a nice jacket out of it as thanks.

          1. Greg*

            I read this as sue-er at first instead of so-er, and thought, “Hm, interesting way to describe one’s mother…”

            1. Camellia*

              “Seamstress” or “tailor” would probably be a more expected description.

              1. Forrest*

                I’d never describe myself as a seamstress or a tailor, though, because I think those are professions and sewing is just a hobby for me. It’s definitely a gap in the language!

                1. rita*

                  Sewist is the common term now. Tailor implies someone who does garment sewing and fitting professionally, while seamstress is gendered.

            2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

              LOL – I read “sewer” as a different homonym (“wastewater conduit” and not “person who sews”) and thought at first this was a story about someone’s toxic parent stealing and destroying their clothes. I was so concerned!

            3. Baker*

              I am an attorney, while my wife has long engaged in the needle arts as a hobby. When our oldest was around three years old, he wanted her to sew his Halloween costume, but pronounced it “sue.” We explained to him that Mommy sews, while Daddy sues …

              1. Joan Rivers*

                I mentioned Consignment Shops above and forgot to say they often are good for “work” clothes like suits because they try to stay within a year old, but often aren’t, because they can’t turn down a pricey label blazer in great shape. It could even have the tags still on — people consign their mistakes!
                And there’s less “trendiness” usually but more “wears like iron.” It’s hit or miss, but I’ve found Ralph Lauren — even on sale after the holidays! So a third of retail plus 50% off. It’s fun hunting, if you’re a bargain lover.

                AND Goodwill has a “boutique” store where they put all their pricey labels, so it’s not as cheap as their other shops but is as nice as a retail store! Smart strategy.

            4. Zuzu*

              A lot of us prefer “sewist” as a gender-neutral alternative that avoids unpleasant associations with wastewater.

              “Sewing machines” also does nicely.

              1. Mental Lentil*

                Gender neutral? Yes. But I mostly see this as an abbreviation of “sewing enthusiast” and it’s weird little things like this that keep my brain happy.

      3. Blarg*

        Oh, hey, there’s a DXL in my city. I could use more dressy clothes. I’m on vacation in Iceland right now but I’ll try to remember to check it out when I get home.

      4. Can Man*

        Seconding, as someone whose relatives have struggled finding clothes that fit their unusual body shapes.

      5. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

        I’ve seen new with tag DXL clothing on Poshmark and Ebay. The downside is you can’t return it if it doesn’t fit, though.

        1. Anonym*

          A good option after you narrow down a particular item or style that works for you! I do this for tall-woman reasons, and it’s great.

        2. Emma*

          True, but it’s typically pretty easy to turn around and resell it on Poshmark again. I second the idea that it’s great for once you’ve established your size with a particular brand. (Plus size woman here – I buy a lot of Lane Bryant and Torrid clothes on Poshmark.)

        3. AnonymousM*

          One thing to be aware of is Poshmark only has up to 3XL as a standard option to choose in men’s sizing. I have to manually enter my husband’s 4XL and 4XLT items sizes, so even though larger sizes aren’t a standard option to choose for searching, there may be some out there.

      6. Lacey*

        Yup. It’s not cheap, but if my husband needs nice clothes, this is our first stop, because the quality is SO good.

        1. hillia*

          We’ve found DXL outlets and had good luck. I’ll second KingSizeDirect; we buy polos for my husband there. Men’s Wearhouse sometimes has a big and tall side; again not the cheapest, but they also do alterations and they have good sales.

      7. KuklaRed*

        I was coming here to recommend DXL too. My son is a bigger guy and he has had great success shopping here. He’s bought everything from casual clothes for work (he is a teacher for autistic 3 and 4 year olds, so jeans and nice tees or polos are his work uniform) to a couple of very spiffy suits. He’ll be shopping there soon to get a new suit for his upcoming wedding.

        DXL is also where one of my daughter’s friends got the suit she wore to her wedding. The excellent sales consultant was really helpful in fitting her and finding her the right outfit. She was nervous about going to a men’s store but they whole experience was great and looked wonderful at her wedding.

        1. Anon this time*

          Yes, their customer service has been excellent at every location we’ve been to! The sales staff really seem to understand that many big and tall men have never been sized properly, and are so knowledgeable and respectful. I also appreciate that we get the same treatment when we go in wearing shorts and flip flops as we do in business casual with me carrying a designer purse.

      8. Mynona*

        Discovering DXL has made shopping so much easier for my boyfriend. Now he enjoys his clothes. It is more expensive, and there is not a vast range of styles, but there are colorful basic button-down shirts, including patterned, in their store brand. We were just in and they had a striped t-shirt with flamingos. Very fun. Also, stalk the sales. Not all big guys are the same shape, so being able to go into an actual store and try different styles is essential.

      9. NotAnotherManager!*

        My husband is also a DXL fan. He used to shop exclusively there and at Eddie Bauer, but the EB big & tall stuff has suffered from not being long enough and decreasing quality in recent years. Lands End has a decent selection of big & tall, too. He also has some items from Mens’ Warehouse, LL Bean (on sale), and JC Penney’s.

      10. Abogado Avocado*

        #5: Go to the Goodwill nearest the fanciest neighborhood in your town and you will find lots of large size clothing. I’m a sewist and upcyclist in my spare time and I love to go to Goodwill to snag menswear to re-do as women’s wear (because men’s clothing is so much better made than womens-wear and the fabrics are terrific). You wouldn’t believe how men have apparently gotten rid of their very good shirts, trousers, and khaki pants in the past year. Maybe they’re all wearing track pants? If you don’t have a Goodwill, try any place in your town (e.g., churches or nonprofits) that runs a used clothing store. You’ll be very surprised at the wearable menswear you’ll find.

        1. Erin Johnson*

          Yes, I’m in the UK, and Oxfam is one (of several) places worth trying.
          My brother was volunteering there, found a leather jacket one December in his size but couldn’t at that time justify dropping £40 on it – I got wind of it and got it for him for Christmas, and it’s a standard part of his wardrobe.
          We live in an upmarket area though – that’s a good tip, people give to their local shops, so go to a wealthy or even uber-wealthy area for rich pickings at, basically, 70% off.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            The bigger charities pass donations round to the locations they think most likely to be able to sell them, nowadays, but this is still a great tip.

            I’ve seen people walk into the equivalent charity shops in our local posh area with their arms full of newly dry cleaned business wear. On one rail I saw a bespoke Jermyn Street three piece for £40. I almost bought it just to sell it on because it was so delicious and such a bargain.

        2. Harvey JobGetter*

          I’m a bigger man who has found maybe one or two things ever at Goodwill that fit me. And certainly not in the fanciest neighborhood, where everything is skinny this and skinny that. Used clothing is torture on larger men.

        3. Glitsy Gus*

          I second giving second hand stores a shot. If you’re in an area with several, scope a couple out with low expectations. One will pop out as the one with the folks who donate the clothes that are best for you and then you can start going there more often than the others. I find starting with low expectations helps keep me from getting too frustrated or disappointed when it takes a little while to find a good spot.

          Also, don’t look for perfection. If you find pants that fit your waist but are way too long, or a jacket that fits in the shoulder but the sleeves are too long or the waist is a little low? Or a shirt that is a little baggy but you really like it? Snag ’em! Tailors are cheaper than you think and it will make all the difference in the world.

          1. CircleBack*

            I don’t know in what world big & tall people find clothes at secondhand shops that are too long. This advice in the thread on thrift shops is really unhelpful.

      11. Nicole*

        Agreed. DXL has been a life saver for my bf who definitely fix the big and tall description. Sometimes, we can get lucky at JC penney (particularly in dress shirts). Some of them have collars that have some give so if your neck is 20 inches and the collar is exactly 20 inches, it doesn’t feel like it’s choking you. I would invest in some key pieces. And once you land that awesome job, expand then. Good luck!

      12. Anon this time*

        Came here to say this. My husband started a new job recently, and we’ve spent several hundred dollars at DXL. The sticker shock is real, but we’re fortunate enough to have the option to pay more up front. When we weren’t so lucky, we probably spent the same amount replacing pants he couldn’t trust not to split when he bent over, shirts that had tiny holes within a few washes, and undershirts that he stopped wearing because they were so uncomfortable. And all of it was plain and/or ugly. DXL clothes definitely look more professional and save him a ton of stress about his clothes fitting poorly or falling apart. If you’re willing and able to splurge or use a credit card to spread out the cost a little, it’s worth it to get at least a few staples from a specialty store.

      13. Liz in a Library*

        My husband loves DXL, and the clothes he’s gotten there have really held up! Also, if you have a Belk near you, they have the best selection of big & tall of any department store we’ve found. He’s 6’4” and a 4X.

      1. Lands End Fan*

        +1 to Lands End. Lots of affordable options in a very wide size range, and heavier models in the catalog so you can actually picture what it looks like on someone your size. Lots of traditional colors (black, navy, tan) but also a variety of peaches, pinks, patterns, and preppy options as well. Hopefully they might have something you like! If you have a credit card, you can order quite a lot to your home and then ship back the things that didn’t work with their prepaid label for $6.99 regardless of how much you ordered, so not so horrible.

        1. CS*

          Also, if you pay with PayPal, PayPal will refund the return shipping. Search for PayPal Shipping Refund in your favorite search engine.

          1. Momma Bear*

            I did not know this. Great tip!

            I can’t speak for their menswear, but I routinely shop Lands End sales and have been pleased with the quality for myself and my children. I would expect it to be the same across the board.

        2. ThatGirl*

          If you have a Lands End store nearby you can also make returns there. (We have one nearby, but the in-store selection is limited, so I often order online and return anything that doesn’t fit in person.)

        3. Good luck in your job search!*

          Came here to suggest Lands End! They have a lot of 40-50% off sales that may help with affordability too. Honestly Lands End is a great solution for a lot of body types/genders because they have a lot of sizing options, I recommend them to so many friends because I loved finding clothes that actually fit me.

          1. nona*

            Unless you are even a moderately tall women. I’m not that tall (5’10”), but do have long arms so will go with a Tall options when possible. But the LE Talls for women just….were not long enough. And I’m someone who can buy a regular from Banana Republic or jcrew and have it be fine. So…ymmv.

        4. 2 Cents*

          They also offer free hemming on dress pants. My DH is short (but sweet!), so I buy his pants specially hemmed from there. I think the hemming is by the quarter inch (short — tall) so you can get an exact fit.

          1. Beancounter Eric*

            Been buying my khaki’s from them for years for this reason, along with great build quality and good fit. Pricing isn’t horrible, either.

        5. Veryanon*

          Another vote for Lands End. They carry a large range of sizes, and their clothes are pretty classic – good fabrics, well made, will last a long time, and not hideously expensive.

      2. Edwina*

        Eddie Bauer does too, and very often has 40% off or 50% off sales! Get on their email list and they’ll send alerts about their sales.

        J.C. Penney’s also has a lot of Big and Tall that’s reasonably priced–again, if you can, OP, wait for the sales.

    2. Not Australian*

      OP#5: you don’t say where you are in the world so I’m assuming USA. ‘Jacamo’ is a UK company, I think, but you may find it has a US associate; they took over and absorbed the UK ‘High and Mighty’ brand which has a great reputation and has for a long time been the go-to resource for larger Brits.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Can confirm that it’s a great one for UK peeps (several of my friends are large blokes and look fantastic)

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely agree with High & Mighty. I’ve friends who’ve used it and say the quality is really good.

    3. The Fashionista*

      When the pandemic subsides globally, OP1 should go to India (preferably Delhi) or Bangkok and get suits handmade custom suits. A made-to-measure suit costs about $400 at a high-end place in Delhi, maybe $150-200 at a medium place. I recommend Vaish at Ravoli (the master tailor there trained on Savile Row) as a high end place and Palm Beach as a medium-end. In the latter place you may want to bring the tailor to a market to pick our the fabric yourself. In Bangkok try Rajawongse. Allow five days ideally for multiple fittings.

      This sounds expensive but a quick trip is a steal compared to getting bespoke suits in London, NY, or Hong Kong and frankly it is competitive with getting off-the-rack suits in those places.

      1. Trilby*

        This is my favorite advice comment of all time. I love how well traveled and worldly they are. Most of us just imagined advice that would lead the OP to a mall or possible a website; instead, this commenter takes us on a trip around the globe, in search of the perfect clothing. How glamorous and exciting – I want to meet you!

        1. Pippa K*

          Yours is a pretty great comment, too! I was sure someone would jump on the travel comment as unrealistic or out of touch, but you’ve seen it as fun and interesting – what a nice approach!

      2. Project Problem Solver*

        My wife, who is a fat non-binary person, buys their clothes at DXL. I am also a fat person (though femme), and the thing I’ve learned is that with clothing for fat people – especially professional or dress clothes – there are so many different shapes of being fat that you need to factor in tailoring costs. If you have the money available (and let me be clear, the world *should not* require this), it’s best to find something you like, big enough for your largest dimension, and get it tailored to fit. For my wife, this often involves getting the crotch lifted, legs hemmed, and back waistband tucked to eliminate gaping. Your fit issues are going to be different, but I’m afraid it’s really, really hard to find clothes that fit fat bodies well.

        And please remember the issues is with the CLOTHES, not the PERSON. Your shape is fine; the clothes and designers are failing to fit you properly.

        1. Fat Man*

          I want to second PPS’s advice. A shirt that’s $20 cheaper and then fitted for $20 will look and feel SO MUCH BETTER than one that’s more expensive from the get go. Even just buying something kinda cruddy from Target and getting it tailored looks and feels better than a good shirt not altered. I try to do this for all of my clothes (which is difficult now, as I’m temporarily somewhere without good clothes options for people my size.)

        2. A Very Depressed Costumer*

          I literally cannot yell “THIS” loudly enough. Your comment hits the nail on the head. Getting clothes tailored is frequently the only way to get off-the-rack clothes to fit well, especially with larger sizes. In a costume shop, we wind up doing this for everyone, regardless of size. It’s a pain but it is SO worth it.
          And that last paragraph is exactly what we learned in school and reiterate in all of our fittings. So important to remember.

          1. old biddy*

            Same. I started sewing as my pandemic hobby, and being able to customize stuff makes a tremendous difference. Even if I just add some length to the torso and shorten the arms, it really helps and more than makes up for slight imperfections due to my beginner sewing skills.

            1. A big 'un*

              *gasp* How do you ADD length to the torso?? This is a constant problem I have but always assumed I was SOL because there’s no more fabric

              1. TootsNYC*

                I think “old biddy” is adding the length to the garment before the fabric pieces are cut out, since she is now sewing from scratch.

                And so, a person who needed a wardrobe for work might be best helped by finding someone who can make a bunch of clothes from scratch from a pattern that has been modified to fit them. Not always cheap, but it gets cheaper if you have someone make a bunch of shirts all at once.
                Or if you have someone in your life with the skills and willingness (not always easy to find).

              2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                I’m not old biddy, but for example if a dress shirt is too short to tuck in comfortably, adding a band a few inches wide at the bottom can improve the comfort invisibly.

                Also, more men’s dress shirts should have darts. When spouse wore men’s dress shirts to work daily, there was a noticeable difference between the more expensive and less expensive with regard to fit.

                I’m going to recommend and hope it isn’t too deep in the comments for the LW. These were the best shirts for my big and tall spouse because they fit neck size *and* build *and* sleeve/body length (eg 18″ slim long). There are frequent deals on “last season” shirts – currently two for $79 apparently, and they are practically indestructible AND genuinely easy iron. They also do suits but those are expensive, though LW could again look out for deals, or go for just pants.

        3. Nela*

          I’m a thin person and also often need to tailor store bought dress clothes because the “standard” sizes simply don’t fit real bodies – big, medium, or small. It shouldn’t be too expensive, and is totally worth it!

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            +1 I’m an in-between-sized person that off-the-rack clothing have never fit properly, whether it’s having pants hemmed or adjusting shirt darts for a larger chest. If I find anything that fits me off the rack, I’ll buy it in multiple colors or set up a search for it on eBay.

            I am not sure if eShakti does men’s clothing, but their custom-sizing is the only way I’ve been able to get button-down anything to fit properly.

        4. pleaset cheap rolls*

          I’m average sized so was hesitant to jump in, but from reading the OP’s note the word “tailoring” jumped into my head.

          Tailoring makes a huge difference in clothes – particularly dress clothes. Budget for tailoring. I have some cheap suits and also a cheap tuxedo where tailoring cost around a third the cost of the items.

          Commenting on one detail: “big enough for your largest dimension”
          Yes, but note that in some men’s pants, it’s OK if they are tiny bit tight around the waist because they can be let out. You can check on the back seam and see if there is excess material inside to allow this. This is useful if you seem to be between sizes.

          1. TootsNYC*

            further comment on “big enough for your largest dimension”

            There are certain VERTICAL dimensions that can’t be modified easily. Because fabric has been cut away.

            It’s important to assess vertical fit and to see what might make a problem for you.

            Armhole height is the biggest–it is the reason why I find that button-front shirts gape in the middle–it’s because the armhole ends too low, and when I move, the sleeve pulls on the center front of the shirt. No matter how much fabric there is to go around me. (I’m a slightly overweight woman with moderately sized breasts, which pushes me into a size 18, though my height is more in line with a size 10 or 12; I think someone with a flat chest would find that armhole height might also affect their clothing.)

            The crotch seam on pants is another issue where there’s a problem with fabric having been cut away. You can’t really raise the crotch seam itself on a pair of pants. But you can drop the waistband, which has the same effect. So that’s not as big a problem–but the opening of your front pockets may be shorter, because the bottom of the pocket really can’t be changed.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Armholes that are too deep also contribute to the shirt pulling up and untucking or exposing your waist when you reach up. It’s counterintuitive because close-cut things seem like they’d be “tight,” but a fairly small/close-cut armscye (aka arm hole) actually improves your comfort and range of motion, because there’s more fabric in the right places.

              1. ljv*

                what I’ve found from starting to make my own shirts as a pandemic hobby is that raising up that armscye and then adding a lil’ underarm gusset is THE BEST for range of motion. maybe a weensy back pleat that only opens up when you reach forward, but dang. all those years of big armscyes just messing with my entire life.

        5. Jaid*

          I’ve seen articles on movie star fashions and most explain that they will generally buy off the rack and then get everything tailored.

          1. Anonapots*

            This has been coming up in a lot of places recently and I’m beginning to really consider buying some things and having them tailored to fit, just to see what difference it makes.

        6. DataGirl*

          For my nearly adult daughter who has non-standard proportions we buy clothes that will fit at the largest part of her body, then I tailor the rest down to fit. It’s pretty easy to take in a waist on a dress or shirt. Pants are harder, but if they fit the thighs/hips a belt can be use to take in the waist, if necessary.

        7. Shhhh*

          This is off topic in relation to the LW’s question, but for anyone who wears dresses – eShakti is seriously a great option. You can provide all of your measurements and they’ll make any dress to your specifications. You can also change the sleeves, neckline, and length on their standard design or even customize the fabric. I’m also a fat person. I just bought a formal dress for my cousin’s wedding and it’s perfect. And it was under $100. My mom isn’t fat but she’s also going to get her dress for the wedding there because it’s worked so well for me and she wants to find something with sleeves.

          This isn’t meant to be a sales pitch – it’s just on the topic of tailoring, it’s a great option for dresses.

          1. DollarStoreParty*

            I agree with you 100%, shhh, but want to add that just about every dress eShakti makes comes with POCKETS!!!

        8. Generic Name*

          I want to echo the last paragraph. I’ve noticed that certain brands or even entire stores seem to cater to a particular body type. REI, for example, understandably caters to a very fit and athletic body type. I’ve found that certain stores and certain brands fit me better than others. Once you hone in on a store/brand that fits you well, shopping gets easier. You can purchase things online in *your size* and it will likely fit you.

          1. raktajino*

            Definitely find brands that fit you! My husband is on the stockier side with thick thighs and a butt, and has discovered that equestrian brands like Ariat make jeans that actually flatter him. Of course equestrian thighs and cyclist thighs would be suited to similar cuts. His wedding suit was from Sean John: he says he has good luck with clothing lines run by and targeted to Black men, because those lines end up suiting thighs and butts.

        9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Nicole Rudolph’s latest video is about this very topic (link here: and the history of clothes sizing and the entire concept of “off the peg” more generally.

          Nicole inspires me in many ways but particularly for showing us how to adjust clothes to fit, and for stunning gender-non-conforming outfits as well as thorough historical detail.

        10. Rusty Shackelford*

          there are so many different shapes of being fat that you need to factor in tailoring costs.

          Also, find a brand that works for you and stick with it. This is very true for me (plus-sized cis woman) – Lane Bryant thinks all plus-sized women are tall with an hourglass figure, but Torrid fits my short apple-shaped bod really well. The same should not be true for menswear, but apparently it is. I recently bought a couple of pairs of shorts for Mr. S, and the waist size was the same as everything in his closet. And they did not fit. It boggles the mind.

      3. Not So Little My*

        A number of years ago, there was a Hong Kong tailor who would sweep through my city for a few days, set up in a hotel, and folks (including my big friends) would make appointments to order custom suits, shirts, and pants, which would arrive in the mail a couple months later. I have no idea how to find a person like this, as it seems very word-of-mouth, but it’s another option to get Asian tailor prices without a plane ticket.

        1. JM in England*

          My brother once got some suits and shirts tailor-made whilst on a business trip to Hong Kong.

        2. The Fashionista*

          A word of warning, though. Hong Kong is not “Asian tailor prices” — it’s basically as expensive as London or Milan. Singapore is not much cheaper, either.

          I’ve also had some bespoke suits made in mainland China, which have been hit-or-miss. They don’t generally do multiple fittings, which I’ve discovered is key. Delhi and Bangkok have the best reputations.

          There are multiple threads about this topic on Mens Style Forum, which is how I learned about it. When I visited Bangkok I didn’t really know where to go and picked a place based on the recommendation of the hotel manager. The results weren’t terrible, but they weren’t amazing. Today, I’d know to go to Rajawongse or one of its peers. I used FF miles to go to Delhi and spend a few days sightseeing. Accommodation and food in Delhi is pretty cheap, and I think it ultimately wasn’t that much more expensive than buying off the rack at a place like Hugo Boss or Strellson.

          If you’re unable to travel, these places are also willing to build a suit using measurements taken locally and ship. But bear in mind that’s not real full-service bespoke tailoring and they may get some cuts “wrong.”

      4. Harper the Other One*

        OP might not even have to travel, even if they want to go 100% custom made! There are often local tailors who will make clothes. I had my wedding dress made by a graduating student in a costume studies program and it was an absolute steal.

        If buying to fit the largest part and tailoring to fit doesn’t work, I’d encourage OP to see if there’s someone like that in his area. Plus, then you can get EXACTLY what you want for colour/fabric/etc.

        1. Anon Today*

          Can confirm this – a good men’s tailor can often be found in the strangest of places. Look for custom or made to order menswear in your area. The price point I’ve encountered tends to be about $100-150 an article, but you’ll usually get 5-7 years of daily wear out of them, so it ends up not being too bad when thought about over time.

          Also, once you’ve been measured and fitted, I know a lot of larger men who have had good luck with giving those measurements to an online custom clothing seller (ie indochino, or j hilburn). The key there seems to be in getting yourself measured to fit by someone who is experienced with male body types and clothing styles – there are a lot of shops for custom made or tailoring/alterations of womenswear near me now, and after trying a few of them, I’ve noticed only about 1 in 6 get all the measurements in the right spots for men, especially those of us with odd/awkward body types.

          1. CJ*

            My husband and son have used Indochino. Wonderful tailoring. Great price. All online. They walk you thru taking your own measurements in the privacy of your home by yourself.

            1. zinzarin*

              My experience with Indochino is different. My cousin and I did each other’s measurements for a wedding we were both in–using their video instructions as a guide–and both of our suits needed adjustment. I went to the Indochino store in Chicago for adjustments–where their own staff did the measurements–and the suit still didn’t fit right.

              The suit cost a lot of money and I’m very disappointed with it. I won’t be using them again.

              1. Ms Quill*

                My fiance has used Indochino several times for suits and has been very happy. We live in NYC so he had his measurements done in-store and then can get the tailoring done there easily. He also really likes Bonobos for shirts. For more casual clothes, Columbia is very size inclusive and often has good sales.

      5. Delta Delta*

        My brother lives in South Korea and gets a lot of custom made clothes. In his area it’s not terribly expensive, and it’s guaranteed to fit because it’s custom!

      6. Annie Moose*

        I’m sure this comment was meant well, but “just buy a plane ticket to India, in several months” is not particularly useful for someone looking for affordable options in a short period of time (LW5 said he was desperate to get out of his current job). A $150 bespoke suit sounds great until you add in the price of plane tickets, lodging, etc. plus taking time off, the discomfort of flying when you’re a bigger guy, etc.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It will be useful/interesting to other people and not to others. That’s fine. It could be useful to the LW long-term if not the short-term. Not every piece of advice will work for every person though.

      7. Harvey JobGetter*

        You can get a custom suit in San Francisco for about $600. It would save on the flight to India.

        1. The Fashionista*

          I live in the Bay Area. Tell me where you get this deal and I’ll see on Mens Style Forum whether anyone has experience buying there.

      8. Zuzu*

        My brother is a big dude and also travels a lot; he’s had suits made in Vietnam, and Hong Kong, but was most impressed with the one he had made in India. I was with him on that trip and had a silk jacket made for myself as well; it’s gorgeously done and cost about $250 for something I wouldn’t be able to buy at home for less than $700. And these were turned around in about a day!

      9. facepalm*

        Yes! I worked with a woman who lost a lot of weight (over 100lbs) and needed new clothes. As a reward to herself for achieving her goal, she took a trip to Vietnam, where she had always wanted to go, and had a custom wardrobe made. She said the cost including her travel there was less than she would have spent for the equivalent amount of clothing she brought back.

    4. Cabubbles*

      #5 my dad and brother both like Saq’s line of business clothes. In my area they’re typically sold in the big and tall section at JC Penny’s. It’ll cost more but I would also suggest finding clothes you like that fit your largest point and then getting them tailored.

      1. Quickbeam*

        As a person who has one very large dimension and everything else standard or petite, sometimes buying to fit that one large spot makes the clothes very hard to tailor vs getting a custom made garment. I cried the first time I had a properly fitten button down shirt made for me. It actually cost less than having an entire shirt (shoulders, sleeves, back) tailored.

    5. Gnomie*

      #5 – not male, but I was a very large female for many many years. Having off the shelf clothing tailored to you makes a world of difference!

      1. matcha123*

        I was going to suggest this, too. I don’t tailor/alter my clothing because I haven’t had the budget for it, but I have seen articles with before/after shots of suits that have been altered to fir the wearer and they look much better than what was off-rack.

    6. PollyQ*

      I don’t feel like myself in the clothes

      Regardless of size, you may need to let go of the notion of “feeling like yourself” in business professional attire. It’s not meant to be an expressive way of dressing; it’s supposed to be standard and even a little boring. The tie is where you get to be a little creative, but the suits and shirts, not so much, especially when you’re just starting out. And some of your discomfort may be that it’s a new way of dressing for you. A year from now, you may feel more like a suit-wearing guy.

      1. SG*

        While you have a reasonable point, I can relate to the OP, and I get that there is enough variation in business professional menswear that something can feel comfortable and fitting (both literally and figuratively) vs “OMG this SO not me — this material/color/cut/etc. is never going to be something I can feel like myself in!” That’s different than just not being used to business professional clothing in general.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        When my son was little he would refer to my suits as a “work costume.” He was exactly right! Suits were never “me”, but putting one on helped me get my head into business mode. Don’t worry too much if businesswear feels awkward at first, just imagine you’re putting on your superhero cape to go save the office from mediocrity! Also, you don’t need a whole closet full. Especially with menswear, you can change the look with a different tie, so a few pairs of pants, shirts, and maybe a blazer should carry you a long way. Don’t automatically write off thrift shops, either. It’s hit or miss, but the one in my town has a pretty good selection of big and tall menswear. Good luck!

        1. TootsNYC*

          I love this point.
          In fact, “costume” is a term that used to be more of a synonym for “outfit.”

      3. MCMonkeybean*

        I could agree with that for an interview outfit maybe but I think it’s okay if wanting to feel like yourself is important in your everyday office clothes… but I’m not sure how good the advice for places to shop can be without knowing more about what that means more specifically and what types of clothes *do* make you feel like yourself!

        1. LW #5 here!*

          OP here. Someone mentioned not wanting to look like a suburban dad and hit the nail on the head there. I have a lot of personality that I want to show off and feel comfortable in the clothes I wear (both in physically and mentally).

          A lot of the places I’ve been interviewing with have a lot of strong face-to-face customer type of work. I don’t want to be uncomfortable at work when customer service needs to prioritized.

          I appreciate all the suggestions on retailers. It’s really frustrating when you are fat or bigger or have a different body type and nothing fits you properly. The process of buying clothes can be mentally demanding and I really just wanted to know what’s fashionable out there that people are buying now.

          1. snack queen*

            If you’re on reddit you might have some luck on r/malefashionadvice and r/bigmenfashionadvice! And for casual wear I see a lot of creative & nice fits on bigger guys on r/streetwear. Good luck!

      4. another Hero*

        as a queen person, I probably projected a lot here but I read it as trouble finding clothes in a style other than suburban-dad – it’s totally possible to get professional clothes that also signal queerness, or even just make you feel it.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            You don’t know that it’s a typo! another Hero could totally be a queen person! :-)

        1. ljv*

          I personally find that the easiest way to convey queerness is with hair for similar reasons, but I find that certain shirt patterns go a long way if paired up correctly with other accessories. sadly I only know where to find those patterns up to about a US women’s 20 or men’s XL.

    7. Firsttimearound*

      It’s fast fashion, so not totally sure how well it can pass as “business professional”, but my first thought is that ASOS does plus size men’s, including suits that I would expect to have more modern cuts and colors, at least.

      1. Fat-shionista*

        I came here to suggest ASOS too. I am a plus-sized lady and get a lot of things from there. I have found that even though you can’t try things on, if you measure yourself and then select garment sizes based on those measurements, what you’ll end up getting will be a really good fit. I presume the same would be true for their menswear line too.

        1. Plump Penguin*

          I also thought of ASOS! My partner is a fat, queer, masculine-leaning person whose fashion sense is either floral and a bit glam on the one hand or monochrome and “gray man” on the other, and he’s had success in both areas at ASOS, particularly with shirts and jackets, though also occasionally trousers (though he usually goes for the floral options there and buys his everyday black work trousers at JC Penney or Kohl’s or other more standard clothing store).

          Not relevant to the OP, but I also want to second the suggestion upthread of eShakti for anyone who wears dresses (though they do also do tops, skirts, and some pants; all tend to lean femme. I think of myself as more or less a soft butch, but also dresses are the most comfortable thing to wear at work for my fat body type, and eShakti runs the gamut from basic monochrome to higher-femme with ruffles and embellishments). I think most of my wardrobe is from them at this point, some of it 10+ years old and still in rotation. They custom size anywhere from 0-32, so each style can fit almost anyone, and massive bonus: all their dresses have pockets!!!

      2. lemon*

        Yes! I’m a lady, but I’m constantly crushing on Asos’ men’s blazers because they are so dapper.

    8. Belle*

      DXL has been great for my husband. They have a lot of options and run sales often.

      We tried Kingsize but my husband found the material too thin for his liking.

      1. Chris*

        This has been my experience with Kingsize as well. Some brands are fine, and I’ve gotten some coats and accessories from them, but yeah. I do like their shorts as well.

    9. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      My husband, a bigger guy, wore dress shirts, dress pants, and ties in his previous job.

      Dress Shirts, cut
      He would always avoid “modern” “fitted” or “slim” cuts of clothing even if they were in his size, because they didn’t fit as well as “regular” or “classic.”

      Dress Shirts, length
      You can get long shirts so they don’t become untucked. Sanity saver.

      To look professional, your tie should come to just above your belt, but if you have a larger neck circumference, the small end of the tie is too short to tuck into the loop on the back of the tie to keep it from flapping around. A tie pin solves this but if you don’t like those, my husband would make a loop of scotch tape to stick it to the other side of the tie and keep it in place.

      Dress Pants
      When in doubt, get a larger size and have it tailored.

      1. First Must Burn*

        I have this problem (ties being too short), and you can get XL ties. Discount chains like Marshalls/TJ Maxx will have them for much less.

        Working with regular length ties, there are two other tricks I find useful. As PBICDL noted, you want to capture the too-short short end after tying, but instead of tape, I use a small safety pin to pin the too-short narrow end. You have to undo the pin to remove the tie, but I just leave one in the end of each tie.

        In addition to that, the knot you tie is really important. A full windsor knot will use up lots of the length, as well as get into the wider end of the tie which can make the knot ungainly. I would recommend the half windsor or bowler knot.

        1. Anon Today*

          But never the four-in-hand! *has a rant about asymmetric tie knots*

          Seriously though, tie knots can be one of the most fun parts of menswear – it’s worth looking for xl ties if you wear one, just because it opens up so many fun and memorable things to do with your look.

          But many larger men get a lot of mileage out of good quality clip on ties; since they don’t go around the neck, all you have to worry about is finding one in the right length.

    10. LizM*

      My husband shops the Big and Tall section and has bought suits at Men’s Warehouse and had them tailored. They’re not cheap, but fit well and last, so in my opinion, worth the money. He only wears suits to job interviews and weddings.

      He buys his business casual clothes as DXL.

      1. DataGirl*

        My husband who is very large gets most of his work clothes from Men’s Warehouse. Once you buy something there they will bombard you with coupons, he usually gets his shirts and pants bogo or with a large percentage off. He works in middle management so usually wears a nice polo and slacks, or a button down shirt for more formal days.

    11. CanuckChick*

      My husband is a big guy (typically wears 4X-5X in t-shirts), and we find a lot of his nicer stuff (we are on a tighter budget) at a place called Mr. Big & Tall. They’ve got a great website (last time I looked), and they’re Canadian, so if you’re in the States, it’s like getting an automatic discount on everything because of exchange rates. They have everything from socks and underwear (the only kind hubby wears now), to graphic tees and polos, to suave suits. They’re seriously the best!

      1. Lime green Pacer*

        George Richards Big and Tall is operated by the same company as Mr Big and Tall (Grafton / Tip Top) and has substantially the same products–but not exactly the same. So worth checking them both. Also, the free “membership” for both gives 10% off, so be sure to do that before ordering.

        1. Forty Years In the Hole*

          Was also going to suggest George Richards Big and Tall – very nice for business/business casual. Hubby and his brother and nephew all shopped there for pro clothing. Not sure if they’re on line/ship out of country.
          Also – is there a place in your area that has a guy’s version of “Dress For Success?” (“It Suits You,” or “Suits Me Fine” etc) – usually sponsored by social services (so not sure if this is a walk-in type organization; their focus is on getting men reintegrated into the work force – resume and interview techniques etc).
          Ironically hubby retired 2 yrs ago and has 3! closets stuffed with large-sized suits/shirts/accessories – that he can’t seem to give up. And the one place in town that caters to men getting into the workplace and he would give stuff to …is COVID-closed. My ADHD-fuelled clean out gene is thwarted again.
          If I could offer up the stuff I would, (it’s standard cis-hetero male conservative stuff(.

    12. Mr. Shark*

      Yes, DXL is the place to go. It is a little higher priced, but that’s pretty typical of big and tall. DXL treats you right, though. The salesperson will really help you find the right fit and right clothing you want. You just tell them what you are looking for and they can steer you in right direction and pick out some clothes for you to try on.
      JC Penney’s is actually much more affordable, but you aren’t getting quite as good of quality. They are still much cheaper than DXL for the most part, and have a lot more casual clothes as well as business casual and even business professional attire. Depending where you are, JC Penney’s may not have B&T in their store, just online.

    13. UKgreen*

      My dad buys almost all of his clothes from UK mail order company Jacamo. Very good quality and lots of choice. I expect they deliver globally, assuming OP is in the US.

    14. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I have a disproportionate physique, and especially can’t fit into the current style of slim-fit men’s professional wear. The best luck I’ve had is for places that advertise as serving men with an athletic build.

    15. Lacey*

      As others have mentioned, DXL is great. My husband also loves Amazon essentials.

      You can also find some good options at Burlington Coat factory, but it is a bit of work to dig through the unorganized mess.

      1. Emma*

        Woman here, but I second Amazon Essentials – I’ve bought 3-4 sweaters from that line and absolutely love them. They are well-made and true to size.

    16. Becky*

      +1 to DXL – my brother loves them. They have very good customer service, as well.

      I also saw some comments about feeling like oneself in businesswear and wanted to share my husband’s experience. He has received a number of comments about how comfortable he seems in a suit and tie. A big chunk of that is from his summer camp experience — we both went to academic camp where you where expected to dress for dinner: skirt or dressy slacks for girls, jacket and tie for boys. (Yes, it was annoyingly binary.) But the result is that my husband learned to feel comfortable in a jacket and tie because he was wearing it in an environment that he liked, with his friends. Maybe one thing that would help, in addition to having well-fitting (even tailored) clothing, is practice wearing it in a fun setting. Dinner parties or something? Just to develop some associations with the clothing that aren’t negative or constricting. As a bonus, your friends are sure to tell you how good you look!

    17. BRR*

      Depending on how your weight is distributed, if you just need tall size I have found some reasonably priced things watching for whats on sale at J Crew. It adds a couple of inches to the length of shirt

    18. RC*

      I have a friend who is very tall (6’7″ and when he graduated law school he needed suits–lots of suits. He learned from a friend where members of football and basketball teams in our city shop and went there. He was not disappointed and was able to find a large selection. If you are in/near a large-ish city this may be a place to start.

      And since you’re just starting out on your wardrobe, a bit of different advice I learned from a French colleague: start with a few well-constructed pieces in neutral colors that you will be able to wear often without anyone noticing (as you’re a man this won’t be as much of an issue as for women), and a variety of shirts, ties, pocket squares, etc. that you can mix in to zuzh it up. Then you can build on this base as time and seasons go on.

      Finally, if you have the time and inclination, I recommend watching the latest version of Queer Eye on Netflix. Tan France makes absolutely spot-on recommendations, and many of the “clients” they’ve helped over the last few years have been larger men. I think you will find both great ideas, guidance, and advice there.

    19. MechanicalPencil*

      Dillard’s often has a decent in-store big and tall section, if nothing else, online will. Nordstrom also has a so-so big and tall (they also have in-store shoppers for you!). As others have mentioned, DXL is great, if pricey. Land’s End is also great, but I don’t know that it’s really physically in any stores (it used to be? I think.), so that’s a little harder. Kohl’s has a small section in some store’s but definitely online.

      My advice is find brands you like the style/fit of and lean hard into those. My SO is both big and tall and loves a very specific set of brands for his “uniform”, which makes it simple when he states that he needs more of something. He can either physically go to the department store or look online and know his size and be reasonably assured it will fit. Then you can get excited about when those brands go on sale, etc. Just me?

      1. OyHiOh*

        My partner wears big sizes and shops almost exclusively at Dillards. The online selection is pretty good and he appreciates that there are “big” sizes, “tall” sizes, and “big and tall” sizes.

    20. GigglyPuff*

      I am female, but I have had really good luck with Dillard’s when it comes to plus size professional wear. They are slightly more expensive than other department stores but not the most, and they rarely ever have sales or coupons but their stuff usually fits better and lasts longer. Hopefully this helps, I know as plus size when starting on new wear you pretty much want to try stuff on without having to deal with the hassle of online shopping or spending the money up front. Also I’ve found (with my limited interactions) the salespeople in Dillard’s to be really helpful. Hopefully they have men’s plus size in stores, might want to confirm before you go.

    21. Sunflower*

      Since you mentioned affordability, try re-sale sites. I’d recommend going to one of the stores/brands mentioned here in person, trying on some styles and nailing down our your size and favorite fit. Then go home and google it. Ebay, Poshmark, Mercari- even FB Marketplace now- all have Men’s sections.

    22. Healthcare Worker*

      Nordstrom Rack often has good choices at a greatly reduced price. Good luck!

    23. Bryan*

      DXL is great. Like others have said, I have also found some great shirts at Burlington. I have also purchased a number of pants and shirts from King Size. Finally, my wife has bought my pants most recently from Amazon.

    24. Erin*

      Amazon has a wardrobe service that is 5$ per styling. It includes any clothing/accessory item that is Prime Wardrobe eligible. Customers can specify what they need, how frequently they want it, budget & color preferences. The service also has a chat function with a live person to get any extra details that you would like to include. They have a pretty extensive size range for men. It’s called Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe, and customers have 5 days to try the clothes that are chosen for them before they are charged to the card on file.

      The only thing to remember is that the notifications tend to get buried in the millions of emails we all get each day, so, turn your notifications on so you don’t miss what was chosen for you.

    25. RudeRabbit*

      Burlington Coat Factory often has extended mens’ sizes. You might have to get them tailored on occasion to get the right fit you want, but they have formal wear, business wear (casual to more formal), casual wear, workout gear, and more. Target has also started selling extended sizes online.

    26. Ed*

      Just want to chime in for #5 to strongly recommend checking out every thrift shop (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.) within close range. One reason that nice clothes can wind up there in pretty good repair is due to changing body sizes- After some medical stuff that resulted in a massive change in my body shape, I wound up donating my entire DXL wardrobe to my nearest thrift shop. And you can spend a lot more on tailoring when you get your suit for under $20! True that most of the clothes at these shops are the “standard” sizes (much as I dislike that term) but real gems show up there and when they do it’s always a bargain! If you live in an urban area that has a ‘gayborhood’ the thrift stores nearest to there may be more likely to have patterns, colors, styles, etc. that both fit and feel like they let you express yourself- speaking as a queer man myself I found that to be true.

    27. momofpeanut*

      Can we do this same thing for women? My age-related weight gain has left my bust like a ship figurehead too big for XL. I need suiting, not business casual, and I am dreading shopping.

      1. Sanity Lost*

        I have the same problem! A lot of dry cleaners or a local seamstress offer tailoring and it’s not that expensive (usually $10-30 per piece). I have 8 that I change up with different pants, cardigans and jackets.

        1. momofpeanut*

          Tailoring is great but if you don’t know where to shop you can’t get clothes to get tailored.;-)

    28. Ravenahra*

      Another option is to find a good tailor that can alter the clothes so the fit you.

      As a woman, I’ve done this with button down shirts because when they’re large enough to fit my chest they are way too big for my shoulders and waist and look ridiculous. However, once the tailor altered them, I feel good wearing them.

    29. Bear*

      Dockers are great for paints.

      For casual wear, the goodfellow brand on Target online will get you going.

      For professional wear, you need to get measured, buy a suit jacket or blazer that is generally in your size, then have it tailored ($50 – $100 over) by a pro in your area (usually not at a retailer but at an independent entity).

    30. tink*

      My partner’s typically worked in more business casual environments, but for more professional pants he’s had luck with Haggar (their extended waist goes up to a 60 AND they’re having a sale right now–at least some of their sizes are also sold through JC Penney, so you might be able to try them on in person). DXL is nice, but as others have said it’s on the pricey end. JC Penney might actually be good for shirts–the extended range goes up to a 21″ neck in dress shirts and a 5X (54″ chest) in less dressy button-downs and polos. Lands End has also been great, mainly because they hem or cuff dress slacks for free, so finding pants is a bit more simple. They also have frequent sales.

    31. A Genuine Scientician*

      My brother was quite large (~54 inch waist), and had good luck with both suits and dress shirts from Men’s Warehouse. He was a professor in a business school, so had to be dressed rather formally most of the time.

      Tailoring can also really be your friend when you’re not quite standard sizes. It’s often substantially less expensive than you’d imagine, so while those of us who aren’t celebrities are not going to want to pay for our t shirts being tailored, anything formal can often be made to fit so much better for just $15 or $20 of tailoring. That applies to not just larger people, but anyone whose limb length, torso length, or various circumferences aren’t in the exact ratios that most off the rack stuff is made to fit.

    32. Krabby*

      My husband shops at Walmart for dress pants (he gets ones that are coloured gray or brown and they look really good on him).

      For dress shirts, he goes to Mark’s Work Warehouse. I’m not sure quite how large they size, but he’s typically XXL with very broad shoulders and he can usually find pretty good shirts there.

    33. Sanity Lost*

      My son is 6’8 so finding ANY pants is like digging for gold, he wears 40×40 pants and 3X shirts. I found Jos. A Bank to be a great resource for dress clothes for him. They can be pricey, but they also have great sales! Plus, well made clothes will also last you longer and they tailor to fit. He has 2 full suits (1 summer & 1 winter), 5 shirts and 1 extra pair of pants. If you take care of the clothes they will last 2-3 years if not longer.

    34. Beth*

      No matter where you get your clothes, find someone who will customize the fit. Good places to look for this person include: a dry cleaners that does alterations; a shop that sells tuxes and formal wear; the bulletin board of the local fabric store.

      Just having your clothes fit you properly will put you ahead of 95% of the male population in the US. Many people won’t be consciously aware of this, but it will register at some level with most. This includes prospective employers. It also includes yourself. You may not look like Robert Downey Jr., but if your suit fits you as well as his suit fits him, it will affect your sense of self and your body language in very good ways.

      Regarding cost: good quality men’s wear is an investment. Learn to treat your clothes well (hang them up, fold them, wash or clean them according to instructions) and you can wear the same garments for years. I am not exaggerating here!

      With a few exceptions, men’s wear doesn’t change much over time. And the more “classic” the look is, the less it will change. See my comment about long-term investment.

    35. Ldb*

      My husbands a big guy – 6’5 310lbs and almost all of his suits and business attire has come from JC Penney’s big and tall men’s department. It’s one of the few places where he can find clothes – especially dress shirts and ties that are long enough.

      On the suits, they’ve lasted him for several years and are still in good enough shape for him to wear in meetings with clients or meeting with judges.

    36. Harvey JobGetter*

      I second (or third or 20th or whatever) the DXL suggestion, although the clothes there tend to be somewhat sedated. Still, it’s a good starting point to build a wardrobe and you may find some more interesting things. If you can afford it, buying a few custom fit shirts or jackets is a great option (or buy everything custom if you can REALLY afford it). If you live in or near a major city, there will be many custom shops. You can shop around and find a price point you can tolerate.

    37. DarnTheMan*

      Some options that I know a lot of my guy friends use; on the cheaper end, Boohoo and Asos both have good men’s plus size lines, they do do seasonal styling so business wear is more often available in fall/winter but they have some stylish stuff. H&M also offers a lot of their men’s clothes up to a 50R. On the more expensive end, I’d recommend Bindle & Keep, Haute Butch and Dapper Boi – all three are LGBT-founded clothing companies that primarily cater to women who prefer masculine dress but a lot of my guy friends like to shop them because they have very expansive size ranges, and will often even offer custom sizing for a fee.

    38. AnotherLibrarian*

      My partner is 6’4″ and we live in Alaska, so nothing but internet shopping is our jam. I’ve found Big and Tall sections for him at Eddie Bauer and Lands End (a bit more on the rugged side, so maybe not your taste). I’ve also had success with high end department stores which actually have a staffed suiting department and, if you happen to be in Alabama, I know there are a few locally owned suit shops that specialize in large men’s suits. I wish I could remember their names, but my mind has gone blank. Of course, that’s always a more expensive option. One of my friends really liked King Size, but I find their quality questionable. Good luck!

    39. Daytripper75*

      Go to thrift shops and buy a bunch of super inexpensive items, then take them to the tailor and have them fit for you perfectly. I often buy my clothing at thrift stores for less than $3 apiece and it is generally high quality clothing that I wouldn’t be able to afford brand new. Adding on another $10-$20 to have them fit properly is a good investment in your wardrobe!

    40. daniotra*

      My husband is a bigger guy and he bought some lovely tailored suits, at reasonable cost, from Indochino. We used to have a shop relatively local where he was able to be measured in-person. Even if you don’t go for the full suit treatment, some tailored slacks and a blazer that actually -fits- may be just what you need. These pants de-emphasized his belly, but didn’t give him a saggy bum like so many larger pants. The jacket emphasized his broad shoulders, but didn’t pull or sag in odd places across the stomach or back. Good luck!

    41. Kimberly*

      Kohls also has larger sizes at fairly affordable prices AND they frequently have great sales.

    42. AMP*

      This isn’t a place to shop, but you may want to consider tailoring. Rarely are off the rack clothes going to fit and look right so buying something that you like to fit the widest part of you, then tailoring to fit the rest of you is a good way to go.

    43. xyz*

      Buy second-hand bespoke suits and get them tailored to fit (and flatter!) you. When buying suits, it’s important that the shoulders fit the jacket and the hips fit the pants; it’s a lot easier to take in or let out a jacket’s waist than to take in the shoulders.

      Why do the second-hand suits need to be bespoke? Because bespoke suits are made to accommodate weight changes – they usually have additional fabric in the seams that can be let out when the owner gains weight, or taken in when he loses some. Mass-produced suits usually don’t have this fabric at all, or have very little of it.

      How to spot whether a suit is bespoke: Gentleman’s Gazette and similar media have articles and youtube videos on the subject. Generally it’s easiest to look for irregular stitches (indicating it’s been sewn by hand) in places like the collar or inside where the sleeve meets the body.

      1. xyz*

        If the suit needs to be taken in rather than let out, it can be one that’s mass-manufactured. The “buy what fits your hips and shoulders” rule still applies.

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          Agreed. I was at the other end of the spectrum, and at 25 was measured as needing a 36L suit jacket and a 28 inch waist at 6 foot tall with long limbs and a short torso. I was told that outside of NYC, Chicago, Miami, LA, or SF, that simply wasn’t going to exist anywhere off the rack in the US. (Apparently, those cities have enough European visitors to have those sizes). So I got a 38L from one of the very few places in town that had one — most started longs as 40 — and had it taken in, which honestly mostly involved them moving the buttons and adding a bit of darting. For the pants, I had to buy ones with thighs wide enough to accommodate a guy who didn’t skip leg day, and have the waist taken in fairly substantially.

          It’s possible to take something in a small amount in the shoulders, but not a lot. Waists on the jacket/blazer, and hems on the pants, are far easier to take in.

    44. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      I’m what the kids call thicc. 44-36-56. Got legs like tree trunks. I’m currently 6’2″ and 275, but my proportions mean that I have this issue at all weights. With most silhouettes, if I buy big enough for my thighs, I’ve got a hula hoop around my waist. Too much fabric, wether from poor fitting clothes, or as an attempt to hide weight, makes me feel blah and even bigger than I am.

      I go for relaxed pants, but slim fit shirts. I’d rather buy a size larger and have it fit well, over buying my actual size and having pillowy fabric where the shirt is too big.

      Lulu Lemon makes men’s trousers that can easily be dressed up or down. I’m also a fan of Buckle’s BKE Seth tan pants in place of traditional khakis or chinos; again, easily dressed up or down. Both of these have a little stretch to them, so you can get a little more hip hugging without feeling like you’re painted in.

      Ted Baker makes fantastic polos that pair easily with above, for dressier Calvin Klein makes slim-fit non-iron herringbone dress shirts and button downs. I recommend Paisley & Gray slime fit suit jackets if you want to take it up a notch. I have literally never been able to buy a suit set off the rack, but I find that these jackets can pair well with various other styles of pants.

      I pair any of these combinations with grey Vans if I’m going to be moving around a lot (i.e. working with patients), otherwise I have a selection of leatherette boots to pick from, with matching belts for all.

      To keep it fun, I have a massive amount of fun socks, ties, kerchiefs, and watch bands that I can rotate through.

      I’m in my mid 30s and I like to purposefully eschew traditional work attire when I can. Why not have fun with your appearance?

    45. Tomas Ojeda*

      I’ve seen some sellers take this initiative. The clothes for “fat men,” in the industry is called, “big and tall.” Some retailers have a huge selection online and in store for men. In the south such as Texas and Louisiana the store Dillard’s has a great selection and carries slacks in about a 60’ waist and 42’ inseam. Jcpenny or Penny’s is another good department store to carry that selection for men. Jackets are usually $65 for up to a 60’ chest and an XXL in length for arms. Couple of brand that makes a great tall and big for men are: Roundtree & York, Dillard’s: Stafford and Van Hussen make great Deess shirts at JCPenny’s.

      I also saw that OP is queer. One company very LGBTQ friendly and has a zero tolerance policy for hate speech from people they endorse is Ralph Lauren. That company recently severed ties with a golfer over a homophobic comment he made accidentally and refuse to consider endorsing him for at least 7 years. Ralph Lauren is a bit pricey, but thought OP would like that little tidbit.
      Another brand that makes bright colors in a big and tall is Perry Ellis.
      Men’s Warehouse and JOS A. Bank carry large sizes and you can get a custom suit made for about $300.

      Final store well known for big and tall is DXL for men.

    46. Piano Girl*

      Another vote for DXL, along with Roundtree & York at Dillard’s for dress shirts. My husband has also purchased more casual pants at Duluth Trading Company. The pieces are always more expensive, but well-made and durable. Good luck!!

    47. Lsimmo*

      Please try JCPenney. They have two dedicated big and tall suit brands, and extended sizes in Stafford.

    48. It's the little things*

      My husband swears by DXL – he spent years squeezing into Walmart, I took him on a birthday spree in DXL and he has never looked back – its pricey (although they do coupons) but most of the styles are classic and the clothes last. He also loves that their shoe section is all Wide, so he has a real selection to choose from rather than maybe 2 pairs possible in his size in a sea of shoes.

    49. AnonymousM*

      My husband has had luck at Men’s Wearhouse for suits and longer ties at a reasonable price. Also, some of the Polo Outlet stores have big and tall. He scores nice quarter zip sweaters and polos at those.

    50. the one who got away*

      I’m a little behind on my reading so this might get overlooked, but just in case: I very strongly recommend Bonobos. My husband has gotten a few things at DXL but found the style (at least in our local store, a pretty big one in a metro suburb) was a little too stodgy for him (he’s a manager in a tech firm). Bonobos tends to have better sales and really high quality, flattering stuff with lots of customization options (fit in addition to size).

      Their Weekday Warrior dress pants will take you anywhere you want to go.

    51. Pink Geek*

      Once you find something that fits well maybe you can put a pop of personality with a pocket square, unconventional tie (bow tie? ascot?), and/or bright socks.

      I never feel like myself in business formal either so I approach it like the commenter above who calls it as costume but hopefully with repetition and experimentation it starts to feel normal for you.

      A large queer friend found some good fitting queer signalling stuff through Indochino. Sadly, it’s not cheep, but they often have deals which bring them into the realm of “reasonable”.

      Good luck!

  1. RB*

    It must be too late at night for me to be reading the column but what happened to the teapot company? Are we now running a llama socialization company?

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      It alternates–a couple of years ago, it seemed that every company was staffed with characters from Game of Thrones. Fashions come and go, but AAM is eternal.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      We can have several fictional businesses and personages around here! Whyever not?

      Later, we can have a teapot/llama war.

    3. Double A*

      I feel like teapots tend to stand in for more technical and project based jobs, and llamas are more services.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Ooh, that makes sense!

        I really enjoy the Llama scenarios myself. Llamas are ornery critters that will spit on you just because they can, but damn, they’re cute!

    4. Chris*

      We have to pivot, so we can disrupt new industries. Llamas are the teapots of the 21st century

    5. matcha123*

      Apparently newer readers/commentors who weren’t “in” on the joke found it pretty confusing.
      If everyone is talking about teapots and such new people start to wonder what’s going on. When I saw all the GoT names, without ever knowing or seeing the show, it was confusing for me. Especially when you’re supposed to pick up on “Sansa” being a certain type of person.

      It might be time up for the llama’s soon, they have been dominating for a while. Albeit somewhat easier to understand than the teapots.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You weren’t ever supposed to pick up on Sansa being a certain type of person; they were just used as names. I just got sick of having them all the time, and I didn’t want it to be as dominant as it was becoming in letters. Letter writers still sometimes use them and I mostly change them for that reason.

      2. Purple Princess*

        I think the problem with letter writers using pop culture references such as Sansa, Arya etc is that you’re conditioned to think of certain characters in certain ways. If you call a co-worker “Littlefinger” in your letter, then readers who are familiar with GoT are likely to assume that co-worker is ambitious, cunning and sly which can then influence thier understanding of the situation and alter the advice given. Sticking to neutral names removes that element of bias.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Lol I was just reading an old letter where “Arya” was insisting her coworker forgive a murderer.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          I think the larger issue is that it’s targeted at the commentariat. A very small portion of readers engage in the comment section, so if your style guide leans too heavily towards commenters, you could risk alienating the majority of your audience.

        3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          The Game of Thrones references went right over my head, as I didn’t (don’t?) follow the series. But the Big Lebowski reference I made recently fell flat, too… I guess what I’m saying is to just ensure that the passage stands up even if the aliases don’t, at which I think Alison does an excellent job.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I got sick of the teapots! I try to change it up every so often. (I also started asking letter-writers on the ask-a-question page not to use teapot references because I usually end up having to edit them out of letters since they’re often used in ways that could be confusing to new/irregular readers.)

      1. Generic Name*

        As someone who doesn’t love analogies, I appreciate this. I understand the need for staying anonymous, but sometimes the fake business names/job titles get really confusing to me. This tends to happen more in comments than in the letters themselves, by the way.

      2. SeluciaMD*

        FWIW, I’m not a tea drinker, I’ve never watched GoT, I’ve only experienced llama’s from a distance and I’ve never had a bit of trouble following any letters or responses that use those terms. I think I was a little confused maybe in one of the earliest posts I read but after reading a few archived posts I got it. I realize YMMV, but for me, none of these things have been a hindrance to my either enjoying or understanding the advice/discussions on this site. In fact, I enjoy people’s creativity on how to use those “tools” in explaining their situations in ways that don’t give out too much identifying information.

        And on that note, if anyone is aware of any Llama Spiritual Guide positions opening up on the East Coast in the US, drop me a line. :)

        1. A Person*

          Me, I never watched nor read GoT and it actually took me awhile to realize that those weren’t just pseudonyms that people liked. But it didn’t matter! The main thing is just to have pseudonyms for people, because it’s easier to follow “Alice and White Rabbit and Dormouse” than “co-worker 1, co-worker 2, CW2’s boss”. (Maybe we should just go with Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice? Or Pooh and Piglet and Owl?)

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I agree that it’s easier to remember pseudonyms, but I think people get carried away sometimes. If Arya’s boss is only mentioned once in your scenario, you don’t need to call her Cersei. You don’t need to say “Arya’s boss, Cersei, disagreed” if you’re never going to mention Cersei again. Because there *is* such a thing as too many names!

          2. Nanani*

            I like animal crossing names because half of them sound like normal human names and you can just throw in one or two distinct ones as flavour without distracting from the substance of the advice.

      3. Beth*

        I loved the teapots, but I also love the llamas.

        In my own job, I sometimes have to use patently fake placeholders for certain concepts — if I need to talk about a dangerously speculative investment, I’ll talk about investing in lunar real estate; and when I have to talk about sudden and unexpected death, I’ll usually mention being hit in the head by a meteor, or eaten by a velociraptor.

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          OK, I’ll play. And the guanacos! I hope we stick with the camelids for a while, I finally settled on a username.

    7. Junior Assistant Peon*

      99% of the time, the letter-writers could just say “accountant” or something like that. The cute little industry-masking things like llamas and teapots are just confusing, and not necessary unless someone’s job is truly unique and high-profile. I could see if an aide to a celebrity was complaining about their boss, but “I’m an accountant at a medium-sized company” is not going to blow your cover.

      1. Allypopx*

        But even accountant has alternate meanings now haha. And I don’t agree that it’s 99% of time time, we get plenty of LW who say in the letter or in the comments that they have recognizable or niche jobs.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I mean, how do you know that 99% of the letter writers have that type of common job title?

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Maybe it’s not 99% but most people’s jobs can be lightly described in a way that is plenty anonymous. My exact job is unique, but if I say I’m in higher ed, a middle manager of mostly writers, that is surely enough to go on.

          1. Allypopx*

            That’s more information than I would personally give if I were writing in, especially if the situation were recognizable.

      3. logicbutton*

        When it’s used for resume writing advice, as it is here, I think it’s really helpful! Most job advice sources use real-world examples that I always used to get hung up on when I was reading them – they’d all say something like “Sales Lead – increased sales by 10%” and after reading it in so many places that made me feel like “increasing sales” was something I needed to be emphasizing on my resume, but I’d never had a job where that was a measurable metric, so then I’d start spiraling and feeling like I’d never done anything worth putting on a resume. Zany stuff like chocolate teapots and llama spiritual guidance isn’t only more interesting to read, it helps me remember that all jobs have unique accomplishments and think more creatively about what mine have been.

        1. Beth*

          Exactly! One of the best books on grammar I’ve ever read is titled “The Transitive Vampire”. It gets a huge amount of mileage by using unexpected, quirky, and above all **memorable** vocabulary.

          1. hodie-hi*

            +1 for “The Transitive Vampire”. My copy was a gift. I loaned it to someone who never returned it. So sad. Next time I get an Amazon gift card, I might replace it.

      4. an infinite number of monkeys*

        I’m probably a little paranoid, but the specific combination of my field with the (only tangentially related) industry my government agency employer oversees is unique, and fairly identifying. About 99% of the questions or problems I’d want to discuss here stem from that dichotomy.

        1. Allypopx*

          I don’t think that’s paranoid – you never know who reads or might have something sent to them, this is the internet!

      5. KittyCardigans*

        But that’s so boring. I appreciate the bit of whimsy teapots, llamas, and funny names add to the dreariness of workplace conundrums.

      6. Snuck*

        I wonder if we stop with the nicknames whether we’ll just jump to assumptions though about Accountants (or whatever the job title is)? I like sometimes that the industry or job title isn’t specifically spelt out as it leaves it a bit more open for me to think creatively about how this might apply in my life. If it needs nuance Alison generally gives it that, but where it’s irrelevant to the job role it’s handy to keep it more open?

      7. Not an Architect*

        As far as I know, I’m the only person in the country with my job title. In my case it’s possible to describe it in a more generic way, but I can totally see how that wouldn’t be the case for everyone.

    8. EPLawyer*

      People leave jobs. Designing teapot spouts for chocolate teapots was not providing a good work life balance. So AAM moved to Llama spirituality. Pay is comparable but the overall compensation package is better — TRULY unlimited PTO.

  2. Beth*

    OP2: I think the best path here is to forget it. He doesn’t deserve to keep being given space in your head, and you don’t deserve to get pulled back into your ex-company’s toxicity.

    If you absolutely can’t do that, pick a friend on your old team who you still talk to and mention it casually in passing. You can act like you saw the announcement and assumed he’d left without checking further: “I saw this the other day and was so surprised, I had no idea Larry was also changing jobs! Have you heard who’s replacing him yet? Hopefully it’ll be someone good.” If there’s no one you’ve stayed in touch with enough for this to be a legit casual message between friends, then seriously, let it go. Be glad you’re out and don’t look back.

    1. John Smith*

      +1 for this, especially the first paragraph. I’d focus on the future, not the past. If your ex employee is so dysfunctional that they haven’t figured out all of what you’ve said, they’re unlikely to care. Even if they did, you may not get to see any outcome, or see one that doesn’t line up with your expectations. How would you feel, for example, if your ex employer promoted your ex boss and gave him a raise to retain him or because of experience/skills gained in the other job (or more likely, did sweet FA)?

      If you really really must say something, you need make it the last thing, thought and deed you will ever have about your ex employer. Let it go, move on and flourish. It sounds like your two ex’s deserve each other.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Like you said if the place is so dysfunctional they probably won’t care. As LW said, this is one cog in the dysfunctional machine. Reporting this ONE guy is not going to change anything. He will just be replaced with someone who has a different dysfunction. Or someone competent who will quit soon over the dysfunction.

        Dysfunction junction what’s your function — messing up lives and being toxic.

        1. Anon4This*

          I worked for a short time at a place where one manager was known to have his own business ‘on the side’ but in reality that meant he’d disappear for hours at a time taking meetings and never got any work done for the actual job because he was always working on his business. He lasted years that way until finally striking out on his own completely. He was buddies with the owner so even though everyone knew what was going on, no one was willing to do anything about it. My point is, people probably already know- or suspect, and just don’t care. If it would make you feel better to tell someone on your old team OP go for it, but I’d let them decide how to proceed with the info after that.

      2. Smithy*

        The other thing with wildly dysfunctional places is that often people would often rather keep bad knowns that take risks with unknowns. The team likely has a whole range of work arounds for this guy’s absenteeism that while frustrating, they know how to do.

        If/when this guy leaves – it may be that the interim boss is a worse person who they know. Or they’re left reporting into a very senior person who has even less time for them but more demanding expectations. It may be they suspect a current colleague who they also have negative thoughts about will take over. Or that a hiring process might bring in a reasonable and professional person who then has to learn the overall toxic system the hard way and thus creates new striffe on the team.

        In that first month where you leave a bad place, the desire to wreck havoc is understandable. But it doesn’t help move on and things that might have felt rewarding when you worked there, really may not hit the same way.

        1. TootsNYC*

          The other thing with wildly dysfunctional places is that often people would often rather keep bad knowns that take risks with unknowns. The team likely has a whole range of work arounds for this guy’s absenteeism that while frustrating, they know how to do.

          I think this is true for all kinds of dysfunction–intimate partners, companies, vendors, the guy who mows your lawn…

          Especially, the greater the dysfunction, the greater the fear that “this is about as good as it gets.” and “both sides do it.” Even if that’s patently wrong.

          1. Smithy*

            Absolutely. I also think that while bad/toxic workplaces can be largely negative experiences – it’s also not uncommon for there to be individual silver linings. The place may pay far more than the industry standard, there might be lots of freedom, the hours or vacation policy might be lenient, it might be the easiest place to break into a competitive industry, a best friend also works there, the office is close to home, etc.

            My greatest “this place is terrible and no one should stay” employer also happened to clearly provide a number of upsides to my supervisor – the primary one being he was paid on the insanely high end for our industry and his job duties. As miserable as the place was, he’s be lucky to find anyone to match his salary – and any place that would, would require him taking on goals and duties well above what he currently does. If he ever leaves, my guess would be it would be because of significant management change and him being let go. Or retirement.

            “Golden Handcuffs” are often the easiest way to explain why someone just adjusts to a difficult place, but it’s good to remember that for many people work simply isn’t their whole life. And as unpleasant as the work may be, there may be enough upsides that it works for their life well enough to not rock the boat significantly.

    2. Lacey*

      Yes. I’ve thought of printing out a couple relevant AAM columns and mailing them to my former employer, but it’s not worth the headspace. Instead, I’ve told a former coworker I’m friends with about AAM and she can do with that information what she wishes.

    3. KFG*

      I would tread carefully and definitely avoid saying “I had no idea Larry was changing jobs.”

      There are two parts here — the public announcement and the private conversation. If it ever gets back to Larry that this information came from the LW, he’s not going to give any weight to the public aspect, even if the announcement was forwarded free of commentary. He’s going to focus on and view it as a violation of the private conversation. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but Larry still was the direct boss, and if there is any hope of using him as a reference going forward (which, maybe there isn’t either way given all the toxicity), it disappears if he sees LW as meddlesome (at best) or a saboteur (at worst).

      I left a toxic job years ago, and it took me a very long time to get over it. I had strong residual anger and frustration for months, and even after it started to fade, it still lingered for a long time. I definitely understand the impulse to want to get involved here. This is a fresh “break-up,” and it’s natural to still have some emotions and want justice. But in the long run, it’s probably better to let this go.

    4. Not an accountant*

      I could see writing a short message or email to a former co-worker who you were on the good terms. Especially if someone checks in with you about how the new job going. “The first two weeks at the new job are going well. I’m enjoying settling in and getting to know the operations here. I saw that Larry got a new job at Brick Engraving Co. , how are you guys coping with the change?” . Operate like you only know about Larry’s new job from the public post you found and that you took it at face value.

      But it’s also ok to let it go.

    5. OP2*

      Hi! I’m OP2. Thanks to everyone who left advice here – I think leaving it alone is definitely the right call, and I’m sure my burning desire for revenge will fade with time if left unfed :). But I did want to give an update – I got drinks with a coworker from my team last week who turned in her resignation a few days ago. She told me that when she turned in her resignation, Larry told her he was happy for her for getting out, as he had told me. But he also said he was “going to try to stick it out awhile longer” and didn’t mention the other job. So it seems likely that his other job has fallen through for him for some reason – I guess knowing he’s stuck at the toxic org with a severely diminished team (in terms of size and skill), and that my ex org is operating with limited staff and resources on that team, is an ending I can be satisfied with.

  3. learnedthehardway*

    OP2 – another vote for not doing anything. For all you know, your toxic ex-manager made up the story to create drama and trash your reputation as someone who makes up stories about former managers. Plus, whether he’s working at another company or not, the real issue is that he’s not doing his job at your ex-company, and that’s something your ex-grandboss should be dealing with (regardless of the reason).

    There’s a certain satisfaction in walking away from potential drama, and just waiting for natural consequences to catch up to people, rather than putting oneself in a stressful situation to try to fix things.

    1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      It’s also possible the ex-manager was absolutely miserable in that position and any awfulness was coming from above and preventing them from being a better manager. I’d do the kind thing, give them the benefit of the doubt, and keep my mouth shut. It’s no longer your problem anyway.

      1. JM in England*


        The OP would do well to heed a phrase seen various times on AAM: “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”…

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      whether he’s working at another company or not, the real issue is that he’s not doing his job at your ex-company,

      I think the double dipping aspect does make it more egregious though – the reason he’s not doing his job is a violation of a stated policy that he’d agreed to and (presumed) dishonesty, rather than the more ‘standard’ reasons someone could be not performing at their job such as childcare/family issues, lack of training, lack of aptitude, interpersonal conflict with co-workers, etc.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Honestly? As much as I want to join the bandwagon riding the high road on this one, ex-boss’s shady double-dipping would totally bring out my evil side.

        I wouldn’t go out of my way to do anything, but in passing I might carelessly ask a friendly, loose-lipped, former coworker how things are going since Larry left for Other Company. Then just stand back and let the gossip mill do its thing.

        And if it ever came back to me as the source: “Oops, sorry! That’s what you told me you were doing when I left, so I just assumed… (…that you weren’t a lying, thieving sh!tbag…)”

    3. Allonge*

      Oh yes. Do you really know this is true, LW2? And if the whole company is toxic, what will it help if someone is fired?

      The best revenge is a life lived well or something like that. Get this place out of your head.

      1. Stacy*

        She said she found a public announcement of his new job so I think we can assume it’s real.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      Natural consequences: A derived more satisfaction than I should have when I heard about my former toxic boss being disbarred. I read the entire 100+ court ruling for the schadenfreude. A lot of the stuff that caught up to him was stuff that was going on when I worked for him. I would have shared with the investigation, had they caught up to me, but they didn’t and I had nothing to do with the disbarment. If anything, this made it that much more schadenfreudelicious, its being a natural consequence not due to any action of my own.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I’d call it a fairly normal reaction.

        Suffice it to say I’ve definitely at least smirked over a few situations where years after the fact, I’ve watched some bad actors deal with the fallout of their own decisions. I’m also not entirely sure what to categorize a situation where my former manager (who basically read me the riot act and made my life a living ninth ring of Hades for not accepting a promotion that I didn’t want, because I didn’t want the promotion nor was I interested in uprooting my family to a major big city for said promotion that I didn’t want) wound up making the exact decision himself that he’d chided me for. I smirked a plenty over that one.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        “schadenfreudelicious” is an excellent word which I shall file away for future use. Thank you!

  4. Maggie*

    Here’s a personal story of mine for OP2 to consider:

    I once took a toxic job not understanding I was going to be an employee Rotten Subcontractor, not Named Government Program posted on the building’s front door. Though I did not work at a prison, Rotten Subcontractor primarily trains personnel at private prisons, and the leadership was rotten to the core and all the way up to the top.

    I wanted out for months. Then a young, heavily traumatized client with no living family members stated they were suicidal on a Friday, left in tears, and did not show up on Monday morning. I wanted to do a wellness check and was denied based on Rotten’s ‘no fraternization with clients’ policy. I was open to alternatives: could we have the police do a wellness check, just to make sure the person was not dead? Denied. I quit.

    I was so furious with the many, many, many toxic things my boss had done along the way (this was the final straw) that I reported her to the company’s ethics hotline. They did an investigation. At the end of the investigation, my boss was promoted. This took her out of direct contact with clients, which “solved” the “problem.”

    Just because you report doesn’t mean it will have the result you want nor a guaranteed sense of satisfaction. Buyer beware.

    1. allathian*

      Ouch, that’s truly awful. Perhaps better for the clients, but hardly better for other employees. I’m glad you’re out of there.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Not even necessarily better for the clients, if she’s now in a position with more power to set policy. Her own direct contact with clients wasn’t even the problem here!

    2. Smithy*

      I used to work for a wildly toxic place – toxic system that cultivated toxic staff. My manager was just a dreadful manager in countless ways, and at the time when his entire team of direct reports quit, a heavy emphasis was placed on his inability and lack of desire to manage.

      Ultimate result was he got to keep his title, keep his pay, and ended up as an individual contributor where if he ever needed support for work he didn’t want to do, he was allowed to “borrow” other junior staff or temps. For my sector, the amount he is paid for the scope of work he has is off the charts.

      Being aware that the whole place was a disaster, it’s hardly a surprise. But it does certainly feel like every time he was a dreadful manager to my coworkers and I, it was him throwing a fit about why on earth he had to manage anyone. And it worked.

    3. Cynical?No,justrealistic*

      I had an experience like that as well. Boss stole my wallet, harassed me and generally made my life hell during pregnancy, denied me help when I was injured on the job and broke a bone, deliberately called me by the wrong name all the time (because he decided Other Name was better than my real name)….

      He was reported many times. Result… he got promoted.

      It was then that I lost all hope in workplace equity or fair dealings. I now just assume I will get screwed.

  5. tra la la*

    #2: Forget it. You got to leave, so you win, and one of your prizes is to be away from a bad situation. Larry is now their problem, not yours.

  6. Coffee Officinado*

    OP 1. Your boss is a bully.
    Excluding people while at work is one of the red flags for bullying behaviour.

    I experienced bullying in the work place and it’s the most soul destroying thing I’ve ever experienced. 4 years on and I still have some issues because of it and I’m now in a fabulous job with a brilliant manager.

    Bullying is so insidious, there is, as you say, nothing tangible you can complain about.
    Look up your company’s bullying and harassment policy (they should have one) or find online definitions (Acas if I’m guessing correctly you are in the UK). My guess is you’ll find other behaviour that you’re boss is also doing that amount to bullying.
    I hope I’m wrong, but having been there I think this is more than just your boss keeping her distance from her direct reports.

    1. Anonys*

      This boss is so ridiculous. I do think she is bullying in some way, but I wonder if she had a bad experience being friends with a manager herself or got some advice that she is taken too seriously? It seems like she has taken “be professional with your direct reports” and gone straight to “be cold to and exclude your direct reports” and maybe there is a context for that.

      I mean, her previous direct report wasn’t allowed to sit with her at lunch?? Having lunch with your manager is such a normal part of a professional relationship. Even with these after hours social events, I don’t think with two resonable people it would be too much of a big deal for a manager and report to attend the same pub quiz with a bunch of colleagues.

      I hope her own manager one day gives her the feedback that having a warm, friendly (not “being friends”) relationship with your direct reports is a key to management.

      1. OP1*

        OP here! Thanks for commenting. I think Anonys has it right. I’ve had a bully boss in the past and it was so awful. I really don’t think she is that. It’s more like she’s read something about it before or had a bad experience and totally misinterpreted the solution. Overall, the impression I get is that she doesn’t want to/enjoy being a manager but it’s the next logical step up in her career. I feel like an inconvenience a lot of the time.

        With this issue specifically though it just seems misguided, she’s quite socially awkward and just doesn’t seem to know how to act. She can be lovely when we get chatting. I’ve tried to make it clear that I will also respect boundaries through my behaviour (e.g. at one work event a friend of hers asked her about something quite personal, so I promptly excused myself and joined another conversation). I’ll be friendly and chat but mostly stick to socialising with others. But it doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect! I know Alison didn’t really recommend it but I’m inclined to keep attending and ‘prove myself’ by acting professionally, hopefully she will just get used to it..

        1. Roscoe*

          Can I ask how invitations to things things are handled? Because that, to me, really makes a difference. Is there like an email that goes out to your whole office saying “we are going to do bar trivia tonight, feel free to join!”, or is it more like this group makes a plan and you kind of overhear them? Because if its the first way, and she just tells you not to come, I see that as a bit more of an issue. If these people just make the plan and you overheard it, I don’t know that just continuing to go despite your boss wanting that separation is going to be good

          1. OP1*

            Hi, OP here, it’s done informally over skype or in person, I do get invited by other people – I don’t just overhear and barge in! We have a skype group for people who attend social events and it gets posted in there for anyone who wants to go. Some of them are also just recurring weekly ones that everyone knows is open invite, with no specific list or invite.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Are there enough people in attendance that you and your boss won’t be in the same conversation group all night?

          1. OP1*

            Hi, OP here, it can range from 6 people to 30 people – usually somewhere in the middle! So we would be conversing sometimes in a group, but mostly just joking around about the quiz/whatever activity we are doing.

        3. Colette*

          Is it possible to be up front with your boss?

          i.e. “I’d like to attend some of the social events to get to know other people in the company. I know you want to keep boundaries between us, and I support that! Is it possible for us to alternate attending, or are the events big enough that we could primarly hang out with other people?”

          1. ellex42*

            As someone who is also “socially awkward”, I’m a big fan of people being up front. Sometimes it’s really helpful to just make your intentions clear out loud, even if it feels like an awkward conversation. Especially for those of us who have difficulty interpreting social behavior, or have been burned before.

          2. OP1*

            I feel like she would just deny that this is a ‘thing’ because there’s no explicit things she’s said or done, but it might still highlight the issue. If it continues I might raise it and frame it that I get the sense she doesn’t want me to attend and ask if that’s the case.

            1. Colette*

              Yeah, the advantage of raising it is she either has to speak up about her issue with it or let you go.

        4. Starbuck*

          Yeah, I was going to add that I can actually relate to Boss in some ways – not that I have gone to this far of an extreme, but for me the work friends and socializing I do with people on my level or not in my area of responsibility is SO DIFFERENT that what I would want to do with a direct report or manager that I can understand not wanting to mix those two, because again for me it completely changes the vibe of the hang out. She’s definitely handling it poorly, but I can really empathize with not wanting your direct report to join in the social group you’ve built with peers.

    2. Roscoe*

      I don’t think boss is a bully at all, at least not from reading this. (I also think the term bully gets thrown around way too much these days). Boss seems like someone who draws a hard line (possibly too hard of a line) between personal and professional when it comes to subordinates. It doesn’t sound like there are only 5 people in this company. So if manager wants to go out with her circle of friends and not invite OP, there isn’t really anything wrong with that, IMO. Everyone doesn’t have to be included in all social activities. It doesn’t sound like this is ANYTHING work related, just a group of friends who go for drinks. If I’m planning to go out with a couple of coworkers after work, I shouldn’t be required to invite everyone in the office

      1. OP1*

        Hi, the issue is more that I’m also friends with her friends (we are all in the same department) so they invite me.

        1. Ames*

          I’m not sure they are her friends. What are they going to do, say no to their manager? That is why managers don’t join the social gang.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            It sounds like this is a department with multiple managers and the other people attending are not this manager’s direct reports.

      2. Le Sigh*

        I would argue it is work-related. These coworkers are also friends with OP, not just her boss and they’re inviting her to attend events that she’s being shut out of by her boss. Which then reduces OP’s ability to create the kind of workplace relationships and connections that can be so important to many workplaces.

        OP doesn’t have to attend everything, but it sounds like the boss’s behavior is keeping her from attending anything at all.

      3. Shan*

        From OP’s comments, it doesn’t sound like the invite list for these events is so much “Boss’s circle of friends” as it is “half the company,” so it’s really crappy if Boss tries to exclude her from all of them.

    3. UrbanGardener*

      Yep, isolating people either socially or professionally (from meetings or projects) is step 1 in the bully boss handbook. I had a boss once who started picking people off when she took over. First colleague she tried it with, she took her off projects, left her out of meetings, and then went a step too far by telling her she wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone at a higher level in the company than her – bad boss wanted to be the only person to talk to the senior-most people as she’s a narcissist. She also dissed my colleague’s degree as not being “good enough” for her job and telling her she’d never be promoted any higher and should quit. My colleague took that to HR and pretty much all they did was tell bad boss she wasn’t allowed to talk to people like that. I later found out from a friend who knows people she used to work with that the board at one company asked her to leave before her contract was up because she was causing divisiveness in the staff.

      1. Workerbee*

        I had a boss who was a textbook workplace bully. She made was had once been an awesome job absolute hell for me. Her preferred bullying tactic was isolation. If she chose not to associate with any of her staffers socially, that’s one thing. In my case, we had a team of six and I was the only one she kept at a very obvious distance. I pretty much had to play “Mother May I?” if I wanted to take on any projects that did not involve sitting at my desk all day because she did want me networking outside of the office. Her favored staffers, of course, did as they pleased.

        I was often left out of social events, conferences, and meetings. She also wanted to be the only one to communicate with senior management and even emailed me once to instruct me NOT to contact a manager because she decided he was too busy to talk to me. I knew him. He would most certainly have spared five minutes of his afternoon to answer a few questions for me. It was deliberate isolation, pure and simple.

        This is such an obvious tactic. And when I took it to other managers and HR they gaslit me and pretty much said, she’s my supervisor, your job duties and what she deems necessary to complete them are all up to her discretion.

  7. Kella*

    When my previous manager realized that I was about to put in my 2 weeks notice, she literally said “No!” stuck her fingers in her ears and started going “la la la la la la”. She spent those two weeks making jokes about her plans to kidnap me so that I couldn’t leave. Thankfully, our relationship was such that these jokes landed well and felt like the compliments they were meant to be.

    1. Peachtree*

      My old manager used to tell anyone who resigned that she would “nail their feet to the floor” on their last day. It made everyone feel really uncomfortable and is, quite frankly, a horrible image for people with vivid imaginations!

    2. Fried Eggs*

      I quit my first job by saying, “So, you know how you always joke that I’m not allowed to quit and leave you for grad school like [my predecessor] did?”

      My boss just said “Damn it! When’s your last day?”

      I gave a month’s notice, and it was fine. The jokey vibe continued – she just started joking abut how everyone always leaves her for grad school.

      1. BethDH*

        My boss made these jokes too, while at the same time her actions told me that she was aware I would probably leave sooner or later and thought it was natural. One key example was how she made sure there was cross training and how she treated discussions of other people leaving or talked about past employees.
        Your boss’ actions will tell you whether these are jokes or “jokes.”

      2. Simply the best*

        I had a job where the three people who had held the job before me all left for the same reason – they got engaged to their Canadian boyfriend and left the country. They’re definitely were jokes from my boss and a few others that I wasn’t allowed to date anyone from Canada. Once I had worked at the job longer than any of the previous three people, the joke shifted and I started teasing that I had been promised a Canadian boyfriend as a perk of the job and the company had yet to deliver.

        I now work at a place that recently had a lot of turnover that has been very stressful and my boss has more than once joked in a very desperate way telling me I’m never allowed to leave. But she also treats me very well as an employee, so I know this is just her letting me know how valued I am.

        For me these were always jokes and I felt like I was in on the joke. The first job I would always respond, I will let you know when I meet my Canadian boyfriend. And at my current job I’ve let my boss know that I have no intention of leaving right now, which I don’t. But it’s very easy for these jokes not to land that Alison’s right, you should probably not make them.

    3. Cat Tree*

      At one job, a coworker in a different department gave notice and her boss just didn’t believe her. She tried to pass along her work to others but it was so disorganized and her boss kept giving her new assignments. On her last day she kept insisting “no really, I’m actually leaving”. And then of course she didn’t show up the next Monday because she started her new job. I assume she handled the paperwork through our competent HR person. But her boss was just so weird about the whole thing.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      When my best employee said she was thinking of retiring, I joked that I was going to duct tape her to the chair, but I immediately followed it with, “actually, I just need to know your favorite cake flavor and when your last day will be.” She’s now happily retired and I’m at a different company, but we’ve kept in touch and are now friends instead of manager/employee. I hated to lose her as an employee, but that’s part of business. It’s probably better to be the employee they don’t want to lose than to have them say something like, “well, that’s for the best then!” when you give notice.

    5. Lacey*

      Yeah, the relationship matters. I had a few coworkers & managers joke about not letting me leave a job, but we’d known each other forever and the overall vibe there was pretty jokey.

    6. Rayray*

      I once have notice at a job that had become super awful the longer I stayed. My manager and the firm partner who was mostly in charge at that point and basically gave me the silent treatment for my notice period. There were a couple women in a satellite office in the next state over (the firm I worked for had bought that firm out) and when I let them know I got email relies of “No! You can’t leave!” When I told the one and then a few minutes later the other one I frequently worked with emailed “Jane said you’re leaving, you’re not allowed to leave!” It was al in good fun, but it actually get kinda good that they actually enjoyed working with me.

    7. Ames*

      One manager cried when I told her I was leaving. It was her own fault, she wouldn’t agree to the flexibility academics have.

  8. Cathie from Canada*

    OP5, I have two pieces of advice:
    First, I highly recommend browsing some fashionista websites – Tom and Lorenzo, for example As a fat woman myself, I used to think that “fashion” had nothing to say to me. But I was wrong – there are all sorts of shapes and sizes in Hollywood now, and sites like TLo will help you learn the styles that will help you look as good as you can. Yes, its mostly for women, but they also talk about men’s fashion choices too — like making sure that pant legs are the right length, that clothes aren’t wrinkled, that the shirt neck fits, etc.
    And in your own case, as someone who has been out of the habit of selecting business clothes, its even more important to get yourself a little more knowledgeable about the styles you should look for, contemporary colours, etc.
    For example, in my own case, I discovered that the shapeless grey “tents” I usually wore were all wrong and made me look worse. Instead, I looked much better and more professional when I wore clothes that were more tailored or structured, with a defined waist or even a belt, with a more flattering V-neck collar, and in good strong solid colour or a small-print pattern.
    Second, find yourself a tailor shop or drycleaner who can do alterations. Your clothes will look SO MUCH BETTER on you if they are properly fitted, with sleeves and pants that are the right length, waists that fit, and so forth. A tailor can also give you advice on particular styles.
    Good luck and I hope this is helpful.

  9. Kate*

    I second the responses for DXL and JC Penney. My husband has also had some luck on Amazon for dress shirts / chinos and found good quality secondhand sport coats on ebay.

  10. Sleeping after sunrise*

    LW3 you may be burning bridges here. It really depends on how big an accommodation they gave you, and how much they feel you lied or were dishonest about the situation. It doesn’t sound like this just fell into place for you, but was your plan (or at least dream) the whole time. It also sounds like there’sa short timeframe between your request for an accommodation and when you resigned.

    I totally understand you doing this, and you absolutely should take that opportunity. But you should also understand that your boss might feel you were dishonest, and hold that against you (it sounds like you were dishonest).

    Your boss might also laugh it off and say they aren’t surprised, they could see how much you loved teaching etc.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I agree with this. Regardless of LW#3’s intent, what happened was the boss made an extraordinary accommodation to keep them as an employee and that employee used that as an opportunity to leave the company. People judge others by the outcomes of their actions and not by their intentions.

      I’m not saying LW#3 shouldn’t take the opportunity. But they need to realize that burning this bridge is the cost of doing so.

    2. Purple Cat*

      I think it’s a stretch (and unkind) to say that LW3 was DISHONEST. She wasn’t deliberately planning on leaving the company all along. She also didn’t say she needed time off for medical reasons and then work a 2nd job on the side….
      Just like company’s intentions change, employees intentions can change too. It doesn’t make them dishonest or nefarious. It’s life. Companies just aren’t as used to the at-will factor working against them.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Well, they wrote that teaching is their DREAM JOB — that implies it’s been their dream job for awhile. Maybe I’m wrong and they only realized how much they loved it after they started. But if they knew they wanted to teach full time, “just a fun hobby” is dishonest. (I’m not necessarily saying LW3 did anything wrong — there are plenty of cases where you don’t owe your boss full honesty and white lies are fine. But let’s not assume that LW took the teaching job on a whim and only afterwards realized it was their calling, because I don’t think that’s what happened.)

        1. Name Goes Here*

          Yeah, but emphasizing OP’s “dishonesty” comes at the expense of acknowledging who is really at the root of any hurt feelings—the employer. If the accommodation was so extraordinary that it merited OP staying longer (think of tuition reimbursement), then the employer should have handled that maturely thru a direct conversation and written document, not jokes. What else is OP supposed to say in response to jokes?

          Yes, it’s possible the employer will be disappointed and that the bridge will be weakened or burnt. But that’s on the employer.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          But that doesn’t mean that the OP knew or had reason to believe that this part-time job would turn into a full-time job. And something that’s your dream job that you get to do as a part-time job is just a fun hobby until it turns into something more.

          Five or six of my coworkers over the years have been allowed to have flexible schedules to allow them to teach classes at a nearby college, and although several of those coworkers would love to teach full time, for them these jobs are just a fun hobby because they are very, very unlikely to turn into full-time work. None of them have had those part-time jobs turn into full-time offers.

      2. Reba*

        “Dishonest” is just the wrong frame here IMO.

        (What was she supposed to say, “yes Boss, where I see myself in 5 years includes leaving here as soon as I get the chance”?)

        Also, college teaching jobs (that pay enough to live) are so rare these days that no one should plan on moving in to one, and OP probably didn’t–it may have been a “dream job” but the adjuncting + other work scenario is much more likely to be realistic.

        I think this is a scenario where “this opportunity fell into my lap and I couldn’t pass it up” would be put to good use!

      3. Ames*

        This is a perfect point. If you adopt at will firing then I don’t care if everyone leaves and the company sinks.

    3. MCMonkeybean*

      It seems like initially they really planned that this was a temporary thing but I do agree this is a bit different than most “people leave jobs and your boss should always understand that” situations. They might feel a little more resentment than usual. But hopefully if they are reasonable people I don’t think it would necessarily be a huge problem. If this is your new dream and you have the opportunity to take it then you definitely should! But yeah they might be a little annoyed that they basically paved the way for you to leave them.

    4. Smithy*

      While I think this is harsh, I do think that it’s also fair. Just given how many employers across time and space are likely to find personal offense in folks leaving.

      On the point of honesty, however, I do think it’s mindful that not all teaching is necessarily going to provide venues to full-time gainful employment. If the OP was writing in about teaching SAT prep was their dream job, that’s one thing. However if the dream was to teach Quidditch or loom weaving, doing that full time might have seemed far more daunting or unlikely to materialize. Given the nature of the subject matter, it may be that the boss will realize that for a niche subject – taking this full time was always a long shot and be more sympathetic. Or maybe not.

    5. ames*

      She wasn’t dishonest. She never knew teaching would be her dream career, she learnt it was on the job. Anyway, once we’ve gone down the rabbit hole of when people should leave we’ve lost it. She could work there 1 day and promise them 5 years and it is neither here nor there. Companies don’t think twice about getting rid of employees when it suits them. There’s something called a notice period and that is the end of that.

  11. Sleeping after sunrise*

    LW2 I would just leave it. The time to say something was when you were told and were still an employee with obligations to the company.

    When I resigned from a former job a lot of people came and spoke to me about their own plans (or desires) to leave. People I had no idea were also looking to get out, and otherwise would not have confided in me.

    Your boss shouldn’t have said anything to you (and shouldn’t be drawing 2 pays). Hopefully this will catch up with them. But if they’re posting on LinkedIn it’s not sounding all that secret. If you wanted to say something you needed to say it then, not wait and send a revenge letter.

  12. Roscoe*

    #1 So I’m going to take your word about her attitude. That said, I’m not sure how much of a leg you have to stand on with social events. She has decided a line has been drawn where she doesn’t want to go drinking with subordinates, which is fair, even if I think that may be too hard of a line personally. As Alison said, you can initiate stuff too, but I’d also suggest maybe not trying to do it with her group. I don’t know if you just have a really small company or what. But if she has like 5 people she hangs out with, out of a medium to large sized company, you deciding to just invite those 5 people (but not her) isn’t going to come off well. And you’d also be putting those people in a rough position too. I hate to say “Make your own friends”, but if there are other options available, I’m not sure you should be going directly for that same group that you know she is a part of. It doesn’t sound like she doesn’t want you socializing with ANYONE, just not with the group she currently has. Like, why not try to get some of your other team members to do things on occasion?

    1. OP1*

      Hi, the ‘social group’ is around 30 people in an office of 70, the others are older/have other commitments/whatever so don’t want to attend these things. Not all 30 people go to everything, they just dip in an out, but my manager goes to everything. I’d say there is a core group of 10-ish who do most of the organising which is her friends, but not her, she doesn’t organise them. Not sure if that makes sense! Basically it definitely isnt a small group of her and her friends, it’s for anyone.

      1. new gov employee*

        If my understanding is correct, these are more office events or office team building, not social events.
        I can understand her not wanting you there if it’s a few work friends were meeting up for lunch or after work. But that’s not what this is.
        Organizing for the entire company and inviting everyone is a work event. This is basically the same as her telling you not to go to the company Christmas party or other fun work benefit to socialize with co-workers.

        Personally, I am a lot more professional and have more superficial conversations at work events than with my friends after work. I can’t imagine the small talk being completely different with a direct report/manager vs coworker at the same level.

    2. Delphine*

      It does actually sound like she doesn’t want OP at any work social event that she is attending herself.

  13. Red5*

    Thanks a lot, Alison. Now I really wish there was such a thing as “llama spiritual guide” and that I was one! LOL

    1. High Score!*

      There’s acupuncture for animals… open a llama spiritual guide business, it might take off! And then we’ll all be jealous.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I remember an episode of My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet where the owner’s girlfriend had an energy cleansing/thereapy. She ended up doing her practice on the cat!

  14. NewYork*

    LW1 — not clear to me — are these other people going out direct reports of LW1s boss? Are they even at the same level? If the group going out are all at a higher level, I dont think LW1s boss is wrong and LW1 needs to find another group

    1. Snazzy*

      I was coming to say this. If the people going are at the same level as the boss or even if everyone is higher on the food chain than the Op then the OP is in the wrong and needs to back off, but if it is a real mix of all people in the office the OP’s level and lower then the boss is wrong.

    2. OP1*

      Hi, OP here, they are not at her level no, they are mostly at my level or the level in between me and my manager. She is one of the more senior people there but within the same age range. Some of them are in the same team/department as us, but I am her only direct report. Hope this helps :)

      1. Delphine*

        Frankly, if her concern is propriety, she shouldn’t be attending any of these events.

  15. Coder von Frankenstein*

    For LW2, are you likely to need this guy as a reference in future? That would be my only concern about outing him in a way that he could trace back to you–particularly since there’s no guarantee he would actually be fired or face consequences. (Toxic workplace be toxic.)

    It sounds like right now you and he are on okay terms, so you’d be burning that bridge. If it’s not a bridge you need to preserve, of course, then grab the blowtorch and the fiddle.

  16. MissDisplaced*

    #2. Don’t out Larry about his other job.
    You said yourself he was just a toxic cog in a toxic system at a toxic company.
    If he had done something really horrible to you personally (abuse, wage theft, taking credit, denying promotions, harassment) maybe I could see your need for vindictiveness. But if it was a toxic crap stew for everyone there, I wouldn’t bother. Larry will get busted or no all on his own. What do you owe this former toxic company anyway?

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      This is my thought as well. And it doesn’t seem fair for Larry to bear the brunt of this, when the entire company is toxic. You hurt an individual while helping a toxic company.

  17. Name Goes Here*

    One thing I’m not clear on with the teaching OP. They say they taught college—so are they moving into a tenure track job at a teaching heavy institution? Or even a non tenured position that’s more permanent than adjuncting?

    If so, 1) Good for them! 2) Those positions are rare enough that I think any sense that OP has strung their employer along just waiting for this job to pop up can be laid to rest, and 3) The fields may be different enough that once OP moves into the teaching position full time, a non teaching reference will carry less weight. (This would also be true, I think, of HS teaching.)

    1. Letter Writer #3*

      It’s a permanent non-tenure track role in a business field. Teaching has been a back-of-the-mind dream for a while, but I never expected that a permanent position would be available to me so quickly, because as you said, these types of jobs are pretty rare. And I thought I would like teaching, but I never expected to love it this much (or frankly, to be so good at it!). I pictured myself testing the waters with adjuncting for a few years while deciding whether or not to pursue a PhD at some point.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Honestly, saying “this opportunity fell into my lap and was too good to pass up” is common advice for people who feel bad about leaving their jobs, and for you it’s 100% true? You are totally in the clear. I’m sorry if your boss make you feel bad.

        1. Budgie Buddy*

          I’m not as much a fan of the “awesome opportunity just fell in my lap” phrasing, although it seems to work for other people. Eh, Whether the employee is leaving because they won the lottery or because of a family tragedy, the employer is facing the same difficulty of rehiring and should react with the same degree of professionalism. Being up front about the situation and giving a reasonable notice period are what I think are the most valuable, although conveying that you gave the decision some thought is also good.

          Maybe I just find that phrase a weird mix of emotion and business. It’s not as bad as saying “I didn’t plan to cheat on you—until I found True Love!” because everyone expects employees to quit sometimes, but it’s the same weird “Don’t be annoyed—be super happy for ME!” tone.

      2. Coder von Frankenstein*

        That’s key context. You didn’t start teaching with the plan of quitting to do it full time–you were just trying it out. Now a rare opportunity has fallen into your lap. There’s no bad faith involved in grabbing it and absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

        I’d give your current employer as much notice as you can, and go out of your way (**within reason**) to make the transition as smooth as possible.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I said to a letter writer yesterday to say ‘my situation has changed’ as a reason for pulling out of a job they’d originally said they’d do. Still true! Situations change, opportunity can appear outta nowhere, all that stuff is just part of life.

        Any person has the right to change their mind :)

  18. ThatGirl*

    re #3 – my first job out of college was at a small-town paper in a state I didn’t intend to live in long-term — it was a good first job and a good stepping stone, but as my then-boyfriend was graduating from college, getting into grad schools and planning to be ~6 hours away I was looking into jobs much closer to him. I don’t even remember what brought it up but at one point my boss made some joke about me leaving and I was like well, now that you mention it….

    and normally I know that’s not the sort of thing you should say to your manager, but I knew I was in no danger of being fired and generally they were supportive of me looking; they knew that at 23 with a long-distance boyfriend I wasn’t planning to settle down in small town Kentucky for good.

  19. anon4this*

    #5- look at goodwill. Sometimes they still have tags on their clothes and they have all sizes, mine even has a dressing room where you can try on stuff.

    Go to “Jos. A Bank” and let them know you are looking for the clearance suits, sales, etc. They can tailor the blazer and pants in the store for free or for minimal price, especially if they know you’re looking at clearance stuff.

    One good tip is to stock up on sweaters and different colored blazers, that way you don’t need to worry as much about repeating the same shirts over and over.

    Walmart has the “George” line and is generally forgiving when it comes to XL sizes (plus they have cute dress socks that are cheap). Burlington Coat Factory is generally cheaper as well and has a plethora of extended sizes for men and a dress suit section.

    Men in general are much less judged on their clothes, so it’s easy to find the same style decade after decade, so once you find something you like that fits, keep it!

  20. AnnT*

    Try Duluth Trading Company Mostly work/casual clothes but they do have LONG Tshirts and larger sizes.

  21. dedicated1776*

    Letter #3 reminded me of one of my current direct reports. We are in finance but he coaches archery on the side and is really, really good. One girl he’s coaching now has a shot at the Olympics. He said he’s going to quit to coach archery full time if she makes it. I cannot think of a better way to lose an outstanding employee and all around great guy. I am so, so, so hoping he gets to live that dream.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      About a decade ago one of the best network techs I have ever met in my career (I remain convinced he could build a DNS box out of leftover pizza and cold coffee, guy was a genius) quit to go and coach a sport at professional levels. Can’t remember what it’s called (involves buggies, sails and beaches) but he’s absolutely rocking it these days.

      So, yeah, I was sad to lose a one in a lifetime talent on my team but really happy that he’s doing something he absolutely adores.

  22. LP*

    OP4 – since I have added a brief line about what the companies on my resume did/do, I feel like it’s been clearer to those reviewing it. I do administrative work and as much as some industries want to see other companies they know my skills are largely transferrable… so it saves the questions of ‘what company is that/what do they do?’… and some no longer exist so that’s another thing…

    In your case, where you may be clearing up confusion regarding another company with the same name, I think it makes a lot of sense. Good luck on the job hunt!

    1. Gumby*

      I also added a line about the companies’ work on my resume. It started because one of my former employers went out of business entirely so people looking at my resume would have no way to know what they even did. But I also like it because a second former job was for a large org that does many things so I used that line to clarify what part of the org I worked for. And my current company is so niche – if I were applying at another company outside of this subject area, interviewing companies would have absolutely no clue. Sure, it still exists and had a web site but if I can explain in 1 sentence, I am fine with that use of space on my resume. (Other companies *in* this subject area would know, because it is a small small world. But my job function is not tied to the subject area so it is conceivable that my next job would be in a different area.)

    2. IvyV*

      Early in my career I worked for a series of technical companies that all had acronyms for names. So my resume was like:

      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing
      * Thing

      I think it was a trend for a while that startups would deliberately pick three letter names in the hope that they’d go unicorn and that would be their stock ticker code. Instead they kept going under (except IBM of course), hence the number of them on my resume! Anyway, having brief descriptors of what these companies did was the only way that my resume made any sense to anyone. It wasn’t whole sentences though, more like “Llama Analysis Platform” “Llama Reporting Software” “Llama Compliance System Consulting”

  23. Social Butterfly*

    OP #1 I was in a similar position as your boss. I started at my company as an entry level employee and planned social events which developed into a regular thing. We invited new/old employees from across the company to join (if they got in the elevator, they were getting an invite). With every promotion, I was told it was important not to allow the social group effect my management of direct reports… but they were invited because that was a tenet of the group. Eventually, going and enjoying myself felt impossible because I had to leave in order to maintain appropriate boundaries. I couldn’t tell a silly story about my college days and then deliver a serious critique.

    I’ll admit; I am resentful that I had to sacrifice something that I really enjoyed. The space were I could have a greater connection with coworkers isn’t there anymore and when I hear “OMG last weeks hang was stellar”, it confirms my FOMO. I used to go and leave early but stopped because it got too frustrating. It is a consequence to the many benefits of doing well at my company.

    I look at the group (that continues without me, after a brief Covid pause) and am proud at the accepting foundation built. Introverts enjoy the mingle, extroverts get their social tank filled, events vary so partakers (as we like to call drinkers) and those who stick to the light stuff hang out, and luckily there have been few incidents that had needed to be navigated by scanning AAM.

    1. OP1*

      Thanks for this perspective, I think it makes sense and is helpful. My boss is one of the only managers without kids etc and is the same age range as people at lower levels, so I see how it is difficult for her too. However the thing that bothers me a bit is that she sees her work friends on the weekends as well, so I feel that she should be able to skip some of the ‘work social’ events without worrying about this.

      1. Social Butterfly*

        Making friends and social groups as an adult hard core sucks. It’s not the good ol’ days of running up stating, “I like turtles, wanna play?” Allison’s advice is good but it’s also may come off as trying to co-op her established friend group. What’s the vibe of the social group about the boundary? Are they inviting you and she’s snubbing? If it’s a small group, that’s unfair to you. They are knowingly pushing you into the boundary she’s clearly established. They shouldn’t be encouraging the “mean girl”ness. If it’s a big group, then they have options mixing up mingling to avoid awkwardness (i.e. pub quiz night, create a couple teams) or big hang until dinner then split up for different cuisines.

        If you are good at reading queues, be on the look out for people in the same situation. There are probably other DRs (direct reports) who’s bosses are in the social group too? Maybe approach them to see if they want to roll bowling ball or grab a beer. Others could be feeling ostracizes too and want to make friends.

        In my situation, I approached HR to start a work sponsored social/ charitable monthly event which I hope will allow people to meet others in the company, during work hours. We are going to try language lunches for those who have been Rosetta Stoning over the pandemic to practice with native speakers (we have a lot of international employees so this will also help them with their acclimation), making lunches for the homeless, paint happy mugs and bowls for the local shelter, and turning a conference room into a Zen space for a week. Maybe this will give people a chance to continue to met even if they have to run to take care of personal obligations after work.

        Ultimately, here’s hoping you can build good relationships at your company :)

  24. El l*

    Re Tell About Side Gig:
    Let’s be clear. The reason LW want to tell is not because they want to fix anything – if the company is truly toxic management is unlikely to learn, there are unlikely to be real repercussions for Larry, and it won’t tangibly affect LW anymore.

    Rather, LW would be doing it for personal satisfaction. Nothing less, nothing more. Which is actually not to denigrate that – having that catharsis might help LW move on. But that’s all LW is going to get.

    It seems it’s more important that LW gets their “why” right than they get “what I’m going to do” correct.

  25. Lyra Silvertongue*

    #2, leave it alone. Revenge fantasies should really stay fantasies. Unless someone really, truly wronged you, taking active steps to get someone in trouble when it doesn’t affect your life is kind of petty and vindictive.

  26. blink14*

    Highly suggest finding a tailor! A good fit makes a huge difference in how clothes look, no matter your body type or size, and it’s pretty rare that anyone has a full closet of clothes that fit well off the rack. We all just kind of deal. I know as a short person, it’s tough to find pants that fit right, or jackets that hit at the right spot, too long sleeves, etc. Even when I was at my thinnest, most “in shape” size as an adult, not everything fit well off the rack, because not everyone’s bodies are the same, even in the same size!

    There are also more upscale clothing stores that offer tailor services on site. If you’re looking for a suit or business wear, you could do some internet research on retailers in your area that may offer this service. Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Neiman Marcus are big name retailers that I know if with tailor/alternation services.

  27. El l*

    Re Say You’ll Never Go:
    Their repeated “joke” was a veiled fear that you’d leave for a better job – but more importantly also an acknowledgement that there was nothing they could do to prevent you from pursuing teaching. It’s not like they could make you sign a non-compete agreement for a gig outside their industry. Even in the flexibility you asked from them, there really wasn’t much they could do to stop you, if you were determined enough.

    (Leaving a corporate job for a teaching job is a rare enough contingency that I doubt you’re closing the door on others)

    If/when you quit, if she brings up the “promise”, just say, “Well, if I knew I’d enjoy it as much as I did, I would never have said that, and apologize for doing that. (Pause) But it’s a free country, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

  28. CupcakeCounter*

    There is nothing that says you have to tell your old company where/what your new job is. Just make it clear it isn’t a competitor and leave it at that.

  29. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    LW #2: No longer your circus, no longer your monkeys. Leave, don’t report, just save it as a great story for “worst boss” conversations in the future. (Mine involves a boss who mixed Oxy and gin at the company party and grabbed my right boob for support when he wobbled.)

  30. Krabby*

    To LW3, I’m in tech and had something like this happen a few years ago at my last company. People were bummed because they liked the guy, but were happy he was getting to do something he enjoyed. I wouldn’t worry about anyone taking it personally.

    That said, if you want to do something extra to show your appreciation (and also make them more likely to show others the same kindness in the future), here are some things that the employee also did that meant he still got invited to the company events long after he was gone: he wrote a really glowing Glassdoor review that mentioned the flexibility he was given, he mentioned us to his classes as a good employer (we were small and relatively unknown in the industry at the time), and he referred a lot of his friends to us.

  31. Harvey JobGetter*

    OP1 — has boss said that’s why she acts this way at these events? It seems like another very reasonable possibility is she just doesn’t like you and isn’t very nice about it. (No offense. I’m pretty sure you’re the more likable person of the two of you!)

    1. OP1*

      Hi, OP here, no we’ve never discussed or even alluded to it before. We definitely are very different people and communicate in different ways. However she has done this with her previous direct report too so I don’t think it’s just me. From what the previous report told me, she’s actually massively improved now, which I’m thankful for!

  32. Drew*

    Re: #3, whose boss made an offhand comment about her staying: I had a boss a few years ago who yelled at me and said, “you need to think about whether you want to work here.” Soon after I was recruited by another company for higher pay and a better title. When I gave my notice, my boss seemed shocked that I was departing. Words matter.

  33. Elizabeth West*

    #2–OP, if management at your old company is really that toxic, telling them what’s going on will not make them change. If anything, they’ll just fire Larry.

    I’m going to come down on the side of not your circus; not your monkeys. If Larry gets in trouble and throws you under the bus, what could happen? You don’t work there anymore, you were leaving when he told you, and there’s nothing they can do. It’s really, truly not your problem anymore.

    #4–A recruiter at Exjob recommended company descriptions on my resume. I kept them to flesh it out a little when I took it down to one page. But when I added a new item, they pushed my education by itself to the next page, so I removed them.

    I’m not sure anyone ever even noticed or cared; nobody ever mentioned them. I don’t think it would matter if a potential employer has never heard of Llama Incorporated. All they would care about is that I know how to use the paddock software. If they really want to know what Llama Inc. is, they can ask me and I can tell them.

  34. ElleKay*

    LW 4 – I would also caution you not to assume *too* much based on headhunters/recruiters’ comments! If you’re getting interviews for jobs that are in your scope then you might be fine. Recruiters are often so focused on generating leads that they miss details and mix up candidates; it looks like you’ve already seen this to some extent!

    On the other hand, if you’re seeing this confusion with employers and the jobs you’re getting invited to interview for then, yes, it makes sense to include a short explainer

  35. Ames*

    1: When she tries to stop you joining in say ‘multiple members of the group have invited me’. Say it in a very firm voice then just stare at her. Works like a charm in most cases. Other people probably don’t want their manager there but are too scared to say something.

    3. Forget the guilt. Never feel guilt about your career, the company will throw you under the bus faster than you can blink in most cases.

  36. Rusty Shackelford*

    #1, if she doesn’t come out and say “I don’t think you should come,” I’d ignore her seemingly P/A attempts at keeping you away. And there’s always a chance that her standoffishness is an attempt at professional distance.

  37. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    I feel like OP1’s manager probably read some sort of document that says that socializing with direct reports is a bad thing. I can see her being uncomfortable if OP1 is invited, but the rest of the direct reports aren’t because you’ll always have someone say ‘oh, but OP1 is boss’s friend, thus she got the better rating/task/raise/whatever”. I don’t think its meant to be bullying or vindictive. I’m really betting that someone in senior management pointed it out to her because of her social nature, and gave her no real workarounds for dealing with the fact that sometimes people share the same friend group. I guess keep doing what you are doing, go to the after work things and try to keep your socializing with the others and not your boss.

  38. Delphine*

    Based on OP’s responses that suggest most of the people at these work events are at OP’s level and boss is one of the more senior people there…I think this is a case of the boss realizing that it’s bad form to be infringing on these events. She’s the boss, but she still wants to join in, and she also doesn’t want to be seen socializing with her direct report. Solution? Ice out OP but don’t change any other behavior.

    OP has more right than the boss in this situation to attend those events and the boss needs to learn to be a better person and manager.

    1. Momma Bear*

      I would also try to get there early (so Boss is arriving after me) and talk to the organizers directly so that I was in the know and not reliant on Boss to convey the details of the event. I agree to go but focus on other coworkers, because they are why OP is there, not Boss. It’s hard to be the Boss and have to change your social activities but this is more Boss’ problem than OP’s.

  39. Jack Straw*

    LW3 – I was in a similar situation, using my limited personal time (3 days in a school year) to work my side hustle that turned into being offered my full-time dream job.

    This is the language I used when I put in my notice: “I love working here and this is the *only* job I’d leave for. I’ve been lucky enough to be offered my dream job, and it’s too good to pass up.”

  40. PlusSizedShopper*

    LW5… I agree 100% with other comments about thrift shops and tailors. I am petite in height, but XXL everywhere else. I have to have almost everything hemmed, but I also have had the shoulders lifted up, seams taken in, etc. I love thrift shopping – you find some amazing things for pennies on the dollar that you’d pay full retail for (and some things still have tags!). A tailor, while not cheap, is a fraction of the cost of a good suit. I think you’ll find some great clothes, and have them altered to fit you perfectly, will still save you money and you’ll look and feel great! I wish you lived in my area so I could introduce you to the good shops! Pro tip – go to more affluent towns in your area. You’ll often find better products in better areas!

  41. AnyoneAnywhere*

    Anyone else really loving the llama spiritual guide job description that has been appearing here? Considering a career switch myself

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