visible bra lines at work, boss keeps winking at me, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

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

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

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

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

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


2. My boss keeps winking at me

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

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

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

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

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

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


3. Office tenant keeps stealing our supplies

I am an administrative assistant for a local development group in my community. In addition to helping with economic development, we also own and operate a small business hub in which we rent out office space to various small businesses and provide them with secretarial assistance and whatnot. We recently had an attorney move into our building and he is driving me crazy. We have a public copy room with a copy machine, computer, hole punch, etc. We provide all the supplies for the copy room. He steals them constantly. In addition to that, I have also found several items missing from my desk, both from on top of my desk and in my desk.

He has returned a few things to me here and there, but definitely not all. The reason I know it’s him—I have a master key and one day had to let a delivery person into his office to deliver a package. While in there, I saw several items that belong to us. He has also taken off with ALL of our coffee cups that we have in the “break room” area. There are several other things that are really starting to get on my nerves, but that is a different question for a different day. How do I ask for these items back in a professional manner? I’m at a loss.

Be direct: “Bob, I let a delivery person into your office the other day and saw that you had several items that have been missing from my desk, like my stapler and coffee mug, as well as the hole punch from the copy room. Can you please return those today? We do provide supplies in the copy room, but they’re for many people’s use and need to remain there.”

If it happens again after that, get more direct: “Bob, like I mentioned before, I need you not to remove items from my desk or the copy room. Your rent covers your office space and access to the copy room, but you’re expected to provide supplies for your own office yourself.”


4. Giving bibles as gifts to employees

I have a question about Christmas gifts from the boss to employees. It is inappropriate to gift a bible to each person in my office? I also wanted to engrave their names on it.

Sooooo inappropriate. Religion is personal, and it doesn’t belong at work. Especially because you’re the boss, this is likely to be incredibly uncomfortable for some people because there’s a power dynamic involved, and you risk making people feel uneasy at best and downright alienated at worst. Stick with non-religious gifts.


{ 428 comments… read them below }

  1. Ginger Cat Lady*

    #4: How is this even a question in 2023? Noooooooooo, do not do that. Not with a Bible. Not with a Koran. Not with a Book of Mormon or a Watchtower or any other religious item. And engraving their names on it? WHY? To ensure they don’t return it or pass it on to someone else? That feels manipulative.

        1. CrackerJaxonApple*

          Yep. In 1997 when some group passed out mini Bibles at school so many of them ended up in the trash even then. And at the time I was a Christian!

          1. ErinWV*

            That was the Gideons. They were all over my college campus. I used to refuse to take them because I was raised Catholic and felt weird about throwing away a Bible. But I was never going to use it for its intended purpose.

      1. Observer*

        Which didn’t make it any better.

        What really makes my eyes roll, looking back at the comments section is the whole “why everyone being so anti Christian” in response to all the people essentially going “noooooo. don’t even THINK of doing this”

        1. Allibaster kitty*

          Yes! Has nothing to do with Christianity, but about religious texts being passed out at work.
          The name engraving takes it higher, because now there is a religious book stamped with your name.
          I’m honestly pretty baffled by this letter because it’s not even marginal. There are a lot of things that are culturally done but are actually crossing a line, ESPECIALLY at work, especially with a boss doing it, and that’s why people write in, but this is….just so so blatant.

          1. Emikyu*

            I really do try to assume cluelessness rather than maliciousness most of the time, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could be THAT clueless. I’ve also met a lot of Christians (I’m not saying all, I’m not even saying most, just a lot) who would do this kind of thing specifically to get a negative reaction so they could brag about being “persecuted”.

            I hope I’m wrong, and this person just thought they were being thoughtful. But a lot of people, myself included, would be made very uncomfortable by this gift, *especially* in the workplace.

            1. Vio*

              I’d also lean towards cluelessness, especially since they did write in to ask. Granted they may have been hoping for an assurance that they’re absolutely in the right but some quick research would have made it clear how unlikely that reply would have been.

        2. Petty_Boop*

          I just went back and read thru the comments, and I saw very FEW comments raising “anti-Chrisitian” concerns. Even in 2016, the VAST majority were saying, “oh hell no!”

          1. Observer*

            and I saw very FEW comments raising “anti-Chrisitian” concerns

            True, there were not many of them. Thankfully! But the ones that did show up were really, really eye-rolly. Almost more than the original letter.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Well, it was a question in 2016. :) (Of course, it was still super inappropriate and obviously wrong then, too.)

      1. The Terrible Tom*

        The terrible part is, I actually believe that some people are living in such a bubble they really might not know this. Source: I am from the Bible belt.

        1. kat*

          I (jewish), Betty (raised in non-common religious sect) and Veronica (Southern Baptist) were eating lunch. Ended up talking about the bible and Betty said, “Well it depend on which Bible you are talking about.” Veronica says: Well there’s only one Bible.
          Betty and I look at each other with very wide eyes- and then Betty says, “No.” I just laugh.

          1. The Terrible Tom*


            My favorite is my uncle who asked me, wouldn’t it be great if you could just *know* which of the many religious books/translations (if any) is the right one? I said yes, it would be. And he said well luckily god gave us the bible to tell us which one is correct.


          2. an infinite number of monkeys*

            I saw a tweet pointing out that in 2000 years, no one will understand the difference between “butt dial” and a “booty call,” and that’s why there’s no truly definitive translation of the Bible.

            1. Vio*

              “Now class, I want you to type up an essay on why the musical poets of the Pollution Age were so obsessed with how they keep sitting on their phones.”

      2. WillowSunstar*

        Agreed. That’s maybe something to do for one’s own immediate family if you know it will be appreciated. But it should stay out of work. I can just imagine the response from HR.

    2. Tiger Snake*

      It feels like there’s a gotcha moment missing. Like, “By the way, I work at a not-for-profit lead and funded by the baptist church”.

      (Actually, that one would probably lead to some interesting debate – strictly speaking you’re not a religious organisation in that sort of case, but you’re religious-affiliated enough that you should probably expect more religion sneaking into your day to day.)

      1. Jackalope*

        I had that feeling too. Unless you work for a specifically Christian organization, this seems like a bad idea. Maybe there are some places it would fly, but my guess is that there would still be people who didn’t want it but felt like they couldn’t say anything.

        1. Dahlia*

          Even then you could be making people uncomfortable. I worked for a Christian business for a while. I’m not Christian. They were hiring and I could do the job.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            My mom worked for a Christian publisher for many years. While I believe she got a discount on their items and could get many for free, I don’t think she was ever given a Bible as a gift.

        2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          Even if you work for an explicitly religious organization, and even if you know for an absolute fact that the recipient shares your religion, don’t go gifting holy books at work. It’s not like you need multiple copies, usually*, and they’ve generally got some baggage around disposing of them, so it doesn’t take too many gifts before they mentally turn into junk – which is the opposite of what you’re looking to do. Save them for major life events of immediate family or close personal friends.

          * And if you do, you’re probably looking for something specific, which you can easily procure yourself

          Source: Has a shelf of Bibles of varying provenance, and no idea how to declutter them.

          1. Katie A*

            Donate them or throw them away. Best bet is to give yourself a time limit for donating them (a week? A month? Whatever works for you) and then if you haven’t managed to donate them by then, toss them in the trash, guilt free.

            1. Observer*

              then, toss them in the trash, guilt free.

              This suggestion overlooks the issue of “baggage”. It’s a real thing – for people who take this stuff seriously, you can’t just toss something that’s holy.

              1. Chinookwind*

                Agree. If someone gave me a Bible, even if it is the “wrong” version, I can’t just dispose of it in the recycling bin. I feel guilty recycling the annual missals I receive even though they are meant to be disposable. But a Bible is not. Maybe I can donate it (but where?) or bury it(which is how Catholics can dispose of sacred items that are broken, like rosaries), but not much else. Bibles are horrible gifts to give unless someone specifically asks for one.

              1. RVA Cat*

                Just be sure to also get a big poster to hide the hole.
                Now I’m trying to figure out who Andy would have on his wall these days. Margot Robbie? Taylor Swift?

            1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              Ok, you win the internet for today! Once I clean all my coffee off my keyboard, I’ll send you a lovely commemorative Bible to mark the occasion!

          2. PhyllisB*

            Yes!! I wouldn’t mind receiving a Bible for a gift, (but I wouldn’t want one from my employer.)
            Besides, most people who are scripture readers have a preference for which version. I might prefer NIV, my husband might like English Standard, my mother might rather have New King James…not to mention red letter edition? Large print? See, even if someone wouldn’t be upset getting a Bible you can still get it wrong. Don’t do it. (I know this letter is old, and I don’t know how this person handled it, but just in case someone reading today thinks this sounds like a good idea.)

            1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              I know this is actually the respectful way to dispose of them, like with flags… but it feels wrong, you know? Burial feels maybe better, but some of them aren’t very biodegradable.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Growing up Catholic, we were always told you can take a rosary or bible to the church and the priest will see that it’s disposed of properly. I don’t know if there is something similar for Protestant denominations, but I would imagine so.

                I’m no longer a practicing Christian but I did keep my bible for academic reference.

          3. MigraineMonth*

            When I graduated from high school I was given a religious text with a meaningful inscription from my religious organization, and I was given the same religious text with a different meaningful inscription from my religious organization’s youth group. I’ve kept both.

          4. RSTchick2011*


            I work for a Catholic high school. Most of our faculty/staff are Catholic, but we do have some non-Catholic Christian staff.

            I still wouldn’t gift a Bible or religious item. Those items are pretty personal and better off being gifted by family and close friends.

          5. NotAnotherManager!*

            I find the whole concept of giving people sacred texts so weird. If someone’s interested in such a thing, they usually already have a copy. My MIL, who is deeply religious, gave us a very large, meant-for-display, “family heirloom” bible several years ago, and I have no idea what to do with it. We are not religious at all, and I don’t ever see us recording births, marriages, and deaths in the cover in the modern era of digital records. We already have both a King James (old confirmation gift from a relative) and an NSV (college literature course) because I think they’re useful to understanding classic literature and we don’t take the kids to church or bible school.

            My spouse deals with his mother and religion in a very don’t ask/don’t tell/don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to. She’s a lovely person and I think she is genuinely concerned about our souls/salvation v. being passive-aggressive. My mother is part of a proselytizing religion that I will never join, but we have a very different relationship, so I can tell her that the bible is no more “the truth” to me than Edith Hamilton’s Mythology (and, frankly, a better read, too).

            To receive one at work would be a complete non-starter, and I would complain to HR about it (or leave them a name-engraved book of Satan, tough call). This is when I’m grateful to work in a place where the answer to this question is “are you effin’ kidding me?”.

          6. But what to call me?*

            That was my thought, too. There’s a pretty good chance that everyone who wants a bible either already has a bible or knows where to get one. They’re not exactly rare. And if you want more bibles, there’s probably a particular reason you want another one and it’s unlikely your boss will happen to pick one that fits your criteria. And if you don’t want a bible, you’re unlikely to change your mind about that just because your boss decided you needed one.

          7. Avid knitter*

            You can gift them, recycle them, donate them, trash them, or burn them depending on your beliefs and attachment to them. When I deconverted, I knew no one would want the two I had as they were marked up with my horrible handwriting and teenage angst and depression after a friend died. I think I threw them in the trash at the cemetery while visiting the friend. I would have burned them, but I didn’t have a place to safely do so. Letting them go at the cemetery seemed the next best option.

        3. Emily of New Moon*

          Like I said below, if you work for a Christian organization and all your employees are Christian, it’s highly likely that they already have a Bible.

        4. Jezebella*

          The thing is, even if the org is Christian and he knows all the staff are Christian, they have their own bibles. Different denominations use different versions. Even people within the same denomination have preferences. So what is the point of this? It’s performative piety if you ask me.

          1. ferrina*

            Even if they were all the same denomination, there can still be different preferred translations! My sister is an MDiv, and she studied Greek and Hebrew to understand Biblical translations, and ended up disagreeing with the word choice on the preferred translation of the denomination.

            And yeah, like you point out, she had her own Bible collection with lots of highlighting and notes in the margins.

        5. Observer*

          I agree with you, but it was actually a question in 2016

          Of course. Which was heavily discussed (for good reason.)

          And then there was the person who said that of course there are going to be people who are uncomfortable and the solution is not for the boss to not give them out, but for the recipient to “use their words” and tell the boss that they find this uncomfortable and unwelcome. Because you have to be an adult and no one should have to tiptoe around you or read your mind. That’s a summary, not a direct quote.

          It’s a pretty long sub thread, because a lot of people pushed back on that.

          All of which is to say that it was just as bad of an idea then as now, and the patterns of how people respond have not changed all that much for better and worse.

        6. Anon for this*

          Even if you work for a specifically religious organization… that would almost make this worse! Presumably everyone who works at a specifically religious organization would already have one. Possibly one with sentimental attachments due to being given by/inherited from cherished family. It’s also a BIG book, it takes up, and the fact that it’s embossed with their name means they wouldn’t be able to gift it to someone else. Which means they’d be stuck between keeping it and taking up space and throwing it away, adding the guilt of throwing away a religious text of their own religion to the already fraught “if I throw away the gift boss gave me because I have no room for it and no one wants it will he ask to see me using it after” calculus.

        7. Vio*

          Even then it seems like an odd gift really. If they share your religeon then it’s a safe bet that they already HAVE the book. If they don’t have it, haven’t asked for it (many churches will give a free bible if people ask for one) or bought it for themselves then they probably don’t want it. It’s not like they’ve recently released a new Testament or something.

        8. Gumby*

          Honestly? If you are a Christian you probably already have a Bible or ten anyway and this is not going to be a great gift even for Christians except in very very specific circumstances. Like… you work at a church and it is a newly released new translation that you’ve all been talking about. Or maybe it’s a version with added commentary written by someone on staff.

      2. nnn*

        That missing gotcha moment idea reminds me of the letter a while back asking if it’s appropriate to start an email with “Dear Sirs”, and failing to mention that they’re in the military

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            Ha! What’s even more ridiculous about that is that the military itself never says “sirs” – the correct address is “gentlemen” or “ladies” or “ladies and gentlemen”.

            So you’d say “good morning sir [or ma’am]” if you’re addressing one person, and “good morning gentlemen/ladies” if you’re addressing a group, but you’d never use sirs.

      3. ecnaseener*

        I don’t think there’s a gotcha, I think this person just lives and works in an area where virtually everyone is Christian, and probably knows which church everyone belongs to, and LW vaguely remembers hearing that you’re not supposed to bring religion to work but doesn’t really grok why when they know all their employees go to church.

        1. Dulcinea47*

          except it’s probably not really *everyone*, but the boss thinks it will be after she gives the few remaining heathens a bible.

            1. Allibaster kitty*

              Yes, but there are probably a lot of people that are assumed to be one way. I live in the south and most people I know are actually not religious in any way, but there is still a really big undercurrent that everyone is – so I think there is more of a disconnect between reality and what people THINK people are like.

        2. learnedthehardway*

          In which case, they should be aware (or need to be educated) that many people are “culturally Christian”, but not actually believers. Same with other religions.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Yes, of course. I didn’t think I needed to say so when hundreds of other commenters already did. All I’m saying is there doesn’t need to be some wild “gotcha” to explain the existence of someone who wasn’t sure if this was okay or not.

        3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I think this nails it.
          “It’s not wrong if it doesn’t bother them.”
          Like “we have a beer fridge at work. Everyone is cool with it.”
          Because they are at work. And this is work. And they have to be.

        4. Trippedamean*

          This was the excuse my boss gave me when I complained to her about my grand boss asking everyone to pray at a department lunch. The idea that anyone would be a different religion and/or object to public displays of religion (I happen to fit both) was absurd to both of them.

          1. Drowning in Spreadsheets*

            I remember a team pot luck where someone insisted that couldn’t eat until someone had blessed the food.

            I left the room for the blessing. I was still quite new and didn’t want to raise a fuss when everone else was letting this person have their way, but I felt incredibly ucomfortable.

      4. A (Former) Library Person*

        Even if this is the case, and even if you know for certain everyone is a practicing Christian, you could still cause offense with the translation you choose. It’s a bad idea all around.

        1. AnonPi*

          Yes, while my mother and most of her side of the family consider themselves christian, they also believed you never discussed religion outside of church/immediate family (i.e. you never asked someone what they believed, where they went to church, don’t gift bibles, etc). I forget if there’s a specific group that believes this way as I know I’ve heard others express similar beliefs about discussing religion. My mother would have been so offended if put in this situation.

          1. lilsheba*

            I wish ALL christians could be like this, keeping their religion to THEMSELVES. Sigh. But yeah it’s assumed that everyone is christian and a bible is just standard! Hell no. NO NO NO NO NO.

          2. Tin Cormorant*

            It’s pretty common in Scandinavian countries. My mother was protestant, and raised by her Danish grandparents. She was quite religious, but never talked about it with people outside of church. It was considered pretty rude to be up in people’s faces about something so personal.

            1. lilsheba*

              Now if christians in THIS country would respect that I would have no problem. And I know not everyone does but the ones who do are always in your face and it drives me crazy.

        1. Allibaster kitty*

          Generally, HR should be basically the same across all industries (obviously not talking about culture or nuances of different places, but the adherance to employment laws, hiring and firing, performance plans, etc.

        2. RVA Cat*

          That’s probably for the best. Less likely to be part of a cover up of Sea Org violating child labor laws, among many other abuses.

        3. H3llifIknow*

          That’s intriguing to me since what little I’ve heard about Scientology implies that they’re so very insular, you’re ALL IN, and they wouldn’t want “non-believers” knowing how they operate; although I do believe that many of their legal staff are not members.

      5. This_is_Todays_Name*

        I was actually thinking along the same lines (ala “gotcha”) but more of a “I’m going to write in with the most ridiculous scenario I can envision, and watch everyone lose their minds in the comments!”

    3. Jamboree*

      I know right? Esp for those poor employees who don’t believe what’s in it who can’t even donate it to goodwill bc it has their damn name engraved on it! OP DON’T DO IT! Get them a Target card like a normal boss!

      1. Violet Fox*

        Yes! There are reasons why money and paid time off are always the suggestions here. If not that boring things like a company branded mug for their desk.

      2. The Terrible Tom*

        Eh, I say just rip the cover off. That’s not the important part so it’s fine, right? Right???

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I can’t imagine why a donation place would accept a defaced book like that. It’s going to end up in the trash.

          1. The Terrible Tom*

            Well, I guess the giver should’ve taken a half-second to contemplate that possibility before engraving people’s names on them.

          2. Linda*

            There’s a good chance it’ll end up in the trash anyhow. I work in a used bookstore in the American south and we have just so many bibles and other Christian religious books. People donate them, we can’t sell them or even give them away, and eventually we have to recycle them

      3. Observer*

        who can’t even donate it to goodwill bc it has their damn name engraved on it!

        Yes. And that’s what makes me wonder if this LW was acting in good faith. Giving people something they can re-gift or donate is one thing. But putting their name on it? Especially when it actually is not something personalized or carefully considered for THAT person?

        It really reads as “You are getting a Bible and you can’t get rid of it! So there!”

      4. Misty_Meaner*

        If they really want to give an engraved book, a nice journal or a leather padfolio for taking notes in meetings with BLANK PAGES not filled with nonsense, is nice, especially if it’s refillable. My company gives us all one and they’re very nice. *IF you have a need for such a thing, since not everyone attends meetings where notes need be taken.* (Disclaimer added before someone else said it!)

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          hmm a lot of journals that look nice aren’t very useful. but I’m a weirdo who has to have a specific work journal.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It doesn’t even make sense as a gift, because if the person isn’t Christian they have no need for a Bible, and if they are then surely they already have their own Bible, not to mention the differences between translations and versions of the Bible for different denominations etc. As I understand it choosing your own Bible is quite a personal decision.

      1. KateM*

        That’s exactly what I thought – “if this person wants a Bible, they already have one”.
        BTW same thing what I thought back in 2015 when my child was born and my teacher of the art group I attended gifted her a children Bible. I wondered if it even for a known Christian family it wouldn’t have been a prerogative of godparents, not a random acquitance…

        1. 1LFTW*

          I feel like my Christian friends got bibles for confirmation, around age 14. But yeah, pretty sure it was traditionally a gift from their godparents.

        2. Dinwar*

          The argument “They already have one” doesn’t really work. Most Christians and Catholics I know have multiple copies–usually received as gifts. Some keep a crucifix and Bible in each bedroom. For the older crowd it was practical–a lot of people died at home not that long ago, and having this stuff meant that the priest could easily perform Last Rights (the crucifixes even came with candles and oils to make a portable alter). For others, they have a “work” Bible and a “family” Bible. My family had a beautiful leather-bound Bible that had birthdays, wedding dates, death dates, family tree info, etc., as well as Bibles we’d use for more everyday uses (looking up specific references, for example). You don’t want to use the heirloom for checking how an off-color joke should go (something I’ve seen a priest use a Bible for).

          It’s not just Bibles, by the way. I know a woman who routinely gets two copies of books she enjoys–one for reading for pleasure, and one for taking notes in.

          Don’t get me wrong, this is still a wildly inappropriate gift, especially in a secular organization! It’s just that this particular argument doesn’t really fly. There are plenty of reasons to have two or more Bibles. Still doesn’t make it an appropriate gift in a secular workplace, though.

          1. Cinnamon Boo*

            I’m Christian and the reason I have so many Bibles is because its such a common gift for religious milestones. I only need, and will ever need, one. Saying people need a Bible in every room is frankly very specific to probably a very very tiny portion of the population. If I’m a grown adult Christian I have the Bible I want, if I want one, and that’s it.
            Also, a book lover and I can’t GIVE away all the wonderful books I have. They just take up space and are a murder to move.

            I’m just saying your rebuttal comes off as a very very specific example.

            1. Dinwar*

              “Saying people need a Bible in every room is frankly very specific to probably a very very tiny portion of the population.”

              You’re accusing me of a lot of things I didn’t do here. First, I said every BEDroom, which is important given the use-case I presented. Second, I didn’t say they NEEDED it, I said they did it. It wasn’t obligatory, just something that the older generation did. Probably it’s a weird quirk of where I grew up–deeply Christian, extremely rural, and largely poor.

              Also, the implication that having multiple is childish is, frankly, uncalled for and extremely rude. “Grown adult” whatevers can have as many copies of their sacred texts (if their religion has any) as they wish, for whatever purpose they wish. People who do things differently than you are not inherently wrong, nor are they childish. Every Christian and Catholic that I’ve discussed this with has multiple Bibles, and I find it very unlikely that every one of them is childish.

              “Also, a book lover and I can’t GIVE away all the wonderful books I have. They just take up space and are a murder to move.”

              Try Abe Books. You can set up a page as a seller, and most folks who seem to use it are book lovers. You’ve got to ship the books, but if you set the price right you can make money off it none the less. I’ve gotten a number of books from people who inherited a library and wanted the books to go to someone who’d use them. They sell all kinds of stuff, from Gutenberg Bibles to coloring books to cheap romance novels. You reach a wider audience as well–I’ve purchased books from people in multiple countries (which made the stamp collectors I know happy).

              1. Your Mom Though*

                This is a really uncharitable read of the comment you’re replying to – I don’t see an implication that owning multiple bibles is childish, rather that they’re trying to say that if you’re a person whose religion involves bibles and you’ve lived into adulthood, you probably already have at least one copy of the version that you prefer. Obviously religion is a very personal topic, but I urge you to take a step back and examine whether your reading of the compliment is warranted.

          2. lilsheba*

            On a side note, I have one of those last rites crucifixes with the candles and the holy water bottle in it, you would be surprised how much these sell for in vintage auctions. Religious statues go for a lot too.

          3. Chirpy*

            I acquired no less than NINE Bibles by the age of 24. I purchased one (interesting translation), the rest were gifts for baptism (children’s Bible), first communion, confirmation, two for high school graduation, two from conferences (plus two duplicate copies from friends who went and didn’t want it), and a New Testament from a street preacher I was too polite to decline. I still only ever use one. I’d be really annoyed to get another, they’re hard to get rid of. (and I assume I’ll be inheriting 2-3 old fancy family Bibles someday, too.)

          4. NotAnotherManager!*

            I think it’s a perfectly valid reason because the vast majority of people are not stockpiling religious texts in their home. Just like a would not buy my husband, who already has three crockpots, another crockpot unless he specifically asked for one, the assumption that everyone needs yet another copy of the bible is not in line with reality for most people, just as the vast majority of people do not buy two copies of books. Knowing of a few exception doesn’t mean that it’s not a good a pretty good reason for most people. (And, for the people who are stockpiling them, they probably already have a few – if you need an heirloom bible and a reference bible, you’ve already go them.)

            We are atheists yet still manage to have three copies of the bible in our house. I’ve only held on to them because the big, showy one was a gift I can’t part with without offending my MIL, and the other two (a KJ and an NSV) because my kids will need them for literature class eventually. I do not need another copy of it, particularly from a boss.

            1. I Have RBF*

              Yeah, we have a few around my house, both from my ages ago studies of religions, past roomies, hand-me-downs from parents, and other accretion. They just gather dust.

          5. But what to call me?*

            But don’t those people just go ahead and acquire however many Bibles they want to have? Or incorporate the ones they receive on important Bible-giving occasions into their collections because those have special significance to them? It’s just not the kind of item where it’s always useful to have one more.

      2. Chirpy*

        This. The only place that it might be appropriate is if you work in a church, and even then, everyone probably already has their own preferred Bible. Quite honestly, they probably already have a stack of Bibles, because a lot of churches give out free Bibles, people’s parents/ grandparents/ godparents gave them a Bible, they went to a church convention/ conference and got a free Bible…you get the idea. Bibles are a terrible gift from a workplace.

      3. Excel-sior*

        i do kind of get it though, if the relationship between gifter and giftee is there. like, i have a copy of Lord of the Rings, but if somebody were to get me a fancy version with my name engraved etc, I’d be absolutely stoked. But you’d have to know me well enough on a personal level to know I’m the kind of person who would love another copy of something I already have, and it would be weird coming from my boss and obviously not as intensely personal as a Bible or other religious text.

        1. November Juliet*

          Yes, I agree! I am not a christian, and I would love to get a Bible gifted, because I think it hugely influenced the western world and it will allow me to better understand the (predominantly Christian) society I live in. Ideally it would be an edition with comments by a historian/researcher after each chapter, explaining its context, significance and interpretation (does such book even exist?). But employee-manager relationships are not close enough and my managers would have no way to know that I would appreciate such things.

          1. Bast*

            I also love to learn about religions and beliefs not my own. I am in the northeast US, and while I believe we have greater tolerance for CERTAIN beliefs other than Christianity than other parts of the country, they are still in the minority, and certain uncommon beliefs might still be side-eyed. Most monotheistic religions are similar enough that no one bats an eye, but if you mention that you are Pagan, Buddhist, etc., there seem to be a lot of myths and misunderstanding about what it actually means to be of said faith. I like to dig deeper and try to understand because I find it fascinating. We usually fear what we don’t know, and the people spreading hate about other religions usually don’t know the first thing about them.

          2. Jackalope*

            If you’re interested, that’s probably a thing that exists. You’d want to do some careful research, because often the term “study Bible” is used more in the sense of a Bible that helps you meditate on what you’re reading, rather than help long you learn about, say, the cultural, anthropological, and scientific background. But I’ve seen editions that are more of what you’re looking for.

          3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            What you’re looking for is probably a study Bible. Study Bibles have commentary of varying quality and different slants, so it’s probably wise to flip through a few of them and decide whose commentary is worthwhile. I’d avoid anything “…for him”/”…for her” and aim for “student’s” or “context” as search terms instead. My dad used to have the Dartmouth abridged KJV and that’s very much what it seems like you’re describing – it’s out of print, but you might find it secondhand.

            1. Cinnamon Boo*

              My kid had a bible with tons of historical information. So you could understand the context and culture of what was happening during that time period. Talked about archeology, etc. its made for pre-teens/teens, but I think it was interesting since I like that kind of stuff – but its definitely not a regular bible.

          4. Jezebella*

            The Bible for Student of Literature and Art probably meets some of these requirements. I think I bought mine when I took a Western Civ class in college.

          5. Jen*

            The Harper-Collins Study Bible (NRSV translation) is what we used in religious studies classes at a secular university. (My copy is very battered now.) It’s a good Bible for what you’re describing and it includes some noncanonical books which is a lot of fun (if you’re a nerd like me).

            1. Sebastian*

              Alongside the Harper-Collins NRSV, my preferred version is the Jewish Publication Society Study Bible, which as well as having about three times as much commentary, includes some excellent essays. Obviously it only includes the Hebrew Scriptures, but a couple of the editors have also published the Jewish Annotated New Testament, which is brilliantly helpful for understanding the context of what was, at the time of writing, a breakaway Jewish sect.

          6. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

            I actually found a children’s bible was the most useful when I wanted to study the Bible for cultural context. The language was simplified into straightforward english and at the end of each section were study ask and answer questions. Will it make you a religious expert? no. Will it help you get most of the Christian references in movies, books etc. Yep.

        2. phototrope*

          Right, I mean, there’s a time and place for everything. I’m Jewish, personally, but was a religious studies major in college and have a general interest in Christian texts; I own a variety of bibles and commentary and related stuff. If my friend gave me, like, a cool new translation of Romans for my birthday, that would be lovely. But we should all be able to distinguish between that and your boss giving you a bible in the workplace.

      4. Richard Hershberger*

        If someone wants to gift me a Bible and I get to choose it, I can certainly find one that would make a fine addition to my collection. There are premier editions that go all out on the bookbinder’s art. They typically run two to three hundred dollars. I wouldn’t mind having a facsimile of the original 1611 Authorized Version. There are several 16th century translations I don’t have, but check first, as there also are several I do. Going modern, there are several recent translations that look interesting, and I have been meaning to pick up a Lutheran Study Bible.
        But give me a random King James or NIV, and it at best goes on the shelf with the rest of them.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          And that just made me think of another thing, the different versions. As a Catholic, the King James version isn’t even a version used by our church. Not that I’d be bothered by that, but some people might be. So even among Christians, this could create issues.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            My collection does include a Douey-Rheims (frankly not a very good translation) and a modern study edition Jerusalem Bible (which is excellent). But if the intent is that the Bible is for devotional purposes, yes, this is an issue.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            To add: Even among Protestants the King James isn’t used much. A church might dredge it up for the Nativity story on Christmas Eve or the like, but for everyday use people generally bounce off the ‘thees’ and ‘thous.’

            The exception is a small faction that regards the King James as the One True Bible. This solves a host of textual problems. Look at the oldest sources, especially for the New Testament, and it is a complete mess of inconsistent readings. Simply picking a version and declare that the Holy Spirit was whispering in the ears of the translators gets around this, if you don’t mind a strong hint of idolatry. That being said, the King James-only churches rarely if ever have the level of book learning that would lead to this line of reasoning. In practice the stance is that the King James is what grand-pappy used, and his grand-pappy before him, so that is that. Even conservative Evangelical Protestants mostly think these guys are weird.

            I once came across a website that argued we should be using the Geneva Bible, as that was the bible of the Pilgrims and Oliver Cromwell. The idea seems not to have caught on.

            1. Emily of New Moon*

              Pilgrims, as in the ones who sailed on the Mayflower? I thought that they read the King James Bible, as it likely would have been the only English translation at the time. Wasn’t King James the monarch when they sailed to America?

              1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                KJV was published 1611, and the Puritans went to the Netherlands in 1607. The Geneva Bible was an English translation published 1560, and there’s at least one extant copy that was on the Mayflower.

              2. Richard Hershberger*

                The King James version is the tail end of nearly a century of English Bible translations going back to William Tyndale’s 1525 translation of the New Testament. (We could bring in Wycliffe, and even Alfred the Great, but lets keep this simple.) The point of the King James translation was to create a single official version. This is why it is more properly known as the Authorized Version, it being authorized for reading in Anglican churches. It was successful, but not right away. The Puritans favored the Geneva Bible and were unimpressed by anything coming out of the established church. It faded from use after the Restoration.

                In practice, the texts were often very similar. Read the Tyndale version and is sounds very familiar. What set the various versions apart were some key words. Is ‘ekklesia’ translated “church” or “congregation”? The decision carried coded weight supporting different views of church governance. The second distinguishing feature was annotations in the margins. Some in the Geneva Bible very pointedly promoted Calvinist theology.

                Fun facts: The Geneva Bible was also known as the “Breeches Bible” from its translation of Adam and Eve, realizing they were naked, sewing breeches from fig leaves. Once the Authorized Version was released, King James outlawed printing the Geneva Bible. Once printer defied the ban with the simple expedient of backdating the date on the title page. Good times

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          There’s a very narrow gift-giving avenue where a specific bible is well matched for its intellectual interest to a specific recipient.

          But if it’s just a bible: if you’re a practicing Christian, you almost certainly already have a bible. It’s not like the ability to simultaneously look up a verse with each hand is particularly valued.

      5. Llama Llama*

        Seriously, the ‘appropriate’ version is debated enough that you risk even offending someone you know to be a Christian and know wants a Bible

        1. Chinookwind*

          And if you give it to a Catholic or Orthodox person, they may not want one that is incomplete as their versions have either 7 or 10 more books, regardless of the translations.

      6. Deuce of Gears*

        Actually, I’m trying to remember whether it was animator Tony White or Richard Williams or maybe Preston Blair who commented cheerfully in one of their books on the topic that they discovered in childhood that Bibles with the nice thin paper make *great* flipbooks…

        I’d be terrified to do that to someone else’s holy book but…

      7. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        There’s a version of evangelical thought that thinks if a non-Christian reads the Bible they will see the light and immediately convert. That may be going on here.

        1. Observer*

          I would not be surprised at all. Which would help explain why this person wants to put individual names on a totally NON-personal gift. It would keep the “heathens” from donating the bible to someone.

      8. Dulcinea47*

        I’m not christian and I have a bible and consider it a necessary reference book, because so many things in society refer to it.

        I’d still lose my mind if my boss gave me one, but it’s not true that non-christians have no use for it.

    5. TG*

      I thought the same – so 70 years ago and so inappropriate….it reminds me of the movie Spotlight where Cardinal Law gives the new Globe Editor a religious book – and the Editor was Jewish. Anyway so wrong.

    6. A Nonzero Quantity Of Liz*

      SO much this. It would leave my partner spitting nails and me afraid I’d get hate-crimed.

    7. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Even in 2016, it should not have been a question.

      I’d have put that sucker right in the recycle bin.

    8. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I suspect it was actually from someone who was appalled to receive one and wrote from the boss’s perspective to have something to share with plausible deniability. It is so obviously glaringly wrong that nobody would ask, they either know or don’t care.

      1. Stopgap*

        Why do people guess this every time we get a LW who’s in the wrong? Do people actually do this? Is it that hard to believe that someone might just not know that they’re in the wrong?

      2. Colette*

        I have a friend who always wants to give somebody something that she received and loved, without any recognition that other people like different things that her. It could easily be the same thing here – the OP received a bible with their name engraved on it and loved it, so she wants to give them the same feeling. But, of course, other people like and appreciate different things – and many have different religious beliefs than she does.

        1. Cinnamon Boo*

          But that’s just an interest, a religion’s holy book is COMPLETELY different. It’s thoughtless to give someone a book on soccer if you don’t know if they like soccer, but this really goes way beyond that and I would distrust this person’s thought process in many ways.

          1. Colette*

            I’m not saying it’s appropriate, just that people have blind spots. Everyone has things they do that they think everyone does because they’ve never stopped to examine them, and haven’t been in a situation where it’s clear someone else doesn’t do the same.

      3. Observer*

        <i. It is so obviously glaringly wrong that nobody would ask, they either know or don’t care.

        Not the case. I know it sounds incredible, but if you look at some of the letters we’ve gotten – and the follow ups, in a couple of cases – you’ll see that there are a LOT of clueless folks out there. And if they don’t read the blog much they may be mislead by the title to think that Allison will reflexively side with the manager’s point of view.

    9. Ex-prof*

      I’m a little weirded out that someone knew to ask whether it was appropriate but didn’t already know the answer… but in that case good for them for asking, I guess.

      I had a boss once who was an actual ordained Christian minister. What he gave us for Christmas? Coffee mugs with polar bears on them.

    10. Pita Chips*

      I don’t know why some people don’t get the No Religion at Work thing.

      I once worked with a woman who was trying to recruit people to join her in a march to ensure The Ten Commandments remained on public buildings. I returned her literature to her (she’d left it on everyone’s desk) and then went to HR. I think they spoke to her because it never happened again.

    11. I Have RBF*


      Something like that is only for people you know, outside of work, really, really well, like family members, or people of your own religion. If I got a religious holy book from my boss I would be very unhappy and uncomfortable, and probably start looking for a new job.

      Keep religion out of work, unless you actually work at a church, synagogue, mosque or otherwise religious organization.

  2. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    I am so glad that the pandemic brought about working from home so that bras are now optional for me.

    1. Coin Purse*

      Yes! I went 2 years WFH right into retirement and all without a bra. I can hardly make myself wear one now.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I loved going bra-less, but apparently my posture goes to hell when I don’t have shoulder straps. The freedom wasn’t worth the pain.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I would not have predicted that in a global pandemic, one of the first things to fall would be hard pants.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Yes! There are so many office pants now that are glorified yoga pants. I’m wearing heavyweight spandex every day and nobody bats an eye. I’ve also found a couple of long line, low impact sports bras that have been a huge help transitioning back to in office full time.

    3. Emily of New Moon*

      Not me- I hated working from home! But since the pandemic, I’ve frequently gone bra-less on weekends and days off.

  3. RidiculousPenguin*

    Regarding bra fit: I don’t think links are allowed, but if you Google “a bra that fits calculator” you’ll find one that will help you realize that you’ve been wearing the wrong size your whole life and just blow your mind. I was walking around in a Victoria’s Secret 36C for years when what I really needed was a 34H. Go figure!

    1. mango chiffon*

      seconding that calculator!! So many people think that a double D cup size is ginormous but it’s really not, and having cup sizes past that is not some kind of horrible thing. Victoria’s Secret has a super small cup size range and they’ll just try and make you “fit” into what they have, but it won’t be as supportive as if you’re properly sized.

      1. Clare*

        Exactly! It’s a ratio. If you have a small ribcage you’ll almost certainly have a huge-sounding cup size. I’m an F-cup but nobody would ever look at me and guess I’m larger than a C.

        1. Salty Lamp*

          Same! And places like VS don’t usually make small enough band sizes either. Until my early 20’s I wore a 34 band when I’m actually a 28. I remember as a teenager wanting to cry after an hour of trying on all the bras where nothing fit and then just giving up out of frustration and getting the closest fit then going to school with a bra that either has a huge gap and lines or my boob pops out of it every time I move.

          Currently, I’ve better luck with wireless bras.

      2. Cat Tree*

        And it’s not just VS. Every major chain retailer and department store only goes up to cup size DDD. I spent so much time, effort, and frustration looking. I’m so thankful for the internet where I can buy larger sizes. It’s still super frustrating to buy bras without trying them on, but at least by buying and returning/exchanging them I can get to the size I need eventually.

          1. Dahlia*

            A plus size bra is not necessarily helpful for everyone with a big cup size. A 46B probably won’t fit a 32F very well.

          2. WantonSeedStitch*

            Not all people with very large cup sizes are plus-sized. It can be very challenging to find bras with very large cups and small band sizes. Even when you identify brands that work for you, those brands are rarely sold in many brick-and-mortar stores, which leads to lots of trial and error when ordering online, in order to find a bra that’s not just the right size but the right shape.

            1. Beka Cooper*

              Also, as a plus-sized person in a smallish city, stores rarely have most of their plus sizes available to try on in store, and we don’t have that many stores that carry plus size in the first place.

            2. Chirpy*

              THIS, I hit both ends of the divide – smaller end of average band size, and “plus size” cups, so even online, bra shopping is difficult. Neither plus size nor standard sizes fit. And even if a company has a physical store I can get to, they won’t have any in my size to try on, as the size is usually online only. I haven’t been able to shop in person since I was a teenager and I always end up getting the same bra because I know it fits (so tired of the same boring bra, but online returns are obnoxious.)

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            Plus size departments don’t often have my size. They tend to assume you need a bigger band. When I was sized by a professional fitter who knew what they were doing my band size actually went down while my cup size went up quite a bit.

          4. An Honest Nudibranch*

            They do exist – and they suck. No, seriously, most stores, even a lot of specialty shops, are even more limited in their cup sizes as band size goes up, despite the fact that plus sized people vary in their waist-to-bust ratios like everyone else.

            I’m fat, and there are multiple plus-size exclusive chains that do not sell *any* bras that fit me. Because they assume all fat people have the same body proportions. It’s exhausting!

            (What was even the point of commenting “plus sizes exist,” anyways? The comment you were responding to was about lack of diversity in cup sizes. )

        1. Roland*

          Nordstrom definitely doesn’t stop at DDD. They can’t go anything about brands that do, but it’s where I get all my bras so I know for sure they go into the “scary-sounding” cups, even in person and not just online.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I cannot praise the lovely folks in the Nordstrom lingerie department enough for getting me into a bra that actually fits. Like RidiculousPenguin, I’d been walking around in a 36C for years when I was actually a 34G/H. It made such a huge difference to get a bra that was the right size – so, so much more comfortable! I was able to try on E, F, and H sizes in the store.

      3. 1-800-BrownCow*

        Exactly this! I had a VS fitting once and they were so far off the size. I questioned the woman who fitted me because the bras she had me try on were really uncomfortable, but she insisted after a few days wearing, they would stretch some and fit perfectly. I bought 2 bras that day and threw them out 2 weeks later because they were digging into my skin, leaving red marks. Both the band and the cup size were way, way off. So for years I would try on multiple bras in a store until I found some that seemed decent but I also dealt with the same issue OP dealt with. I finally followed a highly recommended calculator online and was shocked to find I’m a DD cup, not a B like I assumed (VS put me in an A/B). I always thought DD was ginormous, which I am not, so at first I thought no way would that cup size fit me and I was sure I’d had a lot of empty space in the cup. But I went to a store (not VS!), grabbed 4 different brands and styles in the smaller band size and larger cup size the calculator told me I needed and BAM, they fit perfectly!!! I was amazed. It makes a huge difference when you find the right fitting bra.

      1. Generic Name*

        That’s probably because that’s the smallest band largest cup combo those stores sell. Their job is to sell you a bra, so if they don’t carry your size, they’ll tell you you’re the closest size they carry so they can make a sale (and earn commission).

      2. Beth*

        I have yet to find any store where the official method of “fitting” a bra is in any way correct. Last time I tried — out of curiosity; I know my bra size — she didn’t even take the measurements in the correct place. It was like trying to get a shoe size by mearuing the circumference of the calf.

        Maybe stores think they’ll sell more bras if they refuse to size people correctly?

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Rigby and Peller! My fitter may not have even had a measuring tape. She looked at me, pulled at my band, and then brought me a ton of 38D (not 36B, as I had been wearing) that were the perfect fit. She also talked to me about bra shapes that work for me, although she also said my shape should fit most bra cuts well.
          Moral of the story, both correct size and bra cut to work with your shape matter, and if the store isn’t offering you that advice, walk and don’t buy anything!

      3. Freya*

        And then when you fall pregnant and you need bigger cups early on, they tell you that you need a bigger band now because by the end of pregnancy your rib cage will be bigger! Only no it won’t necessarily (it might expand but it might not), and frankly I’ll be wearing this bra out long before then anyway, if I don’t grow out of it first! And also, I want a bra for NOW, not six months time!

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Yep. I was TOTALLY wearing the right size. Or maybe I really needed a smaller cup. There was gaping at the top-no way I could fill out a larger cup.

      Turns out a too-small cup fits you like a plate. Sure, it’s fine at the bottom, but the top half sticks out from your body and shows through your shirt. If you wear a cup that fits like a bowl instead, the top half curves around and fits snugly to your skin. Viola, the bra lines disappeared!

      Maybe not worth checking if you have brand new bras, but definitely worth checking if your bras are a bit worn out anyway.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Thank you. I can’t remember the last time I laughed aloud that hard.

        WHY don’t more women’s clothes have POCKETS!?

    3. Need coffee*

      Yup! Victoria’s Secret is notorious for selling people bras that are too small (makes your boobs look bigger and let’s be real, their bras are not exactly designed to keep on anyways)

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I don’t know if it’s changed since the last time I was there, but I remember them using vanity sizing as well, so you’d take a larger size in VS bras than you would elsewhere, even wearing the right sized bra.

        Also, most stores, not just VS, carry a limited selection of bras based on assumption that your boob size and torso size are going to scale with each other, so you can easily find 32A and 38D, but if you’re outside those proportions (or larger than a DD in anything) they don’t sell bras that fit you in store. If they want to make a sale, they’ll try to sell you something approximate, rather than telling you to go to a speciality store, or buy online.

        1. Knitting Cat Lady*

          it took top surgery for me to slay the evil bra demon.
          my band size was easy enough to find (38) but the cup size? you can’t find O cups outisde of speciality shops and even there the selection is limited!
          few brands even produce those sizes.
          and on top of all that those bras cost an arm and a leg…
          i’m so happy to be rid of my boobs.

      2. nnn*

        I don’t think it’s true that VS only sells bras designed to be taken off or to make your boobs looks bigger. I think a large portion of American women get their bras from VS because they’re in every mall. The issue with VS is that they measure you wrong and give you the wrong size because they’re trained to tell you a size that they have available to sell to you and their range of sizes is really limited. As a result, far more American women think they’re a 34B or 36C when they’re not.

        1. Flor*

          Yeah, I honestly don’t think VS is even worse than average for mall bras, at least in the US/Canada (the UK is better; M&S aaalmost carries my size).

          I was going up and up in band sizes until I was wearing a 36C and then I got fitted at a Bravissimo in the UK and started wearing 30FF. You can imagine how supportive the 36C was.

          And for anyone in the UK, even on holiday, I highly recommend a trip to Bravissimo if you think you even might be at least a D-cup (and a 28D is not what we think of as “large bust”). Their fitters are fantastic and I’ve never had a bad experience.

          1. Pippa K*

            Here to second the praise for Bravissimo fitters. It was a revelation. My bras fit better now and I both look and feel better as a result. And they offer a great selection across a lot of brands. (Pour one out for their former and much-missed line of clothing, too.)

              1. Miette*

                I was fitted at Macy’s and Nordstrom, and both were great experiences. Find yourself the most grandma lady in the department, and she will set you straight.

                1. Lola*

                  My sister and I both work with a very no-nonsense lady at Nordsrom and both love her/are intimidated by her. She’s great!

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                I’ve gone to Nordstrom twice and been really happy with the fitting and recommendations. Both fitters got me in the right size and made me feel comfortable in what is definitely a little bit of an unusual shopping experience, if you’ve not been bra fitted before.

              3. Gumby*

                In general, sure Nordstrom has a larger range of sizes. They also seem to stop at about an H-cup. I wear a J or sometimes JJ. To be fair, once I figured out my size I started buying online (from Bravissimo mainly) so it’s possible Nordstrom has expanded their selection since I was last there.

          2. Cold and Tired*

            Agreed on Bravissimo! I discovered it when I lived in the UK (shout out to the store in Bath for changing my life), and now I go whenever I’m back in the UK for work or when I’m in NYC for anything since there is a store there as well. It’s the only place I’ve ever found a wide selection of bras in my actual size.

          3. Media Monkey*

            and for a cheaper option, Boux Avenue (also UK). They also fit by eye and are half the price of bravissmo!

      3. Dog momma*

        Idk, they were the only ones that size you at all anymore, and the wires don’t break through like the bras from Bali etc. I have some pretty bras from VS & they’ve held up well. However realize that demi bras fit different than full coverage and after A weight loss went from 38 DD to 38D and have a couple in 36 C. They all fit well & I’m not seeing any gap..are your strap too loose.. if so that may correct the gap.
        just my 2¢

    4. Lily*

      Yep, their calculator is the best and the community on reddit is super helpful if you have no idea why a certain bra doesn’t fit properly or nothing fits, or everything pinches, etc.

      As for the actual bra lines, I tend to wear a camisole under thinner shirts, and I prefer t-shirt bras, but apart from that… It happens. It’s a garment, it sits underneath, sometimes lines are visible. as long as you’re not wearing a see-through shirt (it wouldn’t be appropriate at my workplace, at least), you’re good.

    5. londonedit*

      Yep, the vast majority of women are wearing a too-big back size and a too-small cup size. For some reason the media has convinced us all that a ‘double D’ is huge, so everyone thinks no I must be a 38B, when in fact they’re a 32F or whatever. Bra straps falling down? Most people think that’s because they need a smaller cup, but nope, again that means you need to go down on the back size and probably up in the cup size. M&S told me for years that I was a 34B – actually went for a proper bra fitting about 10 years ago and it turns out I’m a 32D.

    6. Chirpy*

      Yes, try to find a bra fit calculator that uses all three measurements: high bust, full bust, and under bust, plus breast shape and placement. Better yet, try multiple calculators and compare.

      Victoria’s Secret has the worst, most limited sizing and will absolutely try to sell you something that doesn’t fit because it’s what they stock. (“sister sizing” hahaha no.) There’s a lot of better brands out there.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I cracked the code on basic band/cup early in life, but learning about shape/placement was a game changer! I stumbled on a brand that did that and I was like ooohhhh that makes sense. But of course most makers don’t identify items that way so I just have to try on a ton to find one that matches me. At least I know how to describe what I need now.

        1. Freya*

          Yeah, I have a high apex (armpit only just above underbust) and filtering online stores by whether the straps shorten enough to bring the band up to the right height (and whether the band under the armpit will be marinating in my armpit sweat) is just not a thing they do. Yet. *sigh*

    7. FtheP*

      My theory is that many people still think that their chest size (for a blouse) is the same as their back size (for a bra).

      I’m roughly a 36” for a blouse. My bra size is 30GG (thanks, Bravissimo). My mind was blown. It had never occurred to me until I was 30 that for blouses you measure round the full chest. For bras, you measure underneath the tits, then the cup size is the differential.

      1. Zephy*

        For a while, the number in your bra size WAS the same as your chest measurement for dress size and the cup letters DID mean “small, medium, large, XL” – so you would have been a 36D in, say, 1975. The change happened sometime in the latter half of the 20th century, with advancements in bra construction and elastic fabric technology.

      2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        At least for me, it’s more that a snug band really screws with my breathing. From “empty” to “deep breath”, my underbust measurement changes more than 4 inches, so I’m fighting hard against the elastic in a properly fitted bra. But then, I’ve got a weird ribcage with dents from wearing a too-tight bra too young (thanks, Mom)…

          1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            I don’t think they would for an adult, unless there’s another underlying condition with bone strength or connective tissue. But if you’re wearing one while your bones are still growing, apparently they can!

          2. kiki*

            Yes if it was warn while bones are growing, like YetAnotherAnalyst described. It’d also have to be pretty tight and warn most all of the time. But yes! What we wear while growing up can have an impact on our skeletons. For historical examples, check out foot binding and cradleboarding.

    8. LCH*

      Yeah, I got fit at a sort of fancy place and went from wearing a B to an E with a smaller band. Felt weird at first but def a better fit. It’s also a thing you should do periodically since things can change

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        “things can change” is super important to note. You may measure at a certain size, but given the fluctations in our bodies (not just weight gain/loss, but also menstrual cycles for those who have them), even your “correct” bra might fit today and not tomorrow but then fit again in a week. It’s why I like to have a bunch of different styles on hand so that I can pick one that works well for whatever my body is choosing to do that very minute.

        1. Cinnamon Boo*

          I live close to Colonial Williamsburg and so we kind of go over there a lot. The interpreters at all the tailor shops etc explain that women’s’ clothing was often not sewed all the way around because throughout their lives women’s bodies change so much so they could easily adjust their clothing to what their body was doing at the time, whether that was monthly or over years – they had pins and ropes and things to adjust it. Of course, in that period, far more women would be pregnant at some point and you needed things to last, but women’s bodies STILL change a ton from right after puberty through all life’s stages due to many many different factors not including pregnancy including regular hormone cycles and how that changes your body.

          That random tidbit all to say, that in 2023 we SHOULD be more accepting of things changing and understand that things do indeed change than perhaps the way things were done in 1775, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

          1. starsaphire*

            100%! I do a lot of history stuff, and it’s amazingly wonderful how women’s clothes most of the way through history were designed like this. Just unlace a little bit here or there, and there you go. :)

            (please imagine the standard rants about modern clothing here, I don’t feel up to typing them and y’all don’t want to have to read them, but POCKETS ffs)

    9. Darlingpants*

      When I have bra lines it’s because one of two things: my bra is too small and it’s cutting into my boobs and causing a line, or it’s too old and the edge is rolling up into a ridge that you can see through the shirt.
      Actually third possible reason, it’s got decorative elements like thick seams or bows, but I don’t buy those anymore.

      I have shirts that are thin enough that I can see my black bra through it, but there’s no texture lines.

      1. Zephy*

        The edge rolling up like that also happens if you put your molded-cup bras in the dryer. Don’t put any bras in the dryer, ideally don’t put them in the washer either, but the heat is especially killer for both the foam in the molded cups as well as the elastic in the band. Hand-wash, or if you must machine-wash do so in a garment bag on a gentle cycle, and then hang dry, and even the molded cups won’t get like that.

        1. Freya*

          I machine wash my bras (in a lingerie bag, gentle wash with all the other things I want to preserve as long as possible), but they get hung up to dry on the coathooks I got my husband to install at our bedroom door where I hang them to air between wears and grab them to put on. I forget that they exist if I hang them on the washing line or on a clotheshorse, and I can’t find my favourites if they’re neatly in the drawer, so on the hooks they go!

    10. Hot Flash Gordon*

      I quit wearing underwire and regular bras during the pandemic and switched to jog bras. So much more comfy and no lines. I’m over 45 and no longer care if my boobs sit a little lower.

      1. Foila*

        Yup, I’m over wearing normal bras. I have a couple soft sports bras and I actually prefer the look of them, which is lower and flatter. Underwires seem like they’re going to so much effort to put the boobs in a place they don’t naturally want to sit.

        1. Clare*

          If an underwire is putting you into a shape that’s not natural for you, it doesn’t fit. It’s not your body being wrong for that type of bra, it’s the bra being wrong for your body. I’ve only found one brand that makes underwires that fit my body, but they hold me in the exact position I’d hold myself with my hands to feel supported and comfortable. They’re actually so comfortable I don’t take them off when I get home, and if you’d told me that would be the case 5 years ago I’d have laughed in your face. All that said, I’m a person with dense tissue who needs deeper bras. Sports bras that flatten are exquisitely uncomfortable for me. I’ll be in discomfort immediately and in exquisite pain by the end of the day. My cantilevers just need a bit more structural engineering support. I’m only saying this not because I doubt you but for years I thought there was something wrong with me because I hated sports bras and minimizers. They hurt. So I wouldn’t want someone else in my position to think that if sports bras (held up as the epitome of comfort in a bra) are uncomfortable too that they’re doomed to a life without support. It sounds too counter-intuitive to be true so I’ll state it explicitly: if sports bras hurt and crush, try underwires (that fit). (Oh and obviously to those whose sports bra fits beautifully I don’t mean you should change and I offer you a comfy and well fitted hi-five.)

    11. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Amen to bra fitters. I met one when I was bra shopping, taking my usual size to the register. The sales lady took a long look at me and the sizes I selected, and said, ‘No. That’s not your size.’ She asked if I’d indulge her, and sent me to the dressing room with the size she said I should be. Darned if she wasn’t right.

      When I need new underpinnings I get some time with a fitter, or at least someone who knows their trade, and always try on the garment. Sometimes the manufacturer changes sizes, and sometimes I do.

    12. Staja*

      Another vote for ABTF! The calculator doesn’t work quite as well if you’ve had a breast reduction – I measure as a D now, but wear a C when I wear a bra now, due to the shape…but better than an I, so zero complaints! Also, different shaped cups can make a difference, too.

    13. M*

      That calculator is great, but people should note that it works best for bras that are unlined and seamed, rather than molded cup/t-shirt bras – in the correct size, molded cup bras just don’t work for a lot of people, because the cups get taller as the cup size goes up, rather than projecting outward.

      1. Clare*

        Yes. This is a thing. Especially if you have a short torso and a large cup size, because the same volume of tissue is likely to be projected forward instead of spread across a large ribcage. I would like to wear moulded bras but they’re just way too shallow. They either crush me or perch uselessly on top like wobbly little hats. The bra manufacturing industry has major problems.

    14. Caramel & Cheddar*

      “will help you realize that you’ve been wearing the wrong size your whole life”

      I feel like this can’t be underscored enough. LW, you *will* be shocked! You’re going to absolutely disbelieve that you’re as big as the calculator tells you that you are. Fight that instinct, because acknowledging that it’s just a number and that our idea of what the letter sizing means isn’t based on anything except decades of lies about what cup sizes are “big”.

      I will also add one more thing that I haven’t seen touched on here but which A Bra That Fits can also help you out with: it’s helpful to know from the start that not all bras fit all shapes equally well. Just because you have the right size on paper doesn’t mean every brand will fit you well. For example (TMI!), my shape is “projected” so my cup measurement kind of overstates where all my tissue sits on my body. I’m frequently recommended bras where the cup sizes are correct, but unless it’s designed for projected breasts, I find the cups can be too wide and have a flattening effect that I don’t like. Similarly, my the gap between my breasts is narrow, so a lot of wire shapes don’t work well for me; I either have to find bras with what’s called a “vertical” wire (the ends are more parallel to one another than the average wire) or I have to wear a plunge bra where the wires don’t come up as high in the centre so that they don’t poke me.

      ABTF often has recommendations for brands/styles that fit certain kinds of shapes better than others; some online retailers (e.g. Understance) also walk you through different kinds of shapes. Someone down thread mentioned gaping on top; there are brands that are designed to minimize that kind of thing, for example.

      The last thing I want to add is that it can take a while to figure this stuff out! Part of the only reason I know so much about how to fit myself is I learned to sew bras out of frustration. The learning process was also fraught because of all the fitting issues, but it’s definitely helped me know what to look for in a store-bought bra.

      1. Darlingpants*

        Yes! I know a lot of people love TrueLove but something about how they’re shaped just doesn’t work at all for my body. But I absolutely adore Natori. If you can, get to an in person bra store with multiple brands, if you can’t, buy a bunch of different brands and styles from an online place that has a good return policy.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is so true. Wacoals do not work for me at all, but they will have to pry my Natoris from my cold, dead boobs.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        I tried to get my mom to go for a fitting pre-retirement, and she said no because she “didn’t want to be told she’s a bigger size than she thinks now”. I was like, mom, the only two people who will know are you, the owner of the boobs, and the fitter, whose job it is to make your boobs comfortable and looking good. She doesn’t GAF, and neither should you.
        Just remember that the proper fit and shape for you is going to have a cascade effect of making everything downstream look better!

    15. Yoyoyo*

      Does the calculator give you different sizes based on the brand? When I worked as a bra fitter (at a small boutique, not VS) I learned that nobody really has a “true” bra size as it varies so wildly based on bra manufacturer.

      1. Sometimes I Wonder*

        The calculator doesn’t give different sizes, but the subreddit has a database that shows what brands/models will fit that size (and how they fit, e.g., projected or not).

    16. AngryOctopus*

      I recommend Lady Grace (old fashioned selection but those ladies know how to fit a bra), or if you’re feeling fancier and are near a Rigby and Peller, they are EXCELLENT (my fitter pulled at my bra band, looked at me for a minute, and then brought me a selection of correctly sized bras that fit me exactly right. Zero measuring. My size is WAY bigger than you’d guess, it’s not about your actual size at all but how you’re proportioned).

  4. nnn*

    What strikes me about #4 is, from a mundane and practical perspective, anyone who needs or wants a bible already has one. There are already organizations who give people free bibles (sometimes whether you want one or not), and within faith communities it’s a common gift at major religious milestones.

    It’s also not a consumable gift (i.e. it doesn’t run out or wear out) so once you have a bible you rarely (if ever) need another one.

    So there’s no practical value to this gift, the value is only symbolic.

    And, before we even get into the fact that your employees might not share your faith, the symbolism of giving someone an engraved bible implies that you’re involved in their faith journey. It’s the kind of gift a parent or grandparent would give a child, or a godparent would give a godchild. It’s the kind of gift that would be given at a milestone in a person’s religious education, or on the occasion of a sacrament.

    Even if everyone involved shares a religion, it’s just too intimate a gift for a boss-employee relationship. That would be like giving your employees heirloom jewellery or family china.

    1. Not Australian*

      Also, as one who faced this challenge, actually *disposing* of an unwanted/unneeded Bible presents challenges, too. Sure, if it’s good enough to donate somewhere you can do that – but when it’s old and/or personalised (like ours was) there is really only one option – recycling. Even as a person of absolutely no faith, I found this a slightly disquieting process.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yep, I had a personalized Bible from my Confirmation and years later when I was no longer Catholic I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I think I ended up cutting off the corner with my name on it and donating it because that felt better than just tossing the whole thing lol

        1. Dog momma*

          I had a beautiful Sunday missal..Catholic, that was Latin on one side & English on the other for the Mass. Lots of Litanies, prayers etc. Kept it for yrs & looked at it occasionally even though I hadn’t attended church for many years. I finally tossed it just before I became a believer and now attend a nondenominational Bible church. Husband gave me a bible, which is entirely appropriate & very meaningful. From a, just no. You don’t know if your employees share your faith, are agnostic/ atheist and its noyb. That’s very personal. If you’re trying to share the Good News, you’re going about it the wrong way..speak to your pastor as to why. This method will not bring others to Christ. I guess I’m trying to figure out your purpose in giving this type of gift to your employees…

          If you’re in the USA, we have religious freedom here and you could also be breaking a law ( besides doing this in the workplace).

          1. DJ Abbott*

            The fundamentalists I grew with will do anything to force their religion on people. They know it’s inappropriate and do it anyway. If they’re called out, they pretend innocence. It’s usually their pastors who are directing them to do this.

      2. Anon for this*

        I would have no such qualms. Somebody gifts me a bible it’s going straight into the trash – immediately.

        I’m a Jew by Choice and the folks that will come by and try to “stealth convert” are bad enough that now (and what’s with the uptick since the Hamas attack??) that I just take anything handed to me with the name of the dude who’s birth is about to be celebrated in a mass of consumerism and pitch it unceremoniously. Bonus points if it horrifies the giver.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        I used to work in substance abuse treatment and our patients stole our bibles all the time (as well as other recovery books). I tried writing the name of the facility on the sides and it didn’t work. I eventually accepted it and would just regularly go to our local used bookstore and buy more copies of religious texts & recovery books. Maybe if you can coordinate with a local AA group (or equivalent) to donate your unwanted bible. They likely won’t care about the customization.

      4. Helen Waite*

        There are a lot of free libraries aroud here – take a book, leave a book. I’ve often found bibles in them that people didn’t want anymore, as well as various religious tracts.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I got a monogrammed study edition bible at confirmation, an appropriate situation for that sort of gift. That was over 35 years ago, and I still have it.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup. I’m not religious, but I do own a Bible from my cofirmation days. I mean, I don’t read it on a regular basis or anything, but I do like having one on my shelf. I also have zero problems with my local church and even like going there for Christmas sometimes.
        There is absolutely no way I’d be happy about receiving another Bible as a present from my boss. Honestly, I’d think he was some kind of radical and probably start job searching. Not even because of the book itself, but because of the symbolism and the sheer inappropriateness of it.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        I chose to keep my mother’s Bible after she died. It’s beautiful, and has sentimental (as well as spiritual) value to me.

        I can’t imagine any work circumstances in which giving someone a religious text would be appropriate – not unless you were in a church ministry role, and someone needed you to do something like compare translations (a vanishingly remote percentage of the work force, I would imagine. Odds are that even if you work in a clergy type role for a religious organization, you already have your own Bible).

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I was nominally raised Christian, my godmother sent me two bibles when I ws about 11 – a ‘Good News’ version to read if I wished and KJV for the poetry. Even when I was confirmed, the gift I was given from the Bishop was a book of essays on religious themes , not a bible, since they made the reasonable assumption we already have a bible.
      I still have them, even though I no longer identify as christian , it’s useful occasionally to look things up or for the language.
      But quite apart from the issues of fisting you region on someone in the work place it’s a really badly thought out gift since it’s something people either won’t want or will already have.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Being Irish (and growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, though not sure if this would have changed), the part about your getting a gift from the Bishop interested me. There were…probably around 250 of us confirmed at my confirmation and that was just my parish. The Bishop also had to do the other 45 parishes in the diocese (though we are the largest town, so the others would have smaller numbers, but still well into the thousands in total), so the idea of a present from the Bishop would not have occurred to me.

    4. Napkin Thief*

      As one who tries to read the Bible daily (& highlights, transports various places, etc) they definitely wear out :) I’ve retired two over the last fifteen years, and at one point for various reasons owned seven at once!

      However, I pretty much always want to be the one to select a new one. It’s a very personal decision – putting aside even translation preferences (which is obviously a big consideration!) there might be strong opinions on the color/design/type of cover, whether it has red lettering or not, the print size, are you planning to mostly take it on-the-go so it should be small enough to fit in a particular bag, are you planning to keep it home for personal study and you’d like it to feel weighty and lay flat on a table, does it have a bookmark (does it have TWO bookmarks???), does it zip closed to protect the pages, are there spaces on the margins for note-taking…there are so many reasons not to buy even a Christian whose denomination and devotion you feel certain of a Bible without consulting them.

    5. Antilles*

      The only way I can see this making sense is if we’re talking like “senior pastor buying Bibles for his associate pastors” or something similar: You know they’re of the same faith, you know they’re actively practicing said faith, and the relationships are typically far closer than a normal boss/employee relationship.
      Even then, practically speaking, it might be more of a showpiece than a gift that’ll actually get used since by definition they already have their own Bibles that they use and prefer.

    6. NerdyPrettyThings*

      Hard agree with all of this. Also, most people who use a Bible have a strong version preference, often annotate their preferred version, etc. People don’t like to switch Bibles.

  5. Free the wire, free the mind*

    Check out the seamless wireless bras from Third Love. I switched and won’t ever go back (though admittedly not an option for all sizes). No bulky cups or edges to show under a shirt. The shape just looks like a tank top anyway. It’s not about what other people think, it’s about you feeling comfortable and confident.

      1. Need coffee*

        So did I for a brief moment.

        Waiting for Silicon Valley to make up a use case for bras with WiFi…

        1. allathian*

          LOL, I’d love a decent sports bra with an integrated pulse sensor in the righ spot that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. I have largish (F) pendulous boobs, so I can’t wear both a bra and the sensor belt.

          1. Too Much PowerPoint*

            I’d like a decent any kind of bra that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. As it is, I have to wait for sales and hope my size is in stock. Finding something prettty that doesn’t remind me of upholstery is bonus.

            1. Chirpy*

              I just want a nice blue racerback bra with no wires in my size.

              Or any reasonably priced pretty bras, really. They just don’t exist. A swimsuit *top* in my size averages over $100, and will probably be something not actually designed for swimming…

              1. Katydid*

                Not knowing what size you are, I don’t know if this bra will work, but I like my peacock blue Anita Dynamix Star racerback. It has a fairly wide range of sizes, which is how I found it as a small band/large cup person.

                1. Chirpy*

                  Thanks, it looks like it would work…except the peacock is the only color that doesn’t come in my size, sigh.

            2. Alternative username*

              I have not bought a bra for… 20 years, probably? They are so ludicrously expensive, and I have three bras that sort of fit – and no way of knowing if a newly purchased bra would fit even sort of well, so it would be a complete waste of money. For me personally, that is. Other people’s mileages vary!

    1. Original OP1*

      It’s fun seeing this question I asked so early in my career being reposted now.

      The pandemic led me to find “ Jockey Women’s Bra Back Smoothing Seamfree Bralette” on Amazon and I have been obsessed with them ever since, and I was happy to buy lots of silky tops for my return to office now that I have a bra that entertains the idea. They’re like a sports bra but the cup is sewn in (!!!!!!). They don’t smoosh me down, but don’t do anything to emphasize either – perfect for work. I even wear them to work out if I’m not doing any jogging. And they have a great neckline and also back that doesn’t show under my clothes.

      I still have the same reaction that it’s kind of annoying that everyone thinks I must have had the wrong bra size and that my experience working at VS somehow makes me less capable of telling whether a bra fits. I get that VS shoves people in the wrong size bras, but also, really, seriously, I have very normal sized boobs. All the online calculators agree.

      I did learn over time that I have “bottom heavy” boobs and that’s why I had gapping. I switched to unlined balconette bras and it solved a lot of my problems, although I never really enjoyed wearing them for a long work day.

      1. Chirpy*

        I’m glad you found the correct bra shape that fit better. I think so many people have just had really horrible experiences with Victoria’s Secret. I personally had an employee treat me like I was some grotesque monster back when I was still a 36D or DD as a teenager. My similarly proportioned sister got laughed at. Neither of us is unusually large (though I now wear a hard to find cup/band combination.)

  6. nnn*

    Inspired by #1, I propose a rule:

    If it’s going to be socially unacceptable to visibly not be wearing undergarments (bras, panties, etc.), it has to be socially acceptable for evidence of those undergarments to be visible (bra lines, panty lines, etc.)

    If it’s going to be socially unacceptable for evidence of undergarments to be visible, it has to be socially acceptable to visibly not be wearing undergarments.

    I’m also cool with both options being socially acceptable. However, ain’t nobody got time for wearing undergarments and concealing all evidence that they’re wearing undergarments.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      That’s an important point, but I think in a lot of cases, it annoys the wearer far more than it offends anymore else. You’ve spent money on these garments, you expect them to stay put and look neat.

    2. Boobs Need Bras*

      Co-signed. I read a letter from the archives here a while ago that discussed the alleged ‘unacceptability’ of visible bra straps and was BOGGLED at the outrage shown to anyone who dares to show a few inches of elastic on their shoulders while working for a living.

      It’s a bra strap, for goodness’ sake. You’d have thought it was a nipple.

      (Anyway, the last time I remember wearing a dress that clearly showed my bra straps to the office, my country’s head of state was so appalled by my lack of decorum that they… said good morning and held the door for me. Because it is 2023.)

        1. Pita Chips*

          The dress code at my office specifically says, “underwear must be worn.”

          Someone reported one of my direct reports for wearing a shirt that was “too sheer,” and her bra was visible. I was rather annoyed about it because the shirt in question was styled to fit an office atmosphere and that summer was intensely hot.

    3. Lady Blerd*

      That’s how I eventually got over my ick about VPLs. It hit me, as someone who hates thongs, that if I am going to wear full coverage undergarments, visible lines are inevitable.

      1. Clare*

        *clutches pearls* Goodness gracious my Lady Blerd! Art thou not wearing long bloomers and a full length slip in order to avoid such a calamity? One must always inconvenience oneself to the absolute maximum extent possible in order to protect the eyes of the delicate public from the horrors of lumpy clothing! Anything less would truly be indecent! *horks in a large gasp of smelling salts*

    4. Emily of New Moon*

      At the same time, I think it’s tacky to have your underpants showing when you bend down to tie your shoes, add more paper to the lower drawer of the copy machine, etc.; regardless of gender.

      1. Flor*

        Eh, still better to have underpants showing than underpants *not* showing if your waistband is that low when you bend forward!

        Why, yes, I did go to high school at the height of the low rise jeans craze, how can you tell?

        1. AngryOctopus*

          I wear high waisted jeans now and let me tell you, I can’t stop my underwear from showing if I move a certain way. It’s just life and how bodies are shaped.

        2. Freya*

          I was sitting in the front row of spectators at a dance competition when one of the champions I admire split his pants and momentarily demonstrated what he was not wearing underneath. Dude impressed me with his savoir faire in acknowledging a quite embarrassing situation and instantly changing what he was leading to compensate for the costume malfunction so that his dance partner was not affected at all. Ever since, I have included “some kind of underwear” in my response when asked for recommendations regarding outfits for comps *headdesk*

      2. MigraineMonth*

        One of my friends worked at a “hip” clothing retailer and was once written up because her bra straps and underwear *weren’t* visible.

    5. Generic Name*

      But you’re forgetting the most important purpose behind this double bind, and it’s to keep women so distracted about making sure our appearance is *just so* so that we don’t rebel against the patriarchy. (Why yes, I just finished re-watching the Barbie Movie)

    6. Pam*

      Gender plays into this too. I spend way more time worrying about my bra than my underwear.

      Growing up, my mom was very concerned about me showing any evidence of a bra. Because if I was wearing a bra, it meant I had boobs. And if I had boobs, it meant boys might harass me. Of course, the real problem was the harassment, not the bra.

      I think it should be a sliding scale based on effort needed. For example: Effort needed to completely erase bra lines: too much, not required. Effort needed to not show the color of your bra cup: Very little, this should be done. Effort needed to not show your underwear every time you sit: Depends on body shape, but generally not too hard.

    7. Database Developer Dude*

      I propose a corollary to your rule: those who want to comment and/or complain about how others are wearing bras should be required to wear one themselves.

      (and I’m a guy saying this. Really, I don’t care if bra lines or panty lines show. It’s the workplace, I shouldn’t be looking at your body close enough to notice or be bothered by it).

    8. kiki*

      Yes! I especially want to upvote the panty lines element! I just have a butt that displays panty lines very obviously. Even in pants that are pretty loose or thick, the lines reveal themselves. Some brands of seamless underwear work better than others, but they all reveal themselves in the end. And I’m just a hard no to thongs for the work day. For a special occasion– sure. For 8-10 hours in an office– no. I need the full-coverage, comfy cottons undies.

  7. Certaintroublemaker*

    If I were LW3, I would get office supplies specifically in the logo color of the org (or paint them that way). Just to make it really obvious—“these are common office property.” (Alternately, and I hate this is true, but if it works … apparently men tend not to steal tools or office supplies that are pink.)

    1. TG*

      Just label it and embarrass him into doing the right thing by calling him on it and also lock your supplies up in your desk – I used to do that for the things I either brought in or were given for personal use.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Back as an undergrad I worked one summer in a physics lab. One of my tasks was to spray paint all the tools to make it unmistakable which lab they belonged to. The professor said that this was to reduce their coefficient of evaporation.

    3. Antilles*

      In industries where several different companies/independent contractors work on the same job site and each bring tools, it’s common practice to do something distinctive to their tools, to tell the difference between a bunch of nearly identical power drills or hammers or whatever. It can be something as simple as a quick dash of paint on the side of every one of our tools so you can quickly identify oh it’s got the blue dots on the side, that must be one of ours that you grabbed by mistake (or “mistake”, YMMV).

    4. Jezebella*

      The pink thing is true. When I was a smoker, I always bought pink lighters, because dudes do NOT pick up pink lighters and pocket them.

    5. Retired Merchandiser*

      So true!! When I used to work with crews doing resets the men were constantly “borrowing ” (stealing) my work tools because they couldn’t be bothered with carrying a tool box. (our tool boxes were bright yellow and that looked “girly” to them. ) I bought a set of hot pink tools and that stopped it. They’d still borrow one, occasionally, but returned it quickly.

    6. Pippa K*

      There’s a funny story out there somewhere on the internet about a high school (US) football team who kept having their practice jerseys taken. They tried marking them “property of X School” but that didn’t solve the problem. Finally someone thought to mark them “junior varsity team” and suddenly no more jerseys went astray. :-)

    7. Ama*

      When I worked at a grad school I had to put labels on our three hole punch and heavy duty stapler that said “[Department Name] property — if found elsewhere please return to [my desk location]” because the copier was on a different floor and people would carry them up there to assemble copies of their thesis for their committees. (We did not keep them by the copier because I used them more than anyone and my boss got cranky if I was away from my desk area for too long — why we couldn’t just buy a second set never got answered.)

      It didn’t really work (I still had to go corral them frequently) but at least it meant I could easily identify them.

  8. Daria Grace*

    #4 Even as a Christian, unless I was working at a very specifically Christian organisation (like a church or Christian publisher) I think getting a bible from my manager would feel odd. It feels like wading into overly personal territory given I’m someone who rarely talks religion at work.

    There’s obvious weird power dynamic and boundary issues here that make it a no go but even if those weren’t there, without discussion with the recipient it still likely wouldn’t be a great gift. There’s too many preference factors in play even for people who would like a new bible Some people will need bigger print, some people prefer compact format that’s easy to take places. Some people will have a strong preference for the translation their church mostly uses. Some people like bibles with study notes, some people don’t. Engraved bibles are expensive and you don’t want people feeling like they’re obligated to use a gifted one that doesn’t match their needs.

    1. Need coffee*

      Honestly even if I was a Christian working for a church I’d still be weirded out by my manager giving me a Bible. Like you said, too many preferences.

      I think the only time I would expect a manager to give me a Bible is if I was a clergyman and my manager was a bishop gifting a fancy Bible to use during Mass or something.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        A publisher or the kind of place that produces goods with biblical quotes might make sense, if there’s currently one bible in demand for checking, like an office dictionary. But it’s still a bit niche!

      2. Dinwar*

        The only time I’ve seen this happen (admittedly limited experience), the manager was the priest. It sort of makes sense for a priest to give out Bibles, and to evangelize and be concerned that you’re following the rules of the religion–that’s his job, after all.

        If the manager is someone else, it’d come off as trying to hard. The same way that, if I worked for a hospital but my manager wasn’t a doctor, yet they gave me nutritional advice and medical advice, I’d be annoyed. They’re a wanna-be, and merely using gift-giving as an excuse to boost their own self-image.

    2. amoeba*

      Wouldn’t just feel odd to me but would seriously make me think my boss was some kind of hardcore religious fanatic. Which is… not a thing I’d be happy about, no matter whether I’m actually a member of the religion in question myself! Like, I don’t think I’d prefer a Bible as a gift to a Koran or a Thora or whatever.

    3. Morning Reading*

      Is anyone ever obligated to use a gift? And how would a manager know if an employee was using a bible at all?
      The only obligation I’d feel if I received a bible would be to dispose of it respectfully. (Actually, any book, unless it was one I wanted to keep permanently. I hate to just throw out books.)

      1. Bagpuss*

        No. However, personally, if I were gifted a bible I would feel it was inappropriate so it’s one of the very few situations where I would likely refuse the gift and out the burden of disposing of it on the giver

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        It’s mostly the symbolism. Is a manager who gives me a Bible going to push their religion on me in other ways, or penalize me for not sharing it? Will my job be in danger because I’m gay? (And no, not all Christians are homophobic. Those who give Bibles in the office are more likely to be.)

        1. Michelle Smith*

          This would be my concern as well, the risk that I’d be treated differently since I don’t go to church and I’m LGBT. I don’t just limit this to Bible’s either. I’d feel just as weird about my boss giving me a C.S. Lewis book or The Secret. Just pay me and let me have time off when I request it honestly.

        2. Observer*

          Will my job be in danger because I’m gay?

          Probably! And I know that my job would be at risk because I am an obviously practicing Jew.

          Because the issue is not Christians, but ones who “who give Bibles in the office “ – especially to their subordinates.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Agreed. There are a few situations where I would probably be mostly OK with it, like in the early years I was teaching when some schools in Ireland were still headed by nuns and less but still one or two, by priests or brothers and if the principal were an elderly kindly priest or nun of the liberation theology tradition, then I would probably take it as kindly meant, especially as 20 years ago, the odds of the majority of the staff being Catholic would have been higher. And in that case, I’d at worst think they were a bit behind the times, but that they meant to share something that had meaning for them and think no more of it.

      But otherwise, while I’d actually quite like to get a personalised Bible from a family member or somebody else I was close to, getting it from a boss would not only concern me from the point of considering those on the staff who are not Christian but also make me wonder if the boss was…kinda trying to make a point or push an agenda. And in my experience, the kind of person who assumes everybody is Christian (with the exception, as I mentioned above of some now very elderly people in Ireland, who simply grew up in a time when virtually everybody in Ireland was a practicing Catholic and don’t fully realise that times have changed) often tends to be the kind of person who also thinks their particular interpretation of Christianity is the one correct one and anybody who disagrees is looking for loopholes, so if they think divorce is wrong, then they will assume divorce is, by definition, against Christianity and anybody who gets divorced is willfully defying God. People who assume “everybody will want a Bible and will want the particular version I am giving” have an above average chance of also being the type to assume “everybody agrees with my specific interpretations.”

      Plus, it’s hard to know if the person is giving it because it’s pretty and it doesn’t occur to them it could be inappropriate or if it’s more an “I must share the ‘good news’ so that my colleagues will get to heaven.” And if it’s the latter, the attitude is likely to show up in more problematic contexts than gifts.

  9. Throwaway Account*

    I’m a longtime bra wearer and honestly I was not sure what a “bra line” was! Like I get that some shirts are thin or sheer/light enough that you can see the bra or that straps show or that you might not be very thin so some digging in in the back is visible. But I did not think OP meant any of that. From the pictures online, I’m pretty sure visible lines from the cup in the front happens when the bra does not fit. That only happens to me when I’m in the dressing room and the bra does not fit.

    I’m looking forward to trying all the suggested bra shops!

    1. ecnaseener*

      LOL sounds like you don’t need the suggested bra shops if your bras already fit – you’re the lucky one who fits a commonly sold size!

      1. Roland*

        I see lines on women well within standard range, this is more about shape and fit than anything and I don’t I think we need to post guesses about anyone’s body.

        1. ecnaseener*

          It’s not a guess? Throwaway said they only ever get lines on bras that don’t fit, and they only wear bras that don’t fit in the dressing room, ergo they are consistently able to find bras that do fit in stores.

  10. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

    LW2’s conundrum is giving me Pride and Prejudice vibes.
    “What is it mama? Why do you wink at me? What am I to do?”

      1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        I think Kitty is very under-rated. Especially in 1995 P&P. That scene where she’s peeking in the window to see if Mr Collins has gone yet …

    1. Jezebella*

      “Good heavens, child, why would I be WINKING at you!? But now that I think of it, there IS something I would talk to you about.”

      Oh, Mrs. Bennet. So subtle.

      1. borealis*

        I do not see that! Why should I see that? Why should that be?

        (sorry – there are just too many quotable bits in the 1995 adaptation!)

    2. I want to go to Brighton!!!*

      I just watched that scene (from the 1940s version) yesterday! And yes, it popped into my mind when I read this letter.

  11. Allonge*

    LW2 – I know it’s possible to be annoyed by practically anything, but is winking not supposed to signal camaraderie, a sense of I-know-you-know-we-know?

    How is this putting someone in their place? I’ll readily admit I read about people winking a lot more than see it in real life, but it’s very unlikely to have a negative intent behind.

    1. KateM*

      My thought was what I see was suggested by several people back in 2018 as well – that it could be a facial tic, especially as it happens usually when she is under pressure.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Sometimes people wink after they say something clever or jokey.. I’m struggling to think of an example but imagine OP is raising a serious concern, and then the boss is just making a joke in response. Then winking. A lot of the time you can still wrestle the conversation back to a serious tone, simply by saying “yes, but”, but the wink acts like a full stop and is often done as people walk away. It can be a bit of a parthian shot type of thing. I can see why OP is probably annoyed. Think of how often a patronizing tone is delivered in a jokey way. It’s probably not the wink itself, it’s how it’s used.

      1. Allonge*

        If that is the case (boss keeps responding to actual problems with a joke) that is a serious issue – but as you say, not with the winking as such.

        1. Allonge*

          And re-reading this part of OP’s letter: It’s usually when she’s under pressure or is trying to just get me to complete something without asking any questions. – this may well be the issue, in that the problem is OP resents (with some reason if this happens frequently) the don’t-ask-questions part and the winking is just what they focused on.

          1. Tally miss*

            I have a fairly large facial scar that thankfully looks like a dimple. But when I blink, my scar twitches and when I smile, my eye twitches. Unless you know it’s a scar, you might think I was doing something with my eye.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s a masters thesis hiding in “What does winking mean?”

      To me it signals “You and I are conspirators, probably in the context of together against the purported authority figure.”

      So you wink to tell your kid or employee that they’re not really in trouble, but we need to play along with this miffed person. Or you wink as a customer to try and convince the kid taking your fast food order that he should give you the drinks for free as a way to stick it to the man. Or you wink at your assistant when you ask for “The Murchison accounts” and she’s supposed to know to bring you the secret second set of books, or to book a hotel room for lunch, or to call you with a purported urgent emergency in thirty minutes.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Agreed – I thought the usual interpretation was “We two know something others do not” OR “Do what I intend for you to do, not what I say to do, which you and I both know because we have an understanding about what I REALLY mean”.

    4. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I, personally, am cringe and sometimes find myself winking and doing finger guns. I cannot imagine any of the contexts I’ve done that reading as condescending (except maybe to myself) so I don’t think I’m picturing what the LW described accurately.

      (For me it’s usually like someone asking how those TPS reports are going, both of us knowing the TPS reports are the worst, and me giving them a wink and finger guns, saying something like “Having the time of my life” and then both of us carrying on, content that we are at least not suffering alone. Like I said, extremely cringe.)

      I can definitely get it being annoying, though, if your boss is making light of something really stressful; that can feel like they’re not taking you or your concerns seriously enough. It just hits different when it comes from someone who presumably has some power/responsibility to do something about your problem.

      1. WFH Calico*

        I am fascinated by the winking discourse! I, too, am cringe, and picked up winking as a habit from my grandad (I am a 30something white lady). I definitely use it as an indicator of in-joke, perhaps a confirmation of ‘yes we both just noticed the same thing’ in a meeting. It usually indicates more of a peer-to-peer relationship for me. While I can see it being slightly cringe, I would never have guessed it could engender such visceral responses from people!

        I agree with Allonge, above. It might be a bit of a personal pet peeve for LW2, but it sounds like the crux of the problem is something a little more subtle.

      2. morethantired*

        I mostly wink at children and dogs so reading that “winking is condescending” made me chuckle.

    5. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      My department head is NOTORIOUS for using the :wink: emoji. To the extent that the emoji in our slack has a :bossname-wink: alias. He’ll add it at the end of something the way other people might use a smiley, and I interpret it as “smile, but humorous,” and don’t think anything of it.

      (That said, he’s never actually winked at me in person and I might find that weirder.)

    6. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah that was a weird interpretation from the OP but I also sort of took it as a kind of “all the normal subtexts I associate with winking are not what I’d expect from this person at all, let alone in the moment it happened…so I’m trying to come up with something it COULD mean” and they landed on “putting someone in their place”.

      I think rather than focusing on why the boss is winking – because they don’t know and can’t ask without sounding like they’re making too big a deal of it – focus on the “this is confusing to me” aspect. So then they’re not saying “boss, why?” and they’re also not saying “boss, stop”. They’re saying “I want to make sure I understand your message and right now this aspect means I don’t. Kinda. Sorta. Something like that.

  12. Santiago*

    Winking is sort of cultural. I speak a few languages and have lived in a few places and in some areas people wink a lot.

    May or may not be relevant to OP’s situation but in the Anglo-US context I notice people don’t know about cultural difference as much as in more multilingual areas (Europe, India), so it’s worth point out.

    1. ursula*

      Who is it culturally common/appropriate for? (This is genuine curiosity and not an attempt to be snarky; I don’t know anything about this at all)

      1. Santiago*

        Sure. When I worked in Spain people used it all the time in PMs, or they would use it face-to-face as an “inside joke” in the office. Also in France.

        It was odd at first coming from a US workplace but there was nothing untoward about it.

  13. Molly Millions*

    LW2: I know winking can sometimes be creepy, but in the context the LW describes, it seems like the manager’s trying to add a friendly tone to the requests (if she knows she’s doing it at all – it sounds like it may just be a tic she has, perhaps because she feels uncomfortable giving orders).

    I would personally interpret it is “Thanks!” or “I trust you get what I’m saying” or even “I know this is a pain, I appreciate you.”

    1. Artemesia*

      I don’t get the ‘generational’ idea either. I am probably in the oldest generation posting on this site and I have never been around people who wink in the workplace. Literally never once been winked at. It is kind of weird, but I assume designed to signal ‘we are in this together.’

  14. MPerera*

    I once worked for the call center of a medical laboratory network. On December 24th, my supervisor told me, “Since it’s Christmas Eve, you can leave ten minutes early.” That was my Christmas gift from the boss that year.

    It was still better than a bible.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      Ten minutes early?! *falling over dead in shock and gratitude* But yes, still better than a bible.

  15. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #4 Useful to see this post while people are planning their gifts – so bosses especially know what NOT to give.
    Even if a manager just give bibles to those she knows/thinks are Christian, it will seem like a clique within your team to everyone else – and it would indeed be a clique.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      And even Christians might have problems with receiving a Bible, both because there are different versions and not all denominations accept all versions (I suspect a few decades ago, there would definitely have been some Catholics in Ireland who would have objected to a King James version. Honestly, there probably still would be, but now it would be more likely to be the connection with an English king rather than related to denomination, whereas in the past, it would have been both) and also because…well, it would make one wonder if the boss was the type to push religion on others (or if they were just giving what they thought was a pretty gift) and if they are, then honestly, the type of person who wants to remind everybody of their Christianity is also often the type of person who has a pretty narrow interpretation of Christianity and assumes everybody shares it. Even within denominations, interpretations really vary and…I’d be wary of a boss too anxious to share religion because it’s very likely their interpretations differ in some ways from mine.

      1. I asked to be excommunicated*

        Re the Catholics: t would be both. A Catholic Bible has some books in the Old Testament (known as the Apocrypha) that the King James does not.

  16. Totally and utterly Splendid!*

    #1 Absolutely go and get a proper bra fitting. My wife did that many years ago and she says she didn’t know how much she had suffered until then. She now spends a good hour in the shop being fitted by someone who knows what they are doing. The particular shop she uses is Bravissimo and is worth every penny especially as they have a lounge area for me and I can sit with a cup of tea while she gets looked after.
    #2 I did have someone who did this, face them and do a slow blink with both eyes back at them. Then explain you can’t wink with just one eye. It’s a great way of showing just how awkward it looks.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      As a cat owner, I interpret a slow blink as “I love you”, which I will only do to cats. (And to pre-verbal children when I forget that they are not, in fact, cats.)

  17. Other Alice*

    Did I work for #4? In 2015 I worked for a company that gifted every single employee a book of Catholic teachings. I was off sick the day the “gift” was presented, which is good because I’m not sure I would have been able to control my face. A coworker left it in my desk drawer, and there it stayed for the short time I remained in that place. I’m not sorry to say I left it for my replacement to do as they would. From experience, the people who can ask that question with a straight face are not the kind of people that can be convinced they are ever wrong.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Yikes! That strikes me as worse (and I am Catholic). While I’m not justifying the Bible, I could at least see how somebody could consider the Bible to be one of the major works of world ideology and therefore reasonably interesting to a fair number of people, but the teachings of a specific religion? I can’t interpret that as anything other than evangelisation.

      Even giving that to other Catholics would come across really badly, like “here are the rules you need to follow.” Even to a priest, this seems like a poor gift!

      1. Need coffee*

        I’m not religious and I do own a Bible…Because I read a lot of medieval stuff and about half of all medieval art is Bible fanart so it makes sense to at least have some of that context.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            There’s a ton of Bible fanfic too; Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno are some of the best-known. I was interested for a while, but that fandom has a long history as being super toxic.

      2. Other Alice*

        I think the reasoning was that they were gifting us a newly published book as opposed to something we had already. Which I can sort of… Understand? Except please do not give me religious literature at work.
        I would have found a bible equally offputting, personally.

  18. anononon*

    Oh boy, letter 1 is bringing back memories. Back in 2010, when I was more than 30 years old, I went to John Lewis (a UK department store) for My First Ever Proper Bra Fitting, on the occasion of ‘I’m getting married and I need something that looks right under my dress’). I had, prior to that, just gone to Marks and Spencer and bought what I envisaged was the right size based on the guidance in teen magazines and my tape measure. Small boobs. Quite wide around. I’d been wearing a 38A for YEARS.

    I left John Lewis with a very large carrier bag containing a lot of bras. All a 34D…


    1. bamcheeks*

      I had several of the Calvin Klein “strip of elastic and two triangles of cotton jersey” bras in my late teens (late nineties), and at some point I went to John Lewis and came away with two solidly-engineered Triumph 34D bras. I still remember walking into the kitchen wearing one (under a top!) and my mum glancing up and spontaneously exclaiming, “oh THAT’S better.”

      (Have latterly downgraded to M&S bralets, mind!)

    2. Generic Name*

      OMG, you poor thing. I wear about your size, and I can’t imagine wearing an A cup!! I bet your bra was constantly riding up your back/straps falling down.

  19. Andromeda*

    If a manager gifted me a Bible, I would seriously think they were trying to convert me, and/or that I may be penalised at work for my (lack of) religious belief.

    I don’t intend this to be a pile-on — some people are saying this is an “obvious” thing not to do and I don’t agree. LW wrote to an advice column with a genuine question and got a genuine answer. Office norms are really confusing, and if you grew up very religious it’s probably hard to shift from “non-office thinking, consciously and unconsciously very influenced by belief” to “office thinking, where religion should be discussed minimally at the request of the person who believes, within certain contexts, and almost never the manager”.

    But yeah, please don’t do this. You almost definitely don’t intend for it to be seen that way, but that is likely how it will read.

  20. bamcheeks*

    LW1, I feel like your standard for “appropriate workwear” must come from TV or fashion photography where 1. there is an entire team of wardrobe and lighting people dedicated to making an actor look perfect 2. for either a fraction of a second or three to five minutes at a time 3. with a budget that probably vastly exceeds yours and 4 nobody expects to be comfortable. “Lines of underwear is never visible” is not a reasonable standard for any normal person working a normal day with a normal budget and no control over their lighting!

    By all means go and get fitted at a bra place that does a full range of sizes, but if you’ve already done that or you do it and it doesn’t solve the problem, I promise you nobody cares as much as you and it is definitely OK to let go of it if you want.

    1. Totally and utterly Splendid!*

      All my work clothes come from ASDA which was bought by WalMart. They are the cheapest possible because I have better things to spend my money on. It’s easier for me as a bloke cos its just blue and white shirts and black trousers but I seriously don’t care how I look at work – “Presentable” is the level I aim for. Then everyone can be surprised at the Xmas party

  21. Panneni*

    #2 As a Dutch person, it feels so alien to me that an employee would not have standing to ask about a manager’s behavior even for clarification.

    Just the other day, I talked to a manager I work with (not mine but leads the team of the location I work at), because he voiced his opinion about my recovery process (not guided by him or ever spoken about to him) to a colleague of mine behind my back. I made it clear to him that I don’t appreciate the behavior and asked him to change it in the future.

    I know talking behind one’s back is a bigger faux pas than winking at someone. And they aren’t *my* manager. I would have approached my own manager about it too if she had done it, though.

    It would be considered slightly weird not to ask someone, anyone, to clarify their behavior if it’s unclear what is meant by it. In my mind, of course LW 2 would ask about the winking (in a neutral open ended question). If it clears up communication between the two of you, why wouldn’t you ask? I might even go as far as explaining the effect on me, and saying I just wanted to check my assumptions.

    Of course there are still assholes and those people won’t expect these kind of questions as often as normal people (bc fear factor). Doesn’t mean we don’t have standing to say those things to our superiors though.

    1. amoeba*

      Huh. I’m German (so, I guess, similarly direct culture) and wouldn’t think to ask about winking – for me, that would be more similar to asking about a particular facial expression (“Why are you always smiling when you give out tasks?” or “why are you not smiling more when giving positive feedback? It feels less friendly this way”). Just… their way of communicating, which is definitely not my place to judge, unless it impacts me. Especially as it’s more frequent under stress, which makes it sound to me like a tic/a quirk that they don’t even do consciously. Which I’d hate somebody to ask me about!

      And sure, there are scenarios where it would indeed affect me – like, they wink in a suggestive way. Or, their wink makes it unclear whether they mean something as a joke or not. They wink at inappropriate things, making it seem like they support sexism or racism or whatever. But this does not appear to be the case in this letter…

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I think enquiring about winking is in a slightly different category to “behaviour” or even other facial expressions, because winks are complicated and genuinely misunderstood sometimes. Sometimes a wink means “do the opposite to what I just said”, or “we both know what cannot be said”. See the excellent Pride and Prejudice reference upthread from WishIWasATimeTraveller – In the scene referenced Mrs Bennett wants Kitty to leave the prospective couple on their own, without saying so, and winks at her daughter while making up some excuse to go. You wouldn’t ask someone why they were winking in front of an audience (like the naive Kitty does), but it’s a pretty good thing to ask about when alone with the person, if you didn’t understand: “Hey, I didn’t get the joke, when you were winked at me earlier! Sorry to be obtuse but were you making some kind of point about Ludicrous Project?

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I’m Irish so from a fairly indirect culture and here, it wouldn’t be about having the standing or that it’s employee to boss. It would be unusual to ask anybody something like this and it would likely come across as an insult if somebody did, like the person asking was doing so as a way to call them weird/mock them for winking. I guess this is because our speech patterns are quite indirect so criticism can be oblique. I guess in a more direct culture, “why did you do that? would be less likely to be read as code for “why would anybody do something so stupid and cool?”

      It has nothing to do with superiors. In fact, I think it would be considered more inappropriate for a boss to ask it of an employee.

  22. Cute As Cymraeg*


    As an openly queer person in the office (and also as an apatheist) I just got the screaming heebie-jeebies at the very idea of being given a Bible by ANY colleague, let alone my boss. While I know some perfectly nice, non-judgmental (in one case, gay herself) Christians, I would absolutely assume my boss had Opinions on my nasty, sinful, gay ways.

    Absolutely not. No. Not EVER.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        So…am I reading it correctly, that an apatheist just doesn’t give a whether there’s a God or not? I’m laughing over here. +10 points from me too.

        1. Cute As Cymraeg*


          I say I’m an apatheist because I don’t CARE whether there’s a god or not, but I *do* think there’s much more interesting questions* we could be asking…

          *Such as ‘what’s your favourite dinosaur?’. One of the worst crimes of adulthood is that I never get asked this anymore…

            1. Cute As Cymraeg*

              That depends on if I’m talking to a Dinosaur Nerd (TM) or not!

              If not, then it’s a pliosaur or plesiosaur. (They technically are not dinosaurs, as friends with relevant PhDs like to be very clear.)

              If they ARE a dinosaur nerd, then it’s a pentasaurus. :D

              What’s yours?

  23. Irish Teacher*

    While I agree the ongoing winking, especially in the context mentioned, seems really odd, I can’t imagine it being a way to put somebody in their place. Winking generally implies camaraderie and equality and sort of “just between us.” If she is doing it when stressed and trying to get you to work on a project, my guess would be that it would imply something like “damn nuisance, isn’t it? This client/project/our boss is so annoying.” Like she’s assuming ye’re on the same side and agree this is stressful and a hassle ye don’t need.

    That said, I don’t know the boss or the exact context, so it is possible the LW is picking up on something that wouldn’t be obvious without knowing her, but from the information here, I think winking would be a very odd way of trying to put somebody in their place as it usually implies more the opposite, that you are on the same side and equals. A boss winking would generally be them stepping out of their role as boss and assuming less authority.

  24. DJ Abbott*

    I grew up in an area dominated by fundamentalists. Inappropriately giving a Bible as a gift and then acting all innocent when they’re called out is just the kind of thing they would do.

    1. I asked to be excommunicated*

      I lived in the Bible Belt for more than a decade and I can bear witness to this. Also if any religion that wasn’t Christian tried passing out any kind of literature, you can bet certain fundamentalists would be up in arms about it, possibly also including the phrase “devil worship.”

  25. LingNerd*

    #2 reminds me of a collegue who lives and works in the (American) south who I don’t work with too often, but who addresses emails to me as Ms. FirstName. As someone who has never lived in the south it immediately felt rude and condescending, because that feels like how you’d address a child to make them feel important or possibly to scold them. But I could absolutely tell that they were going for politeness, so I tried to ignore the feeling that it was rude. When I brought it up to my husband he informed me that it’s A Thing in the south! And knowing that helped a lot with accepting it

    #4 is…yikes. I am culturally Christian but nonreligious. There is ONE person in my life who could give me a bible and have it not be weird, and that’s my very religious aunt (and well, maybe my cousin, he is a monk after all). Would I use it? No. I’d put it on a shelf or in a drawer and say “thank you, this is very kind of you” and leave it at that. And honestly, I doubt that would even happen, because my aunt isn’t evangelical.

    1. Artemesia*

      I spent my career in the South and the Ms Firstname thing seems to be only used in two contexts — to identify an adult to a child. Children often are taught to address pre-school teachers or sometimes adult family friends as ‘Ms or Miss Dorothy’ or whatever. OR as a subtle put down in the vein of ‘bless your heart.’ Adults don’t address other women as ‘Ms. Barbara’ without it being condescending unless kids are being taught to call them that.

  26. The Terrible Tom*

    It’s very funny to me to think of someone being like, “Victoria Secret *surely* fits bras properly, right? I mean, they’re our nation’s finest underwear store!”

    1. mreasy*

      I imagine in many cities they are the only option that isn’t a department store or a big box store! But yes can confirm, they have some woefully wrong fitting practices (I had been professionally fit as a 32E, the Victoria’s Secret person put their paper tape over my clothes and diagnosed a 38B. In shocking news that size did NOT fit.

      1. Jezebella*

        IME department stores have decent fitters and a much wider range of sizes than Vicky’s Secret. I’d go to Dillard’s or Macy’s before I’d go to VS.

    2. Punk Candyfloss*

      As a person with non-standard size chest I have never found a VS bra that fits correctly in any realm of the imagination. There are so many better brands out there designed for fit rather than fashion. That being said, LW, visible bra lines is nothing to worry about – we have all been there and will all be there again some day. I do find that the better the fit, the less shows through, but it is still a non-zero amount of showing.

    3. She of Many Hats*

      LW 2 – Winking: To me, winking is sending a message of “don’t take this seriously” or “let’s keep this a secret”. Neither of those are messages that can undermine the credibility & trustworthiness of a manager unless they are used in very obvious joking situations or with an innocuous “secret” like a Secret Santa.

    4. DJ Abbott*

      I bought a VS bra once. In every other brand, I was 36A. The VS 36A was way, way too big.
      Bye-bye, VS! :p

  27. black cat lady*

    LW#3: Yes, please say something along the lines of I noticed you have some of the common supplies in your space, those are for everyone so please return them. Try and have a neutral matter of fact voice.

    Let’s be generous and say the lawyer needs a stapler, runs to the copy room, goes back to their desk and forgets to return the stapler. At best they are careless and unthinking. At worst they are entitled and selfish.

    If it is still an ongoing problem after you say something, then buy the supplies in neon pink and/or put labels and stickies on them. Call the lawyer out EVERY SINGLE TIME you see stuff in their space. Hope that works, although some people are beyond shame.

  28. Punk Candyfloss*

    LW#4 I physically recoiled in horror from the screen at the thought of receiving such a gift and especially from a person in a position of authority over me. I hope you did not do this. Unless you work at a Christian school or literally a church …. good grief no

  29. Aerin*

    I have a colleague who will frequently end IMs with a winky face, often when he’s providing an answer to something. The first several times it was SO enraging. I wanted to reach through the computer and slap him. It comes across as “This is a really obvious thing you should have already known and I’m being suuuuuuper nice by not pointing that out (except this is me pointing it out)”

    I’ve gotten to know him a bit better and know now that he means it as sort of a friendly chuckle, so I mostly let it go. But it still makes my eye twitch.

  30. Emily of New Moon*

    1. Just as long as you don’t wear a black or red bra under a white t-shirt, or anything else as obvious as that, you should be good.

    2. Does she only wink at you when she’s asking you to do things, or other times, too? Does she wink at other people, or only you? I’ve heard that sometimes people can wink when they’re not aware of it, like a tic or something.

    4. Do you work in a church or other religious organization, and are all of your employees Christian? If the answer is no, then a Bible is not an appropriate gift. Heck, even the answer is yes, it’s highly likely that your employees already have Bibles.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I feel like this is super dependent on the thickness of the shirt, and possibly the skin tone of the wearer.

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I kind of feel like if you have to ask if bibles are an appropriate gift, the answer is likely “no, not appropriate”.

  31. Olive*

    I am getting secondhand anxiety from the thought of receiving a Bible from a boss.

    I was given a Bible from a trainee at a professional course in a non-religious field. It didn’t have my name on it and I left it in my hotel room! I wasn’t thrilled but it was something I could easily handle.

    Getting a Bible from a boss would worry me that I was going to be discriminated against for not being a Christian. That even if it didn’t directly affect how the boss viewed my work, I’d have concerns that it was setting up an ingroup of people who told the boss they loved the gift and an outgroup of people who didn’t.

  32. No Bibles Plz*

    Bra-line OP: TOTALLY normal!! Unfortunate side effect of having to wear bras and a universal problem for women who wear them.

    Bible OP: How about engraved leather notebook covers for everyone? The kind that you can place another notebook in when the first one is finished. That would be a lovely personal gift minus the proseltyzing.

      1. pally*

        Me too!

        My thought was to provide gift cards to a bookstore (like Barnes & Noble) where folks can score the book of their choice-Bible or not.

        But I like the engraved leather notebook cover better.

  33. Engineer*

    I second everyone saying yo check out a proper fitting guide for bras, but also, just like all women’s clothes, remember that bras are designed to fit an idealized shape! If your breasts aren’t perfectly symmetrical with perfect fullness and perkiness, the cups just aren’t going fot right, even if you do get the correct size. For example, according to my measurements, I should wear 40E, but if I actually wear 40E bras I end up with a lot of empty space at the top of the cup because I have practically no underboob. I actually do have to size down to a padded DD to get things to sit the way the bra wants them too.

    Unfortunately, thanks to clothes being cut to some mythical average measurement and then women’s clothes in particular having no consistency, bra lines are just a fact of life, even in a properly fitting bra. The lines just might be as dramatic.

  34. Rondeaux*

    The only acceptable occasion where a bible *might* be appropriate is if it were a collectible of some kind. Like if I was gifted Lou Gehrig or Wilt Chamberlain’s bible, something like that.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      I mean, if my boss is gifting me Lou Gehrig’s or Wilt Chamberlain’s bible I’m going to ask them for a raise instead since the business is apparently booming.

  35. A Minion*

    #4 regarding religious gifts at work: Around 2014, my manager gave us all a very nice cutting board with an image of a pineapple and Bible verse laser cut into it. It was a very nice cutting board so I use it -just with verse side down. It just occurred to me I could sand the verse off of it completely!

    At the job after that, a coworker would make ornaments for the entire dept. (around 30 people) every year. He was in a leadership role for years and did this. There was always some Biblical reference, either the image/design or text. This always made me uncomfortable. Somehow more than the cutting board. All my coworkers were always very enthusiastic about the ornanments.

    1. I Have RBF*

      IMO, the fact that you use it with the engraved side down in a good thing, because I would worry about contamination accumulating in the engraving.

  36. MicroManagered*

    I’m curious if the sentiment in #2 extends to “wink emojis” on instant messages. I use them frequently but would be horrified if my team felt like it was meant to be “condescending or to put them in their place.” I usually mean it as encouragement or maybe acknowledgment of something that doesn’t really need to turn into a long conversation — like a frustrating part of the job that isn’t going to change.

    Sometimes I think people over-personalize their manager’s mannerisms in a way that’s not intended. Not everything your manager does has this kind of deep meaning behind it. Maybe she winks at the cashier at the grocery store too, who knows? My advice to this OP would be that she probably can’t change her manager’s winking habit – the only thing she can change is how *she* chooses to react to it.

    1. hmmm*

      That’s so interesting. I wouldn’t have interpreted the wink emoji in the way you’re intending at all, but I wouldn’t necessarily see it as a bad thing either. Just…odd…

  37. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I remember when this question was posted originally, and I remember that I’m having the same reaction now as I did back then: likely only OP cares about this. It seems generally understood in our society that many women wear bras, and roughly on the human body where they’re placed. If there’s a bit of an outline of a bra, it’s likely not going to register as a thought at all, because it’s an entirely normal thing. If OP feels self-conscious, there’s plenty of good advice about what she can do so she feels better about the situation. But really, this isn’t something to fret about.

  38. Immortal for a limited time*

    I love #4. If I received a bible as a gift at work, I’d welcome it as the perfect place to adhere a sticky note that says, “I quit, effective immediately.”

  39. Anon for this*

    Religion at work: I have been working part time in a well-known retail store during the holidays to make extra cash. You would not believe the number of people who think it’s fine to give cashiers in a retail store religious pamphlets during the transaction. Please don’t do this! Not only is it not appropriate, but you as the customer are taking advantage of your privilege in this scenario to harass someone at their place of employment based on their religious beliefs. The most recent time it happened, I looked the customer in the eye and dropped the pamphlet in my trash can. I’m sure that person will complain to the corporate office, but I don’t care.
    I’m sure I don’t need to say who does this. Again, just. don’t.

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Just awful! Sorry you have to deal with it.

      I remember how enraged I would get during my college days working as a waitress when a person would leave a religious pamphlet instead of a tip.

  40. JaneDough(not)*

    LW1, on the off-chance that you see this: I can often see the outlines of a man’s undershirt beneath his business shirt, and I don’t consider that unprofessional; it’s just a fact of life that one garment underneath a thin-ish second garment will be slightly visible. Also, men who don’t wear ties and who unbutton the top button of their business shirt reveal the crew neck of their undershirt — also not bad or unprofessional (although this isn’t done in a corporate setting).

    More to the point, I’m sure that no man is stressing about wearing a slightly visible undershirt. So please try to think of your bra contours as comparably insignificant / equally unproblematic.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      As a man, I wholeheartedly endorse this answer. It goes a long way towards reinforcing equality in the workplace.

  41. SadieMae*

    I’d like to respond to those commenters who are saying, “Don’t give a Bible to your employees unless you’re sure they are Christians.” Here in the U.S. Bible Belt, the problem is that most people assume others are Christian unless they are obviously of another religion. It’s considered the default. And for those of us who are atheist/agnostic, it can be risky to say so at work, because there can be repercussions from the (depressingly many) people who feel, even subconsciously, that nonbelievers have no moral code and are untrustworthy. (Also there’s a very common feeling that nonbelievers hate God or Jesus, as opposed to just not believing in them, and/or that we want to attack or abolish Christianity.)

    So, there is no way to be sure someone else is a Christian. They may just be saying so to avoid repercussions. Better just not to give religious gifts to anyone at work.

  42. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #1 – I think LW is overthinking it as an issue that matters, but I feel it’s a little dismissive to LW to say that “Victoria’s Secret is notorious for getting sizes wrong” when LW stated they held that job. It’s like saying “well, you were probably doing your job wrong all those years”. I’d take LW’s word that they understand how their bra should fit. It could be the fabric/thickness of the clothes they’re wearing too.

    #2 – I’m someone who will wink at people at work so maybe I’m guilty of something similar. But winking is a signal that ‘we’re in this together’, like an inside joke. Like “the boss says X but we know how the boss can be *wink moment*”. Here it sounds like it’s being misused. We’re not both in it together if it’s just the boss is saying “do this *wink*”.

    #4 – Unless you’re working directly for a church where it’s normal to hand out religious materials, I cannot fathom why one would think a Bible is an appropriate gift.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Re #1, it’s more that VS was training their fitters incorrectly to get more people into the sizes they sell. That’s not LW1’s fault. She could be doing the job perfectly as trained and gotten the wrong results for herself. This is one of our mantras at work – if the process is bad, the problems will continue.

    2. Dahlia*

      PetCo is known for its employees giving terrible pet advice. If one person happened to do a lot of self-teaching and reading and gave good advice, it doesn’t mean that PetCo is training them or that you should trust PetCo for advice on your bearded dragon.

    3. annonie*

      Except Victoria’s Secret IS notorious for getting sizes wrong and it’s because their employees don’t measure people correctly (they measure over whatever you’re wearing and they do an above-boob measurement rather than the measurements they should be taking). Their entire methodology, which is what the LW says they know, is notoriously wrong and it’s wrong so they can sell more bras. It’s responsible for a massive # of women wearing the wrong bra size.

    4. Original OP1*

      Thank you. I was annoyed originally that all of the comments seemed to think that my working at VS made me somehow even less qualified than the average person to tell whether or not a bra fits, and that all the advice centered around changing bra sizes.
      I get that VS trains people wrong and that many VS employees are woefully undertrained. But I also happened to take a special interest in getting it right, and spent 4 years staring at various sized boobs in bras and figuring out what to change when they didn’t fit, and yes often having to be like “we don’t sell your size here”.

      I really had intended that original line in my letter to mean “I promise, I really really know that my bras fit me and that’s not the problem” but I realize I didn’t convey that succinctly. Since the original letter, I’ve done all the online calculators and been to a few fancy bra fittings and, yep, I had the size right.

      However it did take me some time to learn that my “bottom heavy” boobs need a different cup shape to avoid gapping, and I’ve since settled on balconette style bras. Which honestly I don’t think are very comfortable because they usually difficult to find in anything other than unlined lace. But hey, no more gapping.

  43. Just Thinkin' Here*

    OP1 – women’s clothing quality was getting worse throughout the 2010’s – and now even worse after COVID. Men can still walk into just about any department store and buy a dress shirt that’s accurately measured, wrinkle-free, thicker material for $30. Women end up going to 10 stores to find one $80 shirt that fits – it would be paper thin material that falls apart at the seams the first time it’s laundered. Since COVID the women’s section is all stretch pants and other items that are not business appropriate. I’ve been trying to replace clothing items that are 10+ years old that were good quality when purchased, and everything to replace it with is cheap see-thru junk. So frustrating.

    1. Original OP1*

      I just wanted to send you a vote for White House Black Market. One of the only places left where I can find lined clothes and non-stretchy pants, and the employees are so helpful! To be fair their shirts are like $80 but they go on deep sale frequently.
      They went through a phase of absurdly low-cut blouses during the pandemic but seem to have turned things back around this year.
      But I agree that when I wrote in with my question 5(!!) years ago now, I was wearing some much less expensive clothes. And also that it’s infuriating to try to find pants that are made out of actual suiting material.

  44. Light Dancer*

    It’s a few years down the line, but I’ve no doubt that there are other bosses out there who think that a personalized (or plain) bible would be a dandy gift! While your heart may be in the right place, this is a message for you:

    You have no way of knowing your employees’ religions – and, as many have pointed out, those who are Christian already HAVE bibles of their choice! They don’t need another one – especially one that has their name on it (which means that they couldn’t very well donate it to their church or to a charity.) But there’s another group of employees that you need to consider.

    If you’re inclined to give a bible as a gift, are you certain that you’re maintaining a workplace in which ALL religions are respected and accepted? If an employee asked to take a day off to observe Mabon or Lughnasadh, would you grant that request in the same spirit as you’d grant a request to observe, say, Good Friday? Or would you be horrified to find out that one of your people is Pagan and assume that this means that they worship the devil? (For the record, they don’t!) In short, are you maintaining a truly inclusive workspace in which all of your employees know that religious discrimination won’t be tolerated AND in which you lead by example?

    If this all seems a bit much, please just turn it around and think of how YOU would like to be treated if YOU were in a workplace in which YOU were the only member of YOUR faith. Then treat ALL of your employees that way. Yes, it really is that simple!

  45. CommanderBanana*

    Slips, if you’re wearing dresses or skirts? I wear slips under all my clothing and they’re so comfortable. And they protect your clothes, stop static cling, and do all sorts of other nifty things, like make me feel vaguely like Elizabeth Taylor. :D

  46. Have you had enough water today?*

    LW1 – Why is it so damn hard to find a bra that fits properly without showing outlines & such? I am getting on in years & am STILL yet to fins a bra that doesn’t show through somewhere (at the top of the cup or straps at the collarbone are the usual offenders).

    1. Annie*

      Most of that is because of the thickness of the materials used. You can, to a degree, get around that by removing extra seams and decorations using a thread ripper then sewing the edge of the remaining fabric in on itself and/or any separated pieces back together at the expense of some support. Relatively simple for the top of cups, but much more complicated for the straps unless you’re willing to switch to “seamless” bras.

  47. Miss Kitty*

    RE Office Thief:
    Please print up some custom mugs for your breakroom that say “If you see this mug outside of Company XYZ’s breakroom, I stole it and I am a petty thief.”

    I kid (mostly). That guy sounds obnoxious as hell.

Comments are closed.