crop tops at work, arguing with a client, and more

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

1. Wearing crop tops at work

Yesterday in a one-on-one meeting with my supervisor, the topic of dress code came up because of an apparent (and unknowing) violation on my part. No dress code had been shared at my hiring, and when I asked about one, I was told one still does not exist for the company. I ended up having to clarify what was being said because it clearly made them uncomfortable, and they were having a hard time saying anything concrete. Eventually I was able to establish that I am not to wear cropped tops to work, which I will occasionally wear under a blazer but remove the blazer around the office when it is very warm. I work in an office that is not public-facing, and if anyone who is not an employee is going to be in the office, a general notice has to be given to staff.

My supervisor started by giving vague references to the potential of a client coming into the office and that me appearing in garments that show any portion of my stomach would make them uncomfortable due to “cultural differences.” This is a very casual workplace, so I am surprised this is even coming up as an issue; the finance director and HR manager wear yoga pants all the time. I see other employees either wear no bras in a way that is very obvious, have visible undergarments, and/or wear ill-fitting garments to the point their stomachs are visible. I am frustrated because no dress code was established at my hiring, nor is there one now for me to reference. I feel I am being singled out. How should I approach this situation?

Well … crop tops wouldn’t be okay in most offices, even in ones without formal dress codes.

Now, should they have a written dress code if they actually do have restrictions on what you can wear, rather than expecting you to figure it out for yourself? Yes! Do a lot of offices not bother to, and instead count on people to pick it up through osmosis? Also yes. But crop tops, as a general rule, aren’t typically office-appropriate — and that’s true even in offices where people wear yoga pants or ill-fitting clothes. So it’s not an inherently outrageous request: no crop tops / no clothes deliberately designed to expose your midriff.

That said, if other people are wearing crop tops and not being spoken to, that’s a problem and it’s worth asking about. It sounds, though, like that might not be the case (a shirt that rides up occasionally isn’t the same as a crop top that’s intended to expose your stomach by design). But if they are wearing them, it’s reasonable to say, “Can I get clarification about the dress code? I do see others in crop tops at work, so I’m trying to understand exactly what the rule is.” And I’m not sure what was up with the reference to “cultural differences,” but if you feel your culture, race, or ethnicity might be playing a role here, that’s worth looking at more closely too.

2. Should I have argued with a client on a call?

I just had a situation happen that I’m wondering if you could shed any light on. I run my own business and was just running a meeting with a small group of clients. I made a Zoom meeting and sent invites to all the clients through Google calendar the week beforehand. About 30 minutes before the meeting time, one of the clients, Fergus, emailed me saying (in a clearly annoyed manner) that he hadn’t received an invitation. I double checked and an invite had gone out to him, but I responded immediately, apologizing profusely and copy-pasting the link to the Zoom meeting.

Fergus apparently did not receive this email either, because he showed up to the meeting 20 minutes late after having had to get the Zoom link from his assistant. When he showed up, he was furious and interrupted everyone to complain that I had never sent him the link and hadn’t replied to his email asking for it. I told him that I’d sent him a Google Calendar invite and also had replied to his email; he replied that he hadn’t gotten either and went off about how inconsiderate I’d been of his very busy schedule. (He is of an older generation than I am and doesn’t seem particularly tech savvy.) I was about to look through my sent emails to find the timestamp so I could better defend myself, but realized that the other clients were getting impatient already and that me taking up meeting time to fight with Fergus would probably look quite unprofessional. So I ended up quickly saying, “Well, you made it and that’s what matters” and getting back to task. However, Fergus was hostile to me for the rest of the meeting, continuously referencing my lack of courtesy to him, and it was somewhat unproductive as a result.

I now know that I should’ve checked whether Fergus had accepted the calendar invite prior to the meeting, but I’m wondering if I should’ve handled the meeting differently. Fergus is luckily not a client I will need to deal with again, but it does upset me that he derailed this meeting based on an impression that is objectively false. I could easily have put a screenshot of the email and invitations I sent to him in the Zoom chat to prove him wrong. Should I have done that, or pushed back in other ways?

Once Fergus made it an issue and started getting hostile, at that point your biggest priority needed to be the other clients on the call — who definitely shouldn’t have had to sit through an argument (or wait for you to find the email you sent, etc.). Your attempt to redirect things back to the agenda with “you made it and that’s what matters” was exactly right.

When Fergus continued to make comments throughout the meeting about your “lack of courtesy” to him, it probably would have sense to say, “I’m happy to talk with you about this after the meeting, but during this call I want to respect everyone’s time and get through our agenda.” And frankly, you would have been well within your rights to mute him if he continued disrupting the call.

He sounds like a jerk, so I’m glad you’re not going to work with him again.

3. Rejecting an internal candidate when they’re the only applicant for the position

I recently inherited two under-staffed, low-performing teams, and have been working to get them moving in a better direction. One of the first things I noticed is the teams lacked leadership and were locked in endless re-litigation of decisions and spent more time discussing what to do than actually doing the work. One of the first decisions I made was to create lead/manager positions for both teams as they needed more detailed attention than I was going to be able to give. Unfortunately, one of our biggest handicaps is that the hiring market right now is not great for finding high-level people, and our director of recruiting hasn’t been able to get good candidates for one of the open spots.

This leads me to my current headache. One of my most difficult employees applied for the position. While their work is technically decent, their prickly personality had already led to the team entirely ignoring their work and even disinviting them to meetings. So, I had shifted them to a different team where they could work on less collaborative projects since their solo work was reasonable and I’m already understaffed. They are completely unsuitable for the team lead position.

I know you’ve covered how to tell internal candidates that you’ve gone with someone else. But how do you tell someone that they aren’t getting the role, even though they are the only current applicant for it?

Have you been honest with the person before now about the issues you see in their relations with others? Ideally you have, and you can cite those conversations now in explaining that the new role requires strong skills in relationship-building and collaboration. But if you haven’t been direct about those issues previously, you have to now — and that’s a good thing, because that’s something this person needs feedback on regardless. So be direct! “This role requires strong skills in relationship-building and collaboration, and those have been areas where I’ve seen you struggle. For example, ____ (fill in with specifics). If you’re interested in this type of role in the future, we can work on those things going forward.”

4. Does a super fast interview invitation mean they’re not really interested?

Do you find it strange when a fairly famous company gives you a super-fast and positive response to your application, along with an invitation to a video interview?

I submitted my application on Friday evening. I received a positive response around 10:30 am on the Monday after the weekend. How could they look through all the files and the creative portfolio I sent them and already make the decision to interview me in just 1-2 hours?

Do you think they’re genuinely interested, or is it more like the HR person wants to practice their interviewing skills and I was the next best person to come along? Or maybe they just want to do market research or something?

The company had no open vacancies and did not solicit applications/submissions. I sent mine in because I wanted to try my luck. So I’m a bit surprised but also a nervous about whether they’re really interested.

You should assume they’re genuinely interested. Application screening is a lot faster than most candidates realize; most resume-screeners can tell in less than a minute if they’re going to move you forward or reject you. Looking at a portfolio obviously can take longer, but that’s often a very quick scan at this stage too. In that 1-2 hours you cited, they could have flipped through 100 applications, or even more.

It’s also not really a thing for HR people to set up interviews just to practice their interviewing skills. Assume they’re genuinely interested in you!

{ 737 comments… read them below }

  1. doge*

    LW1: I usually go in ready to side with the employee during dress code things. They are almost always enforced in a sexist and racist way. But if you’re in an office environment, and there are still boundaries even in these lax times. There are genuinely squeemish people out there that want to see *less* body, all the time. In one’s personal life choice rules the day. At work, please don’t show your coworkers your stomach.

    1. Artemesia*

      If I had an employee show up at an office job in a crop top it would take quite a while to overcome the impression of poor judgment that would create.

      1. Umiel12*

        I really agree with you on this. I’ve had coworkers show up in crop-tops before. They’ve all been problematic employees who demonstrated poor judgment in various ways.

        1. Gan Ainm*

          I agree. I’m baffled that LW#1 is baffled. I think she is confusing casual attire with skin-exposing attire, and they are not at all the same.

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I would find it quite an overreaction to think of someone as having unusually poor judgment just for wearing a crop top to work, although it does depend on the style. Given the reference to a blazer I assume we’re not talking cut off t-shirt or something you would wear to the gym.

        Right now crop tops and “cropped” tops are so trendy as to make it difficult to find anything that isn’t, and if you are out shopping or even looking at the clothes under the “work wear” category on a website you will see many crop tops on the models. That applies across size and price ranges and in both casual and more formal clothes (I just tried it on the British plus size brand Simply Be’s website, for example). I’ve noticed this because as someone who doesn’t like this style I have found it really annoying. However, it does mean that it is not automatically obvious that a shorter top is inherently unprofessional and I don’t think this is a hard rule anyway.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, I was thinking that fashion really appears to be changing there. A few years ago (and through most of my adult life), crop tops were quite unusual here, something for the beach, maybe, or, like, a fancy-dress 90s party.
          But nowadays they do appear the “new normal” and I can see this divide between (I guess younger) people for whom they’re really just normal tops that everybody wears and older people (like me :D) for whom they still look really, really weird.
          Would also argue that it certainly depends on the specific outfit – a longer (say, navel-length) crop top with high-waist trousers (showing a small strip of skin) would most probably read very differently from a very short one with low-waist bottoms that basically exposes your whole belly.

          1. Busyness of Ferrets*

            Fashion doesn’t dictate office attire. Skinny jeans and bandanas were in in the 200’s and they were never acceptable in an office setting.

            1. Coffee Cup*

              Skinny jeans aren’t acceptable in an office setting? That’s news to me…
              Fashion does dictate what we see as “normal” and it definitely has an effect on office wear. Otherwise we would still be working in the office in Mad Men or something.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                Ah, vintage dresses. Comfortable, flattering, pretty…
                This discussion shows why I tend to avoid regular stores and buy vintage or basic styles.

            2. Anon all day*

              What do you mean? It’s been my experience that in any office where wearing jeans is fine (and that’s not uncommon) the norm is to wear skinny jeans. Like, they were almost the only kind of jeans that existed for like 15 years.

            3. mairona*

              Far be it from me to defend skinny jeans (I personally hate wearing them and jeans shopping was a nightmare in the height of their popularity) but in a business casual office where jeans are allowed, you can dress up skinny jeans pretty easily with some tall boots and a nice top.

              I’ll give you bandanas, though.

            4. RussianInTexas*

              Skinny jeans are totally acceptable in the office, if your office allows jeans.
              They just need to be without holes, preferably darker wash, and worn with other office appropriate clothing and shoes.

            5. Unaccountably*

              If you don’t think fashion dictates office attire, show up to work wearing an ’80s vintage women’s blazer with shoulder pads like the aft end of an aircraft carrier and see how well you fit in. Or, if male-presenting, a plaid or white men’s suit from the 70s.

              “Fashion” doesn’t mean “What Young People are Wearing.” Even if it did, there are fields where a low crop top and a blazer might look very smart on someone with the confidence to carry it off. Either way, I’m going to need you to look through some photos of offices and office wear for at least as far back as the mid-20th century.

            6. Willow Pillow*

              “You go to your closet and you select, I don’t know, that… lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores, and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room, from a pile of ‘stuff’.”

            7. quill*

              Every business setting I was in in the early 2010’s that allowed jeans allowed skinny jeans, because otherwise you would have to ban jeans entirely.

              Many didn’t allow faux-jeans leggings though. At least if there wasn’t anything else covering your butt, like a long top.

              1. LuvzALaff*

                That was the most sexist item in a dress code. Hate to say it (Love to say I no longer work there, though) over a year ago I had a job where one of the first things I did was remove the language ‘leggings must be worn with dresses, skirts or long shirts and sweaters’ from the dress code. I.E. women don’t show off your B-hind. Yuck! sexist dress code.

                1. Little Miss Sunshine*

                  Leggings are not pants. I do not want to see a woman or a man in super tight pants that show me all their goodies. Nothing sexist about it. It is a workplace. Put on real pants or cover up your private parts.

                2. Snuck*

                  I agree with Little Miss Sunshine… no clothes should be so tight that there’s a risk of showing the outlines of one’s genitalia, or the cracks of their butt.

                  Also a great many people don’t realise how sheer leggings get in the places they stretch the most. Sheer leggings are not workplace acceptable either.

                  There’s nothing professional about wearing sports gear to the office, unless you are a sports trainer.

            8. itsame*

              I wore skinny jeans every day to my last two office jobs and was one of many people in those offices, of a wide age range and level in the companies, to do so.

            9. Jaydee*

              Oh shit. I’m wearing skinny jeans in my office right now. No one has said anything to me about how I’m dressed. My coworkers did comment on my *lack* of jeans when I first started and wore non-casual clothes on Fridays because that’s all I had. So I just assumed they would also comment if I wore “unacceptable” jeans and that silence meant I was doing fine.

            10. Avril Ludgateau*

              *nervously looks down at black “cigarette” jeans that got me out of having to buy office slacks for my entire career*

          2. Gnome*

            I am surprised by seeing the various comments about them being trendy and such… I was just online shopping for clothes and… Didn’t see any. So I went and checked Amazon (women’s tops) and saw maybe one. I also checked Kohl’s and didn’t see any. Obviously, I didn’t look at every single top either offered, but I really didn’t see much.

            Mind, I always dress modestly and have less than zero interest in fashion, but I’m wondering why I’m not seeing it when there are multiple comments on it here.

            1. Sally Ride*

              Gently, Amazon and Kohl’s aren’t exactly the epitome of fashion (they are fine! Many of us shop there! Just not the height of trendy). If you check a trendier retailer focusing solely on apparel, you’ll see quite a bit more.

              1. Observer*

                Which is a good point – and probably something the OP should keep in mind. Ultra-trendy is not a good barometer of whether something is office appropriate or not. In fact, I would say that if something is that trendy, you should be cautious because it’s highly likely that it’s pushing some boundaries.

                1. Sloanicota*

                  Yeah, I remember the year that all those cut-out-shoulder tops were really big, and at the time, I’m pretty sure most of the commenters agreed that it wasn’t really a work-appropriate – but I bet that has changed over time and wouldn’t be nearly so eyebrow raising now as it was. We’re more used to it, we saw it on TV as professional dress (which whether I like to admit it or not, does influence my opinion of what is professional) etc etc. My initial impression of a crop top at work is very negative – I think I rolled my eyes and thought “this is why offices have to write stupid dress codes in the first place, because otherwise someone is going to say it’s fine to show up in just a bra and panty set and argue there’s no rule against it – but thinking about younger people’s fashions has helped me be more empathetic now.

              2. Gnome*

                True, but once something really has hit, it tends to show up at least a little in the first 100 options

            2. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

              They are all over the place at Old Navy. I find a shirt that looks like I’d like it, then look closer and see “cropped” in the title. Errrr.

              1. Toots La'Rue*

                I hate that too! I have a pretty good hack for that if you’re short like me though – Old Navy offers most things in petite / regular / tall, so if I like a shirt but it looks like it’s going to be short I order it in tall to get the extra coverage.

            3. Cascadia*

              I work in a high school and can confirm that MANY students are wearing crop tops and have been for the past 1-2 years. They are definitely on trend. Look at H&M, Forever21, Zara and the like – they are fast fashion and will show you what is currently popular amongst the young folks.

              1. CoHikerGirl*

                I started noticing crop tops back in like 2018ish (time has no meaning…it was prior to the pandemic!). The high schoolers were definitely wearing them quite a bit. BUT. Also pairing them with high-waisted pants. It’s not like people are wearing the low-rise jeans of the 2000s with the crop tops!

                That being said…a few people in my office wear crop tops. With high rise bottoms. Every single one has looked fabulous and put together. We don’t have clients coming into our office and it’s a more relaxed atmosphere. I think the style of crop top (some look casual, some look more dressy) makes a difference, too.

              2. Shakti*

                I’ve been wearing crop tops since 2014! They’ve been on trend since then! I do think like anything it really depends on the fabric and the amount of skin showing. A low crop top with a high waist in a good material wouldn’t be out of touch with office norms, but it’s risky and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it in a conservative setting. That said that office doesn’t seem conservative so they just might be out of touch with trends

              3. londonedit*

                Yep – a while back it was like we were back to the 90s in terms of the things teenagers were wearing, and now it seems we’ve moved on to the early 00s because all the young girls I see around here seem to be wearing crop tops with baggy cargo pants (it reminds me of the sort of thing the band All Saints used to wear in the late 90s/early 00s, but with higher waists than the ridiculous low-rise trend of 20 years ago). Crop tops are definitely not appropriate for the office, though, unless you work somewhere incredibly young and trendy (I work in an industry with casual standards of dress, and a crop top would definitely still not be appropriate).

            4. Unaccountably*

              Not many people looking for trendy clothes – or clothes to wear to a reasonably-paid office job, for that matter – shop for them at Amazon or Kohl’s. I’d be surprised if many people under the age of 50 shop for clothes in either place.

              If you’re looking for trendy clothes, you’re looking in the least likely spots imaginable to find them.

              1. FrumpyMillennial*

                As a 32 year old who has been purchasing 75% of her office clothes from Kohls since graduating from college- and regularly seeing colleagues doing the same, this feels unnecessarily hostile. Remember that clothing trends can vary based on locale. Those of us who work outside of major cities may not be boutique shoppers.

                1. Gnome*

                  I’m in a major city. I HATE boutique shopping. Actually, I hate all clothes shopping.

                  There are women who love it and can’t imagine that there are folks who just don’t, I guess.

                  Obviously, I am NOT into fashion :)

                2. quill*

                  Yeah, kohls doesn’t fit me but if it did it would have been a major source of my professional wardrobe. Heck, any place that sells reasonably priced clothing that was local to me during the middle of my 20’s would have been, which is why basically every solid colored tank top I own comes from the gap. And I own a lot of the things because darkwash jeans + solid colored tank top / fitted t-shirt + cardigan (so I can shed a sweater layer for a lab coat layer) is the easiest way to dress for my job.

                3. Annie Moose*

                  I don’t think it’s hostile to say that people who are particularly interested in new trends aren’t likely to be buying them from Kohl’s. That’s just the reality of Kohl’s. It’s a perfectly fine store, I own plenty of things from Kohl’s, but its target market is more basics aimed at an adult/middle-aged audience than up-to-the-minute trends. It’s not some kind of insult to state that fact.

                4. Unaccountably*

                  It’s not hostile to say that people looking for trendy clothes don’t look for them at Kohls any more than it’s hostile to say that people looking for good fusion food don’t look for it at McDonald’s, or that people looking for trendy haircuts don’t go to Supercuts for them. They’re different markets. What sells to a Zadig & Voltaire market wouldn’t sell to a Kohls market even if they were the same price.

                  Your username proudly declares that you’re “frumpy,” but you’re saying that it’s hostile to observe that places like Kohls – where you, FrumpyMillennial, shop – carry clothes that are, well, frumpy. I’m not sure how to interpret that, so I’m just going to express my puzzlement and move on.

              2. Temperance*

                I’m in my 30s and have picked up stuff at Amazon. Kohl’s, not so much, but that’s only because my local Kohl’s trends towards super matronly stuff or athleisure. I don’t think that’s universal.

              3. Gnome*

                I’m on my 40s and hate shopping. So, yeah, I shop there. I also am short with curves and broad shoulders so boutique shopping would be a nightmare. It’s hard enough to find clothes that fit without taking all my weekends for six months to do it.

                I’m not saying those are the height of fashion, just that the trend isn’t far enough along for it to show up there, so I hadn’t noticed it.

                1. Hilda*

                  Just jumping in to suggest Torrid! As a fellow person with similar descriptors who also hates shopping, I’ve found some pretty good office-wear there! Especially when they’re running sales or clearance.

                2. pancakes*

                  Not the main point, but I want to add that there are some easy to use websites that consolidate items from independent boutiques and designers. Garmentory and Wolf & Badger both do that, and I’ve bought several items from both. In my experience boutiques are often better than big chains about telling you the measurements of the garment and the size the model is wearing, which really helps finding the right size.

              4. Lady Danbury*

                Millennial here. I do all sorts of shopping on amazon, including work clothing and going out clothes. There’s also a whole genre of amazon shopping blogs run by women in their 20s and 30s. It’s no Fashion Nova but you can definitely find all sorts of trendy clothing on there if you know how to look.

                1. TrainerGirl*

                  Very true. I went to Las Vegas for a concert a couple of months ago, and found my whole (very cute!) outfit on Amazon.

            5. Orange+You+Glad*

              The trend is in more for the younger generation. I was at Kohl’s this week and the juniors section is all crop tops. The teenager I was shopping with bought a few. I would associate this trend with teens/college-age young adults.

              Crop tops were last in fashion in the late 90s when I was a teen and they were not allowed at school (public school with barely a dress code but still clearly said no midriff showing). I would never even think that someone would wear one to work of any kind, let alone in an office setting.

            6. JenB*

              What? Kohls literally has a filter for crop tops on the website, that is how popular they are right now. There are 556 on the site right now.

            7. Avril Ludgateau*

              Counterpoint: I just bought myself a crop top with balloon sleeves and matching maxi skirt at a local boutique. I live in the ‘burbs and while I think this shop is decently fashion-forward, it’s not on the cutting edge, most of the pieces are like “slightly trend-flavored ‘slow fashion’ staple items”, and the clientele leans older millennial/younger gen X rather than gen Z. I would not wear this to work, but other than the ~inch of midriff between where the top lands and where the skirt sits, it’s a pretty modest outfit (long sleeves, loose lines, covered from neck to wrist to ankle except for that little peek of skin in the middle).

              Point being, where you shop definitely determines what you see!

            8. Angel*

              I don’t often shop, but when I do go to TJ Maxx for new tops it’s a nightmare to find blouses that can pass the modesty check. I’ve brought home tops that looked fine, but when I put them on the cut would be too low, the neckline too wide, or there would be sexy holes I didn’t notice before. Even now most of my tops show cleavage if I bend over so slightly, and up till a couple years ago I used to wear camisoles until I decided to **** it it’s just cleavage we’re all adults get over it.

              I get that things like crop tops or body suits may be Too Much in an obvious way, but there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to women’s fashion and we do live in a sex-obsessed society that doesn’t confine itself to nightclubs. Rather than to (STILL) asking women to dress in a way that you prefer in the office, mind your own business and focus on how to get your work done. Some of us are at work literally just for the paychecks and not much else, we don’t have time for this nonsense.

          3. Daisy-dog*

            I wear crop tops. I don’t wear them to work because they are all t-shirts and my work isn’t that casual. All of my crop tops are long enough to go a couple inches below the waistband of my jeans. I do not show any skin. It’s just a different silhouette. I like the look with looser fitting jeans because I don’t look like I’m being swallowed by clothes. Now, if I reach for something, you would be able to see a little bit of my midsection.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              “All of my crop tops are long enough to go a couple inches below the waistband of my jeans.”

              I thought crop tops were the ones that go a couple inches above your navel? It seems like a top that goes below the waistband of your jeans is just a normal, non-cropped top?

              1. A Wall*

                A crop is anything that’s shorter than the cut would normally be, so say a sweatshirt that ends a little higher instead of having a band at the bottom is called cropped even though it might go all the way down to your backside. The overall shape of them and how they lay on you will be different than something the same length but not cut to be a crop.

                Your waistband also makes a difference, I have a bunch of cropped shirts I wear with high waisted pants so they both end around the same place.

              2. AnotherOne*

                I picked a crop top up from target the other day that hits maybe just below my navel. i’m pretty confident that with high wasted pants, i’ll be comfortable with it. (which are handily in style- also probably why crop tops are so on trend.)

                but i’m pretty confident that even though the shirt looks office appropriate on a hanger, i’ll never wear it to the office.

              1. A Wall*

                Nah, it’s definitely a thing. If you look around at some retailers you’ll see shirts marked as crops for a specific shape like that. They are just a little bit shorter but cut much boxier, hence why they go over the waistband but will potentially show stomach if you’re reaching over your head or something.

                1. Not a crop top*

                  No, the literal definition is “does not cover the midriff.” The stores can market them that way, but they aren’t truly crop tops.

                2. A Wall*

                  Ok friend, if the argument you’re making is “lots of people and all the stores call them crop tops but I’m a Crop Top Originalist and it means only what I personally think it means,” then by all means go ahead. But if I call my shirt a crop top, your opinion isn’t gonna jump out my computer and cut it five inches shorter, so let’s assume that if anyone else in this thread says crop top that they might mean it the other way.

                3. amoeba*

                  Also, your trousers can also cover the majority of your midriff, so it’s a bit futile to argue when it’s covered and when it isn’t? I mean, there’s easily, like, 20 cm of difference between super-low-rise and super-high-waist… So if your trousers go above your navel (which, nowadays, a lot of them do), that’s really not a problem.

              2. Daisy-dog*

                Waistband was meant to indicate the top of the jeans which are not actually at my true waist. The super high rise jeans (with stretch!) go several inches above my true waist.

              3. alienor*

                There are crop tops, and then there are “cropped” tops which end at or near the waistband. That latter type can be tricky because they look work-safe in the photo on a website, but as soon as you raise your arms or move the wrong way while wearing one, your stomach is showing.

              4. RagingADHD*

                But that depends on where the waistband hits you, right? Waistbands can hit anywhere from barely above the pubic bone to just below the ribcage, and on some people that’s a longer spread than others.

            2. Not a crop top*

              If it goes a couple of inches below your waist, it’s not a crop top. A crop top shows the navel. You may be wearing cut-off shirts, but that isn’t a crop top.

              1. Daisy-dog*

                The jeans are super high. If I wore it with different pants, you’d see my belly button. I just don’t wear it with those pants.

              2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

                This whole argument is why both the OP and their employer should be more specific. What you are picturing as a crop top and what they actually wore (and was presumably described by a retailer as being a crop top) might be vastly different.

                1. Lydia*

                  I don’t think it’s necessary to be that specific, honestly. If they wrote a dress code and included “no crop tops,” anyone asking for a definition of what a crop top is would be seen as pedantic and looking for loopholes instead of just going with the wider definition of a crop top being something that exposes a part of your mid-drift.

                2. pancakes*

                  Agreed, Lydia. It’s easy enough (and direct) to just say, no exposed midriffs at work.

            3. sofar*

              I am a people manager, in my 30s and I wear crop-tops and knotted tees with higher waistbands to work. My crop-tops hit at my belly button or right above. I wear long jean skirts, jeans and other bottoms that hit right at or above my belly button. I shop at Madewell and ASOS, basically.

              It’s a flattering silhouette for me, as someone with a long torso. My outfits are thought-out, and I’m groomed. It would also irritate me if I got called out when Andy three cubes over is wearing athletic shorts, a shirt with holes in it and flip-flops. And Karen’s wearing crocs, jean shorts and no bra.

              Granted, I work for a big media company, so we have men and women wearing crop-tops; off-shoulder tops; cutoff jean shorts; athleisure, etc. A lot of these things have moved on from “trendy for teens” to “what you’ll find at mainstream clothing retailers.”

              For LW, I feel like there’s a difference in her wearing a bralette exposing her entire midriff and a crop-top with high waist pair of jeans. Hard to say without looking at her outfit.

          4. Evens*

            And once again, the comments section is terrible for new-to-the- workplace readers. Are your seriously defending crop tops in an office setting? They are totally inappropriate nearly all of the time! Please, stop giving bad advice on the comment section.

            1. Observer*

              This is a ridiculous over-reaction. Yes, it’s terrible advice – just because something is super trendy or the “in fashion” for casual wear doesn’t make it appropriate for the office, and the OP needs to understand that.

              But “the comments section” is not pushing a defense on crop tops in the office. *ONE* commenter seems to be doing so. You can disagree with them without this kind of hyperbole.

              1. A Wall*

                And really, what most folks are saying is just that the comments assuming the LW was wearing a shirt that truncates just beneath her bra strap with some low rise pants and calling her a big dummy for wearing that to work is like… The least helpful possible response.

                Most of us have made some choices in dress that we look back on with embarrassment, so acting like this indicates a lack of judgment in her as a person is a lot. Haven’t we all been there? Also, she already got in trouble for this and is expressing that she is already embarrassed and frustrated because she thought she was correctly matching the way everyone around her dresses. Just saying she should have known better doesn’t help clear it up for her.

                Pure fact is that understanding the culture of professional dress in a new setting (new to working, new to a certain field, new to a specific company), especially for women, is to know an understand a lot of things that really don’t operate with any internal logic or consistency. It also means navigating around all the workwear sold in stores or shown on TV that is actually against the rules, and magically knowing which casual/trendy outfits are potentially allowable at work vs not. Plenty of stuff you could wear to grandma’s house is frowned upon at a lot of jobs, but then at many others the exactly same outfit would be fine. It’s tricky! None of us have gotten it right every time, I bet.

                1. Smithy*


                  I’ll add to this that most of us don’t work at places where that feedback around women’s clothing is given directly. I used to work for a woman who yelled, shouted, and was considered mean (also by herself). And while her style of radical honesty absolutely crossed the line into “just mean”, it also meant that on the two times I did miss the mark on what to wear in advance of two work events, she told me to go home and change. With enough time to do so and in one case, paid for the additional taxi fare required.

                  I worked there for three years and for both events in question, she was correct that I was dressed wrong and I can also look back with empathy on where I made the mistakes. In both cases, my initial take on the events was one where “light business casual skirt/shirt” would work. And due to the condition of my clothing (be it failed laundry, cheap items, hot weather, commute, whatever), I looked more wrinkled, less polished, less finished. Ultimately, in both cases a better read on the events would have business formal. My boss got that, corrected me, I changed clothes and in both cases was happy for the opportunity.

                  She never held these incidents up as major failures in judgement and she didn’t even ask me to show her my new outfits. She just said – this is wrong and needs to be changed. So it both conveyed that she trusted me that most of the time I was getting it right but this time did get it wrong. Both times however, it was initially very embarrassing but considering the round about nature this OP was told….it’s just very clear that doesn’t often happen.

              2. Elsajeni*

                And even to describe the one comment this is in direct response to as “defending” crop tops in an office setting seems like a bit of a stretch — it’s someone noting that yes, they’re seeing people in crop tops more often these days, and seemingly agreeing with the person they replied to that they can see how, especially with the longer varieties of cropped top, someone might put together an outfit that they thought passed muster for the office. If that’s a defense of the crop top as workwear, it’s an awfully tepid one.

          5. Koalafied*

            Indeed, fashions come and go and come around again. I have a very short torso and defined waist/big hips, so crop tops actually fit me like normal tops and normal tops bunch up around my hips and make it look like I have no waist. The last time stores sold shirts that fit me correctly was the late 90s. When this trend came back around again I made sure to stock up this time, because I know in a few years the pendulum will swing back to long tunics being the standard again.

        2. Smithy*

          Yes, this strikes me the same as the “cold shoulder” top when it emerged/came back in the early 2010’s. At first the workplace feedback was far more around how this was only for the clubs and never appropriate, but it became so trendy and with so many versions that it ultimately did become quite common place in business casual dress.

          Crop tops might not make or might just be a few years away from hitting that more appropriate business casual fit in the way that yoga pants, cold shoulder tops, and skinny jeans have.

          1. No-name Dresser*

            I hope crop tops do not become common office wear. What’s next? Halter tops and hot pants? Bikinis and mankinis in hot days?

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Crop tops were very popular for teens & young women in the early to mid 90s. It seems like the fashion nostalgia for that time period is hitting now.

              But you can still buy non crop tops for professional wardrobes, just like you could then. (Thank goodness! Because I do not look good in those fashions like I did then.)

              1. Phryne*

                I remember in the nineties of early 2000 there was also a trend of having the straps of a string showing at the back and hips over very low waisted trousers. I sure hope never to see that trend return to fashion. And doubt it will ever make it into the office if it did.

                1. Maggie*

                  Don’t look at any Gen Z fashion, media or shows then lol, it’s already back. Trends come and go and recycle and some we cringe at and some we don’t, who cares? Somebody’s thong hanging out doesn’t infringe on my rights

              2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

                ( warning body feels) Even when I was young and thin I was too modest for crop tops, but now that I’m middle aged I don’t want to be mixed with thr children ( anyone under 18 or so) at work

            2. Smithy*

              Under the larger umbrella of challenges women face in the workplace, I do think a piece around women’s professional clothing is how much fashion impacts it. On the one side, it means that clothing that was professional and appropriate 10 or even 5 years ago may not really work anymore but looking forward it’s that entry point of trends, high fashion or club wear slowly making its way into the work place.

              Platform heels, leggings, jeans, cold shoulder tops, bare shoulders, short skirts, shorts – at one point all of those were hard no-no’s for women in professional office jobs OR primarily viewed as being clothing associated with young people or clubs. The versions of all of those items that are more common in business casual attire are very often not the versions worn in nightclubs, but it takes time.

              A tight crop top with low rise pants gives me one kind of belly imagery and associated more with youth and night life. But I’m also envisioning a version of a loose crop top in heavier material or even a knit fabric more associated with business casual attire worn with high wasted wide leg or loose trousers where the amount of belly skin shown is minimal with the overall effect becoming viewed as more business casual.

            3. quill*

              No, it will cycle back around in the nostalgia wheel to super low waisted pants. The thing that varies is the cut of the “Basic” garment (so waist height, relative fittedness / boxiness) not the type of garment that is considered basic.

              Currently crop top or short and boxy is the thing with basic blouses, basic t-shirts, and high waisted is the thing with basic pants, since the 30 year nostalgia cycle has landed us in the late 80’s / early 90’s. Not looking forward to the standard shape of pants heading back into the 00’s, or the inevitable fact that the standard length of shirts won’t catch up with them for me for probably quite some time.

              1. alienor*

                I’m in for it when low-rise pants come back again. The first time around I was a young-looking 30 and could still get away with that silhouette, but it’s going to be a problem when I’m 60 and that’s all there is in the store.

                1. quill*

                  I’m just extra long in the hips department, so they’ve never been a good cut for me in regards to staying where they are supposed to.

                2. TrixM*

                  I saw some low rise jeans in a shop window yesterday. What I WISH is that we had pants with different rises in the stores all the time. Low-medium work best for me, but good luck finding those in store.

            4. Angel*

              And what’s wrong with that? The premise of a job is money in exchange of our skills and labor, isn’t it?

          2. mairona*

            I could end up eating my words in a few years, but I don’t think crop tops will ever become widespread acceptable work attire. I have no problem with crop tops in most public settings (having been a teen in the 90s myself), but there’s just something weird about seeing your coworker’s belly!

          3. AskJeeves*

            I loathe cold shoulder tops personally, but definitely would not be surprised to see someone wearing that in an office. The ubiquity makes it feel more acceptable, since you just get used to seeing the style around all the time. When leggings were first becoming popular, I thought it was so odd to wear them without something covering your butt. Now…those are basically the only pants I wear.

            1. Lydia*

              Most offices would still ask you to cover your butt. Not all, clearly, but most. It was an ongoing argument we had with the young femme people in my previous job. Wear a long sweater, wear them under your skirt, wear them with a tunic, but please don’t wear them as standard pants.

              (I worked in career training and we were trying to demonstrate professional dress, so it was a relevant conversation.)

          4. sofar*

            I remember the controversy about cold-shoulder tops. I found that so silly because people would RAIL against them, meanwhile women were wearing, like, sleeveless shift-dresses that bras peeked out of and that ALSO showed shoulder blades. These days, cold-shoulder tops are so commonplace that nobody bats an eye.

            Meanwhile, people are like *gasp* about crop tops. But if you wear one that hits at your bellybutton with a high-waisted skirt, they show no more skin when you raise your arms than someone in a regular top and regular-rise jeans. “Crop top” is a pretty wide category, LW isn’t necessarily going Britney-Spears-in-2001 here.

        3. EPLawyer*

          I have found that what is on trend or in fashion for “work wear” really often isn’t acceptable for most offices. Anyone remember Suits with Shorts? (just blooming pick one, casual or suit, don’t mix them). Or see through blouses?

          So the fact they are on trend for what those in the business of selling clothes say is acceptable workwear doesn’t make them workwear. if you have to look a little harder to find something its worth it. Because basic workwear will always be in acceptable in an office.

          1. PhyllisB*

            When I was in San Francisco back in the 90’s I saw men wearing business suits with the pants being knee length. Looked extremely odd.
            When city shorts were a thing I had a very nice looking suit that I wore to work and even to church once. The pants really looked more like culottes (or a divided skirt) and no one ever seemed to realize they were shorts. Didn’t wear but a few times. Even though it was a very nice outfit I felt as uncomfortable as if I was wearing a bikini to work.

          2. Ope!*

            Also could come down to how they’re styled – just because you see them on a mannequin doesn’t mean thats real world appropriate ways to wear them.

            As someone with a short torso, I like cropped business tops to wear with high waisted skirts or over sheath dresses. They hit my natural waist well, but I never wear them in a way that reveals any skin.

            Unfortunately this (ie, figuring out dress codes without being told) is a learned skill for many people and often tied to class. From a blue collar family, I definitely didn’t get any indication of what to expect from office wear via childhood osmosis of my parent’s wardrobes. We had a separate washing machine for work clothes so the oil didn’t ruin everything else!

            1. Minimal Pear*

              Yes I also have a short torso! Pretty sure some of my nice office tops count as crop tops technically, but they are NOT on me–they easily tuck into my high-waisted bottoms.

          3. soontoberetired*

            oh yeah. Our HR had to keep telling people suits with shorts were not acceptable through part of the 90s unless you were actually working in landscaping outdoors! it was a weird fashion trend.

          4. Lily Rowan*

            Haha! This thread was just reminding me of my Formal Shorts I got when I graduated from college in the 90s and how they were not actually appropriate for the very conservative office I was working in. (That was a fun set, though — I had a long skirt, the shorts, and two jackets that all coordinated.)

          5. Lucy P*

            I’m the persnickety one who would normally agree with you. I grew up with a Dad who ironed his jeans. If we went out to eat or to the movies, Sunday best was required. I carried that formality into adulthood. I was appalled when the new person in the office wanted to wear t-shirts or sports jerseys on Fridays (our local American football team was having a really good year that year). Earlier this year when someone in production wore a button down shirt with torn off sleeves, I inwardly cringed. Thus, I would have never thought crop tops appropriate .

            Now, we’ve had a few weeks of really high heat in our area. The office A/Cs have had so much trouble keeping up, that it’s been 87 degrees F inside at closing time. Today is forecasted to be 100 degrees outside with a heat index of 118. My work wardrobe has taken a significant change. My go-to shoes are now my casual walking sandals. Thin cotton tops have replaced work blouses. If I didn’t have a client coming to the office today, I would be wearing knee length shorts.

            Do I still think crop tops are inappropriate for the office-Yes! But I also think the same about the other clothing that OP mentioned that their coworkers are wearing.

          6. Anon Bermudian*

            I’m from Bermuda. Even here, women don’t wear Bermuda shorts to work (for the most part) and there are rules about how men wear their Bermuda shorts based on formality. The formal equivalent would be a specific type of Bermuda shorts with blazer, button up, tie, knee length socks and dress shoes. You’d decrease the formality by some dropping the blazer/tie, less formal shorts materials, more casual shoes/shirts and/or shorter socks. Many of the Bermuda shorts outfits in magazines would not be viewed as office appropriate here, depending on how formal your office is.

          7. Susanna*

            EXACTLY, EPLawyer. You adapt to office norms. The office is not required to adapt to you.

        4. Missy*

          I’m an attorney and every few years the trend for workwear, and I’m talking about the stuff you see at higher end department stores, is not at all appropriate for court. There was a trend of “professional shorts” in women’s suiting. These were suit sets with a blazer, professional top, and then…shorts. They were high quality material and expensive, and also…shorts. They had this in men’s suiting also. Blazer and Bermuda shorts. And articles in fashion magazines calling it perfect for work. And maybe it would be if you worked for a fashion magazine, but not for court.

          I’m sure the crop top problem is happening now like the shorts did then.

          1. Avril Ludgateau*

            I’m a weirdo, but I wish short suits had taken off. I find them adorable and kind of twee, but in the best possible way. There’s a frivolity and whimsy to them.

            I totally understand they’re not professional attire – probably for exactly the reasons I love them! – but I find them delightful.

            1. pancakes*

              I have a vintage 1940s (I think) light wool tweed skort suit, presently in storage. It’s fun to wear but a bit costume-y for work. Historically it has felt that way, at least — there is a bit more leeway now because co-ord looks are having a moment, but I haven’t worked in an office since years before the pandemic so it’s not as I’m thinking of wearing it to work.

          2. pancakes*

            Yes. I have never once seen anyone wearing them in an office or a courthouse and don’t particularly expect to!

        5. Jora Malli*

          Yeah, my friends and I have been joking for months about how we wonder when Target’s going to start selling whole shirts again.

          1. Student*

            Seriously! My local Target-level clothing stores are also selling a lot of “hippy” styled clothes in addition to tons of crop-tops; tie-dye, decorative knots in weird locations, bright-colored paisley. It’s very much not my style for non-work clothes, and an absolute no for work clothes in my rather conservatively-dressed industry. “Next season” cannot arrive fast enough for me.

        6. RussianInTexas*

          “Right now crop tops and “cropped” tops are so trendy as to make it difficult to find anything that isn’t”
          That is really not the case. Not at all whatsoever. I, for one, do not own a single crop top, and I’ve bought some new clothes recently. I am a plus size, so yes, all sizes sell work appropriate not crop-tops.

          1. Observer*

            That’s true. But that assumes that you are willing to shop in places that are not the epitome of trendiness. Upthread, someone mentioned that she looked at Kohl’s and Amazon, and saw very few crop tops. The response was that those are not places that are known for being trendy. Which is true, but missed the basic point that it is very easy to find non-crop tops if you are willing to spend literally an extra 10 minutes to check out some new clothing sources. And are willing to dress in clothes that are not the most trendy casual clothes.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              Most office wear is not the This Moment Most Trendy Clothes anyway. That’s been true 20 years ago when I was in my early 20s and still true when I am in my early 40s.

          2. Orange+You+Glad*

            Yup. I commented earlier that I was shopping at Kohl’s this week and spent nearly $300 on a new work-appropriate wardrobe (hooray return to the office -_-) while during the same trip the teenager I was with bought a few crop tops in the juniors section. It’s pretty clear in the store which section is for fun youthful casual fashion and which is suiting/business-casual wear.

        7. quill*

          Coming from a lab safety environment where I assume everything south of the armpits stays covered for safety reasons, it would genuinely never occur to me to wear a crop top to work, but enough offices without any safety concerns lean towards “dressy casual” that I can imagine someone newer to the workforce than me might assume that following this fashion was fine.

          1. amoeba*

            But the lab coat covers the midriff anyways, so actually, I think in our labs, crop tops wouldn’t be a problem at all – much unlike open shoes, any kind of skirts, anything shorter than full-length trousers…

            1. quill*

              I’ve splashed myself often enough that if a solvent goes through the coat it’s less fun to get on your skin than it is to get it on your shirt beneath the lab coat.

              Then again, most labs don’t give you the option to splash octanol down your front…

        8. Susanna*

          “Trendy” doesn’t make it work appropriate. Yes, styles change and things have gotten more casual – I work in DC and there was a time I would never have gone to the Hill without wearing a blazer or suit, and would not have gone to the Whole House without stockings. But baring your stomach? No. Unless you’re a lifeguard or lingerie model. The workplace is not primarily a place of self-expression.

        9. Shan*

          Yes, I was coming in here to say exactly this – if you’re into fashion blogs/magazines/etc, there have been loads of features over the past few years on ‘office attire’ that feature crop tops with blazers. So I absolutely understand how someone – especially someone younger, who is newer to the workforce and is more likely to be ‘trendy’ – would think they were okay to wear. And in some industries, they would likely be right.

        10. Clobberin' Time*

          Come now. It isn’t “difficult” to find office attire that isn’t a crop top.

        11. Batgirl*

          They’ve been trendy before, though, and they weren’t acceptable office attire then either. We had a work experience person twenty years ago who came in one day in smart pants paired with a crop top, because as a teenager she was just used to wearing one, and because we didn’t have an explicit dress code beyond “no jeans or leisure wear”. My really blunt boss sent her home to change in a firm but kind way, (he would have let her do the day in the office but he needed her to go to court) and she knew from that day forward.

        12. Snuck*

          Since time immemorial we’ve had to shop selectively for clothes for parties, beach wear, work and casual.

          So when shopping for work clothes drop the crop tops, the ultra mini skirts, the short shorts and the ripped jeans look back out of your shopping cart and buy things that are work sensible. If the shops you are in don’t have enough range for you to select from then shop in stores that do. The best guide for what to wear is to look at what your colleagues are wearing, and particularly the ones that you aspire to be like in the future. Dress for the job you want is so very important still. And while shops might say something is work appropriate they aren’t in your workplace, they are in the business of selling as many items as they can to as many people as they can, and thus while that crop top might be work appropriate in one workplace, is it appropriate in yours?

          There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a killer stomach and wanting to flaunt it, but unless your actual paid job REQUIRES you to flaunt it then it’s not work? We don’t know the industry the OP is in, but if it’s a conservative one then a big part of her future success will be in understanding the norms and learning to slide between them. As you progress in your career you will have more weight to contest the norms but early on in your first few years you are not there yet.

        13. Snuck*

          OP … if you think you have to cover it with a blazer to make it ‘work appropriate’ even when it’s hot enough that you don’t want to wear the blazer during the day in the office… then it’s not work appropriate.

          It’s really that simple. If it needs a blazer to pass muster to the casual observer, then it needs one IN the office too.

        14. anonagoose*

          I don’t actually think it’s that hard to find non-cropped tops. I will note here that I’m in my early twenties and usually do shop in “trendy” places, but I’ve never actually had an issue finding full-length shirts to wear either professionally or casually. My experience has been that a lot of stores are actually moving towards offering the same or similar shirts in a variety of lengths as well as colors and materials, which is great for me personally due to my build, but also means that finding non-crop tops is not hard even if you limit yourself to trendy young-people stores. And this has been my experience at several different price points and times of year.

          TLDR: I’m not trying to discount anyone’s experience and this may be a regional thing, but personally, I think the claims that it’s hard to find “non-crop tops” are wildly overblown.

        1. The Starsong Princess*

          I had to explain to someone that a bustier is not appropriate office attire one time. She thought it was allowed because she was wearing a transparent shrug over it. I’ve also had to explain to a guy that a torn tank top isn’t appropriate as well.

      3. June*

        Upvote. Wearing a crop top to work at anything other than a beach setting is ridiculous. Wearing one to an office and trying to justify it shows a total lack of understanding of common office norms. There doesn’t need to be a dress code. Adhere to the common sense code.

        1. Snuck*

          It seems like someone is mixing up the Sunday Session with the office!

          Just because someone in a catalogue somewhere mixed a crop top with a blazer and trousers doesn’t make it office wear!

      4. Dust Bunny*

        Was just getting on here to say this: In the US, at least, I can think of almost no work environments in which a crop top would be OK. They’re too casual for office environments and a safety (risk, if not formal violation) in most service-type jobs (crop top + deep-fryer has got to be a bad idea, right?).

        I’m not sure they’re officially banned at my job but they are definitely too casual–I suspect that we haven’t called them out simply because nobody has tried to wear one.

        1. AnotherOne*

          I’ve never worked in one but I imagine its would be fine in the fashion industry- as long as it’s appropriately styled. Possibly advertising.

          Basically offices were being fashionable and “in the know” is part of what you are selling.

        2. Clobberin' Time*

          Also given how many offices like to keep the thermostat at just shy of North Pole levels, how would you get through a day in one?

        3. morethanbeingtired*

          I have worn a crop top to work, but it was with very high waisted pants so no mid-drift was visible. And my office is casual. It was fine. A lot of the people in the comments here seem to be under the impression that a crop top can never be dressy – they very much can be. What’s important in an office setting is to just keep your mid-drift covered. It’s not so much the article of clothing itself, it’s how you wear it. If you have a crop top you really like and it’s nice material, you can pair it with something high waisted or layer it over a camisole or something to make it work.
          For example, this crop top paired with a high waisted skirt or slacks and a cardigan would be perfectly fine in most office settings:

          1. Seashell*

            Regardless of what J. Crew says, I wouldn’t even call that a crop top, since it goes a good four inches below her bustline.

      5. AnotherOne*

        I sorta want to know how cropped is “cropped.”

        Can you see the stomach only when LW1 moves a certain way? Or are a couple of inches of belly showing all day? Because there is a huge difference between the two.

        Though I admit I will never forget my coworkers who- during the brief but unfortunate period when office shorts were a thing- thought it was a good idea to wear them to the law firm we worked at.

        1. Student*

          While there exist “cropped tops” that don’t show the belly – the casual definition of a crop top is that it intentionally exposes your midriff. And AAM specifically explains these aren’t normal business attire because they expose the midriff.

          While I know clothing terms can get stretched by industry to accommodate a lot of things, I think we’d all be better off assuming that a crop top means the midriff is exposed unless the OP chimes in otherwise. I know I would’ve expected OP to explain if there were some mitigating reason they expected their specific crop tops to be considered acceptable at work – instead, they compared it to yoga pants when describing the level of casualness around their office.

          I view crop tops as being somewhere near pajamas, but still above swimsuits, in terms of apparel that is not appropriate for the office.

          1. amoeba*

            Sure. But there’s still a huge difference between, like one inch of skin and the whole midriff.
            Would definitely not suggest the latter for anybody – but most of what I see on the street/in shops tends to be in the former category, anyway.

        2. Batgirl*

          When I was very young I wore one that was a wide cut, long crop and it just skimmed over a high waist trouser. So, I may have shown midriff, but probably only if I reached for something. With the better understanding of workwear that I have now, I would not wear that kind of thing, but if I saw it on someone else I wouldn’t consider it ridiculous or naive like I would a short crop that shows all the abs.

        3. AnonymousReader*

          “I sorta want to know how cropped is “cropped.””

          ^This! I wear cropped button-ups to work but with high waisted pants AND a spaghetti strap or tank top underneath. My belly will never show. I do this because I’m a short pear and the current crop top trend (boxy but short) balances my hips. I also wonder if the crop top was boxy or tight? I think a lot of the readers when they read “crop top” they think of the dated skin-tight barely covered the chest kind of top but the current trend is boxy and a few inches below the natural waist.

      6. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        I think this might be a generational thing. Now, like doge above, I am absolutely not one to attribute any type of attitude thing to generational differences that can be attributed to personality or age instead. But I was very surprised the last couple years to find that young people I work with had this very same issue, and thought it was overstepping for their school or workplace to prohibit crop tops. I usually always side with people who want more flexibility in dress codes, but I can’t find it in me to think this rule is unfair or discriminatory, so long as boys are also prohibited from baring their abdomens (e.g. with tank tops cut down the sides, and of corse with crop tops themselves). I’m not very old and err on the side of freedom of expression whenever I can, so I don’t think I’m being an old fogey on this.

        But I think they are a staple of young peoples’ wardrobes in a way they have never been before, and the perception is different. If it’s a tasteful crop top, I would try to give a young person grace before judging them (but also still correcting them).

        1. Susanna*

          OK, agree that different generations have different idea of what’s attractive or trendy.

          But.. that isn’t the point. This is an OFFICE. They get to make the rules for what it appropriate at the office. Unless they are doing it in a way that is brazenly sexist or whatever (like, men can wear pants but women can’t), it’s their right to set general standards for appropriate attire. When I was a teen, halter tops were very popular and we all wore them. But not to school. And it definitely would not have been OK at an office.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      I do think that unofficial dress codes are one of those “hidden curriculum” things. You’re supposed to just kind of pick it up from your family growing up, but if you end up in a different kind of job, sometimes that info is just missing. “Professional” dress codes are pretty arbitrary, let’s face it, so it’s hard to just intuit.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        It is, but “generally and intentionally covered from armpits to mid-thigh, with your underwear — or lack thereof — generally not showing” is a good general guideline for decency in most offices, even casual ones, and things vary by office from there (I am very much reminded of the hubbub ~20 years ago about the show Ally McBeal, where the female lawyers wore suits with very short skirts, even to court, and in the public discourse, they were considered much too short for most offices that are not on TV).

        It’s not the end of the world if your top gapes a bit and shows more cleavage / chest than intended, or if your shirt comes untucked or rides up and shows your back or midsection for a moment. But avoiding clothes that are *intended* to expose places between the armpits and mid-thigh (or intended to display your underwear or lack thereof) is a note many people should be able to look around and intuit.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think TV shows’ completely fictional versions of what a lawyer wears, accountant wears, etc, contribute to the problem for young folk new to the task of picking up work-dress norms by osmosis, and then figuring out what’s “accountant” and what’s “accountant in her 50s.” (I got irrationally irritated with a show that showed someone with a finance internship wearing a pencil skirt and blazer with no blouse, like she wouldn’t have picked up that the workplace norm isn’t a blazer with no blouse or underwear.)

          1. pugsnbourbon*

            I was wondering if either a) OP had watched too much Selling Sunset or b) actually worked for the Oppenheimer Group.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            I think so, too, not that this is a new problem–remember Calista Flockhart and her underdressed lawyer role? I’m trying to help a new college grad find a job right now and we’ve had ongoing discussions of her very short, very tight, very low-cut everything and how just because you see professional women on TV with their first three buttons undone doesn’t mean that reflects real life.

            (Hilariously, I gave her an old nightshirt of mine awhile back when she was sick and she couldn’t stop talking about how comfortable it was. Yes, that’s a thing when your clothes aren’t strangling you.)

            1. AnotherOne*

              My mom worked at a bank and referred someone who had worked for my father (who managed a retail store) for a teller position.

              Huge difference in attire between what is appropriate to work in a retail store and what’s appropriate for a bank teller in the South. (You can imagine it though. It’s conservative dress. Just shy of what you’d wear to church.)

              My mom said there were a lot of conversations with the woman about how the low cut shirt she was wearing was not appropriate or what she was wearing was too tight. (And while obviously buying a new wardrobe is expensive. This was an area that had a ton of thrift stores so you could definitely find work appropriate clothing at affordable prices- even if they weren’t your first choice.)

          3. kiki*

            Yes! I think a lot of people get their early impressions of what people in certain careers wear to work based on TV and it’s rarely an accurate depiction. I’ve been watching Suits recently. While everyone looks amazing, most of the women on the show don’t dress at all like lawyers or legal professionals! The dresses the characters wear are gorgeous, but they’re not at all what most lawyers wear.

        2. metadata minion*

          And yet shorts are often not acceptable even when skirts that cover the same amount of leg are fine, and even seen as relatively formal.

        3. Batgirl*

          Oh, the skirt thing has been an issue since time immemorial, because the fashion industry sees young women as solely social creatures with no need for a job. So here’s the message young women (including myself) didn’t get from the fashion industry or TV; Wear a belt for a skirt at the weekend with your friends all you like! Make it sparkly, even! However, if it’s too short for you to pick up your dropped change/wear without opaques/a leotard underneath, then it’s too informal for work.

      2. Threeve*

        When you’re new to a workplace, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb to not be the most casually dressed person in the office–don’t be the person wearing the most revealing top or the most ripped up jeans. Common sense.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. It’s been surprising to see how many people don’t get it. It’s one thing to work somewhere for a month or two and then start adjusting your clothing to what you see others doing. But when you’re new, show up dressed nicely and not in extremely wrinkled clothing you literally pulled out of the dirty hamper, or ripped jeans and sneakers.

        2. lyonite*

          Good rule of thumb, though I did work in one place where my boss’s boss would regularly show up dressed like he was going to paint his garage (ripped jeans, ancient t-shirts he had gotten for free from vendors), so it would have been a pretty low bar there!

      3. L-squared*

        While I get that, there is also the ability to read the room. You should err on the side of over dressing as opposed to under dressing. I get that “business casual” has changed over the years, but if no one else is wearing crop tops, and you are one of the newer and/or younger hires, you probably don’t want to be the one to test those waters. I’d extend that to things like sandals as well. Its fine in some offices, and not in others. But if you are a newish hire, and no one else is doing it, you probably shouldn’t be the first one to do so.

        1. Jora Malli*

          Can we please not be so judgmental of this LW? She already feels bad about her conversation with her bosses, and if she’s younger and new to the working world she may have never had anybody to tell her what’s appropriate for work and what’s not.

          1. Observer*

            She feels bad but not because she made an error of judgement.

            So, she needs to recognize that, yes, her manager and her office have an issue, because there SHOULD be a written dress code and her manager should have addressed the issue much more clearly. BUT that does not change the fundamental issue that a crop top is just not appropriate in an office, even a casual one. There is nothing for her to “approach” – she just needs to change what she wears.

          2. Batgirl*

            I think OP probably looked awesome and terribly well put together… for a social occasion. However, a crop top just isn’t for the office and since she’s already been told but is still quite disbelieving of the fact, she really, really needs to know how wide of the mark she is.

          3. Angel*

            I’m more judgmental of most of the commenters here. Sure on some days we pretend to be do progressive and agree that we should do away with x, y, and z because they’re so outdated, but when crop tops do become acceptable attire (likely since have you seen whar Gen Zs look like?) just remember that you held an unusually strong opinion against them at this point in time.

            1. Unaccountably*

              There also seems to be a very distinct (generational?) split in what a “crop top” is. Someone upthread made a comment indicating that they believe a top is only cropped if it literally stops right below your breasts. Which indeed is what a crop top was! In the 1980s. When people my age were wearing them or seeing them worn.

              The 1980s were decades ago. Styles don’t come back in exactly the same way. When bell-bottom jeans were briefly in fashion again a couple of decades ago, they looked nothing like the 1960s bell-bottoms that you could fit a gaggle of small children under. They were more restrained versions of the same style.

              Similarly, regardless of whoever likes or dislikes it, the definition of a “crop top” now includes tops that sit at the waist or lower, but are higher than the hem of that kind of top would ordinarily be. No one who does not wear them, would not wear them, is not the target market, doesn’t work in marketing, and is not literally an editor at Vogue gets to decide that only shirts that show your entire midriff are allowed to be called crop tops. That phrase in the year of our Lord 2022 refers to a different kind of shirt than it did in the heyday of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I’m sorry, it just does.

    3. Viette*

      I agree on the basis of skin is just different than clothing, even tight clothing. Yoga pants are more modest than Daisy Duke shorts and a bodysuit is more modest than being naked.

      Don’t wear a bodysuit (by itself) to work.

      Ill-fitting clothing is harder to police, and it may get a pass where crop tops do not due to the intention being to cover the skin. But even then, if people were repeatedly wearing ill-fitting clothing that exposed skin, it would be appropriate for a manager to discreetly tell them that that isn’t up to the dress standards of that workplace.

      1. MK*

        I would hesitate to mention ill-fitting clothing because it can be a sensitive topic. A lot of the time it’s not that the person doesn’t shop well, it’s that they either have put on weight and their clothes don’t fit anymore, or midsize people who have a hard time finding clothes in their size. “Don’t wear crop tops” is at least an objective rule to follow.

        1. Viette*

          Totally agree with that. I only mean that if clothing was ill-fitting to the point of baring skin, repeatedly, then you could make an argument for gently telling the person that it doesn’t meet the standard — but it would feel a lot like telling someone whose personal hygiene had significantly deteriorated that they needed to be clean and presentable at work. Way less of an obvious line for an employee to cross before intervening, and way more fraught.

        2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          Also factoring in the expense. Replacing even 5-6 full outfits is a huge expense, even if you’re shopping at Target or Walmart. Including undergarments, bottoms, tops, cardigans, jackets, etc. you’re looking at $60 on the very low end and more like $100+. Even if the person bought one-piece items like dresses, that’s still $40+. Multiply that by 5 o6 and you’re looking at a hefty price tag.

        3. Meow*

          To play devil’s advocate a bit, I’m not sure “don’t wear crop tops” is entirely objective right now, since the current fashion is to wear cropped tops with high rise pants, which may or may not actually expose any skin.

          “no tops that show skin on the torso” or something similar but better worded is probably a better way to go.

          1. Lizard on a Chair*

            My high school’s dress code expressed this as “the top of the bottom should meet the bottom of the top.” Wear whatever style of clothing you want, but no midriff should be showing.

        4. quill*

          Stick with objective rules for dress codes, or you get dress codes that are all about how a specific thing appears on someone’s body. A rule stating that work attire should cover the entire midriff (or be intended to do so…) is a lot better than making high school dress code assumptions that some cut of top is OK on jane because she’s skinny, but Tangerina is showing far too much cleavage in the same square inches of neckline.

          1. Snuck*

            Agree. Keep it to the way clothes fit, not what they look like. And there’s little need to go gender specific even with this one.

            “Clothes that expose the midriff, excessive chest or shoulders” covers most scenarios. No crop tops, no bustiers, no side split tanks.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s entirely possible the manager stated this process by talking to someone about upgrading their ill-fitting stomach-revealing tops: “But OP shows her stomach all the tiiiiiime!”

      3. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

        I would also mention that it can be hard to determine whether or not clothes are ill-fitting when the stores are full of a seemingly endless parade of garments that are either intentionally oversized or intentionally skin-tight.

        Maybe fashion shouldn’t dictate work-appropriateness, but it can make finding things that meet this nebulous idea of appropriateness a whole lot more difficult. I’m looking for new work-type tops right now, and everything I’m finding is either cropped, flowy and ruffly to the point where I could lose a ham in there, or plagued with weird cutouts. The fact that I’m on the cusp between regular and plus sizes doesn’t help.

        1. quill*

          My least favorite is this year’s inability to make sleeves that don’t make my shoulders and chest look weird. Shirts should not pretend to make a valiant effort to cross my chest and then have a tent sticking out in front of my armpit.

        2. pancakes*

          That’s why it’s essential to try them on, hopefully before buying but definitely before wearing to work.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        I have a long torso and was a teen/twentysomething in the 1990s when all the t-shirts were short, anyway, and the solution here is to leave your blazer on. Or find a lighter-weight over-garment that you don’t need to take off.

        I haven’t found short tops to be the current trend, though–if anything, I keep finding shirts that are way too long even for me. It seems that everyone is trying to convince me that slim-cut unisex tees aren’t horrifically unflattering to pear-shaped women, so all I can find is shirts that go all the way down around my (very wide) hips.

    4. Stitch*

      I work in an office where jeans are the norm but there are certain office norms. No crop tops or off shoulder clothes, no shorts, no yoga pants, no sports jersey shirts, no hats, and no flip flops.

      Crop tops are often a no at generally casual places. When in doubt, no.

      1. Meow*

        My question is, why the heck is there so many sleeveless blouses out there when plenty of dress codes require sleeves. Infuriating. I don’t want to wear a dang blazer all day in the summer!

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          I get no spaghetti straps/bra straps showing but what is so wrong about sleeveless? I don’t get it. But then again, I’m extremely biased in this regards as I have wider shoulders and incredibly large/fat upper arms and am uncomfortable in 80% of sleeved shirts (I’ve almost had panic attacks trying on fitted shirts and/or blazers in stores because my range of motion is so limited). So I practically live in sleeveless shirts, even during winter.

          Personally, when determining if something is okay office wear, I think of a few co-workers wearing the item. If I don’t want to see it on even one of them, I don’t wear it to work. I wouldn’t care to see most of my co-workers in shorts/short skirts, therefore I don’t wear shorts or skirts shorter than midi length to work. So if you wouldn’t care to see your 60 year old boss or that guy in the mail room in a crop top, you might want to leave the crop top at home and wear something else.

          1. Ash*

            The sleeveless is often about armpits (like when you’re a hairdresser or a nurse who is close to clients/patients regularly, it’s not cool to have your exposed pits close to someone’s face). So at my workplace, cap sleeves are off-limits too.

        2. pancakes*

          Lots of city women who will be waiting on a hot subway platform before arriving at an air-conditioned office as cold as a meat locker want to dress in layers, though.

    5. Been There*

      Eh, I actually think this depends on your office culture. I have coworkers who wear croptops and it’s fine.

      1. another thought*

        Well I don’t want to see it. I will never have a body that will look ok in crop top. I don’t want to think about that at work.

        1. Jaina*

          OK? But your wants do not automatically take priority and there are workplaces where a crop top would be acceptable, though they are probably significantly fewer than those where they would not. And your own body issues are not really relevant.

          1. another thought*

            It’s quite relevant. If I came to work in a crop top I would immediately be told to change at any work place (or maybe even casual place) given my body shape. I also do think comfort comes into play. Otherwise we could just walk around naked and it’d be fine. We don’t because it would make people uncomfortable.

            1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

              I’d argue that if you were singled out and told not to wear a given style simply because someone else thought it was not flattering on you, but other colleagues were allowed to wear that style, then you would have grounds to contest that. But I still don’t think that your particular feelings about that style and your body automatically give you the standing to control other people’s fashion choices.

            2. Melemony*

              The way you feel about your body is for you to manage. If one is in a workplace that allows crop tops, one should be free to wear a crop top with complete abandon and no concern whatsoever for your feelings or personal issues.

              As a not particularly attractive woman with hair loss, I often feel a twinge in my heart at the many aesthetic choices that work for others but not me. And that sucks, but it would be totally unreasonable to expect anyone else to change their style to take account of my emotions.

              1. Avril Ludgateau*

                The way you feel about your body is for you to manage.

                THIS! I’m not even here to defend crop tops at work (though I’ve cheekily gotten away with it by wearing camisoles/tank tops underneath, so no skin shows) but I cannot think of a worse opposition to the practice than “well I’m insecure about my body so I don’t want to be reminded that you aren’t about yours.”

            3. Jaina*

              But most people are not going to be so irrationally uncomfortable with seeing a little bit of other people’s flesh as you are. You are an extreme outlier and I do not think it is fair or sensible to accommodate your issues to this extent. I don’t think it’s ever occurred to me to notice when someone is wearing a crop top or showing a little bit of flesh, because I don’t actually care.

              And if your workplace allows others to wear crop tops but not you, then that is discrimination and you should fight it. It’s not acceptable to make these decisions based on body size and shape. Either they are acceptable to wear or they are not. It’s not about YOUR body.

              1. Snuck*

                I don’t think she’s an extreme outlier though. Not in the whole workforce. She’s probably an outlier if you are looking at a younger demographic, but most people over about 35 probably have similar feelings to her, even if they are able to wear crop tops with aplomb.

                She’s actually expressing something that’s very very common amongst women who are not feeling confident about their figures, who are unattractive by society standards etc. The double standard is incredibly real.

                Should we police fashion choices because they make other people feel uncomfortable? Probably not. But should we also be making people who have had years of medical, health, fashion, customer service etc discrimination feel uncomfortable as well? Probably not. Both sides need to give a little I’d say. And a crop top 8 hours a day flashing belly in the office might be a reasonable place to compromise?

                1. pancakes*

                  You want me to assume that most women over 35 (I am 45 myself and not familiar with or a fan of this mindset, by the way) want other women to only wear modest clothing? No, I’m not willing to assume that people share a mindset about things like that simply on account of being similarly-sized. That’s not how my own mind works, that’s not how my friends’ seem to work, and that’s not something that needs encouraging.

            4. sagc*

              lol so if you worked at a gym or a pool, everyone would have to be covered up all the time? If work allows crop tops, then… what exactly are you going to say? “You’re making me feel bad by existing in your body”?

              1. anon for this*

                Yeah, I look like Tweedle Dee in every jumpsuit but I don’t expect others around me not to wear them so I don’t get a sads.

                1. Yoyoyo*

                  I am the Tweedle Dum to your Tweedle Dee in jumpsuits. I wish they looked good on me; they look so cool on other people!

            5. RussianInTexas*

              I don’t think crop tops are work appropriate and I don’t think they will ever look good on me, but your personal body image issues (and god knows I have my own) do not and should not dictate your office dress code.

          2. M2*

            Crop tops are not appropriate in most office settings. Maybe at Victoria Secret HQ, Sephora, the Ouai, but most offices crop tops would be considered not appropriate. Especially by taking off your blazer. If someone I managed wore a crop top to the office I would question their judgment in other areas and look over their work more closely to make sure they understood what was expected of them. I am also clear with the team about the clothing policy and what is expected.

            Honestly I don’t love yoga pants at work either, but ill fitting clothes are usually because someone has gained weight or can’t find something in their size. I don’t appreciate the LW who was told not to wear it then goes on the defensive about others wearing other types of clothes. To me it sounds like the LW is going after those who are not as thin as they are.

            One of my younger cousins only wears crop tops and basically booty shorts (I am also female) and was talking about her first internship this summer. I told her flat out she can’t wear that to an internship (I looked up the company) and needs to wear suits, dresses, nice slacks, etc. I even helped her find clothes in her closet over zoom. Her parents are well-off and her dad is a EVP at a top company, so I don’t know why he didn’t mention it, but she thanked me and told me she had no idea! Her parents never say “no” to her (even at a funeral she wore a similar outfit to this- so I talked to her after that as well) so I think she appreciated someone helping her a bit since her life revolves around social media where everyone is wearing this type of clothing. She’s in college so I have no idea what her professors think- one of mine said flat out you can’t wear pjs to class. That was the thing when I went to uni but now I guess it’s crop tops!

        2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Ok? Your discomfort with a particular fashion style is not the problem of anyone else. If what someone else is wearing fits in with what is accepted in your work place then it’s your issue to deal with.

        3. Been There*

          If you don’t feel comfortable in a crop top you don’t have to wear it. But that doesn’t dictate what somebody else is allowed to wear. I don’t feel comfortable in dresses, does that mean dresses should be forbidden in my office?

        4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Would you feel as strongly if someone wore a sari which revealed the stomach, to work? Is it just seeing someone’s stomach or is it seeing the stomach of someone wearing (mostly) traditional Western business dress? I’m trying to figure this out for myself. I’ve worked with a bunch of folks who wore saris to work and showed their stomach and that seemed fine to me, but I also have a knee-jerk “Nope!” reaction to a crop top, even one that showed 1-3 in of skin, and am trying to parse why

          1. Laura*

            But saris come in casual, professional/ smart and black tie/ evening etc. I bet you those women are wearing business professional/ smart saris not the ones they slob about in on a Sunday morning or whatever.

            I also assume that if a new intern from India came in and dressed in an in approapriate sari they would notice and talk to her.

            1. Ash*

              Yes, there is definitely a difference between professional, casual, and party saris. Material varies, the way of tying/draping the sari can differ, and the blouse can differ drastically to show more or less skin. It’s funny because in India, a sari is seen as much more modest than a woman wearing jeans and a top, despite the fact that the jeans and a top typically show less skin than a sari.

              1. Avril Ludgateau*

                It’s funny because in India, a sari is seen as much more modest than a woman wearing jeans and a top, despite the fact that the jeans and a top typically show less skin than a sari.

                Goes to show just how culturally influenced and variable our norms, esp. professionalism and perception thereof, are!

                Another one: when I lived in Japan, you could wear shorts and skirts so short you couldn’t modestly walk up stairs, as long as you didn’t show any cleavage. If you showed even a suggestion of boob, regardless of if you had long sleeves and baggy full-length trousers, you got unabashed stares and scoffs, and if you dared to show chest and arms, random old ladies would come up to you suggestively asking, “samui desu ne” (isn’t it cold?), no matter the ambient temperature .

                (That little anecdote relates to casual settings. Office attire in Japan, at least back then, was super rigid for men and women both. Basically black suit and white shirt, and pencil skirt preferred to pants for women.)

        5. Sylvan*

          I don’t really get that logic. Your body image doesn’t dictate what other people wear. A dress code and professional norms do.

          1. Student*

            They’re talking about fairness in dress codes. Dress codes are often enforced unfairly on the basis of the manager’s aesthetics, rather than on an objective basis with a formal dress code. Women with large breasts often get talked to about wearing clothes that are equivalent to what their co-workers wear, because a shirt that lays flat on a flat-chested women may highlight the curves or show a lot more cleavage on a large-chested woman. Women who are fat are often talked to about wearing the same style as their co-workers, simply because it shows parts of their body that their manager doesn’t enjoy seeing as much.

            If you design a “good” work dress code, you need to make it so that it’s just as acceptable for 21-year old women who are thin, 83 year old women who have wrinkles, and 40 year old women carrying a bunch of extra weight (setting aside the gendered aspects of dress codes for now, since that is its own discussion) within the bounds of your industry. If you’d be happy to have skinny 21-year-olds in crop tops around the office, but revolted by the 83-year-old in a crop top or the overweight 40-year old in the crop top, then crop tops are not okay at the office. I think we know that in the real world, the 83-year old and the overweight 40-year-old would be treated very differently by their clients, colleagues, and peers for wearing a crop top compared to the skinny 21-year old; so to design a good dress code, let’s not put things on the list that are only actually “acceptable” if you have a very narrow body type.

            1. Student*

              Also worth mentioning – the skinny 21-year-old wearing a crop top will also be treated very differently by clients and peers than her co-worker, a 21-year-old man wearing casual male-coded attire like jeans and a sports T-shirt.

              Some of this kind of thing we can fix with policies and training, but some we combat by not setting the 21-year-old skinny woman up to fail by telling her why the crop-top is not necessarily doing her professional favors in the long run.

              1. Snuck*


                While it’s not right or fair that the girl will be misjudged, the reality is that she will be. Even if she’s super amazing over achiever in the workplace, humans are visual creatures, with judgemental brains. Hey! It’s what got us out of the forests and caves…. So someone should be delicately pulling her aside and saying something, which sounds like what was attempted.

                If it was ONLY crop tops then this post wouldn’t be necessary. If the OP had the maturity and professional acumen to understand this gentle aside she received then she’d never have written in. So maybe the OP needs to look beyond the crop top and see whether there’s other professional norms that are bing ignored that might be hobbling her professionally.

            2. Avril Ludgateau*

              You’re not wrong that women face additional scrutiny depending on size or other characteristics, but the solution to that is not to more rigidly police all women’s attire. It is to shut down policing of any women.

              If Jane complains that Amanda is “flaunting her chest” in a completely appropriate top, just because Amanda happens to be on the busty side*, the appropriate discipline is to remind Jane the dress code applies equally to all staff, not 1. to tell Amanda her body type prevents her from wearing a top that aligns with the dress code, or worse, 2. altering the dress code to further restrict the choices of all the women in the office in the interest of being “fair”. (And maybe remind Jane that body policing is in violation of the workplace sexual harassment policy.)

              \*The only time I would agree with speaking to Amanda is if there’s a nip slip situation going on.

            3. Sylvan*

              The comment I replied to is:

              “Well I don’t want to see it. I will never have a body that will look ok in crop top. I don’t want to think about that at work.”

              This is not about fairness; it’s about body image problems. Let’s try an example? I have scoliosis and I don’t love how I look in things that are very fitted around the ribs or hips. However, many of my coworkers wear clothes that are fitted or tight in those areas. Additionally, I’m a tall and large person. Some of my smaller coworkers wear things that flatter a small frame. There’s nothing wrong with what my colleagues wear just because I have some feelings.

        6. Ash*

          I have wrinkles, should people with smooth skin never show their face? I have gray hairs, should people without never show their hair? I have fertility issues, should pregnant people hide themselves until they give birth? I’m sorry you feel badly about your body (and I 100% support your right to wear whatever you want to, including crop tops, although workplaces may be different). But your insecurities about your body do not mean that other people have to hide theirs. This is a completely separate issue from whether a particular item of clothing is appropriate for a given setting.

      2. Anon all day*

        Honestly, this debate/comment section reminds me exactly of a post from 2016 over wearing leggings as pants to work. Based on that, I really wouldn’t be surprised if certain types of crop tops did become more acceptable in the workplace over the next several years. (There are different levels of belly reveal for crop tops. I think the ones where either almost nothing or maybe just a sliver if one leans or something look quite nice and put together.)

        That being said, we’re not there yet, so if one’s office doesn’t approve of crop tops, I don’t think it’s worth it to spend any capital fighting it.

        1. Smithy*

          Add the cold shoulder top to this. Which….now Ann Taylor and other “business wear for ladies” brands make varieties of them.

          As the style of Gen Z moves away from skinny jeans but not high waisted – I see the potential for the larger return of high wasted, wide leg pants for women. Which opens up all sorts of options for “short tops” in a work context. It may initially start as a crop top that you can tuck into a high wasted pant for a day to night look, where ultimately in more business casual environments/on a day where you see no clients a small strip of midriff skin just won’t seem like such a big deal.

      3. Observer*

        h, I actually think this depends on your office culture. I have coworkers who wear croptops and it’s fine.

        Sure. But it’s not the norm. It’s enough of an outlier that it would be a mistake to give the OP the impression that this is typical, and to encourage her to think that she’s being unfairly picked on. She’s not.

      4. Lorac*

        And I’ve worked at offices where we had beer kegs on tap and bottles of spirits on people’s desk were the norm. I would not be in askamanager comments telling drinking in the office was perfectly acceptable and fine. You have to recognize when your office is an outlier.

      5. Batgirl*

        Interesting. Do you think their wardrobes and workwear expectations would migrate well into a new job or is the entire industry quite casual?

    6. Elle by the sea*

      It also depends on the type of the top crop. If it hits your waist and you are wearing high-waisted skirts or trousers, it could be okay. Our office doesn’t have a dress code, so some people wear suits, whereas other come in wearing tracksuit bottoms. Some women wear crop tops with high-waisted jeans and their stomach isn’t visible. No one has had any problems with anyone’s clothing choices so far.

    7. mreasy*

      I will say that in my industry and office, this would not be a problem. So I don’t assume OP should automatically have known, given how casual they say others’ dress is. (I actually think the yoga pants and ill-fitting/sloppy clothing would be frowned upon here – a crop top as part of a well put together outfit though, no.)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I appreciate the examples from people whose offices would be okay with a well-chosen crop top, but not with certain other things.

        If you’re the junior person in the office, you should not be pushing the office norms in the direction of anything other than quiet professionalism. (I believe this was an fPoste throw pillow.) But if those above you have normalized crop tops, bike shorts, or overalls as typical office wear, the junior person can hop on that bandwagon.

      2. HoHumDrum*

        Yeah, people wear crop tops at my job. Usually with high waisted bottoms, which makes them exactly the same as a longer cut shirt. No one ever comments on clothes besides compliments here, which I love. Once my coworker was wearing a top that met her jeans and when she reached up you could see a flash of skin, a patron commented on it to shame her and my boss stood up for her and defended her. That felt great.

        I really appreciate working at a place where no one is policing what I wear. Every other place I have worked had dress codes which overvalues a pretty narrow and highly specific cultural sense of propriety that usually gets enforced in sexist, racist, classist, and fatphobic ways. I appreciate that my current job is mostly worried about the quality of my work and not whether they like my clothes.

        1. Ope!*

          OP does mention that one of the concerns was “showing any portion of her stomach” which would indicate to me that it is a crop with some sort of midriff baring, as opposed to, say, a cropped sweater over a sheath dress

          1. Ope!*

            oops, meant to nest this on your other comment just below about how OP might not be baring any skin at all. Nesting fail!

          2. Phryne*

            English is not my first language and I am a bit surprised to see so many comments on ‘with a high waisted garment under it you don’t see skin’, as I would understand a crop top to be a garment worn with the intention of showing skin. We have the term crop top as a loan word in my language, and that is what it means: a top that shows belly skin no matter the shape of the shirt itself. If the low end of your top meets the waist of your pants/skirt, I would qualify that as a short shirt, not a crop top. So I learned something today.
            I can very much understand a manager objecting to exposed midriff on the same grounds as a very low cleavage or mini sized short skirt, but it would be weird to object to the shape of a top if the result no more shows any skin than a long shirt and low-waisted pants.

            1. HoHumDrum*

              A crop top is simply a shirt that is cut shorter than hip length. There may be more specific measurements or types of crop tops but I am not a fashion expert, so when most people say crop tops they just are describing a shirt that ends somewhere between ribs and lower belly range.

              Clothes do not have intention, owning a crop top suggests nothing about what the owner wants to display. It can vary so much on how one styles it. A crop top layered with other clothing items can show far less skin than a long top paired with extremely low cut shorts, for example. I have crops that overlap my high waisted pants easily, sometimes with more coverage than my longer skirts with lower rise pants.

              1. Observer*

                A crop top is simply a shirt that is cut shorter than hip length.

                That’s not the most common usage. Much more common is the usage of a shirt that is midriff baring.

                1. Minimal Pear*

                  I think that used to be, but I think nowadays it’s really becoming “a shirt that’s shorter than normal”. Partially this is because high waisted pants have been in–a lot of times, a crop top will just about meet the top of your high waisted pants.

                2. Observer*

                  @Minimal Pear

                  I just googled “crop top” earlier and all of the returned pictures was a LOT shorter than just “shorter than hip length”. I think that 2 of them reached the navel, and the rest were well above.

                3. Snuck*

                  That’s how I read it too. A crop top is cut with intention to bare the midriff. It might be loose or tight in it’s style but it’s cut above any normal waist band height.

                  Cropped tops are tops that have a shorter cut to them. Note the “ed” on the end, that shows the action of it having been cut shorter than others. Maybe people are being lazy in their articulation or grammar these days? Cropped tops are usually cut to around waist /belly button height and not designed to be tucked in. Normal length tops can be tucked in (even if only with a few centimetres).

              2. Batgirl*

                I mean… clothes don’t have intentions but fashion designers do. Like, the person who designed the item of clothing will have intentionally designed it to bare the stomach, or at least cut the garment so it is not able to cover it alone. Yes, you can get another item of clothing to cover the stomach, but the reason you need one is because the crop top deliberately doesn’t.

            2. A Wall*

              “Crop” is literally to cut something short or to remove something, so a crop top (or cropped top) is used generally to mean any top that is cut so that it has a shape that sort of ends abruptly. For example if you had a hoodie that just ended instead of having that elastic band on the bottom, that’s a cropped hoodie, even though it probably goes all the way down to your hips.

              There are folks elsewhere in here that are insisting a crop top ends inches above your belly button, but that is just one style, and it’s not even the style that’s most popular right now. That kind was very popular for the moment when the phrase crop top was first seeming to get widely discussed as a “new” fashion, which was a couple decades ago. The kind that are everywhere at the moment are boxy shirts that are looser and also a little shorter than a normal cotton shirt, so it is more capable than a regular one of showing stomach if you have a low waistband and reach far or something but doesn’t otherwise. No idea which one the LW is talking about.

              1. Phryne*

                Thank you, this clears things up. It seems that, although we have this word in Dutch, it’s meaning has subtly changed with the transfer to another language.

                1. Joep*

                  I have never heard the term crop top used in Dutch, just assumed it to be the same as a naveltruitje. (“Small bellybutton jumper”)

                  And, indeed, crop top, cropped top, and naveltruitje share a wikipedia page.

            3. MCMonkeyBean*

              But the shirt doesn’t change depending on your pants! The store sells it as a cropped shirt. If I wear it with regular shorts, you would see my midriff. If I wear it with high waisted shorts then you wouldn’t. But what it is does not change based on what I pair it with…

              1. Phryne*

                Yes, I understand the garment does not magically change, but there is some lost in translation at work here.
                Let me put it this way: in Dutch, when we talk about someone wearing a ‘crop top’, everyone will understand that to be an outfit that shows belly. That is how it entered the language as a loan word. I am learning just now in this thread that in English the term is a lot less specific, which I find interesting.

                1. amoeba*

                  I’d say with super high-rise trousers, unless it’s literally just a bra, it’s always possible to find a pair of bottoms it won’t show belly with. There are trousers/skirts that basically already cover your whole belly by themselves. Which I believe was MCMonkeyBean’s point?

                2. Batgirl*

                  Yeah I don’t understand why people are not listening to your definition of it as “outfit with stomach out” and keep repeating their definition of a garment which could be worn with extra cover. You did say it was a different definition!

            4. Elsajeni*

              Yeah, overall I agree with you — I would have called the longer tops some people are describing “cropped tops” (or maybe “cropped blouses”), which is obviously a very subtle difference from “crop tops” but describes a different type of garment! And in fact, I just looked back at the letter and the OP also says “cropped,” not “crop.”

              I wonder if this partly depends on age as well as regional usage — the very short, very belly-baring type of shirt you and I are thinking of was in style when I was a teenager, and that was the only type of shirt anybody referred to as a “crop top” then, so it’s still what I think of when I hear the phrase, and tops like the short-but-not-THAT-short blouse somebody linked to upthread seem like obviously a different category to me.

    8. HoHumDrum*

      To be fair though, crop tops are back in style because high waisted pants are back in (or rather never left). Yes midriffs are back in as well, so LW may have been bearing stomach but also just as likely wasn’t at all. When I wear high waisted pants my crop top overlaps with my pants the same amount a standard shirt overlaps with standard waisted pants. I wouldn’t say a crop top worn that way is any less professional than another shirt- same exposure risk.

      1. DrSalty*

        I actually think it’s much more likely she was baring stomach, since she was reprimanded for her dress.

        1. HoHumDrum*

          Based on my experiences with dress code crack downs, her being dinged for a crop top does not at all make it likely. Many dress codes are enforced in entirely arbitrary ways that have a lot more to do with the personal style and sense of propriety of whoever cares the most than any kind of universal standard of professionalism.

          1. DrSalty*

            Sure, but the text of this letter literally states the complain was “me appearing in garments that show any portion of my stomach.” So I think the one concrete thing we actually know about this specific crop top is that at least some part of her bare stomach was visible.

    9. toolittletoolate*

      I think a good rule of thumb is approximately from the middle chest to the middle thigh is something both men and women should keep covered at work. No seeing nipples, stomachs, navels, butt cracks or butt cheeks.

    10. Lord Bravery*

      Yes there’s a spectrum of more common – less common – almost unheard of clothes to allow in professional settings, and crop tops are on the “people will be confused about why they need to spell this out of you” end of the spectrum.

      1. Lord Bravery*

        (Not on the extreme end- not like a spandex leotard or something- but more commonly understood to be non-work clothes than, say, jeans with holes, which in a casual office might or might not be allowed.)

    11. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, this is such a normal dress code boundary! Honestly, even if they did have a written dress code I think it’s highly possible they would have thought “no crop tops” was such an obvious thing that it didn’t even merit including. And I say that as someone who loves crop tops! I don’t usually even show my stomach at all because I like to pair them with high-waisted pants and skirts, but I would still never even think about wearing them to my fairly casual office.

    12. Lady CFO*

      Absolutely. Besides, LW1 established that they’re not to wear crop tops, yet continues to do so and then acts confused that it’s an issue?

    13. Aly*

      On the topic of dress codes (LW1), many dress codes and expectations of “professionalism” (explicit or implicit) seem to be used to enforce the norms of privileged groups – financially comfortable thin or midsized white cishet men, often. As another commenter pointed out (apologies I lost the comment/thread and couldn’t re-find it), why should a sliver of midriff be seen so differently than an exposed arm or shin? At one time those things were seen as inappropriate too, and I’m glad that they no longer are. Because of that, I’m pretty unlikely to enforce a dress code for others, if, say, a coworker comes to work in a crop top on a day when I’m the manager (and luckily I’m in a position where that is not expected of me). But as it is, we live in societies and even if the rules are often unfair and arbitrary, they are still very powerful. So am I going to go to work in a crop top myself? Probably not, because I know enough people exist in the workplace that are going find it inappropriate.

    14. Poppyseeds*

      uhh I think we do need to be careful here. The cultural argument leaves out the traditional dress of the Sari which generally includes a top that could be described as a similar top to a crop top. Absolute statements about what is appropriate to some and modest would mean that you would exclude some groups for whom it is acceptable in a professional sense.

    15. Momma Bear*

      Sometimes dress codes are modified. We had jeans on Fridays at one job and I think because my friend and I took casual Friday a little too far all jeans were banned and we all had to go back to every day wearing business attire. It was a blanket edict, and while I would have preferred to have been spoken to privately to adjust, I just changed with the requirement to keep the job. It wasn’t a hill to die on, annoying as it was. Even if other people wear questionable things LW is being asked to modify their attire in this one way. This isn’t about everyone else. It’s an easy fix to get a few longer tops or always wear the blazer over it. Fashion has no bearing on the office dress code. I do think that even casual offices should have a specific dress code but often they don’t, leading to uncomfortable conversations.

    16. Meep*

      I was very much gobsmacked by the fact OP thought it was appropriate in the first place. I have worn yoga pants to work, but typically when I was the only one in the office.

  2. Sparkle*

    Yeah I agree with Allison about #1. Crop tops are not acceptable for an office setting. It doesn’t matter whether you are public facing or not.

    1. Anony*

      I agree. I guess technically they should spell it out, but even in many casual, yoga pant-type offices, I think a lot of companies rely on a few basic assumptions – like avoid clothes that are too revealing (crop top falls here…), ripped, stained, dirty or are clearly beachwear (like plastic flip flops). I’m sure there are some companies out there that allow these things, but for the majority of offices just because there isn’t a dress code it doesn’t mean “wear literally whatever you want.”

      1. Threeve*

        This is generally an overall perspective that LW1 needs to pick up–something doesn’t have to be *against the written rules* for it to be inappropriate.

        The employee handbook probably doesn’t say “make sure the desktop background on your computer is work appropriate” either, but you should still assume you need to keep your desktop background G-rated.

        1. My heart is a fish*

          Yeah. It’s good that there’s a push to re-examine what rules are really necessary, but I can attest as someone who specializes in What’s In The Rulebook whack-a-mole, the rules will never cover every single situation that arises. So saying that something isn’t explicitly forbidden is not a solid argument that it must therefore be permissible.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yeah same. I’ve written a lot of policies and swung back and forth on the spectrum of having rules for things over my career – and where I’ve landed is you can’t write a policy for everything, and over-policing is exhausting for everyone involved.

            1. AnotherOne*

              My office has a policy (not about dress code) that explicitly says basically- this is our policy, but ultimately we can do decide to do whatever we want.

          2. Momma Bear*

            Agreed. You should have some grown up discretion when making choices about your office space/music/attire even if HR didn’t spell it out.

        2. CheeryO*

          Yep, and also a lesson on workplace capital. Is it a hill that you really want to die on? Do you really want to be known as “crop top lady” at work, instead of being known for your skills (assuming the LW hasn’t been unfairly singled out)? It’s probably better just to save them for the weekend and wear something else at work.

          1. EPLawyer*


            Remember the poor interns? They will forever be known as the interns who tried to change the dress code. of course they got no chance to show they could be anything else because their internship was summarily ended.

            Somethings are not worth the fight. if you genuinely cannot afford new shirts right now (and I recommend thrift stores to at least get a couple of decent things), then try styling it differently. Do you have a belt that you can wear that looks like you are at least trying to cover your stomach? Or a scarf you can wear as a belt? then buy a shirt as you can when you can until you have a work appropriate wardrobe.

          2. Anne Elliot*

            +1 for this. The absence of a written dress code frequently reflects that there is an UNWRITTEN dress code, and failing to abide by it (or even recognizing that it exists) can lead to some negative judgments by others that the underdressed/inappropriately dressed staff person may never even know have been made. And some of the people silently judging will be managers, which can directly affect your career. Is that fair? No. Does it happen? All the time.

            Dress for the job you want or, if that doesn’t work for you, take your cues for how to dress from your manager or similarly-placed person of your gender identity. If they don’t wear crop tops, neither should you. This advice is not for the comfort of your coworkers or to raise/protect the professional image of your place of work; it is 100% self-interested. If you want to be considered a professional, you must dress like a professional. Unless you are an incredibly wealthy quirky genius, in which case, wear what you want.

            1. EPLawyer*

              LOL at dress for the job you want. I made a crack about that recently on facebook to explain why I usually have loose threads on me (not my court clothes, just my casual jeans and t-shirts, hanging with friends clothes). I want to be a full time quilter I said.

      2. Kramerica Industries*

        I debated on the crop tops at work (for an event, not just an office day). Like, how is showing 1 inch of my midriff worse than showing a whole shoulder in a tank top?? Trying to justify it somehow because yeah, they DO look cute right now! But around the office, no one else does it. It’s not worth being known as “that person” that goes against the norm for this specific fight. Sometimes I wish I worked in a retail HQ because I feel like crop tops and blazers are acceptable there, but alas, I don’t.

    2. Lacey*

      Yeah, on the one hand, I do understand that sometimes employers can be very silly about what they do and don’t spell out in their dress codes – a crop top is so obviously not for the office that I laughed a little when I read how upset they were.

  3. Tinkerbell*

    re: OP1 – I assume the reference to “cultural differences” was an awkward attempt to soften the blow. You know, *I* don’t mind you wearing a crop top, but those *other people* (read: not like us) might be offended, cultural differences, you know! So they’re the reason you can’t wear it, not me :-\

    1. Anonariffic*

      Agreed, it’s much easier to shift the blame to hypothetical guests from conservative religious backgrounds that may suddenly pop up in the office without warning. And it may be the supervisor unconsciously protecting their own self image- nobody wants to think of themselves as being a prude, especially if the office is generally very relaxed, so it needs to be someone else who’d be bothered by the exposed skin and not them personally.

      1. GythaOgden*

        That was my assumption too. There ARE times when it is discrimination, but this sounds like something that would apply to anyone of any background.

        It may also be that OP is new to the workforce, particularly if they’ve spent a lot of time remote over the past few years. I find that looser clothing — a size too big — helps with hot weather without exposing skin. I’m a ‘cover it all up’ person — extending to tights in the summer and only just deciding to try knee socks on hotter days — but there are options in these dog days without letting it all hang out.

    2. JSPA*

      “Cultural differences” isn’t ambiguous or inexplicable! There are plenty of groups of people (as well as individuals) who find “display of torso” to be not merely informal, but offensively so.

      Not me–I’m fine in a nudist colony– but I’ve often stayed in areas where it’s fine on the beach (or heck, even toplessness is fine on the beach) or in a nightclub, but a crop-top in the grocerystore at mid-day gets side-eye and whispers. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s seen as sexualized, somehow unsanitary, disrespectful, or all of the above, but it 100% exists.

      Thus, “I intend to show skin” is culturally different from, “we all have bodies under our clothes.”

      That’s not how I would run a workplace, to be clear! Especially one without clients on site. Your coworkers, if they have religious, cultural or pants feelings about your clothing, should use their own dang neck muscles and eyelids as needed.

      And if someone has a germ anxiety that is triggered by your bare back’s skin touching a shared chair back, they can do a quick wipe down. (Lower back disease transmission isn’t a thing.)

      But there’s logic, and then there’s “none of us would dream of doing it, so you shouldn’t, either.”

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        That reminds me of a famous ad for ice cream here in New Zealand – guy’s at the beach wearing speedos and there’s a voiceover as he proceeds into the town, past horrified looks, to buy an ice cream going ‘togs*, togs, togs…togs, togs, togs…undies. Undies, undies, undies. If you can’t see the water, you’re in underpants.”

        Context is everything when it comes to the propriety of a lot of garments!

        *togs: NZ colloquial term for swimwear.

        1. bamcheeks*

          huh, togs is also the Irish term! I didn’t know it until I got together with my Irish partner.

        2. JSPA*

          Whereas in the USA, speedos get some side-eye on many beaches and pools as well (they’re for competition swimming or serious swimmers, otherwise it smacks of exhibitionism–and we even had someone accused of exhibitionism at the local pool for swimming laps in his, because he had not noticed that the same ones he’d worn for months were becomming too thin). In contrast, in many parts of europe and some parts of south america, speedo-type swimwear is the ONLY allowed option at pools, for men (with to my mind, classist overtones). Given the term “budgie smugglers,” I’m guessing they are also too “continental” for some in the UK? Yup…link to follow.

          The question to my mind isn’t, “are these sorts of standards something that we should support,” but rather, “do they exist, and do they differ between cultures and subcultures.”

          1. JSPA*


            And, IMO, we do all eventually draw lines, beyond which we find something “not appropriate for a particular circumstance.” Sometimes it’s to keep people out (e.g. there’s zero health reason for, “no shoes, no shirt, no service,” despite it being in health codes all over the place). Sometimes it’s to differentiate the servers from the served, or project an air of “sanitariness,” even if there’s zero evidence for sanitary benefit (e.g. hairnets for servers, link to follow).

            And sometimes, it’s “no skin other than hypothetically washed hands that will touch shared surfaces” (leading to bans on miniskirts, bare backs, bare midriffs).

            Picking one’s battles, I’d probably fight hairnets (because, waste and because sealife eating them when they jellyfish through the water) or no shoes/no shirt (because, regardless of those things, people need food and drink and the chance to buy clothing, if they have the money to do so) before getting entrenched in the midriff wars.

          2. quill*

            Meanwhile I remember with fond horror the uniform swimsuits at my high school, bought circa 1980. Leading to plenty of whispering amongst the class because a bikini was WAY less scandalous to us than a one piece where the leg hole went up past the level of the navel and the back was open to the same point, or the boys wearing the equivalent of 80’s running shorts and refusing to do any dives into the pool.

          3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            In France, which is in Europe, you can only wear close-fitting swimwear, i.e. clothes specifically designed for swimming and/or frolicking in water, and you have to change into it at the pool. People were turning up in all sorts of casual sportswear and jumping straight in, which was deemed unhygienic.
            I went to Canada shortly after this rule was implemented in France and was shocked to see people wearing all sorts of things that they easily could have been wearing in the street.
            There’s already far too much chlorine in poolwater, because people don’t bother to shower before they go in (or just get wet rather than actually wash). It is not reasonable to add even more to counteract the myriad germs all over clothes you’ve been wearing in the street.

            1. JSPA*

              The biologically relevant germs are primarily from inadequately removed fecal matter. That’s what the “full soap shower” is intended to imply. Anything you’d pick up in transit pales in comparison.

      2. JustaTech*

        “should use their own dang neck muscles and eyelids as needed”

        JSPA, this is a delightful phrase, and I look forward for a chance to use it out in the world.

    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I assume the “cultural differences” thing was code for “you are younger and have trendier tastes and I don’t understand it”.

      1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

        Yeah I’m the fuddiest of duddy millennials when it comes to fashion but even I’m shocked at the vitriol about crop tops, especially from commentariat that’s usually so progressive on body issues. They’re super trendy right now, and while you won’t find me in one, I commend anyone who is comfortable enough to wear one regardless of their size. I still think they’re not great for an office, but I absolutely see where OP might think a crop top under a blazer is more appropriate than yoga pants. I’m noping out of this convo because honestly the body crap is really bumming me out, but MPEF, you’re doing good work here.

        1. Observer*

          They’re super trendy right now

          So? They still don’t belong in the office. It’s not about having a healthy body image, etc.

        2. Batgirl*

          I think she should absolutely rock the crop top and blazer combo – but definitely not at the office! It’s really not a body issue, crop tops are simply not formal.

          1. londonedit*

            Absolutely – I work in an industry with pretty informal standards of dress (jeans, t-shirts and trainers are perfectly acceptable, for example) but things like crop tops, shorts, vest tops for men, flip-flops and short skirts still wouldn’t fly. At home I quite enjoy slobbing about in gym shorts/leggings and a sweatshirt, but there’s no way I’d wear that to the office. It’s perfectly normal to have different clothes for different situations – if you want to wear a crop top out for dinner with friends, or on a shopping trip, or on holiday, great. But I don’t think it’s a huge ask to accept that it isn’t going to be appropriate for work.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      That’s how I read it, too–“I don’t mind the crop top, but there are hypothetical other people who would mind.”

      OP, if you’re the only one in crop tops, and you’ve been told that doesn’t fit in, take the supervisor at her word here. If there were 8 people in crop tops and only you were told no, that would be different. “But isn’t A like B” isn’t going to work here, just like arguing that bermuda shorts cover the same skin as skirts and so should be acceptable.

    5. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I read it as “some of our more conservative clientele” (which is the wording I’d expect to hear in my field)

    6. mairona*

      It’s so dumb to word it like that too, because all the supervisor had to say is, “I know crop tops aren’t specifically prohibited by the handbook, but bare midriffs aren’t typically acceptable in a business environment.” No reason to bring in “cultural differences” (which sounds like dog whistle to me) into the discussion because it’s true – most businesses with at least a business casual setting would at minimum give an employee in a crop top the side-eye. Probably in most casual work settings too, depending on the business.

    7. MicroManagered*

      I read it that way too. I assume the office nibby-noo complained about OP1’s crop top, so the boss has to say something, even though they may not personally care about it. “Cultural differences” is poor wording.

    8. Beth*

      One possible actual cultural difference might be India — the choli is, technically, a crop top. But I think the LW would have said something if that factor were in play.

  4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    For number three – please, please, please be blunt and direct (but professional) with the person who just can’t get along with their coworkers. The team already iced them out because of issues. Don’t let them continue thinking they can get that job – because a manager needs to be able to actually work with others.

    The coworker who has to listen every so often to rants from that coworker who can’t work well with others.

    (We have a new manager now, and new manager is being blunt with him that he “needs to play well with others” to stay on the shift and team, so I’m hoping it gets better……)

    1. Sara without an H*

      Hi, OP#3–Where’s the Orchestra? is right. Absolute clarity and candor are what’s needed here.

      I have been in your position. While you do need to keep your feedback professional in tone (“Don’t be an asshole” is not really actionable feedback), you also need to be clear and explicit that this candidate isn’t going anywhere unless and until he improves his interpersonal skills.

      Lastly, document, document, document.

      Good luck. I’ve been there, and it wasn’t pretty. You may need to let a couple of people go before you see much improvement.

  5. just some guy*

    LW #4: it’s also possible that the HR person was working on the weekend or started early on Monday morning.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      That was such an odd take. Don’t try to create some exact perfect timeline within which a prospective employer can ask for an interview, with anything under 4 business days too fast and you should refuse, but more than 8 too slow and you should refuse.

      1. Venus*

        This sounds like an odd take too. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that maybe the HR person gets an early start on Mondays.

        1. Leenie*

          I think Falling Dipthong meant that the letter itself was an odd take, not that an HR person getting an early start was an odd take. I tend to agree with that. The LW is way overthinking the timeline.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        “How long do you guys wait to call your babies?” “Six days.”

        The Rules was a terrible concept in the early aughts, it’s still terrible.

      3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Agreed. Given how many people wait weeks with no response, please don’t see a fast response as anything other than a positive.

      4. Anonym*

        I think this may be a product of Worry Brain – when its powers are great, it can turn anything into a potential bad sign. OP, this is good news! Don’t let your worry brain find more possible bad explanations for benign and positive things (they’re so good at that, the bastards…). Or at least roll your eyes at it :)

    2. Lebkin*

      I was coming to say the same thing! People often work long days/nights/weekends doing hiring, because their workdays are already filled with their normal job. Every time we’ve hired at my current company, the hiring manager has put in extra hours to accommodate the additional work required.

      1. Gnome*

        I was also going to say this.

        Also, if I have a stack of resumes to go through, I want to do it all at once, so I need a block of time. I’d rather log in for an hour on Sunday and do it without interruption than try to squeeze a couple in here and there between meetings. That might just be me though.

    3. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

      I was thinking the same thing. LW, you really have no way of knowing how long the screener (HR or hiring manager) spent with your materials–but it was enough for them to decide to talk to you further, so take that win and don’t let your uncertainty spin it into a negative.

      As for your concern that they haven’t examined your portfolio in depth: In my experience as a hiring manager, I can usually decide very quickly if I want to move someone to a phone screen; I save a more in-depth look at their materials for my prep immediately before the phone screen, so it’s fresh in my mind and I can ask good questions about it.

      Finally, as Alison says, “practicing your interviewing skills” on a candidate you’re not interested in isn’t a thing. Recruiters and hiring managers are hella busy. Nobody has the time to spend prepping and conducting an interview with someone who isn’t actually interesting as a candidate. And it wouldn’t be great practice anyway, because if the person’s not a good fit for the job, they aren’t going to have good substantial answers to the interview questions.

      1. Koalafied*

        Yeah, if you gave every portfolio a detailed hour-plus review you’d have a full-time job just doing portfolio reviews for one open position! The first round of screenings often amounts to, “weeding out all the people who are obvious ‘No’s,” and then setting up an initial screener with the people who are at least “plausible ‘Yes’s.” And because there is some chance that the person will have changed their mind or taken another offer before that happens, it’s not a good use of time to really dive into a deeper evaluation of the portfolio until they’ve accepted the interview, in which case the review becomes part of your interview prep.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yeah, I designed a full set of tests to determine whether or not a candidate might do good enough work.
        When I had to assess them, I would first eliminate all those who had not done a spell check, because that all our good translators did that. That usually whittled the tests down a fair bit.
        Then I would look out for one or two pitfalls, and by the time I’d whittled out those who had fallen into the traps, I usually had just enough candidates to simply invite them all for an interview. I would look at the rest of the test out of conscientiousness, but I rarely thought “hmm no point inviting this person”.
        Time spent on the spell-check test: less than a minute per candidate, so no more than 20 minutes if we had 20 candidates (which was usually the max number of CVs we got)
        Time spent on the pitfall test: less than a minute per candidate, so no more than ten minutes, assuming at least half failed the first test.
        We never had any problems with the quality of work produced by the new hire.

  6. Lingret*

    #1 – Crop tops? Seriously?
    I honestly can’t believe anyone would wear something even remotely like that, especially to work. No matter if you see clients, customers, etc.
    Highly inappropriate.
    Even for students at school.

    1. Chikka*

      Crop tops are completely fine and normal in my industry.

      Not every industry has a strict dress code or requires business attire.

      1. AnneMoliviaColemuff*

        I agree. Something like a fashion magazine, or a young social media company – crop tops in the office are possibly fine.

        It’s not the case in most offices, and Alison is right with her guidance. But I wouldn’t be so judgemental if someone was asking for guidance on it.

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          I would say don’t be so judgemental… period. Whether the person is asking for advice or not, the original comment is a textbook example of sanctimonious condescension and superiority. Thanks but no thanks.

          1. well some more*

            Removed because derailing and over-the-top for the question the OP is asking. – Alison

            1. Risha*

              I’m a woman and I agree with you, but we are in the very rare minority here. I believe the body is special and should not be shown to just anyone. Crop tops are not appropriate for most work settings, just because it’s allowed at a handful of jobs doesn’t make it relevant to an office setting. Just like you said in your comment…where is the line when others need to alter their behavior? I’m paraphrasing your quote a bit. Am I not allowed to feel uncomfortable with someone’s exposed midriff at work? I’m not telling them to change. Why are some things ok to be uncomfortable with and others are not? If I went to work with a lot of my cleavage exposed and others were offended/uncomfortable, do they just have to live with it? There’s a time and place to dress like that and work is not it.

              But we will get the comments about how we’re trying to dictate others’ clothing choices, or what about Indian women who wear a sari? Is this LW an Indian woman wearing a sari and being told to change? I doubt it so that’s irrelevant. Personally, I’m not trying to tell anyone what to wear, but I thought I was allowed an opinion, even if it doesn’t agree with every one else. I don’t have to feel comfortable with people’s exposed bodies at work and I’m not sure why it’s such an issue for other people if I’m modest. It’s not like I’m actually imposing it on anyone.

              1. Emmy Noether*

                I don’t think crop-tops are [currently, in our culture] appropriate for work either, BUT what is considered modest or appropriate is highly arbitrary. The line is arbitrary and changes with time and place. There were times in European history when an ankle was highly scandalous, but exposed nipples were nbd.

                If lines of modesty are changing again (and they incessantly are), then what is acceptable in society at large will also change. What you, personally, consider modest is not universal or constant (and, again, arbitrary). You can cover whatever you like of yourself, but you won’t have much success stemming yourself against the tide.

              2. pancakes*

                “I believe the body is special and should not be shown to just anyone.” Do you believe other people should have to believe that as well, though? I agree with everyone saying crop tops aren’t appropriate for most workplaces. There are some where they’re ok. Whether they are or aren’t has to do with local culture, not your personal beliefs.

              3. si*

                You can cover as much of yourself as you like, and you can feel whatever you feel, but…there really isn’t much more to say about it than that. Trying to change others’ behaviour *is* imposing your feelings on them. If you’re doing that, insisting that you’re not is odd. If you’re not doing that, well, then it is a bit sad for you that you are going to feel uncomfortable, but there’s really nowhere else this conversation about your feelings can actually go.

      2. Umiel12*

        I’m sorry, but I get the giggles imagining how people would react at work with my hairy belly poking out below a crop top.

      3. Random Internet Stranger*

        I work in an industry where crop tops are definitely not appropriate, but I couldn’t personally care less what people wear. It has absolutely no bearing (sp? I don’t know I’ve ever spelled that word) on your ability to do your job.

        Except that my office is very, very cold in the summer.

    2. elizabeth*

      I agree “don’t show your stomach at work” is probably common sense, but since really high-waisted things are in fashion, you can wear a high-waisted skirt/pants with a longer “crop top” and not show any skin. In fact I’m sure I’ve worn something like that to work myself! So I wouldn’t just assume that OP is wearing her shirts with low-rise pants and six inches of belly exposed.

      1. MK*

        I wanted to say this. There are a lot of tops that are described as “cropped”, but actually hit right at the waist; with a high-waisted skirt or pants, you aren’t showing any skin.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah. There are also peplum tops, where the fitted part stops below the breast and the rest is drape. I find them a bit challenging to stay down, but my best tip is one and it gets there in one piece.

          In the opposite direction, I can’t do minidresses or tunics, but I wear a skirt with them and don’t feel like I’m running about without something on the bottom half. Thankfully, my organisation gave us a uniform back in October, which does make me look about 15 and the equivalent of a Catholic schoolgirl in the US, but saves heaps on laundry and because people out there love the NHS, having the logo emblazoned on my shirt gets me a discount at various chain eateries.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My Zoomer kid wears & loves the few 80s things I’d saved from college. (Silly me, I’d thought I’did set up an attic box for dress up games & costume parties.)
          But I didn’t like crop tops then either. 90s microminis, those I had a kind co-worker tap me the first morning I wore one to work and say “Don’t you think that’s a little short for the office?” Is it? I replied. She nodded apologetically and I stopped wearing it to work. Seemed a fair trade for the paycheck to me.

      2. Green great dragon*

        I suspect if that were the case LW would have specified they weren’t showing skin.

      3. cncx*

        this is exactly what i thought when i tried to imagine OP’s crop top, that she had on something high waisted and we were talking about a crop top that hits the waist when she’s sitting down.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I had a special breastfeeding outfit which was basically skyscraper-high-rise trousers (they went right up to just under my breasts) and what would qualify as a crop top. It was very easy to breastfeed very modestly: you barely had to lift the top, and hardly anyone ever realised the baby was feeding.
        It was perfectly suitable for a work setting.
        So the rule shouldn’t be “no crop tops” but “no undue exposure of the body”.

    3. New Jack Karyn*

      I’m a high school teacher. I do not care if a student wears a crop top to class.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I’m a former high school teacher, and I’m here to cosign this. Please also add short skirts, visible bra straps, or tank tops.

        1. quill*

          Young enough to advocate that school dress codes should take into account the weather: if it’s hot enough outside and / or in that kids are only going to be comfortable in shorts, let them wear shorts, regardless of what the regulation shorts length is that year.

      2. Andrea*

        Yup! As a teacher, I care that my students are comfortable and safe (for their environment). I do not care in the least if their stomach is visible unless they are learning in a space where that could be a safety risk (chem lab, craft workshop etc).

      3. Snuck*

        Do they do that thing though where they sit the kids down at about 15yrs of age and say “this is how you dress for school/play/the beach/whatever, and you wear different clothes for sport, and when you go to work you dress for the workplace you are in. This might look different for different workplaces, but generally if you are going into a trade you wear safety boots, long trousers and a long sleeved shirt until you work out something with your boss. If you are going into medical and personal care you wear something you can bend over people, move around, pick things up from the floor in, all without showing your private areas – generally trousers and a top with a crew neck or high V neck is a good start. If you are going into retail then you need to dress the way the other retail workers there dress – they are dressing a particular way as part of the marketing of their product, which is part of your job now. If you are going into an office environment the norms are you don’t show your underwear, and yes this goes for males as well as females – no deep pull down of your trousers lads! You generally cover from shoulder to mid thigh, and don’t do grooming at your desk.”

        Or are schools now letting kids go out into the world without this sort of talk?

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I don’t know whether this talk is given in schools. I should say, in my school, because I have even less insight into other schools.

          A school counselor might give such a talk, or a college/career coordinator. Or maybe not; schools cannot be all things for all students. Students can also learn that from their parents, or mentors, or the manager at their first job.

    4. Raboot*

      “especially” to work, as in it’s inappropriate even outside work, just less so? You certainly don’t need to wear them but they are perfectly normal and common for all ages these days in casual settings.

    5. MK*

      That’s ….an overreaction. Cropped tops aren’t inherently inappropriate. They wouldn’t work for most office workplaces, but there is nothing wrong with them, and might be fine for work, depending on the top and the workplace.

      1. Liz in the Midwest*

        Thank you! Yes! (And yes, I too have some “crop” tops I wear to work with high waisted skirts, and my skin doesn’t show, though I doubt that is the scenario OP is in.)

        (Also, yikes, I am still smarting from the commenter who called crop tops repulsive. They’re in style right now and given that high-waisted pants are also in style, they pair well. I’m 40, I’m not skinny, I love fashion, I think it works if done with the right high pants so my navel and below it doesn’t show. If any skin shows, it’s not for work, but there are plenty of times I’m not at work. It never crossed my mind that I’m apparently making people like the commenter above feel physically repulsed.)

        1. Una*

          Don’t fret about it – that commenter clearly has some issues and their expectations are not OK. Your body is not “repulsive”, they clearly have a major problem with body issues of their own and are taking it out on others. No one who is able to post a comment like that is thinking reasonably!

    6. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I hate crop tops on myself but they are super trendy and common right now so I find it unremarkable that people are wearing them. Even at work.

      And FWIW my two favourite outfits in middle school both featured a crop top. I wore them frequently and nobody ever said anything, and this was the mid-80s when they were having a similar moment.

    7. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      This is demonstrably untrue (there are workplaces, including offices where crop tops are OK, even if those are the exception).

      But more to the point some of these comments are ungenerous towards OP, who has already been corrected by her team and is writing in for advice, not incredulity. I think it’s fine to reassert that crop tops are unusual office wear, but let’s also address her confusion, which is legitimate.

      It sounds like her company really bungled this meeting. She had to repeatedly clarify with them, they weren’t giving her ‘anything concrete’, and she’s still confused about the parameters of what is acceptable or if she was singled out unfairly. That’s bad messaging and sloppy communication on the part of the management. Even if there is no written dress code (not a huge deal, IMO) they should be straightforward in issuing this correction.

    8. Yellow*

      Crop tops are the fashion where I am and I’m seeing them everywhere.

      The first time I was rather shocked as I’d definitely default to do not wear such clothes at work. I eventually realised it was the fashion right now, and so dressy crop tops are work wear.

      I will be happy when longer tops are back in fashion again, but in the mean time I just have a harder time shipping since it’s not a fashion I like.

      I’m also wondering what crop to make to different people, from some comments it sounds like this is like a bra to some. I’m imagining something far dressier and top / shirt like (but short).

      1. doreen*

        I’m wondering, too but for the opposite reason. People are talking about wearing crop tops and high-waisted pants and therefore not showing any skin – but when I hear “crop top” , the one thing I am not imagining is “not showing any skin”. I’ve seen shirts/tops that are at a length where standing perfectly still wouldn’t show any skin but any movement would – but if there really isn’t any skin showing at all, not even when you reach for something I wouldn’t call that a crop top.

        1. KRM*

          I don’t think “shows skin when you reach for something” is a good metric. My top today is plenty long on me. It’s also quite stretchy and could ride up and show skin if I reached for something on a high shelf.
          Crop tops are certainly acceptable in some causal workplaces. OP’s workplace is apparently not one of them. Did they do a good job explaining? No. Should they maybe codify something into an actual dress code? Probably! But for now she has to accept that she’s been told not to wear them, so she can’t wear them.

          1. doreen*

            I meant it the other way around – not that something which shows skin when reaching is a crop top , but that my vision of “crop top” excludes tops that do not show skin. For example , I knew someone who was very short-waisted, to the point where the waistband of her pants was 3-4 inches below her bust. What would be a crop top on someone with a longer waist would absolutely not have been a crop top on her.

        2. k8*

          crop tops are literally….tops that are cropped. even if i’m wearing a full body latex suit underneath a shirt, if it ends halfway down my midriff it’s still a croptop, even though you can’t see anything…the construction of the garment is what makes it a croptop, not the absence or presence of other clothing items

        3. Yellow*

          The ones I’ve seen/noticed do show skin. Some of them are clearly dressy, others clearly casual. But they are clearly the fashion at the moment, so I expect to see them.

          Largely I think the barometer for what is appropriate workwear unless stated otherwise is what are the standard workwear supplying stores stocking as workwear. If you want to deviate from that you need to tell people clearly, and acknowledge that it’s a local thing (hey I know crop tops are standard wear right now, but we need you not to wear them in the office)

          I don’t think it’s reasonable to measure against what the more senior women are wearing, because (a) there may be very few senior women (so it’s more personal choice than a consensus) and (b) senior positions are usually held by older people.

          If the senior women in the workplace are wearing work wear from the standards of 20 years ago, then that’s not reasonable to expect of all women. I know there are senior women who are fashionable, but my personal experience is that overwhelmingly they have not been in my industry. I have always worked in either uniformed or male dominated industries – so the above is my personal experience. In industries with many female employees, it’s probably very different but I have no experience of that. I personally default to older standards as they feel safer for me since I cannot navigate the fashion world – so as a mid level woman I’d hate for younger women to think they needed to model their dress on me!

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      You can’t believe anyone would ever wear a crop top anywhere? Have you never seen anyone wear a crop top?

    10. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Even for students… Yet I’ve seen more than one student take final exams wearing swimming trunks or bikinis and jean shorts and nobody can’t say anything about it because the university has no dess code.

      1. Snuck*

        I had an incredibly awkward tute about a year ago… first tute, too many people in the room (due to people deciding they liked this time better than their own and ignoring the class list), and thus we all had to break into small groups and sit on the floor. One stunningly dressed young woman was in a mini skirt and plunge top. There’s plunge tops, and then there’s belly button plunge. There’s flowing tops, and then there’s double sided tape and sticky tape bras. She would have done fabulously in a night club, but I have no idea what possessed her to dress like this at 9am on a Tuesday. I did my best to only look at her face (I’m a middle aged woman) but I did see a lot of young men rather uncomfortable (which was telling, because they were of her generation, and within her generational norms, and this was an Anthropology unit so full of arts and social sciences majors, not the sort of guys you expect to be straight laced). It wasn’t possible for her to sit in a chair either because then a lot of people would be sitting on the floor straight up her skirt then too. She toned it down a little for future tutes so I just chalked it up to a learning experience for her. But yeah. It was a lot to handle mentally for me. The world has shifted a looooong long way from the 80s and 90s. While mini skirts and crop tops were a norm then wearing them to a university tutorial at 9am with on a Tuesday wasn’t. And wearing them with a ultra plunge top (or whatever they are called) wasn’t either. The young woman wound up being very clever and articulate and did well in the unit, but I will always remember her as the woman who I couldn’t take my eyes off (ish) the first time I met her.

        It’s made me spend considerable time contemplating my own judgemental thoughts and assumptions. But it’s also made me ponder what SHE was getting out of it. Body first and all that guff, but is getting up at 5am so you can put that much effort into your appearance and be in the fight for parking at Uni by 8am worth it? First years have to bus in on public transport so even earlier? Aren’t you there to study? I dunno. I’m probably about to get slaughtered in the comments. Sigh. At least I’m honest?

        1. pancakes*

          I wouldn’t assume she got up very early, nor that it necessarily takes her hours to get dressed. Wearing revealing clothes isn’t intrinsically time-consuming. I also wouldn’t assume that she necessarily went home the night before and slept in her own bed, rather than, say, finding herself needing to be at school without time to go home and change. It really doesn’t matter why she wore what she did, particularly since it doesn’t seem to have been a pattern. Not having time to change out of evening wear on one occasion really isn’t a reliable indicator of not being clever or articulate, or not interested in studying, so I hope you’ll continue to question your assumptions.

    11. Cake or Death?*

      Disagree. What a silly blanket statement. Of course there are offices where crop tops are appropriate. I can think of a ton of places where it would be ok. Though there are definitely a lot more where it wouldn’t be ok, but silly to say it’s always inappropriate in any office.

      “Highly inappropriate. Even for students at school.” LOL this just sounds so fuddy-duddy. Midriff bearing styles have been in fashion since the 60’s. You’d think people would have stopped clutching their pearls over it by now.

      There sure is a lot of people out of the fashion loop on this thread today. Crop tops have been back for like 4 years, along with high-waisted bottoms. IF they show any skin, it’s usually a small amount of ridriff above the belly button.

      Of course this doesn’t mean that OP should be able to wear one at work if her emplyer doesn’t want her to, but I think some comments are going off the deep end with blanket statements about crop tops that just aren’t true.

  7. MCL*

    LW #4: some companies have policies that require hiring managers to reach out to you within 24hrs of receiving your application. I spent five years at a company that required us to text candidates within 24hrs. Yes, I’m talking about texting candidates right out of the gate and inviting them—again, via text message—to come in for an interview. It was absurd, and yes, it usually came across as weird to applicants.

    1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Though I would presume the *texting* thing is what weirded your applicants out more than the quick reply as such. It’s just not a very professional medium to use, even if you were a very small family company.
      Btw, how realistic was your company’s 24h rule? I imagine it has the benefit of keeping up to date instead of putting things off for too long (and then forgetting about them) but was also prone to put quite the pressure on employees if one of you was out sick or on holiday?

      1. MCL*

        Hi there! My company was fairly large—about 170 locations when I first started with them, now they’re down to 100 after part of their portfolio was sold off. The texting thing was very weird (I actually wrote in about how strange it seemed and got a response published on here about three years ago). The texting happened through a software that would track our timeliness, so our talent acquisition team would be notified if we weren’t responding within 24hrs. The software also worked like a text app, so we would reach out to candidates using ghost phone numbers.

      2. MCL*

        Hi again, I realized I forgot to answer the last question you asked. Yes, it was definitely stressful for hiring managers. I would often be texting candidates while on vacation, at the gym, grocery store, etc. When I was going to be away from my phone/laptop for extended periods of time, other managers would answer on my behalf. It was the clown car of hiring.

  8. Anony*

    #2- I think you did the right thing just moving on and prioritizing the other clients. Although it might have been satisfying to show you were right, showing screenshots to prove a client wrong might not have made a good impression to the rest of the group. I wouldn’t worry that your other clients think poorly of you – they all managed to make it, and honestly at this point Zoom issues are so tedious that no one wants to dwell on them.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      If anything, Fergus probably made the worse impression on everyone by making his scene in the first place and carrying on muttering about it long after the rest of the attendees had moved on to other matters.

      Technology issues have happened to us all enough times, did it really not occur to him that something like the emails going into spam could have happened?

      1. Lance*

        Since an assistant was mentioned, it’s also possible that said assistant is mostly managing his e-mails/invites and just… messed up.

        Either way, yeah, Fergus was being an ass and it was absolutely right to shut him down, and that this reflects more on him than OP.

        1. Rolly*

          Adding: you cannot prove or even know someone received an email unless they responded to it in some way. You can only prove you sent it.

          Ditto they cannot prove you did not send it – Fergus is an a## for saying that.

      2. soontoberetired*

        And that’s probably what happened. A quirk in microsoft mailing programs, if you use the rules, means mail you should see sometimes goes where it isn’t even if it didn’t match the rules you set up. the rules get corrupted. I have learned to check both my spam and junk and delete boxes for things.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I agree. If I was another client, the screenshots would have seemed anxious or like overkill; Fergus was already showing that he was unreasonble by his actions.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s possible for some systems to block external calendar invites because of links & scripts isn’t it? That’s something to check into & keep in mind for future calls– if someone hasn’t replied it might have been sent to their junk folder.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes to this, my work email servers had some kind of update that resulted in bouncing all emails from the entire country of France. Which was an issue because I was in the middle of working with a French vendor and ended up having to use my personal email until we could get things fixed.

        But I didn’t accuse the French vendor of not emailing me, nor did they accuse me of not emailing them!

    4. binge eating cereal*

      Yes, you did the right thing (FWIW, Google calendar effs things up ALL the time with meeting invitations, although the email should have cleared it up, and also, that guy is a jerk). Save the screen shots for your work bestie to be like “Can you BELIEVE this guy???”

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I was skimming through old letters yesterday, and one was from someone who had a pushy person try to glom on to her at industry events. “OP and I went to school together!” “We did not; he started after I graduated.” With the consensus being that while this was really annoying, throwing down with him in a face-off was going to be very off-putting to bystanders, who would try to do a Homer-Simpson-bush-fade away from the drama. That OP was 100% in the right and this dude 100% in the wrong was not going to matter to the uncomfortable audience.

    6. Beth*

      Speaking as an IT person: blaming technology is an excellent tactic, even (or especially) when you’re pretty sure the fault is in the user. It allows you to move forward while allowing them to save face.

      I’m fond of phrasing along the lines of “Hmm, there must be a technical issue causing problems with you not receiving emails from me. Let me check in with our IT person* and circle back to you on that. Now, about those llama grooming contracts . . . ”

      *Often “check in with our IT person” is code for “look in the mirror and make a face”, but Fergus doesn’t have to know that.

    7. tamarak & fireweed*

      The firm version for me would be “Let’s check after the meeting where the invite to you went wrong. Maybe we have an incorrect address for you”. Or “Are you available to stay on for five minutes after the meeting so that we can figure out where the invite and my emails to you are going astray.””

      Also, once the OP had confirmed that she didn’t do anything wrong, profusely apologizing may have been counterproductive if the client was set on being hostile – it gives him an excuse.

  9. HA2*

    LW4: it takes far less than 1-2 hours to evaluate a resume submission!

    It might take more than that to make the final decision for who to hire. But at the early stages, the person isn’t making a super involved consequential decision – in effect, the decision to go with the first interview is “take <5 minutes of time to decide whether it's worth giving this person a 1-2 hour shot of your time".

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      And this is why your resume being readable and hitting the key points right out of the gate is so important! When reviewing resumes, I decide within seconds if it’s one I want to put in the YES or NO pile (or the maybe if we don’t have enough good candidates pile). Alison’s timing is correct — 100 resumes in an hour isn’t unreasonable at all.

      1. Rolly*

        I decide within seconds whether to read more carefully, and that reading more carefully is spending 1-4 minutes on it.

        AAM is right on time needed.

    2. BethDH*

      Yeah, I’m not grading the portfolio! In screening resumes for a Zoom interview, the bar is pretty much “is this person’s submission viable enough that I want to talk to them further?”
      If the work is “good enough,” it becomes far more relevant to talk to the candidate about things like the conditions and constraints around their work (what did they do on a short timeline or with minimal budget? How did they work with the team?)

    3. Skittles*

      Absolutely this. I hired over 20 people last year which means I read hundreds of resumes. It didn’t take long for me to be able to scan a resume and make a yes/no/maybe decision within 2 minutes. Very few would be in the maybe pile. My HR rep could send me 10-12 resumes at a time and I’d tell her who I wanted to move through to interview/assessment within 30 minutes at most.
      As the other commenters have said, this is why you need your resume to be really well put together and easy to read with key points being critical.

    4. metadata minion*

      Yup! And while I normally wait until I have a critical mass of resumes before calling people for interviews, some people interview as they go. And even for me, if you sent your resume 30 minutes before I sat down to make a decision, it would look like a very fast turnaround even though the first person to apply had been waiting for three weeks. (I’m in academia. Our hiring process is sloooow.)

      1. Leslie*

        I agree with the very short time it takes to make the first cut on looking at resumes. What many candidates who haven’t been in the hiring side don’t realize is how really bad (for a variety of reasons) many resumes are.

  10. RebeccaNoraBunch*

    Re: LW#1 – y’know, crop tops are SO popular and prevalent these days that I somewhat understand the confusion. As an (apple shaped, ugh) Elder Millennial, I truly can’t believe how every woman I see in Instagram reels or TikToks are in crop tops. It is shocking to me. Even sweatsuits now have crop tops and matching sweatpants (or, as I saw in Chipotle the other day, a BRA and matching sweatpants) but yeah, they’re just not appropriate for the office. If one didn’t have a ton of work experience pre-pandemic and was now back in an office, I get why it’s confusing because you can hardly buy a full-length top anymore, but…no.

    Can’t wait for this trend to die, to be honest.

    1. Cat*

      I assume by bra and matching sweatpants you mean athletic wear. While I agree that it’s not appropriate to wear them in a professional environment, I don’t see any problem with wearing them to Chipotle or on instagram. I’m also an elder millennium and I wear those kind of clothes all the time because its comfortable. I hope that tread doesn’t die. Is it really that big of a deal to see someone’s stomach at Chipotle?

      1. MK*

        I don’t care about seeing anyone else’s stomach; I care about not being able to find comfortable (and I don’t find them comfortable) and weather-appropriate workout clothes. If it’s cold enough for sweatpants, it’s way too cold for a sports bra top.

        I do wish the concept of trends would die, or at least the way the fashion industry implemented them changed. I don’t really care at all about things I dislike being in vogue, as long as these aren’t the only option available. And more often than not, that’s what happens; the last time I went at Nike and Adidas, there were no full-length tops on offer.

        1. Lydia*

          I guess Germany must have a tiny selection of clothing compared to the US because I haven’t had a problem finding full length athletic tops in addition to crop tops. Over here, crop tops haven’t replaced full length tops. They are available in addition to them, which is nice because I like both.

          1. MK*

            I don’t live in Germany, but a considerably smaller European country. I am assuming the stores here don’t carry the amount of stock those in larger countries do, so yes, the selection is much smaller. Are the full length tops available new designs or repeats of collections of past years?

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I’m in the US and the notion that you can’t find anything but crop tops these days is … silly at best.

            1. MK*

              To be clear, I was talking specifically about sportswear, not any other type of clothing. Also, “silly” isn’t a word to apply when other people are describing their actual experience.

              1. Cat*

                Even if you live in a tiny European country, can’t you order clothes online? You can buy pretty much anything you want on the internet, at least in the US.

                1. quill*

                  It’s often more expensive and you can’t try stuff on, so I can see where it would be added difficulty, especially if you have a long torso so things that don’t look on a model like they’re trying to be a crop top function like a crop top.

            2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

              MK already said they live in a small European country. They could very well not have the selection we have in the US. I know of people who come to the US from smaller countries and they are amazed at the selection that we have in the US.

          3. Batgirl*

            You’re certain to find more availability of literally anything in the US. We’re in the UK and we stock up on menswear for my partner when in the US or Canada because his favourite brands have gone all skinny fit and leggings. If we go to Ralph Lauren at home he can’t get classic fit, but across the pond he’ll have a shop assistant hand him just the thing before he’s even said hello. Tldr; the US retail market appears to add trends as options as opposed to letting them dominate.

        2. well more then*

          Yep it’s downright demoralizing. I’ve had stretch marks all over my stomach since age 14. I’ve lost 100 pounds in adulthood and have excess skin on my stomach. I cannot shop at most places at the mall due to the lack of fabric on the tops. I hurt for myself, my other larger or modest (or both) sistahs. I also find it extremely objectifying. WHY AS A WOMAN DO I NEED TO SEARCH SO HARD FOR FABRIC TO PUT OVER MY STOMACH. No question mark after that question, because we know whey.

          1. Felis alwayshungryis*

            I am assuming because they use less fabric, so are cheaper to produce. Same as 7/8 jeans (my kingdom for full length!) and that godawful trend of not hemming them at the bottom.

            1. well more then*

              I was referring to patriarchy. Men also wear crop tops, but also clearly have full top options in a way that women increasingly do not at trendy places. However, you are also 100 percent correct. It’s the same idea as how women’s leggings were randomly sheer for over a decade. Both because we don’t particularly value women and because it’s cheaper.

            2. Raboot*

              Wow, I have been trying to buy some denim shorts for months and it’s impossible unless I want raw hem. I do not! Why is it so difficult to find such a basic thing?

          2. Nancy*

            There are plenty of longer length tops available, I see them all the time. Not sure what the patriarchy has to do with the fact that crop tops are trendy now. Fashion is always changing.

        3. EventPlannerGal*

          Yeah, I mean, I don’t think the entire concept of a fashion trend is going to go away any time soon. I’m surprised that you’ve been totally unable to find any full-length tops at all even at huge brands like Nike and Adidas – I just went to Nike’s site and it literally just took opening up the “tops” section to find dozens of full-length tops (eg hitting at the hips or even lower). I actually had to scroll down several rows to find a crop top at all.

          1. BethDH*

            I live in a rural enough place that I do most of my shopping online and I’ve had a lot of trouble with shirts that aren’t labeled as crop tops being really short waisted. This has happened enough times where the photo appears full-length that I wonder whether some retailers just don’t bother doing new photo shoots for some of the “standard” tops. Admittedly I haven’t ordered from Nike, so price point could be a factor here as well.

            1. KRM*

              As a woman with a long torso, I recommend searching “tall” sizes on Gap Brand sites, or searching “tall girl stores” for some hits. That way, even when the regular size shirts are kind of short waisted, the tall size is probably going to work better for what you want!

            2. pancakes*

              A lot of brands will give you the length of a top in the measurements. It really helps to compare that to a top that you have in your closet and like the fit of.

        4. Minimal Pear*

          I personally overheat a lot in the, uh, chest area so I will often walk around wearing a sports bra in pretty cold weather because it helps me regulate my temperature! But my legs still get cold so I’ll still be wearing pants.

    2. Knope Knope Knope.*

      Another elder millennial here. The crop top trend is so confusing to me. It really is hard to find full length tops nowadays. On the one hand I see people of all body types rocking them and I think it’s awesome! Maybe my daughters won’t grow up with the hang ups and issues I did. On the other hand… put on a shirt sometimes? Like definitely in the office! I love that things have changed since I was entry-level. I no longer need two sets of clothes for work and home or have to stuff my feet in uncomfortable heels all day. But crop tops? Just no. Maybe we just sound “elder” to OP but I feel like the crop top trend isn’t universal enough to be officewear. In the 90s and early 2000s when the clothes that inspired today’s trends were new you saw these outfits in high schools, college age clubbers, celebrities etc. It’s definitely interesting/weird to see it come back in this way now.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Uggggh, just WHY with cropped sweatshirts? If I’m cold enough to wear a sweatshirt, I want my stomach to be covered because, you know, I’m COLD.

      It’s one of my pet peeves about women’s fashion—if something is in style, it’s everywhere. And if it’s not in style, good luck!
      (Signed, someone who waited for YEARS for the demise of skinny jeans and the return of bootcut ones.)

    4. Covered in Bees*

      Personally, I don’t like the look of crop tops period. Body size/shape is irrelevant. I would just ignore it like every other trend I don’t like but I can’t find many full length shirts. I recently ordered from LLBean and Eddie Bauer, assuming they’d be less impacted by this. The shirt hems barely met the edge of my high/mid-rise jeans. The cropping also makes the shirts look boxy, which is another style I try to avoid.

    5. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      SO MANY outfits with blazers modeled by stores (on mannequins, on their website, etc) are with crop tops! I can totally understand how someone comparatively new to the weird world of casual-business casual could see that and assume it’s how it’s meant to be worn

    6. Ally McBeal*

      Hello, fellow apple-shaped elder millennial! I agree that the crop top trend is so frustrating, but it’s definitely not worse than the ultra low-rise jeans and whale tails we grew up with, and at least the culture makes much more space now for bigger bodies.

      I think there are ways to style a crop top to where your stomach doesn’t show – like a high-waisted skirt – in which case, it would be perfectly appropriate office attire. A bare midriff is never appropriate unless you work in fashion, and even then I really don’t think it’s professional. I used to work at Conde Nast, so I say this confidently – in the internet age, your coworkers can see your revealing outfits when you post them on social media; there is no reason to wear revealing clothes to the office.

      1. Batgirl*

        It’s not worse because it’s the same as it has been for years. For years manufacturers and designers have tried to get very young women to wear a narrow selection of skimpy clothes passed off as faux office wear. The reason given by Wellmorethen upthread is exactly what I have always thought; it’s because they think all women want to expose flesh and because the skimpy clothes are cheap to produce.

  11. AcademiaNut*

    For #4, the other possibility, particularly for a large employer and a common position, is that they do rolling hires and interview promising candidates as they apply, rather than collecting applicants until a deadline and doing it all at one. So you apply Friday evening, Monday morning the hiring manager looks through the new applicants, takes a quick look at your portfolio, and gives you a call.

    They’re likely not doing an in depth study of the portfolio, but rather checking it to see if it’s at a level that would be competitive for the job. If they do a lot of hiring, they can get really fast at this.

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      The LW says the company didn’t have any open positions and weren’t actively recruiting at the time so I assume this was a cold application. If that were the case then whoever looks at applications was probably not dealing with a ton of them at once and so had time to look at it. I don’t think this seems particularly strange.

  12. Jmac*

    On the topic of dress codes, there is one woman in my office who regularly wears sleeveless tops. That seems like another no-brainer inappropriate office outfit. A surprising number of people don’t understand work is a bit more formal than a day at the beach.

    1. FG*

      Sleeveless shift dresses are essentially a uniform for some women in the news media, etc. There are obviously people who think that’s a no-no, but it’s not a universal opinion.

    2. Laura*

      There are plenty of perfectly acceptable tops that don’t have sleeves. There is nothing wrong with a dressy tank top that has appropriate width at the top. I definitely would say no spaghetti straps, but again, lack of sleeves does not instantly make a tank top informal. Especially if you live in an area with extremely high heat, humidity, etc.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah, I’m currently wearing a nice sleeveless top, fitted so that you can’t see my bra; it’s 36C outside, 27 inside (95 and 80 F), sunny and humid.

        My field is about as casual as it gets for office jobs, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an employee wearing a midriff baring top (students, however…). Yoga pants, shorts, slippers (that one’s cultural), and plenty of badly fitting or scruffy stuff, though.

        I do think that “we shouldn’t know what kind of underwear you are wearing” is also a pretty standard dress code even in casual offices, but I’ve seen that one broken as well.

      2. Luna*

        I work in a clothes store, where the ‘uniform’ is only restricted to wearing something the store sells on top. Which is fine for me, I love the clothes we sell, especially since it’s a store for larger sizes, so things fit really well. And one of the tops from there is a royal blue, sleeveless top with a bit of a glittery thread used at the hem and seams. I’d kinda call it a tanktop, but it doesn’t really have straps. It’s more cut like, well, a t-shirt that you removed the sleeves from.

        1. Phryne*

          Do you work at Paprika by any chance, cause I think I bought that top last week. (Pardon me if asking after your place of work is too intrusive, just thought it funny you described the exact garment I just bought)

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Sleeveless blouses aren’t appropriate for an office? They have been in all but one place I’ve worked….but these are explicitly cut as a blouse, and have very wide tops of the shoulder (collarbone to shoulder point). Especially in the summer under a cardigan or blazer, it’s just cooler.

      1. The Original K.*

        I’ve never worked anywhere where sleeveless tops weren’t OK. Non-profit, higher ed, Fortune 50, sleeveless is fine.

        1. quill*

          I am currently wearing one! With a flimsy cardigan, but that’s just because my bra straps like to wander.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          The place it wasn’t okay was a hospital. But pretty much everyone there was either wearing scrubs or official hospital polo shirts to differentiate the employees from families visiting a patient.

    4. Luna123*

      Sleeveless tops being inappropriate is new to me. My office is business casual, and while I wouldn’t wear spaghetti straps, I don’t see a problem with a sleeveless Liz Claiborne dress.

        1. RagingADHD*

          If that ever was a rule, it hasn’t been since at least the 1980s, because I have been seeing them since then.

          It’s just a personal hangup of Alison’s because she has a squick about it.

      1. Paris Geller*

        Yeah, this is explicitly spelled out in our dress code at my current place of employment: sleeveless tops are fine as long as they cover any undergarments, spaghetti straps are not. A lot of women’s business casual wear is sleeveless. I personally don’t like baring my shoulders, but I have several sleeveless shells that I wear with a shrug or cardigan.

    5. Cold and Tired*

      I had a client I went to about 6 years ago whose dress code was that no woman could have any bare skin below the waist showing – you had to have panty hose, socks, etc, even with pants and flats. But they had no problem with sleeveless dresses or shirts despite being so conservative with legs.

      Maybe the most conservative offices might still be anti arms, but at this point sleeveless shirts are acceptable in the vast majority of offices as long as it’s a professional fabric/cut.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        One of my early jobs the HR director was an absolute pearl clutcher over women not wearing pantyhose. Luckily no one let her set the dress code but conservative sensibilities about what (primarily if not exclusively women) should wear definitely still exist.

        1. pancakes*

          Definitely people like that still exist, but knowing they’re out there doesn’t compel me to wear pantyhose. They can just deal with not liking my look.

      2. Hibiscus Flower*

        In the late 90s when I was just out of school and working my first office jobs, this was the norm where I live (Central US). No cropped pants and if you wore a skirt or dress, pantyhose were required. Thank god that doesn’t seem to be the case in office anymore!

    6. louvella*

      Considering that yoga pants are fine at this workplace, I bet sleeveless is just fine too. I would wear a sleeveless top at my workplace, either dressier or just a casual cotton tank top. (I do actually tend to dress up more than necessary at work, people wear a lot of graphic tees and leggings but those aren’t really things I wear.) But I still wouldn’t wear a crop top.

    7. Caitlin*

      Sleeveless is usually fine, as long as the rest of the style matches the office dress code – eg sleeveless blouse in a silky fabric, or a sleeveless business dress are both super appropriate for most business dress, even with a blazer/jacket removed. And especially in summer they’re kinda a necessity.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      By sleeveless do you mean a tube top or strapless dress, like something that literally doesn’t have any material above the armpit? I’d consider something like that inappropriate in most workplaces but something that has a normal neckline and just stops at the seam where sleeves would be sewn on doesn’t seem shocking at all (unless you’re Michelle Obama and people are looking for a reason to criticize you lol)

    9. Jam today*

      I was taught that sleeveless was a no-no and the first few employers I had explicitly banned them in the dress code. But I think there has been a culture shift in the last 10-15 years. Nowadays no one looks twice or cares. Not even the most conservative, formal, old guard-boys club fuddy-duddy former employer that refused to allow open toed shoes. Upper arms, fine. Toes, forbidden.

    10. Esmeralda*

      Well, guess I’m an unprofessional beach bum.

      Seriously Jmac, sleeveless shells have been appropriate office wear for women since the 1980s. With a cardi or jacket for meeting clients, without when sitting at your desk.

      Unless you mean sleeveless men’s shirts or tees. That would be icky at the office.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        When I was in high school in the 1960s, female teachers would wear sleeveless dresses or blouses in May and September. It was perfectly normal professional wear, especially since there was less air conditioning. And men wore cotton seersucker or linen suits in warm weather. In all my decades in various jobs, I’ve never heard of sleeveless being unprofessional.

      2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Yep. I worked as a sales manager in the flagship location (biggest location, 7 minutes from HQ and subject to many, many surprise CEO visits) a high-end department store right out of college in the very early 2000s. I wore sleeveless shells, blouses, and sometimes a solid Old Navy tank dressed up with scarf/jewelry/shoes.

        That job is where I learned the adage “hose, hem, heel” as in they should all match, so it was definitely on the dressier end of the “professional dress” spectrum. Sleeveless tops at work have definitely been a thing for a while. My friend who is an attorney wears very professional–and sleeveless–dresses to court sometimes.

      3. Phony Genius*

        Your comment about sleeveless men’s shirts has me wondering. We usually do not approve of gendered dress codes. Yet, we seem OK with women wearing sleeveless tops, but not men. Why do we accept this double-standard?

        1. Ally McBeal*

          My guess, which only doubles down on the double standard, is about armpit hair and our collective social misconception that hairy pits are unhygenic and unattractive. (A lot of male models seem to have very little, or very carefully groomed, armpit hair.) I wonder if an office previously open to women in sleeveless blouses might crack down if a team member decided to stop shaving.

          I would love to see a man wearing a Thom Browne short suit, but I can’t imagine an industry outside fashion where that would be acceptable.

        2. metadata minion*

          I think one problem here is that as far as I know, there are very few sleeveless men’s shirts made in an analogous style to sleeveless women’s shirts. A sleeveless jersey undershirt-style tank top would also be inappropriate for women in most offices, but men don’t really have the option of tailored sleeveless blouses.

        3. Batgirl*

          Men tend not to shave their armpits, (which is also why male dress codes cover legs) and the sleeveless shirts for men are made in a very casual, beachy style. There would need to be a real need among men for sleeveless garments for those two things to be overturned at the same time. Plus designers would have to come up with something entirely new which doesn’t look too fashion-y for office wear. I’ve asked men about this in the past and most are happy enough if they’re allowed to wear short sleeved shirts in hot weather; they see this as close enough and they don’t want a second shaving task. Honestly I would not mind if women’s fashions went from sleeveless to short sleeved; I’d be just as cool and there’s less need to check on my close shaving skills in case I need to raise my arms.

      4. Sylvan*

        Huh. My office doesn’t allow sleeveless shirts and our business casual dress code is otherwise pretty flexible.

        I’ve wondered — why do some workplaces let women wear sleeveless shirts but not men? Wouldn’t it follow that whatever’s wrong with men wearing sleeveless shirts also applies to women? Also, why can I wear a short dress or skirt but not shorts? It’s hot, I hate dresses and skirts, bermudas are ugly but they would cover just as much as a dress or skirt…

    11. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I hope you are kidding, thinking bare arms are only appropriate for the beach. Even high school dress codes allow for teachers AND students to wear sleeveless tops. Frankly, my sleeveless collared top is more professional than the t-shirt and sweater many people wear. But maybe arms are super distracting?

      1. louvella*

        My high school didn’t allow sleeveless tops! (This was in the early 2000s.) But it’s because it was a public school in a town dominated by Mormons.

        But sleeveless tops have been fine at every place I’ve ever worked as an adult.

        1. quill*

          Being in one of the states that you were likely growing up in right now and also having gone to high school in the early 2000’s (though in another state) how did no one get heat stroke? High schools are not known for effective air conditioning.

          1. louvella*

            I actually don’t remember if we had air conditioning or not! I mean, as a heathen gay who loved mini skirts, I didn’t really follow the dress code anyway, and also have blacked out my two years of living in that cursed state.

      2. KRM*

        Exactly! The main reason women at my work don’t wear them is because it’s FREEZING in here, so you’re just going to end up wearing a layer over it. Which some of us do on hot days for the commute–but usually we’ll change when we get here, re: cold.

    12. Bébé Chat*

      I would say it’s obvisouly not inappropriate for your office, otherwise she would not keep on wearing them. It’s not because you don’t like it that it is inappropriate.There are a lot of sleeveless dresses without cleavage or spaghetti straps that are perfect for work.
      As long as the fabric and cut is professional, I don’t think it would ba a problem in most offices.

    13. Gingerblue*

      Sleeveless tops and dresses are completely standard office wear anywhere I’ve worked, which includes a significant sampling of US regions. I’m on the “would prefer to wear a giant enveloping sweater year round” end of style and I still have a bunch of sleeveless things. I frankly can’t imagine trying to put together a work wardrobe without them.

    14. TechWorker*

      I wear nearly exclusively sleeveless tops to work, though of the ‘high neck and wide straps’ variety usually versus camisole style. (Though that’s sort of down to me, other women in my office have come in vest tops and no-one died).

      I don’t think being able to see my shoulders is unprofessional ;)

      I had a breast reduction a while back and tops with sleeves are now more comfortable for me, but one reason I think I’ve always erred towards sleeveless tops is that previously tops would tend to pull at the armpits (unless I bought them absolutely huge on me), which means the fabric is like, touching the armpit and then you end up getting sweaty and uncomfortable. Perhaps this is a thing some folks have never had :p but I would be very unimpressed with a company that demanded I wear sleeves.

    15. bagpuss*

      Sleeveless can be formal and entirely office appropriate.
      If you are talking anout a spaghetti strap, cami style top, or sprotswear, then yes, that’s likely to be a bit too informal in most offices, but sleeveless, office-approriate tops are very common. I work in a fairly conservative profession (law) and it wouldn’t cross my mind to thnk of a blouse being inapprioruiate simply because it was sleeveless.

      Obviosuly there are variations between different offices but it sounds as though your office (like many) has no iissue with sleeveless blouses.

    16. Confuzled*

      What? Where on earth do you work that showing ARMS of all things is inappropriate? How strange. I have worked in many office environments in the last 25 years and no one has ever had an issue with sleeveless tops! What a peculiar thing to consider inappropriate. *is confused*

      1. LilPinkSock*

        My high school principal (public school, so no uniforms) called me and another girl into his office and absolutely berated us for wearing a sleeveless top that was basically a blouse with the sleeves removed. No underwear was visible, and the only skin showing was literally just our arms and shoulders. We were given detention for a week and threatened with suspension because…we had made a hostile learning environment for the young men around us.

        Don’t know if this is why Jmac and others are so adamant that people are covered head to toe, but it’s been pretty well-established that dress codes tend to inappropriately target women/girls.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I loved what happened at a school my kids used to go to (we moved, and are no longer zoned for the school). One mom campaigned for no more sleeveless shirts for any girl because it was distracting for her precious sons (excuse me while I go puke at the lack of responsibility that entails for the boys). Principal said he would update the dress code – and promptly banned all sleeveless shirts, regardless of student gender. Mommy was pissed off when her sons kept getting detention for breaking the dress code by wearing just a basketball jersey (and being made to put on their phys ed shirts), because those are sleeveless. She kept trying to argue that her boys were different – principal held strong that what was banned for the goose (girls) was also banned for the gander (boys). I liked him for that.

    17. EvilQueenRegina*

      Honestly, I don’t see that *sleeveless tops as a whole* are inappropriate for work, there are some out there that would be absolutely fine. I think I’d probably have to see this woman’s tops to be able to judge about those specifically, but I can’t tell from the comment that she’s actually wearing anything inappropriate.

    18. mreasy*

      This is a good example about how different people’s assumptions of what is “baseline” knowledge about office wear.

    19. Jessica*

      When I worked in a bank in the 90s, management announced at a staff meeting that the dress code was no sleeveless tops or dresses. It was early summer, and I had literally just bought a lovely, expensive sleeveless dress the week before. They could have announced this BEFORE the weather warmed up, not after everyone had bought summer wardrobes and were already wearing them. I’m still bitter about this.

      It’s interesting to see how many workplaces are now “sleeveless is fine.” But is it really, though? If sleeveless is okay, it has to be okay no matter what size or shape your arms are, and okay for people who don’t shave their underarms, and okay for men as well as women. It can’t just be “sleeveless is okay as long as you look like Michelle Obama.”

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      By any chance are you talking about the ‘cold shoulders’ style?

    21. Perfectly Particular*

      I just got my new professional pics done in a sleeveless blouse. It looks like part of a suit – much more professional than the flowy floral tops I wear on a daily basis (but that do have sleeves).

    22. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I have always regularly worn sleeveless tops in summer.
      By sleeveless, I mean like a sleeveless shell, not a tank top! As in very wide straps and otherwise not revealing but for the arms. Think a Kasper shell top. These are perfectly appropriate!

    23. Falling Diphthong*

      When I worked in an office, sleeveless silk shell with a knee-length skirt, and sleeveless knee-length dresses, were the norm. And that was the 90s.

    24. B*itch in the corner of the poster*

      I work for the federal government and wear professional, sleeveless shirts all time. So this comment confuses me.

    25. EPLawyer*

      I wear a lot of sleeveless tops. They are called shells and are perfectly acceptable to wear under blazer or suit jackets. It keeps you from overheating. Bare arms are not a problem in the office as long as the shirt is acceptable in other ways.

      Yes its weird that some body parts can be shown and others not. But welcome to the wonderful world of human beings and their quirks.

    26. Revengeofpompom*

      For anyone reading the comments to try to get a handle on industry standards: I am a lawyer in CA, have worked in several different legal offices over the course of 20 years, and this is not true in any place I’ve worked. I literally cannot imagine any single person I’ve worked for even clocking that an attorney was wearing a sleeveless shirt, let alone thinking poorly of the wearer for it.

    27. neeko*

      Well, maybe because people aren’t born knowing stuffy workplace rules and norms. People have to be told what they are and they differ from place to place. I’ve never worked in a place where sleeveless tops aren’t allowed and I’m in my late 30s. If it’s not clearly stated in your dress code that sleeveless tops aren’t allowed, the woman is fine.

    28. Beth*

      I wear sleeveless tops and dresses at work all the time. I work in Florida and I struggle with the heat. My business wardrobe may not include sleeves, but it’s not beach wear.

    29. WantonSeedStitch*

      The VP in charge of my department (non-academic department of a university) wears sleeveless dresses to work. She meets with high-level donors all the time. Nice, polished, tailored, professional dresses. This is absolutely common and absolutely acceptable in many offices.

    30. MCMonkeyBean*

      I can’t get on board with you here. Sleeveless tops are definitely normal everywhere I have worked. They’ve been normal to wear under women’s suits for ages (usually described as a “shell”), and the next step is obviously that sometimes you take your jacket off so they are pretty common to wear on their own at this point. Almost all of my business casual dresses are sleeveless and they were dress-code approved at my pretty formal bank job.

    31. Anne Elliot*

      This is regional as well. I moved from the Northwest United States to the Southeastern United States some years ago. A sleeveless top or dress would not have been acceptable in my Northern locale, but they are acceptable in the South, because it is hotter than Hades down here in the summer. I work at an attorney. Around here, a female attorney will definitely put on a jacket to go to court, to meet with clients, or for big meetings. But if you’re just in the office with coworkers, or in a meeting with peers, a sleeveless top or dress is 100% okay.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes I think weather has a lot to do with it. I’m from the North of England which is traditionally cooler and I work in London and wear trouser suits mostly. I don’t wear sleeveless tops because most of the year it’s not warm enough for my personal comfort. I’m not going to give wardrobe space to something that gets worn 3-4 times per year. One of my colleagues is from Trinidad and runs warm. She looks amazing in sleeveless shells and wears them most of summer.

    32. Lorac*

      That seems a little…dated.

      When I was interviewing for jobs a decade ago, I went to Macy’s and bought a full business suit set from Calvin Klein that included a sleeveless top. That was and still is my interview outfit.

      1. JustaTech*

        I think all of my dressy, “professional” tops are sleeveless shells. Honestly I wish they had sleeves because I almost always only wear them to conferences, where step 1) if turn the AC up to “Artic” and I’m freezing the entire time.

        Back in the early 00’s my mom got a catalog at her very stuffy, old-fashioned workplace that was full of clothes for “professional women of a certain age” and at least half of the shirts weren’t even sleeveless, they were dickies! (A dickie is a shirt that is just the collar and front, no back and no sleeves.) You would only wear one with a jacket of blazer, but they were for dealing with hot flashes. (Historically dickies were worn by men and women in order to reduce the amount of shirts you had to own.)

    33. CPegasus*

      I wear tons of sleeveless tops that completely cover the shoulders, or did when I went into an office. They helped keep me cool when all the other women in my office wanted the temp cranked up, and I’d usually have a cardigan in case I wanted coverage. That was a problem?

    1. Marilyn Monroe dress*

      yeah that’s what I was wondering! What kind of crop top / definition of a crop top here is crucial in deciding how this situation should be viewed (ie clueless new grad, or it’s a stricter office than it seems (plus every place has its preferences), or something weird bc of the cultural differences comment.)

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I’m not sure it would matter. It might impact how harshly some commentors judge her, but ultimately she needs to be clear on this with her employer.

      This is a communication issue, not a fashion one, IMO.

    3. Knope Knope Knope.*

      She states pretty clearly that her midriff was showing on purpose, so it sounds like that’s the issue.

    4. 36Cupcakes*

      Also very dependent on the type of pants. High waisted slacks vs low rise really make the difference in how much skin is showing.

  13. Caitlin*

    For #1, yeah crop tops are generally not appropriate for work or any professional environment, but it can be hard to tell in more casual work environments exactly what types of casual are okay/not okay (because it’s generally not explicit!)

    My go to is usually to see what more experienced staff are wearing – I look at respected staff members who’ve been there a decent length of time (1+ years) to work out what the norm is re skirt length, jeans, sneakers etc. Eg, at my new work I have a respected colleague who regularly wears nice blue jeans, but she always styles them with a blazer, so I’ve figured that casual with a few dressy/formal elements is acceptable! And I dress more conservatively at first, getting more casual over time as I get more confident with reading the office environment – it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

    1. Just a thought*

      This is one of the best and most respectful comments I’ve read on this thread. Thumbs up to you.

    2. Jack Bruce*

      Yes, in the environments I’ve been in, crop tops or mid-thigh or higher skirts/shorts would not be ok. But I’m in libraries and somewhat conservative ones at that, where we deal with the public and people of all ages. Just pay attention to what others are wearing, and start out more conservative until you get a feel for what is normal in your office.

  14. Fikly*

    LW3: It’s far more likely that you can’t find external candidates because you are not offering competitive or appropriate salary/benefits, than that qualified candidates don’t exist. There are many, many people looking for jobs, it’s just that they have enough power that many can actually hold out for a living wage.

    If you are actually interested in hiring, check into what your company is offering, and if it can be improved. It’s amazing what money can buy.

    1. Marilyn Monroe dress*

      $60k per year for 5-10 years experience; must live in NYC/LA/DC won’t get you candidates these days thank god.

    2. letterwriter3*

      I’m letter writer #3. The positions are 100% remote, paying between 160-180k, with okay benefits (good health care but I’ve been fighting for better PTO myself) , solid stock grants and a 15% annual bonus. However, we are looking for a specific high-level skill set that is very in demand in covid times. There is a new tier in the job market for highly-skilled remote labor, where certain skills are in demand and job-seekers have as many options as they want. When I went to look in this market a year ago, I had 4 solid offers within 3 weeks of looking. This is one of the most insane job markets I’ve participated in.

      We may have a problem with our recruiting, since I’m not seeing enough resumes, but we are paying market-rate for the positions. There are qualified candidates, but they are not on the market for long and have their pick of positions.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’d add, also look at your glass door reviews. If you have a “missing stair” problem that employees are tired of working around, that’s where they warn potential future employees.

          1. Observer*

            And you may just have identified your “missing stair”. Because it’s not just this person but what it seems to say about your company.

            Which is something to bring to the PTB, if you are not the person who can do anything about Prickly Colleague (PC). “This person is annoying everyone” is something that might not get much traction. But “I think this person is costing us good candidates for a hard to fill position” is something they might take much more seriously.

      1. Lora*

        I’m in a similar position – we’re looking for a very specific skill set that crosses between a couple of in-demand fields, it’s just tough everywhere even when the job is actually fairly attractive (in my case, comes with significant resume-boosting and they’d be able to create their own team).

        Also consider though, you’re asking someone to come in and fix a low functioning team. Cleanup work is inherently awful and invariably means you’re going to have to fire at least the lowest performers. I’ve done it, it sucks, and if you’re in the worse position of, “we’re also so understaffed that we don’t want to fire anyone for being terrible” then nobody is going to want to take this on. If someone tells me that the job is being a change agent but nobody can be fired, I know from the start this is not going to work out. Your best option may be to de-scope a lot of what you’re doing, do the cleanup work yourself and then hire someone to rebuild.

        But, you asked about how to tell the lowest performer they’re not getting the job. Agree with Alison, just tell them! My usual line is “collegiality is a basic expectation of the job. I don’t expect everyone to be best friends, I expect people to be civil and collegial.” Then I point out specific projects where they need to work with other humans successfully and that if they fail to do this I will have to reconsider how they can continue to do their job when they aren’t meeting basic requirements.

      2. Fikly*

        Then I’d also take a serious look at what’s going on internally. That you only had one internal applicant for the management position – and it was the person no one wants to be associated with or have to talk to – says it all. Did no one else apply because they knew they would have to manage this person, and they knew there’s no way to actually get rid of this person, because them contributing work product is getting them a get out of jail free card for being an utter nightmare to work with?

        Yes, you are understaffed, but at a certain point, the staff member you have is costing you more than they are gaining you.

  15. AnneMoliviaColemuff*

    I’d be curious to know the seniority level of job #4. Unless it’s a more senior exec role I would imagine that recruitment would be doing a quick 5-10 minute scan to make sure you have the appropriate qualifications and experience. The portfolio check would come in the further stages.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      It takes an experienced recruiter 20-30 seconds to scan a resume and decide that a person is potentially a strong candidate and definitely should be interviewed. Same with if they’re definitely NOT appropriate. It actually takes MORE time if they’re somewhere in between.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        More than 30 seconds, that is. It wouldn’t take more than a minute, though.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep, that lines up with my experience. Less than a minute if someone is a clear yes or no, slightly more if they’re in between, since that requires more thought and and a closer read. (That doesn’t mean that the quick “yes” people’s resumes never get looked at more closely. This is just the amount of time it takes to decide to reject or move forward during the initial screen. But then before the interview, I’ll read more closely and make notes about specific things I want to ask about.)

        I know that sounds ridiculously brief, but you really do get fast at it after you’ve done it for a while.

  16. Whirligig*

    I’m an HR pro and firmly believe you can’t have rules for everything/every iteration. Accept that crop tops aren’t OK and move on. Also a feminist. I don’t want to see the bellies of males or females in the workplace. Tattoos, piercings by the dozen, fun hair colors, no worries.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      You don’t want to work in an office where everyone around you is trying to figure out how to do something that is Technically Not Forbidden In The Manual.

      So long as the rule isn’t for LW alone, but not applied to other people wearing crop tops, then it’s fine to convey this sense of office appropriateness as understood by the senior people in the office.

  17. Msfrench*

    Hmm, I personally think the crop top issue depends on how they’re styled, and if flesh is actually showing. I’m in a business casual office and I’ve been known to wear them with high waisted pants and a blazer, so they hit at the same point and there’s no skin exposed. It typically gets compliments, because high waisted items tend towards looking more structured. It’s all in how you wear it, if you wear a top that finishes at a normal point and low rise clothes you’ll hit the same issue.

    1. Viette*

      In this case, OP1 writes, “me appearing in garments that show any portion of my stomach would make [clients] uncomfortable” so I’m thinking it’s pretty reasonable to say that the person is wearing crop tops that show the stomach. Also their counterpoint is partially that other people wear “ill-fitting garments to the point their stomachs are visible”. The stomach showing seems to be largely the actual point of contention here.

      1. Msfrench*

        Oh, I somehow missed that! In that case, yes I agree entirely. Stomach showing is generally not going to be a goer in most places.

    2. trans_worker*

      Yes, I totally agree that it’s all in the styling! Glad to see I’m not the only person with this viewpoint. It’s never been an issue at my office – I work in a fairly conservative office environment (large, corporate engineering firm) and I frequently see crop tops worn in the way you describe.

    3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      “It’s all in how you wear it” is 100% it (and something I’m trying to teach my 20YO son right now). I’ll say it over and over again–my Old Navy tank or tee with a scarf and/or accessories is more professional than someone else’s wrinkled button-down or stained sweater.

  18. Xavier Desmond*

    OP2 I wouldn’t worry too much about what the other clients think. You can pretty much guarantee they were all annoyed with Fergus for derailing the meeting and not you.

    1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Yeah, that’s what I think, too. You stayed professional and on-topic, and Fergus coming back to this perceived slight again and again will have annoyed your other clients much more – possibly even more than if you *actually* had accidentally forgotten to invite Fergus. Especially since his assistent obviously *had* the neccessary Zoom link and it can’t have been that much of a hassle to get it from them?
      I really like that you already figured out how to with other clients in the future circumvent the problem you had with Fergus!

    2. QuickerBooks*

      I scrolled all the way down here to find and support exactly this response.

      I am certain that the other clients–all of whom actually received the email and would have no reason to believe that you had intentionally left someone out–have all had the experience of having an email get caught in their spam filter or somehow otherwise get misdirected. That is the obvious explanation here, and I feel confident saying that everyone else on the call knew that.

    3. El l*

      Yeah, I can guarantee at least one of the following crossed their minds:

      “Fergus, did you check your spam filter?”
      “Fergus, did you confirm with her that the email address was correct?”
      “Fergus, could you have tried calling OP when nothing popped up? Or similarly, are you linked via a messaging service like Teams where you could send her a message?”
      “Dude, it’s been 2+ years since COVID forced us all remote. Happens to all of us every now and then.”

    4. Elenna*

      Yes, I guarantee you they were all way more annoyed at Fergus for repeatedly bringing it up and derailing the meeting.

    5. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Agreed. I think you handled it perfectly. Not arguing with clients in front of other clients is the way to go for sure. I like Alison’s language for how you could have shut him down but I bet you were so thrown by how he was behaving that it was hard to come up with something like that in the moment. And lucky for you he’s not your problem anymore so you don’t have to worry about that going forward. (Although I imagine it might come up again with someone else so not a bad idea to have these responses in your arsenal for the future.) Congrats on not having to deal with Fergus anymore!

  19. an academic*

    I’m a college professor who teaches huge classes, and from what I can see, crop tops are extremely in right now, and as a results, they’ve lost any edge they once had. I went to college in the early 2000’s, and back then showing two inches of belly would have been a provocative statement that was reserved for really skinny people at parties. I personally was not and not that type of woman, so I never wore one. But it’s really, really not like that right now. It’s like every third person is wearing a crop top in class. (Yes, the waistlines are high these days, but the bellies are still showing.) My favorite undergraduate research assistant, who has always been consummately professional, as far as I can tell only wears crop tops to school. She wears them when she works her campus job, and she wears them when she TAs, and none of the students thinks anything of it. On campus, it feels like crop tops are almost as common as yoga pants. I can completely see why a young person today would be confused about why yoga pants are OK but crop tops aren’t.

    1. Knope Knope Knope.*

      Yeah I chimed in on an earlier thread as an elder millennial who just can’t wrap my head around someone wearing a crop top to work(!!) but I bet when the generation you teach is in management it may be different. Tho skinny jeans and flowey shirts may be back in by then.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      *question to the universe* Having finally, finally lost the ubiquitous low-waisted pants, why did they take away fabric from the tops to compensate?

    3. Rock Prof*

      I’m an elder millennial college professor, andi totally agree on this about students. Though at my college in the early 2000s, I found crop tops and ultra lowrise pants really ubiquitous. Now, I even have a couple crop tops that I’ve worn casually with high waisted pants (I thought myself too counter culture to wear them back in the early 2000s).
      Some other commenters have included examples of different styles that show the range that crop tops can fall in, and I could definitely see how it isn’t at all obvious that stomach bearing crop tops wouldn’t be accepted in a really casual environment.

  20. Hornswoggler*

    “While their work is technically decent, their prickly personality had already led to the team entirely ignoring their work and even disinviting them to meetings. ”

    Slightly surprised that Alison didn’t pick you up on this. Obviously there’s a problem with this employee but there’s also a problem with the people that are ignoring/excluding him. He may be obnoxious but these actions could be framed as bullying.

    Also, having ‘technically decent’ work ignored or excluded, even if it’s being done by someone who is unpleasant, isn’t good for business.

    1. letterwriter3*

      I’m the letter writer for #3, and have to agree there is a large degree of in-group/out-group interactions going on. However, the person in question has been coached several times on her excessive negativity, passive aggressiveness and defensiveness and hasn’t changed her way of interacting with folks. I was actually nudged to just fire her by her ex-managers when I took over the teams. But I spent some time reviewing her work and realized her work was okay, she just isn’t pleasant to work with. Putting her on a new team without any baggage and focused on individual work has helped quite a bit, but I’m still stuck with her applying for a role she has no business in.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        This appears to have been a “chicken or egg” situation, with a spiralling negative feedback loop. The change of teams may have broken that cycle.
        However, IMO management requires different skills than one uses as a content specialist. Promoting someone to do the first based on their ability to do the second often doesn’t work out. As I’ve seen with a few department Heads and Deans, a great (or average) researcher does not automatically become a great (or average) administrator. The personality problems you mention would not be a good fit for a managerial role.
        In my place, people can apply for anything internal, but that doesn’t mean that they must receive a positive recommendation if they’re not a good fit. I think that you need to deliver an honest but respectful assessment, if asked.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        With this background information, it sounds like the “you aren’t the right fit for the team lead role” conversation will be a little easier. You can refer to the previous coaching and her lack of improvement. Something along the lines of “in the past, you’ve been coached on how your excessive negativity, passive aggressiveness, and defensiveness have prevented you from having good working relationships with your colleagues. You have not made [a lot/much/any] progress in those areas. I need a team leader who has good interpersonal skills and can handle conflict without being defensive. Right now, you don’t have the skills necessary to excel in the role so I won’t be moving forward with your candidacy for this position.”

    2. Jerab*

      I agree, I’d probably be prickly if my work was being ignored and people were actively sabotaging me by disinviting me from meetings!

    3. Just Another Starving Artist*

      Just because actions could be framed as bullying doesn’t mean they are. No one wanting to put up with someone’s bs because they behave badly isn’t bullying, it’s consequences for poor behavior. The idea that people have to put up with misbehavior so long as the work is good needs to go away.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I think this gets rather close to saying that it’s ok to exclude someone just because you don’t like them. In social circumstances that’s fine, you don’t have to be friendly with someone you don’t want to be friendly with, but you can’t exclude people from work matters because you don’t like working with them. If you are supposed to be working together then you can’t just ignore them.

        It does sound like the OP needs to do some more work with this person and their behaviour, but they also should not have let the previous team cut them out of meetings and things that they were supposed to be involved in.

        1. RagingADHD*

          This is one of those vague descriptions that everyone is going to interpret through their own experiences. You’re assuming the “prickly personality” merely made others dislike them in a social way and disinviting them from meetings was a personal snub.

          Whereas I relate this to experiences with people whose inability/ refusal to work constructively with others actively blocked work from getting done.

          If someone is impossible to work with, obstructive and derailing, and management won’t address it, it is not just okay but necessary to work around them.

          It sounds like LW solved a longstanding problem by moving them out of the way.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            I think you might have misunderstood what I meant. In a social situation you can choose to stop interacting with a prickly person, because there is no other obligation for you to fulfill other than whether you want them in your life. But if you are supposed to be working with someone, even if you don’t like them, it’s not acceptable to block them from meetings or other resources that they need to do the work. I’m not thinking that cutting them out of meetings was merely a personal snub at all. If you are leaving them out of processes that are integral to getting the work done then you could be preventing them from doing their job.

            I understand that the OP moved them to another role to avoid this issue. But given than they are now applying for another collaborative role I wonder how direct they were with this person.

  21. Threndok*

    I’m old enough that crop tops have never been daily wear for most of my peers, but I commute through a college campus regularly, and it appears that a substantial proportion of students don’t hesitate to wear them to class or other daytime settings. Combine that with not having in-person internships recently, and I think the question from LW1 is to be expected. It’s good they asked and got the answer out in the open.

    I do wonder slightly if as time passes, and today’s younger adults become more influential on the working world, will crop tops in the office become common in a decade or two? I remember when wearing running tights without shorts over then seemed like a risque, and now that’s an extremely prevalent look at any gym.

    1. Terrysg*

      Ina decade they will be out of fashion, except for a few fuddy duddys, in twoecades they might be back again. I wouldn’t worry about it eitherway.

    2. ecnaseener*

      FWIW, college students wear all sorts of casual clothes to class, all the way down to PJs. That’s not a good metric for what they consider to be appropriate office wear.

      1. Yes Anastasia*

        Sure, but younger people are wearing crop tops as part of a polished, put-together look – I can absolutely picture the blazer + crop top outfit that the LW is describing and see how she concluded it’s appropriate for a mainstream office.

        1. Threndok*

          Yeah, that is what I had in mind. The crop top is paired with a skirt, slacks, a blazer, and other attire that would definitely be suitable for the office. This simply wasn’t a common outfit when I was that age, but it is now. To me the confusion on both sides is understandable (the people who are shocked and the people who thought it was okay) and posts like this can get people on the same page.

  22. TLC*

    LW2 – I sometimes find that Google calendar will stick appointments on my calendar without actually sending an official invite to my email. In other words, if I don’t know to look for an appointment, I might not even know it’s on my calendar. As such, I’ve just gotten in the habit of sending an email immediately after sending a calendar invite, with the meeting date/time/etc, and asking folks to let me know if they didn’t get the appointment.

    1. Doctors Whom*


      I have a personal Google calendar used only for family stuff. And I do not get an email or any other notification when someone adds an appointment unless they explicitly email me. MrWhom will set up KidWhom’s orthodontist appointment on the family google calendar. Two days before the appointment we are suddenly all aflutter trying to figure out who can move their 2 pm call. He definitely put it on the family calendar, all right. But that was 6 weeks ago and I never got a notification – and don’t make a habit of just surfing multiple weeks of the calendar in my free time to see if there are any surprises. We have since modified the algorithm – if you want the Doc to be cognizant of the event during a workday, you need to email my work address so I get an invite on that calendar.

      Does NOT excuse Fergus’ behavior, but it is well plausible that Fergus did not get the original meeting notice. Now that OP knows there is a potential problem with Google invites, they should develop a backstop like TLC suggested. Or better yet, they can include the link to the Google invite in the second email.

  23. Green great dragon*

    #3 I’d be careful *not* to imply the problems with their interpersonal skill are only an issue if they want promotion. Sounds like they need to improve considerably to be effective in their current role.

  24. Luna*

    LW1 – I would say it’s ‘common sense’ that crop tops are not something to be worn in office type of jobs. But that’s a thing that only occurs with hindsight, what may appear ‘obvious’ turns out to not be that way until you have experience with it.

    Now, I do think that claiming you shouldn’t wear anything showing part of the stomach because of ‘cultural differences’ is not that great of a reason to give. And it personally kinda irks me a lot! Not only because it sounds sexist (because I doubt there’s many ‘rules’ regarding what men should/should not expose on their body with clothes), but also because, if you are not living in a country where a culture of covering your body (especially if you are a woman) is the norm, you really shouldn’t expect or enforce this culture on the people living there.

    Overall, you now know that crop tops are not appropriate office wear, so you can avoid this by not wearing this type to work anymore. If it gets too warm, you could wear a tanktop with thick straps or a sleeveless top/blouse under the blazer. Or something overall loose, as those can be cooler than tanktops because of the looseness.

    1. reject187*

      I’d argue that men have fewer rules to learn because their fashion choices are usually much more limited. Men’s fashion doesn’t usually give them the option of sleeveless, for example. Men’s shorts are usually around knee length. At work, men’s attire is usually pants or jeans (or nice looking shorts in very casual offices), and button up shirts or polos. Throw on a blazer if you’re in a more professional office. Unless you’re looking at high fashion, those are the options for work or casual wear. I think the closest fashion option that guys have to crop tops is those flowy gym shirts that are open from armpit to hem. And there are very few offices that would say it that is appropriate work wear.

      1. kiki*

        Yes, I agree. When I go to a typical clothing store for men, there’s usually a clear section of professional clothes. Even if some of the items in that section aren’t the right fit for the most professional office (e.g. chinos when an office requires business formal), none of what’s available in the professional section would be considered inappropriate, just too casual.

        When I go to a women’s clothing store, there’s usually not a clear professional section, aside from full-on suits. They have the casual mixed with the business. There are crop-tops paired with professional trousers. They have dresses that look like they’re intended for an office, but are wildly short. There’s a cropped button-up shirt. It’s just madness and adds an additional amount of mental filtering women need to do.

  25. bamcheeks*

    LW1, I have SO MUCH SYMPATHY, but treat this as a learning experience. Dress codes and femme fashions are a nightmare: even if there was a written dresscode, it’s quite likely it wouldn’t specify “no crop tops” because nobody was really wearing them as normal daywear from the late nineties until a couple of years ago. And if you’re relatively young, then crop tops probably feel like a, “what? this is a perfectly normal garment of perfect normality??”, whereas to people ten to fifteen years older than you it’s quite clearly a Young Person’s Fashion Item and it’s so obvious it’s not workwear that it doesn’t need saying.

    I graduated in 2001, straight into the era of “it is simply not possible to buy trousers high enough and shirts long enough to meet in the middle, unless I go into shops I frankly wouldn’t be seen dead in and couldn’t afford if I did.” Looking back, I feel embarrassed that I didn’t realise that an inch and a half of midriff wasn’t appropriate in a casual office environment– but at the time it just felt completely like, “most people are dressed in normal clothes, these are my normal clothes, what?” It genuinely is a learning curve with a lot of unwritten rules for women and other marginalised genders, and we don’t get a huge amount of help navigating it.

    One thing that did help me was kind of reconfiguring work-appropriate clothing to be about a levelling process. I kind of went, “OK, I feel fine wearing a spaghetti-strap top to work as a relatively slim, white, twentysomething– would I still feel comfortable in it if I had a larger body?” If I felt it was something that someone larger, or older, or darker-skinned would get shamed or stigmatised for wearing, I would probably put it back, because work shouldn’t be about taking advantage of having the “right” kind of body. I don’t know whether that makes sense, but framing it as and issue of fairness and equity made sense to me. And of course, we should all work towards dismantling that stigma, but that’s not something I was doing by wearing strappy tops or low-cut trousers.

    (Also, my mum was a teacher in the 60s, and went back to the school she’d taught at for a reunion 25 years later. She was looking at photos with other friends, and said, “Goodness, our skirts were short! But we all wore them like that, then, didn’t we.” And her friends went, “No, yours were ESPECIALLY short, we all used to talk about it and wonder whether we ought to say something.” Poor mum!)

    1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      +1 to this. What a great explanation of the world of office norms, unspoken “rules” and the power structures that lie underneath how bodies are policed.

      1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        But i cant really see any issue myself with crop tops if they are everywhere right now.

    2. Lisa*

      This is a lovely comment, and I hope the LW sees it. I feel like the people being surprised this happened havent been in a “juniors”/”misses” section recently. It’s legitimately difficult to find tops marketed to young people that arent cropped currently.

      1. Just Another Starving Artist*

        I find this weird, because I’m in my 30s and I definitely wear crop-tops… when I’m with friends. I have work clothes and normal clothes. That’s not a concept new to college kids; at least it wasn’t when I was in school. The idea that everyone is wearing “normal clothes” to the office only makes sense if you think every white-collar professional above the age of 25 exists solely in business casual.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I work in admin in higher education– our dresscodes tend to be at the casual end of business casual, with a lot of variety. I’ve colleagues who wear the same jeans and checked shirts to work that they’d wear outside work for everything except a very formal event, and colleagues who quite clearly have a separate work wardrobe and look quite different if you run into them at the supermarket. All totally fine, but legitimately confusing when I was brand new to a professional environment and trying to work out what I felt comfortable and appropriate in.

        2. Magpie*

          I could actually see someone thinking that though, if you were, say, 22 and didn’t have many older friends, or friends with “real” jobs. Actually I’m pretty sure I assumed this when I was younger – and lots of boring people really DO wear business causal all the time.

          1. Angstrom*

            Boring clothes don’t always indicate boring people. Some of us prefer to fly under the radar. ;-)

            1. metadata minion*

              And some of us hate clothes shopping and so own work clothes and commemorative t-shirts and basically nothing else.

          2. bamcheeks*

            yes, or make the kind of distinction between “business casual” and “normalwear” that wouldn’t necessarily be obvious to someone fifteen years younger! Like, you wouldn’t necessarily clock the Highly Important Distinction between “this cut in blue denim” and “the same cut in corduroy” if you’re looking at both and thinking, “yikes, dad jean vibes.”

        3. quill*

          I mean, I have normal clothes and I have normal clothes that it’s nobody’s business if they see in the grocery store but I wouldn’t wear to work because I want to give the impression of being put together. See: tie dye gym shorts. Which I might wear with a solid colored t-shirt I wouldn’t have a problem wearing to work. Having your professional clothes be a subset of the clothes you would potentially wear every day doesn’t seem like a wild idea to me. (I’m also in my 30’s. Only some of my workplaces have been business casual, but in most of them dark wash jeans and shirts that ride the line between T-shirts and blouses have been fine – I certainly don’t have separate pants for work!)

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Heck they haven’t been in a section marketed to middle aged plus size women, at least not where I live. It’s been a challenge to find anything in my size that isn’t cropped or luxury athletic style.

    3. WS*

      Yes, I’ve been told off for showing too much cleavage when I was covered up to the neck because I have a bigger bust. There are a lot of weird intersections when it comes to bodies (especially female-appearing bodies) and workplace norms. Sometimes being at work in an average workplace really involves going for the boring option!

    4. anonymouse*

      I appreciate this comment. As a woman who has gone through weight fluctuations, I felt a bit weird about LW1 comparing someone’s shirt riding up a bit or “fitting poorly” to intentionally wearing crop tops. Ill fitting seems like a euphemism for fat (or not-thin) women wearing shirts that are too tight, because women who are thinner or less busty do not face nearly as much scrutiny over how their clothes fit. I have been (respectfully) chided for wearing a shirt- not a crop top- that was riding up too much when I was interning at a nonprofit. I am 26 and wear a size L-XL and I would not feel comfortable wearing a crop top in a professional setting unless I was wearing an extremely high waisted skirt or a cami underneath. It’s not that I am insecure about my body, I just know that because of the intersection of sexism & fatphobia, I would experience scrutiny and unwanted attention.

      For good measure, I am guessing the LW’s boss would probably say something if a male coworker was wearing crop tops. Generally, showing your midriff in the context of an office is frowned upon regardless of your gender.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yes, I’m also uncomfortable with LW’s comments on her colleagues wearing “ill-fitting” clothes and some of the conversation further up about a “well-fitting” crop top being appropriate. Being able to buy well-fitting clothes off-the-peg is an enormous privilege, whether it’s the luck of having the “right” body shape and size, or the luck of having enough money to buy more expensive clothes or update your wardrobe whenever your body shape changes.

    5. Batgirl*

      This is a fabulous description of what it’s like to dismantle the web of women’s appropriate social/work wear.

  26. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

    Personally, I don’t think not having a written dress code isn’t such a big deal. Nor do I think banning crop tops in an office is a big deal.

    That said: I take issue with is the awkwardness with how they addressed OP. This should be a minor matter-of-fact correction, where the company takes ownership over the confusion. OP shouldn’t have to ‘clarify’ what people are saying in a meeting they called….the message should be direct and straightforward.

    The way this messaging was handled probably came accross as scrutinizing and judgemental; I can understand why OP is upset.

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Agree. Things like dress codes need to be flexible enough to deal with changing fashion but sometimes they don’t, so whoever is responsible for them should have just said that a style of top that shows any midriff skin is not allowed going forward.

      Years ago I worked in a place that banned sandals. One day I wore heels with a tiny bit of a peep toe, not really thinking of them as sandals. The manager just said something like “oh, those would fall under the sandals rule so please don’t wear them to work again”. Great. No problem. No weird “cultural differences” speech.

      1. Angstrom*

        Agree that management made this more awkward than it needed to be.

        Call me a dinosaur, but in the office I don’t see a need to display bellies or butt cleavage, regardless of gender, age, size or color.

        1. Alie Anon*

          You really can’t say regardless of gender though without ignoring the fact that white men disproportionately seem to feel like they can police the bodies of women. There are many more rules imposed on women in public with how they can present themselves.

          1. Angstrom*

            I don’t think displaying bellies or butt cleavage is appropriate in the office. For anyone. Period. A dress code could state that without specifying gender or specific clothing.

            Yes, there’s a long history of dress codes being sexist. They don’t have to be.

            1. Little Miss Sunshine*

              Agreed. Regardless of your gender expression, no one at work needs to know more about your body than your mother does. Keep work about work and show off your abs/boobs/butt/muscular limbs at the gym/beach/home.

          2. Batgirl*

            Well they said “I” so I think they can. I don’t think they were referring to historical sexism.

        2. Dinwar*

          Let’s analyze this argument.

          Issue: Are crop tops appropriate for the office?
          Conclusion: No.
          Reason: I don’t like them.

          Every argument requires assumptions to bridge the gap between the reasons and the conclusions (“Asking the Right Questions”, if you want the reference). I’m struggling to understand the assumptions that help bridge the gap here. Some plausible ones exist–for example, if you’re the LW’s boss you get to make these decisions, it’s part of the employee/employer relationship. I just don’t see the connection here.

          I will also point out that a well-fitting crop top is not the same as someone exposing their butt. To conflate those two is fallacious–the intent being to paint a woman’s stomach (if shown at all) as the same as her bare butt. At the very least, you’re failing to differentiate between unlike categories. At worst, you’re engaging in a rather annoying rhetorical trick. That said, it is a classical one–goes back at least as far as the Roman Republic–so I’ll give you credit for that. It does tend to fall apart once someone points out the trick, though, so it has always been a risky tactic.

          1. Angstrom*

            No trickery intended. Displaying bare skin at the waist — be it from a woman’s short top or a man’s saggy pants — would be considered unprofessional in most offices. Are they the same? No. Do they have to be the same to both be inappropriate?

            Agree that dress standards are subjective by nature. The best one can hope is that they are inclusive, clearly written, clearly communicated, and equitably enforced.

    2. JustaTech*

      I do wonder if having a written (non-awful) dress code would have circumvented the entire awkward conversation/ “cultural differences” thing.

  27. 3.14159*

    #2 The customer seems like a jerk, but you come across as ageist. Tech is hard, it is not something you just absorb when you are of a particular generation. I work in a big tech company and we all still struggle with online meetings from time to time. Things going wrong with online meetings happens. He should not have blamed the going wrong on you, but you blaming it on him and his age/tech savvyness makes even less sense. It is very unlikely that he knows how to send email, but not how to read incoming email.

    In your first response, you could have mentioned that you doublechecked and did sent the invite, did it maybe go to his spam folder? In the meeting, also acknowledging how annoying it is that this went wrong, and offering to look into it after the meeting if he wants (and then indeed focus on the goal of the meeting). But it sounds like you think there is nothing to look into just because the email was in your sent folder. There could be something wrong on your end (if you sent email from your own domain, did you do basic things like setting up DKIM correctly?), or on his end (some companies have very strict spam filters) or on the side of the meeting platform. These things going wrong is often due to a combination of circumstances (or bad luck), so do not assume that just because a few other clients did get the invite this is “proof” that the client must have done something wrong.

    1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      completely agree – LW is hardly tech savvy themselves if they believe that if an email was sent it therefore must have been received

    2. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      While I agree that the tone of OP2 was a little ageist, I disagree that the DKIM setting would be incorrect. OP2’s other clients received the invite. I also agree that there are a thousand ways that email and virtual meetings go wrong. What you may have missed, however, is that the client’s assistant was able to send the link. This tells me a couple of things – the first of which is that the email did indeed get through. The second thing it tells me is that the client has a bit of a blind spot to everything other than what their assistant sends them.

      OP2 may be a little ageist in their remarks, however, the client is not tech-savvy. As me how I know…

      1. 3.14159*

        I started my working life as an assistant and my assumption would not be that the assistant did have the link and therefore nothing could have gone wrong with the invite. Since it still took 20 minutes, chances are the assistant also had to look to find it and eventually did find it in spam, or just called one of the other participants for the link (seriously, frantically texting other meeting participants to please send a link to the Teams meeting is a thing that still occasionally happens in my tech company).

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Well said– that’s what’s been running around in my head to come but I haven’t been able to put it so precisely.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        …in my head too,
        I hate what my speech to text does about punctuation. (Samsung are you listening?!)

    4. QuickerBooks*

      Well, I’m not an expert on ageism per se, so I can’t really comment on that.

      I can say, however, that as I have aged, I have experienced technology as increasingly difficult to master. You say that technology is not something you absorb by being a member of a particular generation. No, but I would say it’s something you absorb easily while you are of a particular age. So it’s not unreasonable to imagine that a technology that emerged after a person has matured beyond a certain age might be more difficult or unfamiliar to that person.

      Technology is like a language. Babies easily learn it easily, and it gets harder and harder as you get older. Is that ageist? I don’t know. I’m in my 50s now. I remember learning computer programming as a 12-year-old when computers in people’s homes were fairly rare. We really did just seem to absorb it from the air. I don’t remember once having to sit down and concentrate to learn how to program those early TI-99/4a’s. We just sort of… did it.

      Now I find I have to work much harder at it, and it’s harder to get things to “stick”. I do keep up to some extent; I can work a crypto wallet, I can sort of program my smart TV, and although I don’t follow any streamers in the gaming space, I do have some sense of the culture there. I guess my point is that it’s certainly possible to defy expectations regarding technology and age, but to pretend that there’s little correlation between age and comfort with changing technologies strikes me as not quite right either.

      1. quill*

        It’s also how you use things. There’s in some cases a decline in technical literacy for younger people who are more likely to use tablets or phones, AKA devices and systems meant to be less customizable by the end user, exclusively. And that was true 10 years ago when I was in college, too, and had peers who were so wedded to a specific brand that they failed to understand literally any other device, even if iPhones weren’t ubiquitous yet.

        (Meanwhile my friends, being nerds, were on the internet trying to make their computer games not pick fights with the school-issued antivirus.)

      2. Important Moi*

        Very late responding, but I agree.

        I’m dipping a toe into learning new computer languages and software applications. It has never taken so long for things to “stick” before. I am improving in another area, my ability to look things up has greatly improved.

    5. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      I don’t think it’s ageist to recognize and admit that many members of the older population groups may have significant technology barriers and challenges. Once recognized, they can be assisted if they’re open to learning. My own Baby Boomer father is extremely not open to learning or using most forms of technology, to the point where he often makes life extremely difficult and frustrating for himself, but it’s his decision. He would do exactly what Fergus did here because any tech issue he doesn’t understand quickly makes him defensive and angry with anyone else. It’s a tough situation to deal with on both sides.

      1. QuickerBooks*

        This is my nightmare. It’s why I work so hard to keep up with new technology even if I’m only partly successful. I think tech literacy in the 21st century is like book literacy in the 18th century. Sure you can get by without it–and lots of people did–but not being able to read made you much more vulnerable in society. We’ve all heard the stories of people having to tell their dad or their grandmother: “No, do NOT click on that link from your bank asking you to confirm your password!” The last thing I want is to be the victim of some kind of technology-based scam that’s obvious to people 30 years younger than me, but that I don’t have a clue about.

  28. Tara*

    #2 You were right to redirect him. You can’t diffuse / de-escalate that type of situation by proving the person wrong, however wrong they may be!

  29. LW*

    When I hear “crop top” I want to know where it ends – just below the bra? On the waist? Tight or loose? There would be a vast difference in what I’d think of it depending on where on the spectrum of “underwear to outerwear” it is.
    A loose cropped shirt that hits the waist will ride up now and again depending on what you’re doing, sure, but your lady-middle sure won’t be on permanent display to the world.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Wow, I’ve never heard the term “lady-middle” before and I sure wish I still hadn’t! What, pray tell, is the difference between a lady’s stomach showing and a gentleman’s?


      1. Alie Anon*

        The difference between a lady’s stomach or a gentleman’s stomach?.. Hmmm. I suspect one is constantly having their bodies policed and one is doing the policing.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Women’s and queer people’s bodies are without question policed more than cis men’s, but I always find it really weird when people make it sound like it would be fine if a man wore a crop top in the office and nobody would flick an eyelid. Men’s *bodies* may not be policed in t he same way, but their clothing options are much more tightly policed, both in work and out of it.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Yeah, that’s kinda why I was so surprised to see “lady-middle” …stomachs are one of the only body parts I can think of which are A) really not gendered and B) generally considered inappropriate to display in an office. (Other than, say, feet, but that’s a smell thing mostly.)

      2. LW*

        “Lady-middle” = used in this specific examplegiven the letter writer.
        “Permanent” = clearly meaning “for the entire time the outfit is worn”.

        Happy now, Columbo? And yes, I know the letter doesn’t specifically mention the writer is female, but after many years of working, while I’ve seen quite a few women wearing cropped tops and blazers, I cannot remember one man ever choosing this fashion combo to rock up to the office in.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I’m not questioning the assumption that the LW is a woman in this case, I’m questioning why you felt the need to say something as weirdly euphemistic and patronizing as “lady-middle” when “stomach” and “midriff” are perfectly acceptable words.

          1. LW*

            Just UK humour I guess? It was meant to be funny.
            Exactly the same as calling a bush a lady-garden?
            Certainly wasn’t from any squeamishness or issue with “real words” – I guess it just didn’t translate well for you in writing.

      3. KRM*

        I do think “lady middle” is funny :) Also, I suspect it was used because you just don’t see casual crop tops marketed to men, so it’s not going to be a man issue. And permanent = when I walk around or stand still you can still see skin, indicating that the top is quite small, rather than you can see skin if I reach up to grab something off the shelf, but when I stand talking to you everything is covered.

  30. bf*

    i was not expecting all of this crop top discourse. FWIW i wear crop tops to work as a non-customer facing director at a manufacturing company. if i did have a planned external visitor/meeting, there are many with whom i would still wear a crop top. it just depends on the company culture, but i agree this was handled strangely by LW1’s boss.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I wish I didn’t expect that comma but I did. The world has such strong opinions on fashion and bodies. Especially when the bodies do not belong to young athletic white males. I didn’t used to be this cynical, really I didn’t.

      1. Batgirl*

        I’m not sure why people are saying men have it better when it comes to exposing your torso at work?!

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      i was not expecting all of this crop top discourse

      Oh, I was. People never miss a chance to police women’s bodies.

      But also, the manager made it way more awkward than it needed to be. I can just picture them awkwardly stammering through the conversation when all it really needed to be was, “LW, I know things are pretty casual around here, but I wanted to let you know that crop tops aren’t permitted under the dress code.”

    3. croptopluvr*

      I’m actually stunned by the number of people who would judge a person’s ability to do their jobs based on whether or not they wore a crop top! It just feels like a very old-fashioned mindset, like always wear pantyhose or something LOL

      I personally don’t think they’re the best choice for office wear primarily because they seem to offend more conservative people, but plenty these days can be styled with high-waisted bottoms to look office appropriate.

      Personally I’m loving not having to navigate fussy dress codes with remote work. Being evaluated on what I actually do and not on whether I have a strip of tummy showing is very nice. And yes I do wear crop tops in my home office :)

  31. Spicy Tuna*

    From a personal standpoint, I think crop tops are ugly and unfashionable and I am old enough that I thought that the first time they were popular when I was a teenager in the ’80’s.

    That said, OP’s workplace really needs to have a concrete dress code in place. It’s fine for the dress code to say yoga pants are OK and crop tops are not! As long as the dress code does not single out or target certain groups of people, it can be whatever management wants it to be.

    I am a big proponent of very specific dress codes and pointed direction if the code is being broken. I loathe shopping, I do not have a good sense of “style”, I find most clothing doesn’t fit me off the rack and I have little time or patience for tailoring. At more than one job, I was told to “dress better” with no other input provided about what specific code I was violating. So, I feel for the OP and the vague direction they are getting from their job. However, generally, crop tops are never OK in an office setting.

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    Like many things, I’d say for the crop top question it’s a “know your office/industry/region” type of situation. There are many it seems where it would be fine for this…. Other people in the comments claim seeing shoulders are inappropriate!

    Point being imo there’s nothing objectively wrong with a crop top, and I think it’s weird that others are saying they wouldn’t trust your judgement (WTF). But that’s where we are now..

  33. Ranon*

    LW#4- in my most recent job hunt I had an interview invite basically first thing Monday morning for an application I sent in over the weekend, and that eventually ended in a job offer. For all you know they were about to post the opening and your timing happened to be good, or they were thinking about maybe hiring for a role and you happened to be a fit, or there’s always demand for a role but they usually fill it through other recruiting efforts, or any number of other scenarios.

    In the current market, if you’re in a competitive hiring field/ role, employers benefit greatly from moving quickly as otherwise they will see folks get hired by another company in the middle of their recruiting process. So a quick response doesn’t surprise me at all.

  34. O.*

    Yeah, crop tops are going to be a no-go in most offices. But what’s with the management who can’t articulate this clearly? You cannot be a good manager if you have a hard time telling employees exactly what it is you want them to do when giving them feedback/correction. I’d hazard a guess that this supervisor’s management skills are lacking in more ways that one.

    1. Batgirl*

      I’m from a working class background, and having been a young woman who had to be told spaghetti straps and other items weren’t really okay, the way you get told is huge. If you get told in a “you wouldn’t have known this, but it’s not dress code” way, it’s absolutely fine. I knew the clothes weren’t revealing in a social context but avoiding items that are revealing, and knowing what is coded-as-business-wear aren’t the same thing. On the other hand, there were occasions were a boss was stammering and not looking me in the eye like I was unrobing in the moment, and I was going to accuse him of sexual harrassment for daring to tell me what the dress code was.

  35. EM*

    This letter is when I officially realized, at 35, I must be OLD. My jaw hit the floor imagining a young professional thinking crop tops are ever okay at work.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      They can be, just not at LW’s workplace. Some people think showing shoulders is out of line so people’s thoughts around others (esp womens’ ) bodies isn’t logical or always obvious

    2. quill*

      I wouldn’t be surprised about the crop tops, but I went down a rabbit hole early in the pandemic of watching buzzfeed fashion videos. Few of the people in those videos putting together “professional wardrobes” were more than 4 years younger than me, but a west coast media company’s idea of what was work appropriate (a heck of a lot more makeup, a heck of a lot less fabric) is very different from working in a lab-adjacent setting in the midwest.

      Frankly I do better in the lab environment, where the guideline is more about safety than gender. Not that any of us want to get chemical burns on our arms, but it would usually be less severe than burns on the torso.

  36. Laura*

    Re the crop tops-

    I worked out why I don’t like them for work.

    Crop tops are largely only worn by young women: they signify youth as well as I am comfortable in my body. A women older than 30 very very rarely will be wearing a crop top and when they do it will signify something important (I spent a lot of money in yoga studios/ I am fashionable etc).

    At work I don’t think it’s useful for young women to signify youth in this way for them and I don’t think it fits with signifying professional – which is what you want even in casual offices.

    I also think that having a layer between your skin and furniture that others have to use is polite- hence no short skirts / shorts either.

    Someone mentioned saris above- they usually have fabric between the back and the seat as well with the drape.

    1. neeko*

      This is such a strange generalization. Women over 30 absolutely wear crop tops without some sort of hidden symbolism implied.

    2. Batgirl*

      I actually do like them, but they have a strong background of being part of beach wear/gym wear and the association isn’t one of “I’m off to the office” so wearing one makes you look new to professional norms (which is industry dependant of course). I don’t agree with your point that people are wearing them to make a statement, but I do agree they’re not really homogeneous enough to become a common item of the office-acceptable wardrobe. People do have different levels of modesty and body comfort and a crop top is not going to be a mainstream choice for a lot of people.

  37. Somewhere in Texas*

    LW#2: When I am in these scenarios and I see someone being unreasonable, I usually do my own sleuthing. Like I’ll put up the mutual calendar invite and see if the other person was invited (mainly due to curiosity). I’m sorry this guy was so unprofessional.