wearing revealing exercise clothes around coworkers, telling an employer I have another offer, and more

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

1. Wearing revealing clothes to exercise around coworkers

I’m a young woman at my first corporate job in a male-dominated field. I go to the gym across the street after work on most days; it’s not affiliated with the company. For comfort and convenience, I often wear somewhat revealing clothes to exercise (tight shorts and crop tops/sports bras). I dress modestly in the office and don’t change clothes there.

The problem is that many of my (male) coworkers go there too, and it’s the unofficial office gym. I’m concerned that it’ll damage my professional standing being seen in skimpy clothes, even though it’s technically outside of work. Do you suggest that I adhere to any sort of dress code while I’m there? Or should I dress as I please because I’m not at work? My office is pretty chill, but I’m still concerned about double standards.

Dress however you feel comfortable at the gym. You’re not walking through your office hallways in booty shorts; you’re dressed appropriately for the space and for the activities you’re participating in. It will not hurt your professional standing unless you work somewhere that’s far more dysfunctional and sexist than the average workplace (a bar that allows for a fair amount of dysfunction and sexism before this would be an issue).

2. My employee wants to be promoted into a job that doesn’t exist here (and probably shouldn’t)

I supervise a high-performing, early career employee who has been in his current role for two years. He would like to be promoted into a role that he’s written for himself. It’s a role that doesn’t exist in our industry or our organization. I’m happy to help this employee and be his champion, but I do not think this is a role that the organization needs. It is hard to make a business case for how the role adds anything to the existing set-up. If it did exist, I do not yet think this person would be ready to fill it. He’s not a bad employee, he just needs more experience in a broader variety of activities that relate to this position he’d like to have. Do you have any advice for me in coaching him or a path he would take?

You’re not doing him any favors (or serving your organization well) if you aren’t up-front about the challenges you see in his plan. Be direct with him — explain that you think it’ll be tough to make a business case for the role and why, and explain what qualifications you think the company would want if they did create it. At the same time, you can talk to him about what kind of path he’d need to take to get those qualifications, what that might look like, and whether there are opportunities in your organization for him to strengthen himself for that type of work, even if he doesn’t ultimately end up doing it there. And if he’s intent on making a case for it there, let him make that case — but being honest about your assessment will help him make better choices for himself.

3. How do I handle having to drop a job opportunity that I really wanted?

I’m entering my senior year of college after this semester, and I was recently able to secure an opportunity exactly in the field I wanted to be in. It would have opened a lot of doors in my field, and I was originally really stoked — except they never disclosed it was unpaid. That fact and an hour+ drive to the location multiple times a week on top of two other jobs (gotta pay rent) meant I had to drop the opportunity.

How do you get over something like this? I’m still in the regret phase even though I know I couldn’t afford to do it.

There are going to be a lot of job prospects in your future that would be perfect except for one thing, and that one thing will be significant enough that it’s a deal-breaker. It could be the salary, or the location, or the manager you’d be working with, or the hours, or the company culture. This is really normal, and it’s good to get comfortable with it early on, because when you try to ignore the “just one thing” that makes a job a bad fit for you, that’s how you end up in a job where you’re miserable (or broke). Take this as an early lesson in being clear-eyed and resolute about what does and doesn’t work for you, regardless of how enticing it might otherwise be.

Also, it’s sketchy as hell for them not to disclose up-front that the work was unpaid. That’s a red flag about them generally.

4. Timing my resignation with a week off and a company retreat

I am a program manager at a small company, and I’m the only staff member assigned to my program. Every summer my company shuts down for a mandatory paid week off, and the next Monday is our mandatory all-staff retreat, which consists of serious planning sessions interspersed with team-building activities. We have to set goals for ourselves and our programs and stand up in front of the whole company and declare what each of us is committing to for the upcoming year.

I’m planning to leave the company this summer to start my own business. I really want to take advantage of the paid week off, and I’m concerned that if I give notice right before the break they might let me go immediately to avoid paying me for that week off. I have a good relationship with my boss and don’t think he’d do that, but there are also some pretty horrible leaders above him who have screwed over employees before, and money has been really tight the past few years so I think there’s *some* risk.

I also don’t want to wait more than a week after the break to give my two weeks notice, because I need to get ready to launch my business in the fall. If it’s not ready in the fall, a big chunk of my prospective customers will sign on with other service providers for the year.

Is it better to fake my way through a full day of public planning, goal-setting, and making commitments, just to turn around later that week and say “just kidding!” or to give my notice before the break and cross my fingers they don’t let me go immediately? If it’s the former, any advice on how to reduce the awkwardness?

Why not give your notice right after the week-long break, on the first day of the retreat? Give it that Monday and ask whether your manager would rather you attend the rest of the retreat or spend that week getting your work in shape to transition. He can make that call — but that way if he wants you at the retreat, you won’t have to pretend to make commitments for the coming year because it’ll be out in the open that you’re leaving. If that timing seems awkward, you can note that specifically: “I know the timing isn’t ideal, but now that I’ve made the decision, I wanted you to have to maximum possible notice.”

5. Do I need to tell employers I have another offer I am considering?

I have been applying for positions and interviewing for a long time. A few weeks ago, two employers indicated they intended to make an offer. However, both still needed to go through their internal approval processes, which has taken several weeks.

Now, I have received one offer (I have two weeks to review it) and the other employer says they will send an offer in two days. Do I need to tell the employers that I have another offer? If so, what would be a good script to use?

I don’t want to make either employer think I am uninterested because I am considering another offer, but if I don’t mention it now they may be caught by surprise when I decline which may impact my reputation in my network. They are both great jobs but very different, and in different locations too, so it will be a difficult decision.

You’re not obligated to announce if you have other offers. Employers generally assume you’re interviewing with multiple companies and realize they could lose you to an offer you like better (or simply because their offer/job isn’t right for you, even if there aren’t other offers in play). If an employer is ever shocked to learn that you’ve been talking with other companies, that’s on them — not on you for not spelling it out.

You might choose to mention it anyway if the situation calls for it — like if the second company’s offer is delayed and you’re going to run up against your deadline for the first (in which case it could make sense to tell the second one that you’re very interested but you have another offer that you need to answer by X date). Or if you prefer Company A but Company B makes a higher offer, you might see if A is willing to match it. But you don’t need to announce it just on principle — only if it serves your interests in some way.

{ 406 comments… read them below }

  1. learnedthehardway*

    OP#5 – as a recruiter, I appreciate it if a candidate informs me they have another offer in hand. It means that the hiring manager has a chance to decide whether they want to make a decision to hire the candidate themselves (and if they’re willing to risk a bit of a bidding war), or to accept the strong possibility that the candidate will no longer be available, if they wait.

    What the hiring manager decides will be dependent on how much they feel the candidate is a strong fit, how far we are into the recruitment process, the hiring manager’s own decision making skills, and a host of other factors, of course, but if the candidate has an offer, then I don’t think you can lose by mentioning it.

    What I tell my candidates is that if I know, I can possibly do something about it. It might just be to tell the candidate that the hiring manager isn’t ready to make a decision, and that they will have to accept or reject the offer they have, without another from my client to compare it with. That’s not a bad outcome. Perhaps not the one the candidate wants, but it’s not bad.

    I’ve not had a hiring manager refuse to consider a candidate who has another offer – and if one did, that’s probably a pretty bad manager, come to think of it. So you really don’t have anything to lose, and you might gain some information, at least.

    1. Matchmaker*

      Recruiter here and I second everything learnedthehardway said above. I’d say that if company A gives you an offer but you’re still very interested in company B (and of course, given you’d be excited to work at either place), letting B know about your offer can give them the impetus to speed up their process and can potentially net you two offers that you can compare and leverage against each other. The worst that happens is B isn’t ready to decide, in which case, you have your answer.

      You can also not say anything and let B know you’ve received another offer and decided to take it. You can be super gracious here – thank them for their time, let them know how much you liked meeting them, etc. – in many cases, B could be an option a couple of years down the line when you’re ready to jump. Or people you connected with at B could move on to C and hire you there.

      Whatever happens, good luck!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Spouse has hired in the company B position–the candidate let them know that B was their first choice (based on interviews with both) but A had an offer on the table and candidate had to pay rent. That got the slow gears to hustle along and put an offer on the table, and the candidate went with B.

        I assume the candidate did not share this info with company A, since there was no benefit to the candidate in doing that.

        1. Miette*

          This is also good advice–no need to inform company A along the way if your preference is B. Just tell A you decided to accept another offer when you do, you found their company really interesting for reasons, yadda yadda, and leave the interaction a friendly one.

    2. Grith*

      I don’t think any of this is wrong from the recruiters perspective, but I struggle a little to see the benefit for the prospective candidate.

      The unspoken third option in your first paragraph is “or can decide to withdraw the offer and move on to a close second-choice candidate instead”. They might not refuse to consider a candidate who’s under offer, but if they’re under time pressure and have two fairly close top choices, knowing one person is waiting on a different company could easily convince them to go the other way.

      1. Llama Llama*

        I agree. I was fully in team ‘let them know’ until I read that and thought ‘well that is just going to stop an offer from coming.’ Which means I may lost an offer that would have been a better fit.

        1. M2*

          This. I’m a hiring manager and how my organization works I have say over who gets hired on the team but we have committee interviews including with other teams (I have a one on one) and occasionally one person on one of those teams or even someone on my team will have pause over a top candidate. I always listen especially if it is more than one person.

          The hiring process where I work takes awhile because of HR and the steps taken. Once I said please inform this person but before they could inform them they had to do the background check and references. I think I told them on a Wednesday and HR didn’t start contacting references until the following Tuesday (?) and this was for a role that needed to be filled. Then I had the candidate email me saying they had another offer and needed an offer ASAP. I told them it was up to HR and how our company works I cannot be involved with that process (previous organizations as hiring manager I contacted reference but my current one it must be HR which I don’t always love). They emailed again. So I decided to go with #2 and informed HR on Friday to find out if they started references and were told no so I told them this person was being pushy (I received three emails and two calls within a week) and that wouldn’t work for my team so I was going with the second choice. They did call the references on that Tuesday and the person started the team. They ended up being great.

          I think it’s fine to contact them once but only if you actually have an offer and I would give them notice not I need to tell the other company by tomorrow but maybe a week out day I have another offer and must be a response by next Friday. Then it gives people time to try and get things moving if they can but also to let you know hey our HR process is very slow and it might take an extra few days.

          I also think it depends on the industry but please don’t send multiple emails!

          1. UnrealidticTimeframe*

            I’ve never gotten an offer where they’d wait 1-2 weeks for an answer. Maybe 2-3 days, but that sometimes requires being somewhat pushy. So if I contact a company because I have another offer in hand I’m doing it a day or at most two before I need their offer prior to making a decision.

            Fairly early in my career I interviewed for a great job that leveraged a professional hobby. I really wanted that job. I was offered a more traditional role (for me) at an internationally known company about a week later. I contacted the first company and told them I had another offer in hand. Two days later I contacted them again mid-morning as I was having trouble putting off the company that made me an offer and they told me they were pulling the offer at the end of the day if I didn’t accept it because clearly I wasn’t jumping for joy about it. I told the second company I needed an offer by 4pm or I had to take the offer in hand. I accepted the first offer at 4:45 without hearing back and left company 2 a voicemail thanking them for their time and letting them know I’d accepted the other offer. At about 7pm I got a somewhat irate phone call saying they’d been in the process of drawing up an offer letter and I should have waited for them. Well, it turns out the company I did go work for has a policy that they only hold jobs open for 48 hours after an offer is made and they’d already made an exception for me because they liked me so much but HR would not let them extend beyond 5pm the day I accepted at 4:45 – they had already started processing the offer letter for their second choice when I accepted. So if I’d waited any longer I would have lost that job, and who knows if the second one would have actually come through and, even if they did, if the offer would have been acceptable.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              Yep, you made the right call. I’ve never had a situation where I had more than 2-3 days to respond to an offer either, regardless of whether the recruitment process only took a couple of weeks or several months.

            2. Venus*

              They clearly didn’t understand how things work if they didn’t contact you at all with an update on their timeline and then were irate when you went with the other option. Not that companies owe any candidates a specific timeline, but when I’m down to a very tight deadline at work (unrelated to hiring) I am always looping everyone in on the situation as needed, and if someone makes a bad decision because I forgot to send them info then that is on me.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I think it depends how far you are in Company B’s hiring process. If you’ve gone through all the interviews and are a finalist and think there’s a good chance that they’ll make you an offer, but you need to give Company A an answer by Friday and if you don’t hear from Company B that answer will be yes, I think the chances of B pulling the offer are lower than the chances that B can hurry up and make an offer if they’re interested.

        But if you haven’t even done the final round interview with B, I think there’s more chance that they’ll write you off because they can’t possibly match your timeline.

        As a candidate, I once put a Company A off for half a week, which was enough time for Company B to interview me and make an offer that day (which I accepted).

        As a hiring manager, I’ve been Company B, and we pulled together an offer much faster than we otherwise would’ve, because my boss could tell HR and the higher-ups that if we did not make an offer we would lose the candidate. (And then he un-accepted the offer a week before his start date, which I was pissed about at the time, but it’s fine, I like the person we actually hired better.)

      3. learnedthehardway*

        There are a couple of possible benefits to the candidate:

        1. They might get the job at Company B, if they speak up about their offer at Company A.

        2. They MAY find out a bit more about Company A’s thought process. This takes some real ability to read between the lines, but if Company A has put them through 3 interviews and still isn’t ready to make a decision, it might mean the company doesn’t feel they are the best candidate for the role. It could also mean that Company A is very process-oriented and doesn’t want to be rushed into a decision, when they still have other candidates to consider, of course. Or it could mean that Company A knows they can’t be competitive on salary, and isn’t willing to get into a bidding war for the candidate.

      4. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Exactly. I treat recruiters as I would potential employers – you don’t need to know unless or until you NEED to know. Forgive me for sounding skeptical, but there are far too many bad actors in recruiting and hiring for me to trust that everyone in the process will act with integrity… and my best interests at heart (particularly when it might not be in THEIR best interests, as well).

    3. Anonys*

      I understand this as general advice but I don’t fully see the benefit of mentioning the in LW’s specific situation, at least not at this specific point of time.

      LW has two weeks to think over company A’s offer. They have already been told they will expect company B’s offer in 2 days. Even if company B takes 1-2 days longer there is no timeline pressure at this point. As Alison said, if company B is further delayed or LW wants to negotiate it could make sense to mention the other offer.

      But what would LW have to gain from proactively mentioning the offer to company B at this point? There would be no context for the conversation.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Back in 2017 I got a job offer from company A while waiting on an offer from company B. I really wanted the B offer, but obviously wanted to wait and see all the details before making a final call – so I let B know and the recruiter was super nice about it, and not only got me the offer but a sign-on bonus !! which, along with other details, made it so much easier to take that job. I assume I would have gotten an offer either way, but I feel like the bonus came because of the competing offer.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I should note too that I framed it as “I’ve gotten another offer, but I’m really excited about working with you”… I did not say anything to company A about a competing offer.

    5. I'm just here for the cats!*

      As someone who has been on hiring committees before I agree. Especially if the candidate would prefer one job over the other. It can help speed things along

    6. Bitte Meddler*

      In my most recent job search (last Aug/Sept) I had two finalist companies. A & B were both top-notch and would happily work for either one, but B was 100% WFH (a boon for me).

      Company A made an offer first. I counter-offered with an ask for a higher salary, considering I’d have to drive into an office 3 days a week, plus travel 10-15% of the time. We eventually landed on a compensation and benefits package that made up for the commute and in-office time.

      During those negotiations, I let Company B know that Company A had made a very competitive offer. They reminded me that they have a slow hiring process. I said, “Yes, but you all are my top choice and I’d kick myself if I just took Company A’s offer without seeing if there was a way to speed up the decision on your end. I am really, really excited about Role for [several reasons].”

      They not only sped up the hiring process, but they fired the Global Director of the department I was being hired into because she was hemming and hawing over my candidacy, and they came back with a comp package that was better than Company A’s.

      So it definitely worked out in my case.

  2. Certaintroublemaker*

    LW2, can you talk to this employee about the kinds of career advancement that do exist in your company and in your field, plus what kind of activities and experience would help?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah, #2 was confusing to me. Most of the time, we don’t just get to invent roles we like (and aren’t even that well qualified for!) and then move up into them – I mean, it happens, but it definitely shouldn’t be anyone’s expectation, and it sounds like OP really doesn’t see anything like this happening. OP probably needs to be clearer and stop entertaining this idea that seems to have little basis in reality. “It would be really fun to be a party clown, I admit, but that doesn’t really exist here as a job. But I do think you’d be a good Senior Reports Inspector if you focused on X and Y, and if you do that I’m willing to go to bad for you next year in the reviews.”

      1. Smithy*

        Without knowing more about what this person proposed and the field overall – I will say that this may also be a case of this person seeing what has worked for family/friends in other fields.

        I say this because quite literally I am in the process of “writing my promotion” where more or less my boss just asked me to write down everything I wanted to do. It’s not a job that’s classically within our field, but it does represent needs our team/organization has and I also have my boss’ direct ask to do so. And while I wouldn’t say it’s common in my field, it’s also not uncommon. Where your manager will advocate for a team member to get a promotion/move into a new pay band, and then it’s largely on the team member to write out their new job description.

        The difference however is being experienced enough in the field to know what is appropriate or expected within that step up job description.

        I also think it’s worth it for the OP to consider if there are other employers in their field that do have that half-step up (i.e. a place that hires Associates and Sr. Associates, or similar), whereas you’re only hiring Associates and the next step up is too high. I think managers really shoot themselves in the foot when they tell junior staff that they’re just not ready for a promotion without discussing other employers or areas of their sector that have more intermediate advancement if the person is willing to apply for jobs outside of their current employer.

        1. Bobert*

          I had this experience with someone I was managing — I work for a small nonprofit and it’s not uncommon for people to develop in their roles and have a growth plan. The problem is they sent a proposal for what they wanted their job to be after being in their position for a year with a salary request and proceeded to call our executive director about it. The salary they were requesting was the same as mine, someone who was supervising them.

          I had to gently explain to them that that was not at all what we meant when we said, “Tell us what you’d like to add to your job description, and we’ll go from there if it’s a good fit.” They really didn’t have much to add to their job description aside from a steep salary increase and a better title. It was really awkward for everyone involved. And the quality and speed of their work still had a lot of room for improvement after a year. They’ve since moved on and we wish them the best, but it’s one of those things where people think they understand how a workplace works and miss a lot of the context of *why* other people were able to grow in their roles and responsibilities. Over and over again, I tried to emphasize the “explain what would be expanded in your role or how this would fill gaps at our organization,” and it really just didn’t go anywhere.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        OP needs to do an overall assessment of this person. Is this someone with unrealistic expectations of how jobs work? Where did he get the idea for this job since you state it doesn’t exist in your company or even industry. Does he have other issues understanding the working world? or is this a one off?

        1. Alright Alright Alright*

          Agreed. In my experience, it’s unusual to get to design your own job and it’s usually something that comes to more senior people who have the experience to make that beneficial for their employer, and the clout to make it happen. A junior employee thinking he can make up an entirely new role (that his boss doesn’t even think is a good fit for their organization!) is a yellow flag to me.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            It’s one thing if the employee is proposing something that will help both their career trajectory and the organization as a whole. Then maybe you can give them the leeway to write that part of their job, and give them a promotion that isn’t a classical step up, but still benefits everyone. But if the employee is coming and saying “I should be in charge of balloon animals! It would be great! Here’s what I’d do!” and the boss is thinking “but we don’t do balloon animals here at all, and they don’t fit into our business vison for balloon bouquets”, that’s not going to work, and the employee needs meeting where they can discuss 1-why the idea isn’t a good fit and 2-ideas that could be a good fit for moving up.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            There’s someone in my organization who seems to have a unique role that it is such a perfect fit for the department’s needs I assume it doesn’t actually match any official job description. I’m betting the person came in, found which processes weren’t working well, and took them over.

            That’s the opposite of from writing a job description without a solid understanding of the needs of the organization, though.

      3. Moths*

        I would say it’s potentially not as rare as it might seem, though I could be viewing it through the lens of what I’ve seen. At my company, there is often an expectation that folks will advance and promote every few-to-several years (this probably isn’t a great expectation, but it’s what was historically set and is difficult to change). HR encourages it by having career growth sections on self-reviews where employees are encouraged to write down the titles and pay grades they’re working towards. And if there isn’t a specific next step already defined, a lot of employees will create one and work with their manager to design what that would look like (e.g., if they’re a “Teapot Painter”, they might work to create what a “Senior Teapot Painter” position looked like). In theory, this is great because it gets employees thinking about their career progression within the company and what skills they need to grow at in order to be promoted. In practice, it can set up an expectation within employees that they’ll be able to follow that plan if they do the right things and has created a situation where people end up getting promoted because of tenure and performing better/more independently, not because of an actual business need. Again, it might just be my company, but I don’t think it probably is — I think at a fair number of companies, employees are encouraged to think about career progression and to design what those next steps would be to get there if they don’t already exist. The problem comes in when managers aren’t scrutinizing things like the OP and don’t push back on the plan if there isn’t a true business need.

      4. Festively Dressed Earl*

        I’ve occasionally seen it mentioned in positive updates here; sometimes the LW is such a rockstar that another company creates a tailored position just for them at a higher salary, etc. Maybe some people’s dream job is to be one of those success stories, where they’re so valued and special that a workplace will mold itself to them instead of the other way around, and I can see it even if it’s unrealistic.

  3. Heidi*

    If the “job” opportunity lets people get all the way through the hiring process before telling them it pays nothing, that’s not cool. There are some competitive fields where people will forego earning money to get their foot in the door and make the right contacts, but they should know that going in.

    1. Skippy*

      +1 What else will they fail to mention until they have to? (Don’t know the field, but is it possible they’re playing a little loose with labor laws?)

      1. Orora*

        This was my thought. There are *very* few positions that can truly be unpaid under federal law.

        There is a concept among artists: “exposure bucks”. In other words, you’re not getting paid in money, but “just think about all the eXpOsUrE!!” I can’t pay my rent with exposure bucks and exposure very rarely leads directly to a paying gig.

        Sounds like the company wants to pay OP in “networking bucks”.

    2. Artemesia*

      That is no opportunity. It isn’t clear if the OP would be doing this during their senior year or this is a job for after graduation. If so, it is even more heinous. You should not be doing ‘internships’ or unpaid work upon graduation in your field. This is abusive. You dodged a bullet.

      1. Tullarmarine*

        You should not be doing ‘internships’ or unpaid work upon graduation in your field.

        That’s ridiculous. Many recent grads do an unpaid internship.

        1. TechWorker*

          Probably varies by field but I do think it’s exploitative by companies in general. If the industry needs people with experience and the only way to get it is unpaid then you are cutting out a whole demographic of potential employees who cannot afford to do that.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            That’s right, unpaid internships are by and for the rich and cut out the majority of people who cannot afford to work for free. It openly perpetuates elitism and classism.

            1. Seashell*

              It could also be done by someone who has someone else (like parents or a spouse) who can carry them financially for a finite period of time.

            2. Ess Ess*

              I remember having that issue long ago when I was in college. Lots of internships were available, but I was putting myself through college and already had to work 2 jobs while going to school just to pay rent and eat. I couldn’t afford to take an internship and never understood how other students were able to go without any income for a year. I strongly resented the whole situation that I couldn’t get experience simply because I was responsible enough to pay my own way through school.

              1. Susannah*

                I paid my own way through school as well, and had paid jobs to do it. I also did unpaid internships, but I got college credit for them. So it was the same as taking a class.
                That’s why the post-grad unpaid “internships” are so exploitative – if you get college credit, you’re basically getting a different kind of education.

              2. DJ Abbott*

                Me too. In the 80s, when it was apparently legal, unpaid internships were mentioned and I said I can’t afford to work for free. They acted like I was the bad one.

            3. I'm just here for the cats!*

              yes the are incredibely unfair, especially when an internship is required for graduation, like with a counseling degree. You have to have X amount of direct hours working with clients in your internship in order to graduate. And most places do not/cannot pay the interns.

              I was very thankful that for my internship I qualified for a grant that reimbursed the employer for my wages.

              1. Rosemary*

                This is more of a grey area for me than a straight up unpaid internship IMO. Since the hours are required for graduation, to me it seems to fall more under “coursework” – versus a job that just isn’t paying you. Similar to a medical student doing clinical rotations. Or my graduate program, where the summer term was on site at a company – essentially an internship – that was required in order to graduate. We were not paid (and in fact one could argue that we paid for the privilege, since our tuition was for the entire year)

                1. Starbuck*

                  Isn’t it worse? If it’s college credit, you’re paying tuition to work! That always struck me as really exploitative, requiring free work labor from students as a graduation requirement. I opted out of a degree program that would have required that. I still did a volunteer internship, but that way it was at least on my terms and I could quit if it sucked without worrying about not being able to graduate.

                2. Evan Þ*

                  @Starbuck, but is it work or training?

                  My sister did several mandatory unpaid internships while studying for her allied health field. From what she describes, she was very closely supervised by an actual professional all the time, who was critiquing and helping her hour-by-hour. She was doing work and learning in the context of doing that work, while her evaluator had about as much work evaluating her as they would’ve had doing the work themself.

                  IMO, when it works that way, it’s no more exploitive than taking a college course.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          There are plenty of jurisdictions that decided to forbid unpaid internships completely, and more that allow them only if the intern gets something else concrete (such as some kind of credit for their degree).

          So plenty of legislators do think that unpaid work is exploitative and shouldn’t be allowed, especially after graduation.

          1. Clisby*

            That’s what I thought – I’ve heard of unpaid internships that were done in conjunction with a college program, where the student had both a work supervisor and an academic supervisor and got credit. I don’t really see that as different from, say, having a student teaching requirement for an education major (at least I’ve never heard of that being paid.) But if it’s not in connection with school, I would question whether it’s legal (I’m in the US – know nothing about how this works in other countries.)

            1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

              Not only is student teaching not paid (in the two states I know of), you often still have to pay a small amount of tuition to your university that semester.

              1. AngryOctopus*

                As far as I know, student teaching is basically the equivalent of an on-campus job, where you either get paid, or you get some form of tuition reduction? Like being an RA–you still pay tuition, but room/board is covered. So you get a form of financial advantage from it.

                1. Clisby*

                  No, I don’t mean being a TA in a college. I mean student teaching in a K-12 school as a requirement for getting an education degree. So someone majoring in elementary education will spend a semester teaching in a local elementary school, under the supervision of an accredited teacher. I have never heard of that kind of position being paid. It’s more like classroom time spent off-campus. That is, the main benefit isn’t to the students you’re teaching; the main benefit is in learning more about how to teach in a classroom.

                2. RussianInTexas*

                  No, it is not paid, nor you get the tuition reduction.
                  Stepdaughter just graduated with the degree in elementary school education, and had to teach in the elementary school under supervision, while paying the tuition to school and not getting paid. It’s basically mandatory course work.

                3. Starbuck*

                  Haha no, there is usually absolutely no financial advantage to being a student teacher in a school classroom. Are you thinking of a TA?

          2. Dasein9 (he/him)*

            I mean. . . it’s exploitative enough that we fought a war over ending it.
            (Except in the case of prisons.)

        3. Matchmaker*

          Because they do take unpaid work does not mean they should. I realize this is somewhat common in some fields, but as someone below said, it’s a cynical, exploitative, and classist system (only new grads with family support can take these roles – oh sure, you can work two jobs and be creative about living expenses, but really, when you have student loans and need to eat food in this, the year 2024 in the Common Era, that’s very, very difficult – so people who follow that track are more likely to come from relatively comfortable backgrounds).

        4. Snow Globe*

          It’s also illegal in the US, unless the internship is primarily providing education to the intern and the intern isn’t doing work that the company would otherwise pay someone to do. And if this company didn’t disclose it was unpaid until the end, it doesn’t sound like it would meet this requirement.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            This. Unpaid internships are supposed to be for the benefit of the intern, meaning that they shouldn’t be doing busywork (e.g. fetching coffee, making photocopies) OR doing what would be paid work (e.g. working as a graduate in the field).

            Maybe the company is abiding by this, and that’s why the opportunity sounded so appealing to OP: a program specifically set up to expose new graduates to opportunities in the field and a chance to network/put something impressive on their resumes that didn’t directly benefit the company.

          2. DJ Abbott*

            I wonder if this company doesn’t disclose to applicants because they are trying to fly under the radar with an illegal unpaid internship.
            Might be worth an email to the labor board.

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s worth considering the expectations for the field you would join. My kids got degrees in hard sciences/math/CS, and their internships were always paid. The only exception was a freshman internship on campus where you could choose whether you were working in the lab for money or for college credit, whichever worked better for you.

          1. Clisby*

            Oh, yeah, it’s hard for me to imagine an unpaid internship in the tech/science areas. (Spoken as a retired computer programmer married to another programmer). My daughter was earning upwards of $20/hour in her 2 undergraduate summer internships and that was almost 10 years ago.

        6. Ally McBeal*

          Just because many companies do it doesn’t make it ethical. As DJ Abbott notes below, it’s classist (and therefore sexist and racist). My career simply is not what it could have been if I had not grown up poor and had to work my way through college rather than take unpaid internships at fancy companies (which have more than enough money to pay their interns).

          1. Rosemary*

            I wholeheartedly agree with “classist and therefore racist” but not sure how it is also sexist? Not arguing with you, just trying to understand. I am a woman who grew up privileged and was in fact able to take advantage of unpaid internships (and a very, very low paying first job out of college that I would not have been able to if I had student loans, or had to pay my entire rent on my own)

            1. Ally McBeal*

              It feels more racist than sexist to me, to be fair – but women are often steered toward careers with lower lifetime wage potential anyway. Book and magazine publishing is a great example – male-dominated at the top but staffed primarily by low-paid women, and rife with unpaid internships that are required to break into the industry.

            2. Your Former Password Resetter*

              Woman generally have less money and lower incomes, for a whole host of sexist reasons. So anything dependant on having money will hit them harder.

            3. MigraineMonth*

              I would argue that sexism also plays a significant role if there are childcare responsibilities. A middle-class woman who would otherwise be able to take an unpaid internship might not be able to do so if she has a young child due to the high costs of childcare. Logically the child’s father should have the same barrier, but in practice it’s far more likely that the mother will drop out of school/internships/the workforce to provide childcare.

        7. Alright Alright Alright*

          I think “many” is overstating it, and plenty of unpaid internships are violating labor laws. Just because you can find people to work for free doesn’t mean it’s legal.

        8. Check cash*

          That’s crazy. We are just a run of the mill insurance company and we pay summer interns $25 an hour to basically…get to put it on their resume.

        9. Susannah*

          They shouldn’t. The point of an internship is that you get valuable work experience (and often college credit). Doing an unpaid internship after graduating is just being an unpaid employee. And there are labor laws about this – if they don’t pay you, they have to show that you get something out of it. So, they can’t just use you for unpaid grunt work.

          And it’s even worse that the people who can do unpaid “internships” post graduation are the ones with wealthy parents who can help them pay their bills.

        10. fhqwhgads*

          No? Unpaid internships (in the US) must be for school credit. If you already graduated, it’s not for credit.

        11. Bitte Meddler*

          I did an unpaid, verrrrrry part-time internship for a single semester to meet the requirements of one course I was taking.

          It was probably the most valuable thing I got out of my entire degree program, at both the undergrad and grad levels.

          But the course was structured so that the time spent on the internship wasn’t piled on top of a heavy homework and exam load. Meaning, I spent as much time on that course (including the internship) as I did on any other class.

          I know some are arguing that this is free labor and exploitative, but in the case of this course, having new interns cycle in for a single semester twice a year was pretty disruptive for the companies and we interns learned a LOT about the work we’d be doing in our field. Enough that our resumes get put on the top of the stack for local companies filling a position for our role.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            This is how it’s supposed to work! It was connected with a college class, you got way more out of it than the company did, and it was a plus on your resume.

            The unpaid internships that require lots of time and don’t provide much benefit to the worker (besides checking a box) are the ones that we’re objecting to.

        12. What_the_What*

          During school, I did both paid and unpaid internships. Upon graduation, there was no expectation doing an unpaid one, since the unpaid ones were requirements of my program TO graduate. Why would someone who’s already graduated with their degree do an unpaid internship? What’s the benefit? In my field (IT) our company pays our interns. Period.

    3. Tuesday tuesday*

      You’re correct, it’s not a job, a job pays you. They want volunteers to work for free. Avoid at all costs

      1. AngryOctopus*

        This. The only “unpaid” job I had was when I was too young to be employed (14/15), so would go to work with my mom (university library) and help out with some things that needed doing (it was the early 90s, so reshelving books/organizing microfiche/grading multiple choice questions for her classes). And honestly, even for that mom would pay me. It just wasn’t formal.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes, OP3, I am certain this would not have been the only thing about the “great” “job” “opportunity” that turned out not to quiiiiiiiiiiiiiite be as it was presented.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        YEP. OP this was not an ideal job if it didn’t meet the most basic requirement of a job — money. We exchange our labor for money. That’s how it works. Its not about loyalty or being a family. Its a business transaction. You work, the company pays you. If the company fails on its end, its not a job. Its something else entirely.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing – if the role was listed in the ad as a paid, permanent position OR if there was no indication that the role was unpaid. That is VERY UNCOOL.

      Sometimes, though, people don’t read what is right in front of them. I can’t tell you how many times I have specifically listed in a job ad in bold font that a role is ON SITE, and have people expect that they can work remotely, for example.

    6. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Came here to say, this is not a job, this is an unpaid internship. And it’s bananas that they didn’t tell you that right off the bat when you applied. Sorry, OP, but I hope knowing this helps you get over your disappointment more easily. Although I can totally see how it would shift the disappointment from “I had to turn down a great opportunity” to “Those meanies, pretending it was a job when it was actually a volunteer position.”

    7. MigraineMonth*

      It sounds like it was the perfect job… except that it wasn’t actually a job, and it was far from perfect.

      I’m sorry the company got your hopes up and made you imagine a good opportunity, but this was never actually anything close to one. If someone had asked you at the beginning, “Are you interested in a volunteer opportunity with an hour+ commute?” would you have even given it a second thought?

  4. Thedude*

    Disagree. What happened to shorts and a t shirt? That is what I would wear to work out in. Clothes don’t have to be skin tight. This may be her first job, but it sounds like she is smart enough to know this may affect her.

    1. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      Bruh, come on now, it’s the gym. She’s wearing workout wear there. Get a grip.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Maybe I’m a cynic but I’ve come across pictures and/or videos of women in tight clothing working out and filmed without their knowledge. They are often posted with cringeworthy comments. Gross? Yes. Unfair? Yes. But it does happen. OP may be a good person and have good co-workers. But it takes just one creep of either gender to post a “ha, look at this person.” It’s real and people have been charged and banned from gyms at the least for this creepy behaviour.

        1. AMH*

          I think every woman who works out — or goes out in public, or simply exists — is aware that this is a risk. The fact that it happens does not mean OP shouldn’t dress how she chooses at the gym, unless SHE decides the risk is high enough to be unacceptable to her.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          This is a risk if you wear a skirt and climb stairs–some guy could be doing an upskirt video. It’s a risk if you wear pants and at any point turn your back so that some passerby could snap an image. It’s a risk if you’re an attractive man and you read a book in public–there’s a sub on that.

          Unless you succeed in introducing a new societal dress code in which everyone where’s Michelin Man suits at all times, successfully disguising whether we are men, women, or three owls in a trench coat, someone taking a picture of you in public for Hur Hur purposes is a possibility.

        3. kalli*

          That, however, is not the point here.

          LW wants to know if wearing workout clothes specifically designed for working out to the gym, a place designated for working out, will hurt her *professional standing*.

          It will not.

          Women risk being demeaned by existing. That happens regardless of whether it is “invited” by wearing situationally appropriate clothing or not, and the person who should have their behaviour modified is the perpetrator, not the target. As such, it doesn’t affect LW’s question about whether wearing gym clothes at the gym will hurt her professional reputation at her work.

          1. Carla Santana*

            One thing I will say – as someone who had a similar gym/work setup for a long time – is that it was an unspoken expectation where I was that folks would wear nice gym clothes to the gym. I don’t mean expensive, just clean, not ripped, not see through, etc.

        4. Alright Alright Alright*

          That has nothing to do with going to the same gym as coworkers, though, which is what
          LW was asking about.

        5. Michelle*

          “But men might prey on you” is such a universal explanation for why women should make themselves small. everything from why we shouldn’t buy a car alone to why we should wear burqa.

          It wasn’t even the question that was asked. but here we are with a “don’t wear the clothes you want to wear because maybe men.” It’s almost like a superstition. Like if we just do everything right we will successfully avoid predatory men.

          Please think about what you’re saying when you say things like this.

        6. Artemesia*

          Of course she can wear workout gear and it is appropriate. Of course she runs some risk of being objectified by the men she works with. If it were me I would probably wear shorts and a t-shirt — maybe tight workout/bicycle type shorts, but then a loose t-shirt. BUT there is nothing wrong with her wearing ordinary workout clothes.

          1. JustaTech*

            I was thinking about the loose t-shirt and they’re fine when I run, but if I’m doing floor work like yoga that loose t-shirt is going to be flopping around in my face whenever I do a downward facing dog or whatever, making it hard for me to do my workout *and* showing off more of my torso than if I was wearing a tight shirt.

            Also, loose shirts can be hazardous around the machines – you could get something caught (depending on how loose the shirt is).

        7. MigraineMonth*

          There are also those videos of people working out in loose workout clothing, naked in the locker room, jogging down the sidewalk, or literally existing in public. Or in private, for that matter; revenge porn is a real thing.

          I’m not going to stop existing as a woman just because bad things might happen to me.

        8. Observer*

          Maybe I’m a cynic but I’ve come across pictures and/or videos of women in tight clothing working out and filmed without their knowledge.

          What does this have to do with the question that was asked?

          Anyone who is going to think less of her *professionally* because she wore gym gear *at the gym* was never going to give her a fair shake anyway.

          Now if you want to argue that women should wear floor length Burkas or Chadors when they are in public and never got to place like the gym to prevent creeps from taking creep-shots (because that’s pretty much the only way to avoid those things), that’s a different argument. And not only does it have nothing to so with the workplace, it’s one that I think most reasonable people would recognize for what it is.

          TLDR; the concern trolling here is pretty blatant. It’s not a good look.

        9. Maggie*

          Yes, let’s all stop living our lives and being comfortable in our clothing because there might be a creep. Come on now

        10. Michelle*

          And the appropriate response to such behavior is to ban the bad actors from the gym, or press charges when applicable. Not policing women’s clothing.

        11. Elsajeni*

          I mean, that’s certainly a thing that happens sometimes, but as you say — people have been charged and banned for gyms for that kind of creep behavior! The reputational damage happens to the person who does the creeping! This pretty much exactly aligns with Alison’s advice that it won’t hurt the OP professionally unless her workplace is much more dysfunctional and sexist than average, i.e., the type of place where people see a weird creep filming a woman minding her own business at the gym and go “hey, that weird creep has the right idea!”

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        ^This right here.

        Typed as a woman in her 50s who goes to a gym, whose habitues range from my son’s sports team (doing weights) to people in their 90s (also doing weights).

        I wear a swimsuit at the gym, since I do low impact water workouts. It would be weird if I wore it to the grocery store, or my home office, or the library, or a zillion other places–but not the gym.

    2. MissAmandaJones*

      Wow. She should be able to wear what feels most comfortable and beneficial to her workout. Many workout clothes serve as compression for muscle support and more streamlined silhouettes allow her to see if she has proper alignment and form. Plus, loose-fitting clothes may get caught on workout equipment.

      1. Pobody’s Nerfect*

        But tons of guys wear regular shorts and tees to the gym…do they always get their clothes caught on the equipment, not care about their alignment and form, not cater to compression? Women shouldn’t have to provide those as reasons to just admit that they are going to wear what they want to wear.

        1. Lab Boss*

          The guys I know who are Serious Gym People ™ usually work out shirtless or in minimal and form-fitting tops, with small shorts if not outright compression shorts. I am not, personally, enough of a Serious Gym Person to pass judgment on whether there’s “really” the benefits they say there are, but tight workout clothes are absolutely not just a woman thing.

          1. Rosemary*

            I am a woman who wears tight pants/leggings at the gym – not because I want to show off my body, but because they are what is most comfortable – less about getting caught in machines, and more about being able to move freely. Loose pants would just not move as well; shorts could be chafing, not to mention revealing more if I were doing squats or leg lifts or whatnot.

            As for tops, I typically wear a loose-ish tank – but that is because I am self conscious about my rolls LOL. Believe you me, if it were not for that I would probably wear more form fitting tanks or just a sports bra (which is in fact what I wear at home). If OP is comfortable wearing this in the gym, then by all means she should (regardless of size or shape or who else may be there)

            1. Michelle*

              I was so excited to discover my first pair of leggings with pockets – now I won’t work out in anything else. I remember how my phone used to slap against my leg when I ran with it in the pocket of loose shorts, or how I had to take it out and put it on the floor when I did chest presses, because otherwise it would slip out and fall every time I got into position on the bench.

              Leggings with pockets keep it nice and snug against my leg. I could do a handstand and that thing ain’t moving. Neither are my keys, my earbud case, my sweat cloth, my glasses lens wipe. Never going back!

        2. MissAmandaJones*

          I’m a Pilates instructor who’s had clients wear baggy pants that have become caught in the reformer springs. The pants had to be cut to free the client.

          So, yes. Too-loose track or sweat pants can be hazardous.

          Plus, men who wear baggy shorts often expose their parts. Nobody want to see that.

        3. kitto*

          are you kidding? lots of men wear form-fitting clothing to the gym and lots of women wear looser clothing to the gym. to imply that women are just using performance as an excuse to wear tight clothes is sexist

    3. Leslie Santiago*

      I wear a tight singlet because a t-shirt would make me way too hot and get in the way, and I wear tight shorts because loose shorts would cause chafing. Do you really think that I should have to be hot and chafed because Steve from accounts can’t keep his eyes to himself?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Just want to add that if you are, say, doing yoga, loose shorts with a loose T-shirt will often show a lot more of the “is the person in front of me wearing underwear today?” as you move into downward dog. While form fitting clothes move with you and don’t offer big gaps for underwear checks.

        1. Yoga_Poser*

          As a man who’s started doing yoga, I feel this! No one needs to see me in compression clothing (especially myself), but too baggy and my shirt is basically over my head on some poses and it’s a pain constantly needing to adjust my clothing.

          1. LaurCha*

            As a woman who has seen way too many balls in yoga class because dudes showed up in basketball shorts, I appreciate your willingness to NOT wear baggy clothes.

        2. Rosemary*

          Ha I just said something similar above – loose clothes like shorts can definitely be more revealing depending on the exercises you are doing.

    4. Daria Grace*

      Shorts and a tshirt are my preferred work out attire but they don’t work well for everyone. Some people who are working on precision movements find tight outfits help them see and assess what they’re doing better. Some people find tshirts get too sweaty. It is of course also valid to wear what she does just because she likes it better.

      1. Athlete*

        This. I’m a woman who played high school basketball in the 90s. I love my t shirts and shorts at the gym! But you don’t want baggy tee on during Yoga or even during many weight trainings – imagine the chafing, oy! And really the more technical materials that are available now to resist moisture and odors are usually available only in the more modern fitted styles. Plus a comfy neckline at age 45 is not the same as a comfy neckline at age 17. Maybe it is for men or people with flatter chests. But she wouldn’t wear an 80s prom dress to a black tie event this week, so why not dress in the style of the time and place where you are, as well as for the purpose?

      2. CityMouse*

        It depends on the workout too. You don’t wear loose clothes to do Yoga, for instance because it could end up over your head. I wear tighter pants to cycling class because looser pants can snag on the seat during in and outs.

        1. Wunderbar*

          Yep, I tried my first yoga class recently and finally understood why yoga clothes look the way they do– every time I got into downward dog I ended up with a bare midsection and a face full of T-shirt. A tight tank top would have shown off a lot less of my body.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Flashbacks to the times I’ve been cycling and my flared pants got caught in the gears. Poor pants, and it probably wasn’t any good for the bike either. There’s a reason bicycle bottoms are as tight as they are (and have the padding where they do).

          1. Evan Þ*


            When I started regularly biking, I asked the shop owner about this, and he recommended I tuck my pant leg into my sock. I’ve been doing that ever since (when wearing long pants), and it’s worked great.

            1. JustaTech*

              Yup. Before people considered wearing bike helmets the standard bit of safety gear were bike clips for your pant legs to keep your bellbottoms out of your chain so you didn’t go splat!

    5. Lily*

      I think there’s a difference beween ‘tight’ and ‘revealing’ eg there’s a difference between tight leggings and fitted singlet top, and ‘booty shorts’ and a sports bra. I’d suggest OP consider the full spectrum of options available to her, and make a choice that balances her comfort in the gym, with how comfortable she’d feel if her grandboss jumps on the treadmill next to her when she has a discussion about promotion the next day. Approaching it less as ‘what will the men think’ (ugh) and more ‘how do I want to feel and present myself in this space that intersects with work’. Maybe she will choose booty shorts and a bra. Go for it. But let’s not pretend that’s her only option for practical comfortable workout gear. But neither is a baggy t her only option.
      (I workout in baggy shirts and leggings, and personally I’d be using this scenario as an excuse for some options with fewer stains and newer elastic! But nothing would help the beetroot face and that’s ok)

      1. Awkwardness*

        This is well put.
        Approaching it less as ‘what will the men think’ (ugh) and more ‘how do I want to feel and present myself in this space that intersects with work’.

        Worth this kind of topic your very often caught up in fundamental discussion between how the world should work and how it actually does. And while in theory OP should be allowed to wear whatever she wants in her free time, it seems unrealistic that colleagues will not notice and discuss especially revealing clothing.
        There is a difference between tight and revealing.

        1. Boof*

          Thing is, you can’t know what other people are thinking unless they tell you, and assuming the worst is probably not a great way to go through life (for oneself or for society). If op knows their office is a horribly sexist culture that comments on people’s gym outfits at work, well they can decide if they want to adjust or fight the good fight (and maybe not dust off the resume while at it). But right now i’d say dressing in a way op would feel confident in if they did bump into a coworker (again, how lw feels, not what they guess someone might feel) makes sense

        2. Doctor Fun!*

          Eeehhh. This line of thinking (I must always be dressed in business-appropriate attire in case someone from work sees me) veers a little too close to fundie modesty guidelines for my taste.

          1. Rosemary*

            I think you are reaching a bit here. No one is saying she must “always be dressed” in a certain way – but given that it is a given that she sees people from work at the gym, it is something she thinks about. Personally I think she (and anyone) should wear whatever she wants at the gym. But context matters. When I go to the grocery store in my very large city I don’t give a hoot what I am wearing or how I look because I am probably not going to see anyone I know. When I am visiting family in my smaller home town…the thought does cross my mind (not that I usually do anything about it) because odds are good I will run into someone I know.

        3. Cmdrshprd*

          “colleagues will not notice and discuss especially revealing clothing.”

          Maybe I am being naïve but I have a hard time imagining people at work discussing what someone wore at the gym, that seems gross and weird. Honestly I think that could raise to the the level of sexual harassment.

          I could see it being brought up if OP wore the outfits at work, but wearing them outside the office should not need to be commented on. This really is no different than if coworkers see each other at the beach in their 2 piece swimsuit/speedo/swim trunks.

          I can’t see how any of that info would be relevant at work.

      2. bamcheeks*

        I think that “tight but not revealing” is entirely in the eye of the beholder. One person’s tight is another person’s revealing. The same clothes on one person are simply “tight” but “revealing” on another person because of a different body shape. It’s like “professional and classy but not frumpy or sexy” for business clothes. It’s just a way of wasting women’s time when we could be doing more important things!

        1. Flor*


          Plus whether sports bra + spandex shorts is “tight” or “revealing” varies greatly depending on the cut of the shorts. When I was in my early 20s, they were low-rise booty shorts, and if that was all you wore to exercise in you were basically wearing a bikini (no judgement, but I can see why you might want to put on a tank top over that if you’re around colleagues).

          Nowadays, I see a lot more high-rise bike shorts that go to mid-thigh/knee, and no one wants to put on another layer to cover the 1.5″ of flesh between the bottom of the sports bra and the top of the shorts. Personally, I wear leggings and a sports bra for that reason (I prefer leggings for deadlifts).

          1. Angstrom.*

            Yup. It’s like the difference between a tan by the pool swimsuit and a swim in the surf swimsuit. Similar but different.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I think the only “not too revealing” option would be one of those giant inflatable balls, that was completely opaque.

        3. LaurCha*

          Yeah, this is absolutely a moving target. There’s always somebody who thinks a woman’s clothes are too “revealing”. Even if they’re covered head to toe.

        4. anonymous anteater*

          I thought the tight vs revealing poster meant revealing specifically as in ‘showing skin’. So an argument to perhaps opt for regular shorts or leggings instead of super short shorts, and something that covers the midriff, without being loose.
          Agree with a lot of posters that what should be (OP should not be judged for something she chooses to wear in her own time) is not necessarily what will happen, and it’s smart to take that into account.

      3. Athlete*

        I think this makes sense. A fashion blog I follow (Corporette) has in the comments women who attend fancy galas for business work (not as an award-winning actress). Of course a woman wears a fancy dress! But can she wear one that shows her chest and maybe shoulders vs. cleavage and back? That’s what makes a dress more or less “work appropriate” even though it is not the office.

      4. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Except that “how she wants to present herself in a space that intersects with work” is determined at least in part (in large part) by “what will the men think.” “What will the men think” is the reason she’s concerned in the first place.

        1. Awkwardness*

          The question is not “what will the men think” but “will it affect my professional standing”. For me, these are different things as some behavior might get male disapproval but not affect OPs standing. And this takes the focus away from men to how she wants to present herself in a space that has not only one coworker by coincidence, but several coworkers on a regular basis.

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            But like Alison says, unless her office is more sexist and dysfunctional than most, even if her co-workers do privately have “unclean” thoughts about her at the gym, it’s unlikely to affect her professional standing.

            The bar for protecting her professional standing isn’t to go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent coworkers from ever having any opportunity to lust after her. It’s behaving and presenting appropriately and professionally. There’s nothing inappropriate or unprofessional about athletic wear being worn at the gym.

            Might some people she works with talk about the outfit behind her back? Maybe, but as others have said that’s pretty much always a risk anyway. But there’s a big leap from, “Damn, Shrika looked good at the gym this morning in that outfit,” and “I don’t know about Shrika for this assignment, she seems capable at work but that gym outfit…”

            Being attracted to coworkers is commonplace, but letting that attraction negatively influence how you assess their professional abilities is fortunately not nearly to the same extent. Of course it does happen, sexism has not been eradicated, but if her coworkers/bosses are the type to penalize a female employee for her workout clothes at the gym, that sexist attitude would be showing up in a lot more other ways in the workplace, too. If her workplace seems to give women fair opportunities in general, then her male coworkers can probably be trusted to handle seeing her in a gym outfit without it affecting how they treat her at work.

            1. Angstrom*

              Well said.
              It is entirely possible to follow a colleague down a hallway, think “cute butt!”, and then let that thought go and treat them with complete professionalism.

              1. Emily Byrd Starr*

                If by “follow,” you mean, “we were both walking in the same direction towards the same place, and they just happened to be in front of me,” then yes. However, if you were deliberately following them just so you could get a look at their butt, that’s kind of gross.

            2. Awkwardness*

              There’s nothing inappropriate or unprofessional about athletic wear being worn at the gym.

              The whole discussion was about the type of athletic wear.

              I find it a bit tiring to pretend that there was not a wide range of athletic gear ranging from short/tight/functional to sexy/look at me/functional. What is perceived as what depends a lot on the social environment, body type, age, gender and so on. But there is a chance that OP might be taken a bit less serious by her collegues if she is perceived to be too much on the one side of the spectrum. That is not to say that she cannot prove herself or that somebody might penalise her or she might not get assignments, just that she might have to work a little bit more against a certain bias.
              Depending on the details of OPs job that might be relevant or it might be not. And she might reconsider her clothing choice or not. But it is unfair to argue as if this bias did not exist.

              (I would like to add that this not only applies to workout clothes. Women have this conflict a lot of the time: a little bit too feminine and fashionable to be taken seriously. But beware if not!)

          2. Rosemary*

            Honestly…I think women are just as likely to take notice/judge as men in this scenario. (I think she should still wear what she wants…but if she is worried about judgement I think that can come from both men and women)

      5. Butterfly Counter*

        I like this answer.

        OP is already questioning her clothing at the gym, which is a sign she’s not actually all that comfortable in the clothes she’s chosen when she has the potential to work out with coworkers. So maybe it is time to look at the full spectrum of gym wear?

        Or she can decide she likes the clothes she usually wears to the gym and any coworkers with bad opinions can just lump it. That’s totally fine, too.

        I’m pretty particular about my different workout clothes in different settings based on the exercise. Treadmill = running shoes, thin socks, loose shorts, super-tight bra, loose tee. Yoga = tight pants/shorts, regular sports bra, tight shirt. Weightlifting = gym shoes, short running shorts, loose and sleeveless tee, regular sports bra.

      6. Gretta*

        Great comment, I was trying to figure out how to word what was in my head. It’s not about what the men think so much as I like to put out a polished and high-end appearance at work. So I think in her case, I would opt for really nice (and expensive) workout “outfits”. Probably the cute tight patterned pants or capris with nice matching shirts. Maybe a little midrif, but not a ton. I would aim for expensive and polished. So defintely not a baggy t-shirt and loose shorts, but also maybe not booty shorts and a sports bra.

    6. Grumpylawyer*

      That’s what you “would” wear to work out in? Meaning you don’t work out and don’t know what you’re talking about? I’m a runner – a sports bra is necessary for support and runners generally wear very short running shorts, spandex shorts, or skintight leggings to get whatever combination of freedom of movement and anti-chafing protection they need. Loose clothing is terrible for working out – it can bunch, chafe, trip you up, get caught in machines, and – as you’d know if you’ve ever tried doing yoga in loose clothing – reveal far more than you intend when it won’t stay in place.

      1. Seashell*

        Unless the coworkers are attending the same yoga class, what she wears there should not be an issue. She can always bring a t shirt to throw on after while walking to the locker room.

        1. Observer*

          She can always bring a t shirt to throw on after while walking to the locker room.

          You’re seriously suggesting that what she wears to the gym could be such an issue that she should bring an extra piece of clothing into her classes / to the machines she’s using so she can be “properly” covered up when going between classes and activities? Seriously?!

          She’s at the gym. Unless she’s wearing a small bikini or less, what she wears should not be an issue. Period.

    7. bamcheeks*

      Define “may affect her”. Are you saying you’re the kind of man who would deny a women promotions and opportunities because you don’t like what she wears to the gym?

    8. Czhorat*

      I don’t know if you’ve been to a gym lately, but the clothes she is describing are perfectly normal gymwear.

      I’ve recently started going to a gym regularly. There are women in sports bras and leggings. There are men in tank-tops. Do you know what I do? I work out, and don’t stare as if I’m visiting a strip club.

      Let’s not sexualize women’s clothes when there’s no reason to. If she had a pool or a public beach near the office would you expect her to wear a burquini? Any effect her entirely gym-appropriate clothes at the gym have on how men look at her is *entirely* their issue. Full stop.

      1. la vida loca*

        It’s entirely their issue until someone with power over things that matter to her makes it her issue.

        That’s just politics and the human condition. Other people’s opinions matter. Rage against it all you like, but you will only wear yourself out and change nothing.

        1. Czhorat*

          People will have all kinds of unreasonable opinions.

          What if you’re gay and are afraid that a bigot in your office would take offence at seeing you with your partner? Should you hide that?

          What if you’re Jewish and other people in the office are anti-Semitic? Should you avoid being seen walking into a synagogue?

          There can be no end toward trying to appease unreasonable bigots. It’s ultimately a losing stragetgy that gives too much power to people who shouldn’t have it.

          1. Bast*

            I was thinking along similar lines reading some of these comments — where does it end? Because unless you live far form where you work (and heck, even if you DO live far) there is always the chance you could run into someone you know somewhere, and as Murphy’s Law would have it, it’s usually when you look your worst. Yes, when I am at work and work events I will dress and act like I should at work, but I’m not going to do that everywhere “just in case” and have to put on a mask everywhere on the off chance I run into my boss or a colleague at the grocery store, the beach, a county fair, or what have you. It’s exhausting. And then we get into other things some people might have biases against as you list here. People are people outside of work, not drones. What’s next?

    9. HexagonRuler*

      This is ridiculous advice. What would you have suggested to the OP if the gym had a swimming pool that she used regularly? The OP should be free to choose workout clothes that are appropriate for the sport she is taking part in. If some of the men from her office that she meets there behave like overgrown teenagers then they will do so anyway, and that is an HR matter.

      For myself there happens to large municipal sports faculty about 3 minutes walk from the office, so naturally before the pandemic a lot of people from the office where seen using various gyms, sports halls, exercise classes and the pool. Personally I am a swimmer I was there three lunchtimes a week, and yes I often saw colleges mostly from other departments in swimsuits. It is not hard to separate that from seeing them professionally back in the office, or exchange chit chat about work while working out.

    10. RagingADHD*

      “What happened to shorts and a t shirt” is that it’s not what LW is comfortable in for working out. Neither is it standard gym attire for the majority of women under 60, at least at any gym I’ve been to since the late 1980s.

    11. learnedthehardway*

      I think that as long as the OP is wearing appropriate gym workout clothing, that anyone who thinks any differently of her is the problem.

      Many people find that baggy clothing inhibits their movement and really traps heat.

      I think an appropriate set of workout clothing would be one that has full coverage – ie. you’re not falling out of it.

      In practice (as opposed to in the ideal world in which what a woman wears to the gym would have no bearing on how she is perceived at work), perhaps the OP would be best guided by observing what female co-workers wear to the gym – eg. if more senior coworkers wear the usual workout clothing, then she should be fine to do the same.

    12. StressedButOkay*

      If her work colleagues start gossiping about her because of clothes she changes into in another building and wears there, that is a clear indicator she needs a new job and not that she needs to change what she is wearing. She’s not naked, she’s wearing what 90% of people wear to the gym.

      1. AnonORama*

        For sure. She can have a workout and test her workplace for toxicity at the same time!

    13. lilsheba*

      Yeah what she wears to a gym outside of work on her own time matters to NO ONE. It does NOT affect her in any way. This is not work related.

    14. münchner kindl*

      I used to wear shorts and T-Shirts – because my parents didn’t want to spend too much money on clothes. Which meant that while cotton is “breathable” it quickly gets soaked through when actually doing exercises and sports.

      The past decades I’ve bought tops (shirts and underwear) made from high-tech fibre because it transports the sweat away from the body fast, instead of just soaking it up like cotton, which is better when exercising.

      This type of fabric works best if worn tight against the body – where the sweat is produced – so as undershirt, not a loose, billowing, T-Shirt.

      So, Thedude, if you ever were to exercise, you should think about what’s practical for your body and not what you have always done.

    15. Fluffy Fish*

      How about we don’t police women’s clothing?

      It sounds like you’re smart enough to know that we don’t tell woman they need to do different because other people are creeps.

    16. Elle*

      Shorts and a t shirt might be what YOU would wear to work out in, but I’m guessing bike shorts and a sports bra aren’t really in your regular repertoire anyway, Thedude.

    17. Zona the Great*

      And I think you know you should keep your opinions to yourself on what a woman wears.

    18. What_the_What*

      Well, “dudes” don’t normally wear things like yoga pants/biker shorts and sports bras to work out in. But they aren’t like THAT revealing generally. Sports Bras typically cover more and are thicker than a day to day bra because they need to provide significantly more support, and putting a Tshirt on over it can get VERY hot. Biker shorts are tight but down to mid thigh or longer, and again provide some support that loose shorts don’t… and they aren’t see through or anything. Why do “dudes” have to be so weird about women showing a bit of middrift or leg in the gym? How about just not oggling them?

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Dudes wear PLENTY of revealing stuff. Check out shesbonky on Twitter. She got so sick of men complaining like this dude that she started posting examples of men and what they wear/do in public places, too.

    19. asturdysoul*

      Depending on the kind of exercise, loose-fitting clothes can get in the way or make it more difficult to ensure correct form — think of a loose T-shirt that flops onto your face during downward dog or another inverted yoga pose. There is no reason this question-asker should have to buy a new gym wardrobe just because some of her coworkers use the same facility.

    20. Emily Byrd Starr*

      Come on. It’s not like she’s wearing a sports bra in the office. THAT would be inappropriate.

    1. Sorry the World Sucks*

      Yeah. Obviously they shouldn’t but she says it’s a male dominated field. IDK, it would make me too nervous I’d probably wear more than I wanted. It truly sucks but…yeah.

      1. Kindred Spirit*

        I would feel awkward because of the overlap with people I work with. I’ve experienced something similar to the situation the LW describes. If it were me, I’d still wear the compression clothing I prefer to work out in but steer away from revealing.

      2. Tired and Confused*

        I work in a male dominated field and I’ve used the sane popular gym as my colleagues and I’ve shared the hotel gym or pool with colleagues while travelling for work and I’ve always used the kind of clothes that make sense for lifting weights (very tight) or swimming despite being a busty lady and that has had zero impact on my career or the way people see me because I work with normal, reasonable human beings. So as long if you work with reasonable people, even if they are men, you should be fine.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I don’t think this is as universal as stated. I’m in a male-dominated field, and I’ve never worried about colleagues discussing my clothing or body behind my back. I suspect they don’t discuss me at all; I’ve been fighting my entire career to get noticed and to get a seat at the table. Though I know women in my field who have been sexually harassed, personally I’ve only dealt with exclusion.

    2. mreasy*

      The kind of guys who will talk about how their woman coworker looks at the gym will discuss her appearance in office wear. Gym clothing is made for comfort. 90% of the women at my gym wear something like what OP describes. Creeps are gonna creep.

      1. Czhorat*

        I think this is the biggest point. Wearing uncomfortable clothes to the gym to cater to the male gaze (or lack thereof) won’t save you the sexist comments if the guys are sexist.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        THIS. Anything a person wears to work out could be construed to be “revealing” by someone, and it’s not like women don’t get comments in normal work clothes as well. Allison is exactly right — some people and workplaces are terrible, so there’s not NO chance the OP is in one of those workplaces, but it’s not likely.

      3. Doctor Fun!*

        Exactly this. I really can’t get behind recommending that OP dress in ways that will ensure no male coworker ever talks about her, because that’s not possible even if OP wore sackcloth and ashes everywhere she went.

      4. münchner kindl*

        Yes. Not even the Burkas in Taliban, or having always a male protector in India, or wearing “modest” clothing in Egypt, protects women from being groped, harrassed, or worse.

        Rape culture stops when everybody, women and men, say often and loud enough that it needs to stop and that it’s not okay.

        In this case, the other men in the company either tell the creep to cut it out – then it’s not about what OP wears.
        Or the whole company is a fratbro-culture – then wearing different clothes will not help OP, either.

      5. Friendo*

        This. As a man, I’ve never been part of these conversations. I know that they happen, but I also know that it’s because of the men in question suck and not because of women wearing very normal clothes outside the workplace.

    3. Athlete*

      I’m sure some will but I will also add, as the parent of an athletic teen boy – most young men are used to seeing women not fully covered, especially when working out. A lot of casual sports teams are co-ed now (soccer, ultimate frisbee) and even gender-divided teams in high school and college may work out together. I have found the younger people I work with remarkably professional and even kind about commenting what people look like, even in a “hey bro don’t say that, not cool” kind of way. I am not saying “not all men” but I am saying “kids these days might pleasantly surprise you”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Son plays a co-ed sport, and this is very much what I have experienced from overhearing him and his male friends talk.

        Daughter does rock climbing and skiing in co-ed groups; this has form fitting clothing for what I hope are obvious practical considerations.

        1. Kivrin*

          Yup. And in my experience, the 20 somethings tend to wear much shorter shorts for sports (volleyball, rock climbing, ultimate) than I would ever wear to the gym — I’m a fan of the capri length yoga pants with a long line sports bra. It’s context specific. Wear what works for you and enjoy your workout.

      2. allathian*

        Yup. Co-ed sports can be really great because boys learn to think of girls as skilled teammates rather than mere sex objects, and the younger they start, the better.

      3. Aitch Arr*

        My single test subject (he’s almost 18) validates this too. He’s been on co-ed ski and ultimate teams through high school. The kids do both gym workouts and on slope / on field practices.

        He’s not only respectful and kind, but he’s also quick to call out bad behavior by others.

    4. Angstrom*

      They might, or they might keep their thoughts to themselves. We’ve got a lot of lunch-hour runners and cyclists at my work, and I’ve never heard a comment.

      1. JustaTech*

        The only time anyone at work ever commenting on my appearance when I was in my running clothes was my boss, very concerned “Are you all right?!” because my face was fire truck red. (And that’s why I quit running at lunch, because I got tired of everyone being worried about me and thinking I was going to die.)

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      In this case, was there an option where they would NEVER have commented on her body or appearance, no sir, not these upstanding gentlemen…. but then they saw her on a treadmill outside work and so of course had to comment from that day forward?

      And there are many, many offices where that commenting would in fact be miles out of norms, and get ignored, reported, or shut down with a “You’re being a weird perv, Steve, and no one likes you.”

    6. Echo*

      And if they do, they are creating a hostile workplace environment. The actual kind, not the colloquial definition.

    7. Maggie*

      So let them then, I’m not limiting my life and my dedication to health/fitness because of what some men MIGHT or might not say.

    8. Petty_Boop*

      Some of them might, if they’re juvenile frat boys, but adult, professionals won’t. Frankly, it’s been MY experience (as a large busted woman) that other WOMEN talk about women’s apparel and bodies and shame them for being too revealing more than men do. Not all men are neanderthals who are going to talk about her and the ones that do, would likely talk about “hey did you see Sue in the gym working out” regardless of WHAT she wears. She should wear what’s comfortable, and if her male colleagues want to be asshats about it, she should report them to HR.

  5. Daria Grace*

    #3. I’m sorry, that really sucks. Might be worth reminding yourself that if they weren’t upfront about something as major as the role not being paid, there’s a very good chance there were other problematic elements of the role they weren’t telling you about. It might not have been nearly as good as it seemed

    1. Sherm*

      And it might not have opened nearly as many doors, if they have a reputation as being a sketchy place.

    2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      That’s just what I was thinking, Daria Grace!

      OP, not revealing that a “job” is in fact a volunteer position is a HUGE omission – serious enough to make me wonder what ELSE they weren’t telling you. It’s entirely possible that they spun the “job” description in such a way as to make it sound irresistible; exactly what you dreamed of doing! Opportunities to network with people who can get you in the door in your chosen profession! The perfect job for someone who wants to get into that field! Etc., etc., etc. Get you hooked on the desire to snap up that “job offer” BEFORE reeling you in and FINALLY telling you that you won’t get one single penny for all the work you do.

      By all means take the time to grieve the loss of what you’d hoped was a dream job; give yourself time to mourn what you lost when the true nature of that position was revealed to you. Our culture tries to distract people from sorrow and to rush them into feeling happy-happy-happy no matter the loss they’ve experienced; this is extremely foolish and shortsighted. Give yourself time to come to terms with what happened at your own pace. But keep in mind that this “job” was an illusion all along – and so was the perfection that it seemed to promise.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I mean, there’s two possibilities:
        1) they’re really sketchy and intentionally misleading
        2) it’s not that they advertised a “job” that’s really a volunteer position, but they advertised an internship, and assumed OP knew it was for education credits and not pay, and the employer somehow never realized they weren’t explicit about that. In which case they’re disorganized/made a pretty huge mistake, but not nefarious.
        Both bad, different sorts of bad.

    3. I take tea*

      #3 That’s not a job, that’s volunteering. You don’t have time to volunteer between two jobs and collage, even if it would be a good experience. And as Marzipan Shepherdess says, it wouldn’t necessary have been.

    4. MK*

      Unfortuntately, this could be one of those “you don’t know what you don’t know” things. High-profile unpaid internships that will open doors for you tend to be filled by candidates that can afford to take them, a.k.a. people from a specific socioeconomic background and possibly connections in the field, who already know it’s unpaid. If you complain that it wasn’t disclosed upfront, you may well be told it’s industry standard. In my country after law school, you have to complete a 18-month “apprenticeship” before sitting the bar exam. This is unpaid (because supposedly you are learning the ropes), but some lawyers or firms offer stipends to cover expenses, and others actually do pay their “pupils”; and also the substance of the role can vary greatly with some abiding by the spirit of the thing and treating the law-graduate as a student, others treating them like regular employees, and every arrangement in between. But unless you have access to someone in the profession, you don’t really know how the system works.

  6. Ideas are a dime a dozen*

    LW #2 reminded me that I have been asked by more than one young person eager to break into my field (TV production) if they could get hired as the person who thinks up ideas for new shows, sigh.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Have you seen the “no one will hire me as their visionary” letter in the archives? Perhaps the OP of that letter has decided to turn their hand to TV…

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        OP2 really needs to say “That’s not how any of this works. You don’t just get to invent your own job.” There are exceptions to this, but that’s for people with a ton of experience who understand their industry and the company extremely well. If you feel the need to soften this message OP2, say that setting up a non-standard job leads to having a niche position that will be hard to fill in the future.

        In my experience, people who do this (like “visionary guy”) are trying to get out of doing the parts of the job that they don’t like. They truly believe their talents are going to waste doing “the boring stuff” without realizing that the whole reason they were hired is because the boring stuff needs to get done.

        1. Bobert*

          Hit the nail on the head. Sometimes folks don’t realize that the unglamorous work needs to get done and someone has to do it. I do a lot of it as a department head!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Your user-name is one of the really interesting themes to come out of this blog for me in the past few years. (Also that you be careful about setting expectations that there will be simple carbs, because those arouse passions.)

      1. Petty_Boop*

        How so? Everytime I see the Captain’s name, I spend way too much time trying to figure out how to pronounce it or what it is… “is dddd = 40? what is cccc? doubled doubleu double d?” I don’t get it! lol

  7. Erica*

    OP#1 – as a fellow gym-going woman in a male-dominated field, I’d stick to leggings and a singlet if you see a lot of your male coworkers there, especially if any of them are senior to you/in management :( I’m sorry, I know it isn’t fair.

    1. lilsheba*

      Then what, watch what she wears out on the street while running errands just in case someone sees her? No. She can wear what she wants this is not related to work and shouldn’t be.

          1. Emily Byrd Starr*

            I do, too. It’s not sl*tty to wear revealing clothing to the gym, because that’s how everyone dresses when they work out; just like it’s not sl*tty to wear a bikini to the beach for the same reason.

        1. Bast*

          But where do you draw the line? At what point do you stop catering to others on the chance that you run into them somewhere?

          1. Elle*

            I think about this a lot- where is the line? I feel like individually you just have to figure out the right balance of being flexible when it will benefit you without breaking and getting resentful. For me, I cover up at my work gym because I have tattoos and other marks on my body I’d rather not discuss, and because of the risks of it affecting me (esp being in management) in some way as unfair as that would be. This doesn’t really feel onerous to me even though it’s technically unfair as hell. However, I will absolutely not be worrying about those same things getting dressed to walk with my company contingent in our pride parade. I will be damned if I’m not as gay and festive as I want to be because of corporate bullshit. If I were the LW from this post, I think changing what I work out in too dramatically would make me really resentful, but I might opt for a crop top over my sports bra or something.

          2. subaru outback driver*

            When you are going somewhere you know you are going to run into people you work with vs just randomly going out.

      1. Petty_Boop*

        I agree. As a busty woman myself, for YEARS I wore dowdy, oversized stuff that made me look and feel fatter and older than I was because… men. Finally, I realized that adult professionals are not going to judge me, think about it or talk about it, and those that are going to, were doing it regardless, because they were Dbags. She should wear what she wants to wear/usually wears and be comfortable in her own skin.

  8. Capybarely*

    I’m reading #4 as being a 1 day retreat, not a full week. Alison’s advice still applies, but would need some tweaks to make a t more sensible in that context.

    1. BornTooLate?*

      I read the retreat as a one-day event, as well. Not many businesses can shut down for two consecutive weeks.

      1. OP #4*

        OP here – Yes, it’s a one-day retreat. I could try to pull him aside for a private chat in the morning and give my resignation then, but we’ll have a full agenda of events and he’d probably ask if it can wait. And there may or may not be private spaces available – last year the venue only had one conference room and most teams just picked different corners of the one, large main room for the group work portions.

        1. GudHurr*

          Go ahead and give your notice in the morning. Make sure he knows how important the conversation is at that moment. If they doesn’t want to hear it, that’s on them. Smile and nod at all of the planning. Don’t offer too much input.

          Maybe chat with him at lunch. Or, oooh, send an email to him that morning.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          Can you email it, and schedule to send at 5:00 pm the Friday of the closure? And then follow up in person?

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I agree. I’d like Alison to answer that question.

      Once the LW is at the retreat, it may not (depending on location) make sense to not stay. It may be hard to find her boss and resign before activities start.

      IDK this is difficult. Go and participate as little in planning as you can get away with?

  9. Garlic Knot*

    OP1, I’m in Japan, and you wouldn’t believe the tacit expectations for gym and outdoor workout clothing here. The number of layers boggles the mind. I wore shorts on top of tight leggings and a singlet over a sports bra because heaven forbid your crotch or midriff is visible (bleh). I chose to do it because as a visible minority I already attract enough attention. On another hand, I wore a bikini in the swimming pool until I got a sports swimsuit, and literally no one bat an eye. People are weird, do what works for you.

    1. CororateDrone*

      My BIL has gone to after business meetings in an onsen, which is completely naked. So Japan norms are very context dependent lol

          1. Elle*

            I recall reading that, traditionally, tattoos are considered to be disrespectful in an onsen? If so, there’s another reason that location may be problematic.

  10. Support Project Nettie*

    #1. My experience of the gym is that most people (but not me, im too nosey!) are too busy staring at themselves or their phone to notice anyone else. I’ve seen people wearing all sorts at the gym including pyjamas, dress shoes (with sports clothes) and once a guy in full on fetish gear. Asides from the last (who was ejected for inappropriate behaviour), no-one seemed to give a monkeys.

    If anyone has a problem with you wearing suitable gym gear, that’s their problem, not yours.

    1. Kivrin*

      The only person I was ever tempted to take a photo of (though I didn’t!) was a guy in my building who used to work out in our gym wearing what looked exactly like what they wore to train in Chariots of Fire. I kept hoping he had found a time travel wormhole on the treadmill.

      And yes, wear what works for you.

      1. AnonORama*

        I also didn’t do it, but I was tempted to take a pic of a woman on the bike next to me in spin class wearing jeans, a sweater, and full makeup, with her hair down. To be fair, she did have clip-in bike shoes! She was immediately drenched in sweat and didn’t last the whole class (I can only imagine the chafing, ouch!), but I hope she tried again in a more workout-appropriate outfit. Which in this context, at least for me, just means workout clothes, although I tend to go pretty tight for cycling class because otherwise my clothes are flapping and catching on the bike. It’s definitely not out of an urge to show off my thoroughly average middle-aged bod. LOL!

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          I wonder what the story behind that woman’s workout was. Maybe something really torqued her off and she had to blow off steam right away at the gym because murder is frowned upon? Maybe she’s a fellow neurospicy individual who had to work out right then before her motivation ran off to Vegas with a squirrel? Personally, I’ve done both.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      If you are aware of the what the person next to you is wearing you aren’t going hard enough.

  11. musical chairs*

    I’m sad for LW1 as this shouldn’t matter, but it almost definitely will. Even in a best case scenario: in an organization with working institutional bulwarks against sexism, you still can’t completely inoculate yourself from the effects of unconscious bias or the impact of individuals with sincerely held conservative* beliefs, who have outsized say over your ability to get work done or over the choices you have in your career.

    You should not have to care about this. But you should go into whatever decision you make clear-
    eyed. There are people who will not be able to separate Gym You from Work You no matter how many lanes are in between or what steps you take to distinguish the two. I think it’s important that you hear out loud that there is risk to your professional capital in doing this, no matter what kind of workplace you’re in. This could come from anyone, regardless of gender.

    I’m not necessarily suggesting that you give in to the demands of sexism, but I don’t think you should make a decision without that context in mind. I think, wearing looser or longer clothing OR sticking with what you’re doing are both equally defensible choices in the world that we live in.

    *I’m using conservative here to mean traditional, and not necessarily partisan

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      It doesn’t matter if the beliefs are “sincere” or not if they’re acted on. Mike Pence was presumably completely sincere in his belief that he should never be alone with a woman he wasn’t married to, but it really doesn’t matter to the women whose careers were impacted.

      1. musical chairs*

        The distinction I’m making is at the organizational level and how individual actors can still deviate from those values. It doesn’t matter if the organization “isn’t sexist” if a few people with the right kind of power in it are, even if only subconsciously.

        Sincerity doesn’t add any sort of merit to the position, I’m simply describing how tightly or deeply the belief could be held. Please don’t read a stance into my response that isn’t there.

    2. lilsheba*

      Nope. I absolutely refuse to pander to any conservative beliefs. They don’t like what someone is wearing too bad that’s on THEM.

      1. musical chairs*

        Then don’t?

        With all due respect, you can do whatever you want. I was speaking to the letter writer’s situation, (to whom I also offered that she can do whatever she wants…).

        In the real world, other people’s perceptions (rightly or wrongly derived) can matter differently in different contexts, and with varying levels of impact on your life! This is kind of like rule number 2 or maybe 3 of living in a society. That’s the crux of what I’m getting at.

        “That’s on them” isn’t an especially useful input here, because if that statement were the entirety of the truth here, then we wouldn’t have a question submitted, would we? You can’t simply internet-dunk your way to a different reality.

    3. Elle*

      I think you’re 200% correct here (The two was a typo but I kept it because you’re that correct). It’s total bullshit, and it shouldn’t be like this, and definitely isn’t as bad as it once was, but it’s a fact that a nonzero amount of people will have some kind of reaction to your totally normal clothing. How much you want to minimize that is up to you. I used to be a lot more concerned about this issue for myself, but I have a lot more capital than I once did, so I’m comfortable with wearing things now at 34 that I wouldn’t have at 24.

    4. KTC*

      This is the absolute best take, 10/10. And I think you bring up a great point–a lot of the discussion has centered on what men may or may not think but some women also have Feelings about what people “should” wear to the gym.

      Completely agree with the notion that any path you take is defensible and I’m sorry this is something you have to even consider.

  12. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (direct report wants a promotion to a role that the company doesn’t need) – have you talked to him about why he thinks the role is needed? what business needs it meets? what he thinks are the issues within the company that that role would help to solve? etc. If there’s a genuine need, maybe the role itself with the proposed title doesn’t exist as such in that industry, but probably there are elements of it being done under another title. Maybe he has identified a gap in your current processes or structure.

    An example:

    Issue: lack of control over documents and work orders means we often miss requests or accidentally process something twice or get it wrong
    Proposed promotion: “document and process controller” role to inspect the documents and check the work as it goes through the system
    Root cause: could be anything from poor systems, customers don’t fill in info properly, people are lax about checking their own work, sales team are too focused on sales and then don’t follow through with request fulfilment, etc etc etc.

    It’s hard to get to the root of why he’s asking for this (although I feel that a frank conversation will flush it out). Is it because he wants a promotion or because he sees a gap in what the company is doing?

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I might be reading too far into it, but it read to me like his current role is, say, 25% each A, B, C and D. And he’s really into C&D. So he’s proposing he become a C&D specialist. Or possibly even just a C specialist. And he’ll do all the C.
      Except the way his role is structured right now is the way it is because they only have enough A, B, C and D to make up one role for one person. So there’s no way to make the role he wants exist because there’s literally not enough of that work to merit a position devoted to it.

  13. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (giving notice around a week long shutdown and a planning retreat) – this is difficult because there’s no gap between the week off and the planning. If there was any gap, even a day between them, that would be the time to do it. But “we are where we are”, so I think the best thing is to give notice either last thing before the week off and hope they pay for it, or first thing on the day of the planning.

    The thing to remember with the planning is that it’s putting in place a plan for the organisation, rather than for you as an individual. Presumably the things you commit to are for “the program manager” to do, rather than you specifically. So whoever steps into that role will likely benefit from a plan being already in place, rather than having to start from scratch. I assume they aren’t going to dismantle the whole program just because the person currently carrying out the role of “program manager” is leaving. It is the role, rather than you, planning the work.

    1. Awkwardness*

      I think so too. They should know it by the begin of the retreat so they have a chance to discuss the consequences to their organisation. Purpose of the retreat is planning and they have all staff on site and available for exactly this!
      Faking your way through the day and take this opportunity from them might burn some bridges.

    2. Sloanicota*

      FWIW I don’t think it would look at all strange for OP to come back from the week off with a new job, so that’s what I’d do. If I was the manager, I’d just assume OP used their week off to schedule the final interview and negotiate the offer – makes perfect sense to me. It’s not going to look like OP’s just trying to get that paid week.

    3. Snow Globe*

      I wonder if the LW has the ability to contact their boss during the week off. If so, maybe contacting the boss on the Friday before the retreat would be a good time to resign, with the explanation that the LW knows that Monday will be hectic at the retreat and they might not have a good opportunity to talk.

      1. Sloanicota*

        That’s a good point because I could imagine Monday morning being hectic and the boss, even if OP can get her attention, not having time to really think through the implications of having OP attend the retreat or not, and making a hasty decision.

    4. Banana Pyjamas*

      Okay so recently an employee gave their two weeks at the first day of a conference, which for us is one week of continuing education. Reactively, the department head, an elected official, created a reimbursement agreement, which requires employees to pay back 100% of associated costs if employment ends within 12 months of completing an educational opportunity, and 50% of associated costs if employment ends within 12-24 months of completion. The only exceptions are for layoffs and redundancy. Our state administrative code (not the same as state law) requires a certain amount of continuing education annually and biennially.

      My point is don’t be the person who causes an implosion. You won’t have to deal with the fallout, but all of your current coworkers will.

      1. OP #4*

        I’m curious if my situation is analogous to that example? In your example the company was paying for the educational opportunity with the intent of improving their workforce, but our mandatory week off is part of our compensation package- we get X paid sick days, Y federal holidays, a company-wide week off, and Z days of PTO to use at our own timing. I don’t see it as taking advantage of the company any more than it would be to use some of my accrued PTO days before giving notice, and wouldn’t expect it to burn a bridge, but that is part of what I was hoping folks would weigh in on so I’m open to hearing that I’m wrong!

      2. Zee*

        The department head is 100% responsible for causing the implosion, not the person who left for another job.

        1. JustaTech*

          Absolutely. There was a person in my department who put in their two week’s notice the week after getting back from a conference in a really nice location.
          Our head is still mad about it, to the point that I make sure that when I have suggested a conference it’s either in a not-amazing vacation destination, or the one time it was in a nice spot I made sure to reference the terrible weather.

          The thing is, the person who quit, you know she had signed up for that conference months in advance, and that she had very little control over the timeline of getting a new job. It was just bad luck that they lined up that way – it wasn’t like she got the job at the conference, or that she knew she was quitting and wanted to get a last-minute vacation.

          But you could never tell the Head that, he still thinks she did it on purpose to screw him over. Which is all him and nothing on her.

    5. OP #4*

      There’s a good chance they’ll have trouble replacing me – the position was unfilled for a year before I took it, and they just suspended the program for that time (it’s a very specialized role, paid well under market). I know that’s a company problem, not a me problem, but it does add one more layer of whole thing feeling fake.

  14. Allonge*

    LW3 – ok, so obviously you are not me, but in this situation I would be most upset about falling for this scam in the first place.

    No reasonable org recruits volunteers without spelling out that it’s an unpaid position. Similarly, any place that does unpaid internships should be upfront about this, and most are. But – I know this after 30+ years in the job market, and I was much less experienced when I was just graduating.

    So, maybe something to ponder: is what you need to get over really about losing an opportunity? As others said upthread, this does not really sound like a good one.

  15. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    On the unpaid role, the last paragraph in Alison’s letter is really key.

    There would almost certainly be other aspects to this job that were far from perfect. If they got you all the way to the point of an offer without telling you the role was unpaid, that tells you *so much* about how they would treat you.

    So maybe it helps to consider it as much more of a bullet dodged than a missed opportunity!

  16. Jane*

    I don’t think I’ve ever been in a gym where you could exercise in just a sports bra (or bare-chested for men)? I think it is more about hygiene than modesty, to prevent too much sweat on the equipment.

    1. WS*

      I haven’t been to many gyms, but bare-chested for men and sports bra for women seems pretty normal for me!

      1. Dressright*

        it’s not normal. Most gyms require shirts. so no guys go bare-chested and women who are working out in a sports bra and tight shorts are either trying to be a distraction or trying to be social media stars.

        1. metadata minion*

          That’s incredibly unkind to the LW. I see women jogging in shorts and a sports bra in my town all the time, and that’s not even in a gym setting.

        2. doreen*

          I think that might depend on the exact style. I’ve seen sports bras that mostly look like ordinary bras ( some parts are mesh, they hook in the back and they have adjustable bra straps ) and I’ve never seen someone wear one of those without a shirt. They types that looks like a shorter tank type – see those without a shirt all the time.

        3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          Gross. Keep your disgusting judgments to yourself. Someone else existing in public is not “distracting” you. If you can’t manage your pants feelings in public, you should stay home until you are not a menace.

          Also, clothing has no moral value, so you can drop “right” and “wrong” as well.

        4. Czhorat*

          I see women in sports bras in my gym all the time, and they all seem to be simply exercising. Lifting weights, running on a treadmill, that kind of thing.

          Nobody is “trying to be a distraction”.

          This kind of thinking is why LW1 has concerns about wearing normal, comfortable clothes to the gym.

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          Women who are working out in a sports bra and tight shorts are either trying to be a distraction or trying to be social media stars.
          This is just silly, and an ugly sentiment. They are wearing clothing that is comfortable to exercise in. This is different from the clothing they wear for other activities.

          I wear a swimsuit at the gym. Most of the guys in the pool have bare chests! Some are in their 80s, and some are teenagers. Some are buff; some are pretty round.

          During the pandemic I was one of the youngest members of the hard-core “I physically can’t just take longer walks, so thank god the pool is open again” folk. (About a third of the regulars, with another third hard-core athletes who swam, and another third families with little kids.) We didn’t go around saying “That woman is swimming in a 2-piece! That man is bare-chested!” We bonded over how it was a tough time for everyone.

        6. Doctor Fun!*

          This is a fun way to learn that the Planet Fitness I patronize in a Midwestern suburb is “not normal”. Every day that I’m there, I see other women dressed in exactly the same workout gear that OP1 describes. No one’s recording themselves or making a spectacle — they’re just there to work out. What a weird, judgmental, off-base comment to make here.

        7. Nancy*

          A sports bra and shorts are normal gym clothes and are perfectly acceptable. Trust me, my middle aged self is not trying to be a social media star when exercising.

        8. LaurCha*

          Oh, nonsense. There are a LOT of gyms where this attire is totally normal. What a rude and judgmental attitude! You don’t know every gym in the world. How can you say you know what’s normal everyhere?

        9. Tea*

          “who are working out in a sports bra and tight shorts are either trying to be a distraction or trying to be social media stars.”

          I don’t recall Alison hanging a “all incels welcome!” Shingle on her blog at any point in time.

        10. Nope*

          Lol, yeah, all those track stars at the Olympics in short shorts – totally just doing it for the attention. Couldn’t possibly be any other reason.


        11. But what to call me?*

          What in the world???

          Working out is usually a hot, sweaty activity. Less fabric covering your skin = less stuff to retain heat and sweat. You really can’t see a reason why someone would choose to wear clothes that only cover the minimum allowable body parts (the same parts we cover when swimming) except to be a distraction or a social media star? If that was the case, no one would ever work out at home alone in only a sports bra. Personally, I don’t like strangers seeing my stomach, so I wear something longer but light and moisture-wicking to the gym, but you’d better believe that when I’m working out at home on a hot summer day that shirt is coming off.

          There might be some variation between gyms regarding what level of torso-covering is required or typical, but plenty of people choose their workout clothes primarily based on what they find comfortable.

          1. But what to call me?*

            Though if they do think they look good in a sports bra and short shorts and they happen to be at a gym where that’s a common thing to wear, what’s wrong with that? I don’t like how either of those looks on my body, but I love finding a gym outfit that is both comfortable to work out in and makes me look good. If I’m going to be staring at myself in a mirror while I struggle through 45 minutes or so of exercise then why shouldn’t I like what I see?

        12. Observer*

          and women who are working out in a sports bra and tight shorts are either trying to be a distraction or trying to be social media stars.

          Well, that’s obviously not the case for the LW. There is absolutely NOTHING in the letter to indicate that she’s ignoring gym rules, on the one hand. And on the other someone who dresses “modestly” in the office and is wondering if her clothing will trigger double standards is a pretty solid indicator that she is NOT dressing out of the norm in that gym.

          The fact that the gyms *you* have gone required a shirt does not change that. Nor does that fact mean that women who break that rule are trying to tempt you!

        13. Maggie*

          It absolutely IS normal at least in many places. You are the one with outdated views and expectations

        14. JustaTech*

          The 75 year old lady on the weight machine was trying to “distract” the 60 year old gay dudes on the free weights.
          Come on.

          The only thing the shirtless dudes and sports bar/ bike shorts women in the spin class are thinking about is how not to puke.

      2. not like a regular teacher*

        Sounds like this is very region- and perhaps gym-specific. I used to go to a gym that lots of hip young people went to and sports bras/bare chests were extremely common. I now go to a different gym in the same city and almost never see anyone without a shirt.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I think gyms vary significantly depending on the clientele and the image they want to portray. Places that are very weight centric tend to have patrons in different clothes from places that are very into yoga classes.

        2. Antilles*

          It might vary by the gym, but I’ve seen attire like OP describes at pretty much every gym I’ve ever been to. And we’re talking gyms ranging from exclusive gyms in hip areas to Crossfit gyms in residential suburbia to a generic LA Fitness next to a business park. The ‘typical’ attire does seems to vary based on the gym, but OP’s apparel wouldn’t be so far out of line at any gym I’ve ever been.

    2. Nebula*

      In my gym lots of people will just wear a sports bra. Bare-chested men is rarer but still there. You’re expected to wipe the equipment down after you use it regardless of what you’re wearing, to address your point there about hygiene.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      In 25 years of gym-ratting, I’ve seen only a tiny minority of women in sports bras but never seen bare chests in a gym; one UK gym had a sign on the weights room door “no bare chests, gentlemen please” so presumably this had once been a problem and they assumed women wouldn’t ever do this.

      1. HHD*

        I dunno, my (UK) gyms have always skewed towards the basic or performance (I am mostly a weightlifter) and, largely because of what’s actually available, women and femme-presenting humans are definitely moving towards crop-tops either on top of or as a sports bra and have been for about 5 years.

        It’s genuinely tricky to buy wicking-fabriced athletic wear that’s a length which won’t show at least a couple of cms of midriff while you’re lifting, twisting, running or however else you’re moving your body, and we shouldn’t be judging folks for this. That said, whoever decided that surprise backlessness is a feature we need in sportswear can go to the bad place!

      2. Czhorat*

        I think we can take LW at her word and assume that leggings and a sports bra are perfectly normal attire at the gym at which she works out.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’ve seen women in only sports bras and shorts in every gym I’ve been to in the past ten years. My daughter works for a company that makes workout gear; she gets paid to go to gym classes wearing the clothes and she wears a sports bra and capris. It’s got nothing to do with “trying to be a distraction” or with social media. She lives in a warm climate. She does a tough workout. She’s trying to stay as comfortable as possible.

    5. MK*

      I have never seen a bar-chested man in a jym, but “sports bra” can mean a) actual underwear that is comfortable to excercise in and is worn with another layer or b) an excercise top that is worn on its own, that has the general shape of a bra, but it covers more, as it has wider straps, usually reaches the midway point between the chest and the bellybutton and is of much thicker materials.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I don’t know why this is phrased as though the equivalent of a sports bra for men is a bare chest. The equivalent would be a cropped tank. There are some sports-bras that read as underwear/being shirtless but most of them are small but substantial – it’s basically a crop top. That’s going to be fine in any casual gym.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      It depends on the gym.

      I am now going to a crossfit gym in the deep south that has no A/C. Nothing is going to stop the sweat dripping everywhere starting a month from now and lasting for 6. There’s not a ton of bare chested men or only a sports bra women, but sometimes it happens.

      Also with what we do I do wear yoga shorts (skin tight) and a tight fitting top. It’s cooler and easier to work out in than anything loose fitting.

      It’s can be all about wearing what is most appropriate and comfortable (and safe) to wear in the gym than attracting anyone’s gaze.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      But I will agree with Jane that some gyms will require patrons wear a shirt. And it could very well be that way in all gyms she has frequented. I live in the deep south; it will be hot, humid, and sweaty very soon. People definitely run outside without shirts / only is sports bras and it never occurs to me that they are trying to attract attention.

      Although shirts/tops can be skimpy for both men and women often in different ways a sports bra with bare midriff (which is what I think of as a sports bra) would not qualify as a shirt in my mind as a shirt for the purposes of “patrons must wear a shirt.”

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I consider it normal for my gym, which has a wide range of folks exercising in a wide range of gear. There are alcohol wipes available, and you are expected to wipe down any surfaces you sweat on after your workout. (And of course, can take a wipe to the machine before you work out, as well.)

      If you’re sweating enough to soak through a loose T-shirt, well, you’re sweating enough to soak through the loose T-shirt.

    10. RagingADHD*

      A sports bra is not the equivalent of being bare-chested. It is the equivalent of wearing a sleeveless shirt (which I see plenty of on guys at the gym).

      The hygiene component is taken care of by wiping down the equipment, which is a standard expectation in every gym I’ve been to in many years, no matter what people are wearing. If someone is sweating, it’s going to soak through their clothes anyway.

      Honestly, if you are going to a gym where nobody wipes down the seats and there’s no cleaning wipes or spray provided, that is really gross. Don’t you even wipe down before using it yourself?

    11. My Brain is Exploding*

      My gym requires no bare midriffs, men must wear shirts (and not those sleeveless shirts are cut so deep their nipples show.

      1. Maggie*

        Is your gym religiously affiliated or something? I’ve never heard of such an old fashioned dress code for a gym!

    12. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      The gym I used to go to was fine with women (including me) exercising in sports bras without a(nother) shirt, and with men exercising in sleeveless shirts; bare chests were not allowed, for any gender. The signs about hygiene were about wiping the equipment down after using it. A longer shirt would make me sweat more, not less.

      1. Emily Byrd Starr*

        That’s the same code at my gym (Planet Fitness). I admit that I occasionally sneak a peek at those buff guys in tank tops that show off their big toned biceps (after all, I’m only human) but I do it discreetly and keep the “he looks hot!” thoughts in my head.

    13. Maggie*

      I’ve never been to a gym where people didn’t almost exclusively do what you say you’ve never seen. So I guess it varies widely! I would say 95% of women at my studio workout in just a sports bra and I legitimately cannot recall the last time I saw a male with his shirt on.

  17. Attractive Nuisance*

    LW1 – it isn’t an official company gym in the sene of a discount. There’s another option here: join a different gym where you won’t have to worry about what you wear.

    1. TechWorker*

      I mean that is an option but if the gym is convenient and otherwise works well it’s a bit annoying to add more travelling into your day.

    2. Workerbee*

      Puts even more of the onus and inconvenience on LW #1, though, doesn’t it, to try to manage all the possibilities of where a male coworker’s eyeballs might be and the thoughts behind them?

    3. HonorBox*

      Nope. Wear what you want to wear. OP shouldn’t have to do something that inconveniences herself even more.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      If there is one thing the above threads make clear, it is that some people would like women to worry about what they wear at all times, lest they draw attention and force the helpless people around them to comment on their bodies.

      If this is the gym with the best mix of location and offerings, OP should go here. Location is huge–a gym right next to someplace you go every day gets used a lot more than one farther away.

  18. bamcheeks*

    LW, assuming this an employee you want to train and invest in, explaining the difference between “I can see a space for this role in our team and it would help us so much” and “this role would bring sufficient surplus value to the organisation that it should be prioritised over other possible roles” — ie. a business case — is a really good thing you can do for him! I do a lot of work with recent graduates, and the shift from seeing your own or your team’s work as a thing that stands by itself and exists just because of course it does, to something that is a conscious decision by the organisation because of how it contributes to the broader mission or goal, is a really big shift that people usually have to make in their first 2-5 years. This is a really good learning point!

    Hopefully there are other promotion pathways from his current role that he could be looking at, and you can be upfront with him about the broader knowledge and experience he needs to get over the next 1-2 years to be eligible for them. This is a perfectly reasonable conversation to have with an employee, and you can learn a lot from them about how they respond to it and whether they do go and put in that work.

    Do of course bear in mind that it’s possible that another company WILL see the value in the role he’s proposing, and he might leave to go and do it somewhere else. You haven’t said whether the role is a complete non-starter (“how do I get hired to be an ideas man”) or whether it’s a reasonable-ish idea that just doesn’t quite meet the bar for a business case in this organisation. But that isn’t necessarily a case for doing it either.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      early career employee who has been in his current role for two years. He would like to be promoted into a role that he’s written for himself. It’s a role that doesn’t exist in our industry or our organization.

      Just tell him this is not possible. This attitude seems quite naïve. He wrote a job description for the exact job he wants but for a role that doesn’t exist in the organization or industry he’s in and he’s trying (???) to get his boss to support it as his career path? That’s ridiculous.

      Of course the boss can be kinder here. If this is the employee’s dream job he’ll have to change industries eventually. But perhaps he can move a bit in that direction with the current job. But while not unheard of it is very rare for new jobs to be created for an employee rather than for the business need of the company.

      Boss needs to explain to this this young employee about what is possible career growth and career path at their organization and letting know what he’s talking about is basically impossible. I don’t even understand why this letter is written as if this a fraught conversation. It shouldn’t be.

      1. bamcheeks*

        It is naive, but it’s ok to be naive when you’re junior! That’s the difference between knowing how things work and not knowing how things work. If he’s otherwise a good employee, LW might well want to find a way to do this in a way that isn’t going to impact his motivation or squash him down too much. You can turn it into a positive learning experience rather than a negative one.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          And you can couple it with a discussion of opportunities that will be available to him–whether in a year or four, depending on his career goals and interests. That allows him to look at what he proposed in light of what the company actually offers (and thus needs). Maybe in 4 years he moves into a different track where he incorporates some of the things he’s proposing now, but he understands more of the details of it to fit into the company goals.

  19. bamcheeks*

    LW1, this is absolutely up to you. You’re 100% not doing anything wrong by wearing your normal exercise clothes for exercising. Some people are going to be weird about it. Whether you want to change what you wear so that they are less likely to be weird about it (bearing in mind that there is almost nothing a woman can wear that *someone* won’t be weird about), or decide that they’re going to be weird and it’s not your problem, is something you can only decide for yourself.

    Try both. See you which you feel comfortable in. Change your mind later if you want. There is no right answer, just what works for you.

    1. But what to call me?*

      Or maybe no one will even be weird about it at all! There are certainly people out there who might be, but they aren’t so common that OP is guaranteed to have some at her organization who decide to be weird about her in particular, especially if it’s a gym where those are common things to wear. And, yeah, the people who would be weird about that are likely to find something to be weird about regardless of what OP decides to do.

  20. Nebula*

    I’m very disappointed at the number of comments already on this thread saying the LW1 should change what she wears at the gym. She is wearing normal gym attire to the gym. That really should be the end of the discussion. And to anyone who says “But the men she works with who go there will notice and talk about her” – actually there are plenty of men who are capable of not creeping on their colleagues because they happen to see them wearing workout gear. The ones who will be weird about it would likely be weird whatever she was wearing. Does it really need spelling out that what a woman wears doesn’t actually cause someone to sexually harass her? That she could be wearing a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants and the guy who wants to objectify her will do it anyway? Wear what you feel comfortable in LW, Alison’s advice is spot on.

    1. bamcheeks*

      It’s so interesting how many comments say obscure things like, “may affect you” or “will be outcomes” as if these things are like, weather, and not *people making a choice to treat a colleague differently because of what she wears to the gym*.

  21. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #3 Disgraceful not to state in the ad if an internship is unpaid
    (or in the first contact if there is no ad)

  22. Zarniwoop*

    #1 How are the other women in the gym dressed? If you don’t want to be talked about, try to look unremarkable.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Riiight. Because women can always control what other people say about us by adjusting how we dress. It has nothing – absolutely nothing, I tell you – to do with assumptions and projections. It’s entirely within our control. You’ve solved it!

      1. Observer*

        Because women can always control what other people say about us by adjusting how we dress.

        That’s not the point. But assuming that you are dealing with reasonable people, if you wear stuff that’s solidly in the range of what others are wearing, you won’t stand out and you won’t give anyone a reason to look twice.

        Based on the way the question was asked, it sounds like the LW is dealing with fairly normal adults so if she’s wearing something unremarkable, no one will remark.

        On the other hand, if she’s dealing with creepy idiots, it’s not going to matter what she wears. So the LW needs to make a judgement based on what she knows about her office.

    2. 20 Points for the Copier*

      I agree that it will probably feel more comfortable if you’re wearing something typical of that gym’s clientele. Obviously, we can’t shut down the worst of the creeps, but if the OP’s concern is seeming like she’s dressed inappropriately, matching the dress code of most gymgoers will help counter that.

      If everyone else is wearing leggings and singlets or t-shirts, then a crop top or sports bra without a shirt will seem a little more revealing in comparison. But if that’s just the general way people dress at that gym (based on activity level, who goes there, etc.) it’s much less likely anyone would see it as out of place (or, more importantly, that you would feel out of place if someone from work walked in).

      1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

        Then do that! “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is reasonable advice in most situations.

      2. OnyxChimney*

        Then OP won’t stand out will she?

        I swear the comments are like a junkyard dog with a bone in the gym clothes one. Seeing a lot of negativity that isn’t there in good faith comments like Zarniewoop’s.

    3. Friendo*

      LW1 is not asking for advice on knowing what’s appropriate to wear to gyms generally. She’s a human in her twenties, she knows how to obtain context from her surroundings.

  23. Lightbourne Elite*

    A lot of misogyny and internalized misogyny so far in the comments. A note: if you have thoughts about what another person wears to the gym, that’s a you problem.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Well, and conditioned fear of misogyny. I feel like a lot of the comments are in “better safe than sorry” territory. We should be able to wear what we want… someday, but not today.

      We obviously can’t know what other people think, but women are constantly being told we’re the problem if men “can’t” control themselves. We are so used to accepting being judged that the idea that we can just not worry about it seems impossible.

      1. Lightbourne Elite*

        Oh absolutely. And if an individual woman wants to live by a “better safe than sorry” credo she can do that. But pushing it on other women is absolutely still projecting misogyny into others. Each individual woman should get to decide how much she’s willing to compromise to stay “safer”.

        “Safer” very much in quotes because modesty has never actually protected anyone.

        1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

          This is an advice column website chat section. Nobody is “pushing” anything on anybody else. That’s just how many of us feel safest…even if the emphasis is on “feel.”

          1. Lightbourne Elite*

            Plenty of people are indeed telling LW to dress by THEIR definition of appropriate and “safe” and implying that women who do otherwise are attention seeking.

    2. la vida loca*

      more like a lot of people with office politics experience that know that what’s fair and just often diverges from what really happens in the workplace

      so yeah, wear what you want in the gym, but don’t act surprised if the outcomes don’t match your expectations. smh

      1. Amh*

        This framing really bothers me. The assumption that OP would be unreasonable if she were surprised to learn coworkers she thought were decent were creeps is uncomfortably similar to the “what were you wearing,” or “shouldn’t have been walking after dark” mindsets.

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        This is the misogyny that was mentioned. “Don’t act surprised…” is excusing men’s bad behavior and blaming it on the woman who did nothing to deserve it.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        Honestly, I think people should act surprised when people behave in appallingly misogynist ways. We shouldn’t be normalising that. Could it happen? Sure. There are a lot of people who are extremely misogynistic.

        But we should always act surprised when people don’t behave in a way that’s fair. How else are they going to learn? If people don’t act surprised, then that is telling them that the way they are behaving is normal and acceptable when it’s not. “Acting surprised” when people don’t behave fairly is the first step to making people realise that their behaviour is not acceptable and maybe encouraging them to change.

        Saying “don’t act surprised” is basically saying, “yeah, we know people don’t behave correctly so we have to mollycoddle then and never act like their behaviour is unfair because that might hurt their little feelings.”

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          And yes, there are workplaces where it would be unsafe to show surprise and in those cases, it is perfectly reasonable if a woman hides her disapproval. But the LW is the best judge of whether it is safe to “act surprised” and whether this is likely to make her coworkers re-evaluate their behaviour or more likely to put her at risk of retaliation.

        2. But what to call me?*

          Yeah, and honestly, in many of the places I’ve worked, I would be surprised if someone acted like that, especially if they didn’t face any negative social consequences for it, because it would be pretty far outside the team and organization’s cultural norms. That’s not to say that misogynistic behavior never occurred there, but it was seen more as ‘wow, what a weirdly mean thing to do/is this guy from the 60s or something?’ than ‘of course guys are going to do this unfortunately normal thing’. It’s useful to treat bad behavior as the violation of social norms that it is/should be.

        3. bamcheeks*

          I think people should act surprised when people behave in appallingly misogynist ways

          YES. And let’s also be clear that it’s not unspecified ~*~outcomes~*~, it’s people choosing to judge a woman based on what she’s wearing to exercise in and acting on that judgment, and how we talk about that determines whether we normalise it or stigmatise it. It is not fckin weather.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          We know people don’t behave correctly so we have to mollycoddle them.
          This is really well-phrased about how the unreasonable people get the mollycoddling by the power of being unreasonable and terrible people, when we should be mollycoddling the people they attack.

    3. ABC*

      It’s pretty clear that some of those commenters haven’t been to a gym or worked out in ages or possibly ever. Women don’t work out in just a sports bra? Yes they do, all the time. Just wear oversized clothes? Impractical and even dangerous for certain types of exercise. Everyone at the gym will be staring at you? The vast majority of gymgoers are way too deep into their own heads during exercise to even think about other people.

      Definitely some weird, disappointing stuff happening here today.

      1. Maggie*

        I think a lot of commenters here skew older and a lot more conservative than they might think they are. Literally everyone works out in sports bras or shirtless and they have since like…. The 90s?

    4. Doctor Fun!*

      I’m genuinely appalled to see so much “advice” here that boils down to “shrink yourself down so no one sees you, cover yourself from neck to toes like a good woman, don’t do anything that might draw attention to you”. The ick is unbearable.

      1. ABC*

        Letters about the gym always bring out a bunch of commenters dumping their own weird personal issues on the LW.

      2. Student*

        Your sneering attitude over choices we make to protect ourselves is just so insulting. How about we get more direct for you, since you don’t understand (or are willfully trying to ignore) the subtext of all this advice:

        For women of most age groups, the people most likely to attack you are men. Specifically, men that you know are more likely to attack you than men that are strangers. This is sometimes a very difficult concept for men to understand, because for men, strangers are more dangerous than people they know. Generally, men in the same/similar demographics as you are more likely to attach you than men from different demographics.

        People are more likely to attack you if they have more opportunity. People are more likely to attack you if you are more visible/obvious/eye-catching. It’s easier to attack somebody at/after/near a gym than at work in many situations.

        Let’s keep going with brutal reality: many of us have already been attacked by men we know. Including me. Many times. Sometimes it’s a physical attack. Sometimes it’s verbal. Sometimes it’s professional.

        So, yes, a lot of us opt to minimize the chances we might be attacked by men we know, and advise each other about how to avoid getting attacked.

        If I were in the OP’s shoes (and I have been!), then I would pick a different gym and wear what is comfortable for my exercise there, where there are less men that know me. Gyms are a dime a dozen in my area. It really doesn’t sound like this one is special, other than it’s on one end of the commute. Check to see if there are other gyms convenient along your commute route.

        I work in a male-dominated field; some of them are scumbags who have actually attacked me or may plausibly attack me. I don’t want to give them more opportunities or ammunition. Because, guess what? I live in a sexist society. I know from practical experience that I cannot actually get justice against most men if they attack me (…and so do they…). I don’t like getting attacked. I’d rather not even have to think about it while exercising – it degrades my exercise experience. I, personally, get a better work out in at a different gym where I don’t have to worry if Creepy Jason from the Llama Account might show up.

        That said, it is completely legitimate for women in this situation, like the OP, to choose to keep both the gym and the comfortable work out clothes, or to switch up work-out clothing to try to avoid being targets, or any other decision they make. I don’t think they all need to choose the same way I do. It’s about risk tolerance, and the woman’s own assessment of the risks to her from the people she works with.

        It’s just grandly naive, or willfully cruel, to pretend her decisions have no trade-offs and no risks to consider and no impacts to her. It’s nice to say that, in a perfect world, she shouldn’t have to spend any time thinking about it – but we are nowhere close to inhabiting that world.

        Your victim blaming about us trying to navigate the real world we actually inhabit is just appalling. Get angry at the men who attack us – not at the women trading tips about how to avoid attacks.

        1. Lightbourne Elite*

          “I don’t want to give them more opportunities or ammunition.”

          Being a woman is all the ammunition predators need. There is no consistent method to avoid attacks from predators. You’re the one victim blaming here by implying there’s a standard safety method we can utilize to avoid being hurt, especially once revolving around CLOTHING of all things.

        2. ABC*

          Your victim blaming about us trying to navigate the real world

          What in the world? You’re the one victim blaming by saying the LW should change her clothes or even change gyms to avoid physical assaults!

        3. AngryOctopus*

          “Go to a different gym so that men who now know you from work won’t attack you” is the hottest take of all hot takes I’ve ever seen.

        4. Maggie*

          Men will try to attack you no matter what you do tbh so you might as well wear a comfortable sports bra or whatever

        5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          ‘Don’t go to where men hang out and don’t wear revealing clothing and you’ll be safe’ is one of the WORST takes I’ve ever seen here.

    5. tabloidtained*

      Sure, but we live in the real world, where other people’s thoughts about other people can have real world impacts. And it’s not fair to anyone to pretend that’s not the case.

      1. Lightbourne Elite*

        The LW has never indicated she isn’t prepared for that. There is a huge difference between “dress in a way that is comfortable for you, just be aware that some morons will judge you for it” and “dress to appease the morons or else!”

      2. bamcheeks*

        Other people’s thoughts *can’t* hurt you. Other people’s speech and actions can. Let’s stop minimising the agency of people who choose to harm women or their careers because they don’t like what they’re wearing.

      3. Parakeet*

        Right but there are people all over these comments pretending that “sports bra or crop top and tight shorts” haven’t been completely normal gymwear for decades. It’s so bizarre to me that anyone (let alone several people) is treating this like LW would be making some daring, non-standard decision that she should understand might have consequences, for wearing completely normal gymwear at the gym.

        In my experience, those who are going to be weird and inappropriate about your body, either in work or personal contexts, will do so regardless of what you wear to the gym or anywhere else.

  24. doreen*

    #3 – I’m wondering if this is an unpaid internship or if it’s a volunteer opportunity. Because if it was a volunteer thing , I can see the people running the organization assuming it’s the sort of position that “everyone knows” is volunteer, even if it isn’t and even though they shouldn’t assume any particular person knows that.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Not for profits do this a lot, and they get away with it because, legally, they are allowed to have unpaid volunteers.

    2. Observer*

      I can see the people running the organization assuming it’s the sort of position that “everyone knows” is volunteer,

      Nope. I work in the sector, and internships that are unpaid should be clearly labelled as such. And a volunteer opportunity must be labelled properly as well. You do not call something a “job” or an “opportunity” if it’s a volunteer position or an unpaid internship.

      1. doreen*

        I’m not saying it shouldn’t be clearly labeled – it absolutely should . But we really don’t know how it was labeled at all and I can see the people at a not-very-large animal shelter or something similar just assuming that “everyone knows we are completely volunteer” . They shouldn’t but I absolutely know people who would just assume that.

  25. HonorBox*

    OP3 – I think it is going to make your life easier if you look at the opportunity you had to turn down as one that wasn’t going to be great. They didn’t disclose a very important detail to you, and if they’re not going to be upfront about that kind of thing, there is probably more that you’d run into that is even sketchier. You can be disappointed for sure, but remember that they’ve acted in a less than ideal way in the “courting” phase and you’ve learned a lot about who they are already.

    OP4 – I agree with the advice completely. There may be good reason that they want you at the retreat, so give them the opportunity to tell you that. But timing a departure is never perfect and the cards are in your favor here.

  26. Czhorat*

    I see women in sports bras in my gym all the time, and they all seem to be simply exercising. Lifting weights, running on a treadmill, that kind of thing.

    Nobody is “trying to be a distraction”.

    This kind of thinking is why LW1 has concerns about wearing normal, comfortable clothes to the gym.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I regularly go to the swimming pool for hydrotherapy sessions and there’s people I know there. Swimming attire is pretty much always skintight!

      And yet the men don’t stare, the women don’t stare. If what you’re wearing is acceptable for a swimming pool then I do not see the problem.

  27. BW*

    #4. I remember sitting in a morning meeting with a client where he went over in complete detail how Canadian taxes work so I could program them into the software I supported. I confess to not taking very good notes, because I was just waiting for my boss to come into the office so I could hand in my resignation.

    My recommendation is to take the free time off, and then hand in your resignation after you come back into the office. It sounds like you may have to fake your way through the Monday retreat, since there won’t be time to hand in your resignation before the retreat. Then on Tuesday or Wednesday, tell your boss that something unexpected came up and you must resign. You simply had no idea this would happen on Monday or you would have said something earlier. Lie your ass off and don’t tell them what’s really happening. It’s private and you cannot discuss it. Your senior bosses have a history of being spiteful, so don’t tell them anything.

    1. BW*

      In other words, make sure you’ve gotten paid for that free week off, and then hand in your resignation.

  28. Czhorat*

    My last was a nesting fail, but as a man I want to give my honest thoughts to LW1.

    I go to the gym four or five days a week. There are women who wear sports bras, leggings, shorts, normal gymwear. There are guys who wear tank tops. Everyone appears to be there for the same reason – to get some exercise in before continuing their day. That’s it.

    If you’re a normal guy, you don’t stare. Just be normal.

    There’s a group here in NYC called the “Coed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society”. They’re mix-gender reading group that hangs around outside without shirts on; they’ve gotten their share of creeps over the years, but also many times when people chat with them about books and not the fact that their breasts were visible. You get the feeling that the people who creep on them are just creeps; normal people either ignore them or make perfect eye contact.

    My point isn’t that LW should go topless around her work area, but that she’s a human with a human body. If people are going to be creepy about it, they’ll be creepy whether you’re wearing a burqua or a bikini.

    1. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      “ If you’re a normal guy, you don’t stare. Just be normal.” Except let’s be honest, both at the gym and out of it, basic human biology is going to lead many guys to stare at women they deem attractive (clothing may have something to do with that) and vice versa, women will stare at men they like too. Some will go further than staring. I’ve seen plenty of men approach women at the gym to strike up conversation, it does happen, women start chatting up the guys sometimes too. Some people will say that’s “creeping,” some I guess would say it’s normal human nature. To pretend all that doesn’t happen or couldn’t happen at the gym isn’t being realistic IMO from what I’ve seen. OP should be able to just feel confident in what she chooses to wear but I guess also be prepared for what to do if another human (coworker or not) dares to interact with her.

      1. Lightbourne Elite*

        Self-control is possible despite your “basic biology”. Do not use that as an excuse.

      2. honeygrim*

        Basic biology may lead someone to *look* at a person they are attracted to. But only rudeness would lead them to *stare.*

        1. Csethiro Ceredin*

          Agreed. Anyone may notice something they find attractive, but anyone can also then look away.

          I think acting like a lack of self-control is normal for men because of their innate biology does everyone a disservice.

      3. Czhorat*

        Eh. I met the Coed Topless group once; they were in the same park as my noon juggling group. I actually stopped and chatted with them about books and made eye-contact the entire time; it isn’t difficult.

        At the gym I’ll *see* what people are wearing, but for the most part I’m looking at myself in the mirror, straight off into the middle distance, at one of the TV’s on the wall. There’s no reason to stare, and most people aren’t at the gym to be “picked up” (that doesn’t really apply to me because I’ve been married for over two decades; when I was single I didn’t try to pick women up at random places where they were simply existing and not looking for mates. I met my wife via an online personal ad).

      4. Friendo*

        “basic human biology is going to lead many guys to stare at women they deem attractive”

        I mean, you’re just admitting here that this isn’t about the clothing.

      5. Ellis Bell*

        I don’t expect people to not notice others, or never be attracted to others, but in a lot of cases, it should be something that’s kept to oneself. The gym, unless it’s a type of gym where there’s a big culture of socialising, isn’t really a pick up joint. There’s a reason why so many women opt for women-only gyms and it’s because in the OP sat gyms have been lax on cracking down on pick up culture and the women were only going the gym because they actually like to work out. No one wants to start getting hit on by the same after work crowd, after they’ve just plonked down a membership fee. I could see “approaching” someone if there was some activity in common creating a genuine rapport but no one should be getting approached in a gym purely because they’re wearing gym clothes. That’s not the message the clothes are sending; the message is “I’m busy”.

  29. Falling Diphthong*

    For OP3, AAM FanFic! What else did the company not reveal about the job?

    • Not only was the location an hour away, it was on a portal to the netherworlds and zombies were a significant problem.

  30. RagingADHD*

    LW#3, it may help you to handle your disappointment if you stop thinking of this as “a job opportunity,” because it was not a job.

    It was volunteering. And you just aren’t in a position right now to make that big of a commitment to a volunteer activity — few people are.

    They completely misrepresented the role, and in all likelihood it would not have helped your future career in the ways you believed it would. Organizations that mislead students to get free labor are not known for providing substantive career opportunities, but rather the opposite.

    1. Ama*

      Yup, I would be concerned that it would be the kind of place that dangles “maybe we’ll be able to move you to full time in a few months” for as long as they can and then acts shocked when OP3 finally has to quit so they can be paid for their time.

      1. RagingADHD*

        My guess would be that it’s an arts organization, that has a reputation for having notable visiting artists (who are getting paid) and also uses local students (unpaid) to do the grunt work. The draw would be the opportunity to network with these visiting artists and put the organization’s name on your resume.

        Some people who “pay their dues” with this type of volunteer work do in fact go on to have successful careers in the arts, because there are thousands of people doing it every year, and by the law of averages some of them will eventually become successful. But it usually isn’t because of any connection they made there, nor is it because of the resume entry (which is a dime a dozen because they churn through students every season). It’s because the successful people are persistent, find a sustainable way to keep working in the field, and apply the lessons they learned to avoid being exploited in the future.

  31. meanmedianmode*

    Re: #4 – what is the legal structure around the ‘earned’ pay from the week of mandated PTO? Is OP guaranteed to receive the pay as long as they were in normal status during the week, or could it be legally permissible for the company to deny pay for that week retroactively?
    (Should OP weigh that risk as a consideration in favor of waiting until the paycheck for that week is issued?)

    1. OP #4*

      I would love to hear thoughts on this too! Some factors that might be relevant:
      * I’m in a state that requires employers to pay out PTO when you leave, but I don’t know if a company-wide week off falls under that policy since it doesn’t accrue over time in a standard way
      * Employee handbook excerpts about the mandatory week off: Salaried employees who have been employed for at least 90 days (me) are eligible to receive pay for the week when the company is shut down
      If an employee is experiencing difficulty meeting deadlines, this week is subject to approval (presumably not retroactively though, right?)
      If an employee resigns, they must work their final two weeks to allow for transition; vacation days, sick days, and the shut-down week cannot be used during the two-week notice period.

  32. Sometimes maybe*

    Arrrg, I wish we all lived in a perfect world, where everyone could wear what they want at any given time, and that there is always a heavy immovable line between work you and personal you. But, In my experience if you share space with co-workers outside of the office, their image of you will be altered. Should it be so…no, but it usually is. I see some of my coworkers at parent events because our kids go to the same school, and there is one coworker who has a lot of face piercings, which I would not have known about only from the office. Even seeing him regularly both inside and outside work, my mental image of him always now consists of the face ornamentation. For me it doesn’t alter my impression of his work, but he might not want me to have that mental image of him while trying to be professional.

    1. metadata minion*

      That’s definitely true, but if coworkers see me at the gym, I’m going to feel just as awkward about them seeing me make weird faces while trying to hold a stretch, or trip over the weight machine. There’s really no way to avoid that, and either the LW’s coworkers are going to be decent people and thus get over the shared moment of awkward about seeing each other in exercise gear after the second or third time it happens, or they’re going to be the kind of creep who’s going to be creepy no matter what.

      1. mreasy*

        This is a great point. I would also prefer my coworkers not see my truly bananas workout faces & grunts (my TRAINER told me my faces are especially memorable). If your coworkers aren’t mature enough to let gym stuff stay at the gym, they are certainly going to be judgmental in other ways.

  33. Belle8bete*

    I work in fitness. I know a lot about fitness clothes, and I’ve been in situations where fitness overlapped with other parts of my life and image is a consideration. I also have different standards for what I wear when I am working out vs teaching, if I’m at a gym I work at or somewhere else.

    In this LW’s case, I would acknowledge to myself that my choice in clothes could impact how someone else thinks of me. That’s just a thing. You can ignore it or decide to implement that in your decision.

    If you asked me, I would not suggest wearing the super butt revealing tik tok leggings or a super tiny bra top. Those things are okay (I mean personally I think the pants are a great way to get an infection but let’s not go there) but I would not wear them to a training session if I thought colleagues would be there, especially non fitness industry colleagues. I would tell a male that they should wear a shirt, too. And perhaps if they like to wear super intense tiny compression shorts they should be sure they have things…under control with their undergarments (which should be the case working out anyway).

    My point is there is so much active wear out there that you have utter control over how much to show without sacrificing functionality of your fitness gear.

    1. metadata minion*

      There’s no indication from the letter than the shorts are particularly tiny. There are lots of fitness shorts that are tight-fitting but go to mid-thigh, and that’s a completely normal thing to wear when exercising. Same thing with the bra — why are you assuming it’s a tiny one rather than a more standard sports bra which typically covers more than a regular bra does?

      1. Angstrom.*

        Well, OP said “somewhat revealing”, with no context as to “compared to office clothes” or “compared to typical workout clothes.”
        As Belle8bete said, shorts & a bra top can cover a wide range of looks. There’s athleisure stuff that would get attention in a lot of gyms, and no-nonsense workout stuff that wouldn’t get a second glance.

        1. Friendo*

          I think we can assume LW1 is able to determine what is appropriate for her gym because that isn’t what she’s asking about and wouldn’t be the blog for it anyway. She’s specifically asking about the added workplace context.

    2. Belle8bete*

      I’m not, and that wasn’t my point.

      I’m just stating that of workout shorts out there, there’s a range of revealing or “butt cleavage depicting” as I like to think of it. I would, personally, not pick the most butt revealing of shorts around colleagues, but that’s a personal choice. I made no assumptions about what the LW is wearing.

      I’m saying it’s not all or nothing. Folks seem to think either you wear short shorts or baggy clothes which will impede your work out. But that’s just not the case.

      There are so many options now, it’s amazing. And affordable options like never before. So any level of revealing you want to do, there’s outfits out there for you that won’t get in the way.

      I pointed it out because it seems people aren’t aware that there are now options for everyone. I have several levels of revealing or not revealing and they are all equally great to work out in. I don’t expect others to have as many workout clothes because it’s my job, but it’s worth knowing that there’s a lot out there.

      But also, I personally wouldn’t wear my most revealing workout outfits if I figured colleagues might be there (from certain gigs. Some gigs it doesn’t matter! It’s all about context)

  34. JAnon*

    #3: When I was in college, a friend and I got an opportunity to intern at a small media company in Brooklyn. At first it sounded like the best opportunity and we started thinking through logistics – living at her parents house for the summer, taking a train and subway from NJ to Brooklyn every day. But that was an unpaid internship and we needed to work also to pay for all of that transportation on top of anything else. I was disappointed, but ended up with two part time internships in my home city, one of which was paid, and the other which ended up becoming a full time job and I stayed employed through the recession in 2008. 18 years later, I see how this all led to where I am today. All that to say – sometimes when a door closes, it is because better ones are out there for us.

  35. Observer*

    #3- Job opportunity that didn’t pan out.

    I want to echo all the people who say that this place is sketchy as all get-out.

    So much so, that I think that the way you get over your regret is to recognize that this was not a company that would have given you what you think it would, and what it was offering. This was a BIG bait and switch. What else would they be switching on you?

    Also, I question how committed they are to behaving in even legal ways – that’s the bare minimum baseline you should expect from a *genuine* “opportunity”, but unpaid work for a paying enterprise is not legal. Sure, you can offer, but they cannot *allow it*, much less solicit and set it up as a formal arrangement. Internships are a very limited exception. And the places that abuse that exception abuse their interns.

  36. anywhere but here*

    LW1, I concur that you should dress however you’re most comfortable to work out (with the caveat that if you’d be most comfortable naked, please still put clothes on haha), but personally I would just be uncomfortable working out where coworkers and other non-friend acquaintances could see me. I assume that gym is super convenient and worth it to you, but if it were me I would consider working out a different gym so that I didn’t have to consider this question. Similar to how there’s nothing wrong with a swimsuit, but there’s no way in hell I’ll knowingly put myself in a situation where someone I work with sees that much of my body.

  37. RedSonja*

    Re: workout attire

    I started doing on the water rowing a few years ago. Because this activity starts at oh-god-thirty, I was driving straight from rowing to work, using the on site shower, and then starting my work day. Rowing does require snug clothing to make sure that nothing gets caught in the seat or your oar handles don’t tangle, so I was wearing spandex pants and tank tops when I arrived on site. But it was typically before most people arrived, so I didn’t worry overly much about it.

    Then we switched work buildings, and our new location doesn’t have a shower. Another nearby building does, but the shower is on the same floor as the entire C-suite, rather than near people I know well and see every day. I have started going home after practice to shower instead. It means I start work a little later, but I don’t have to worry about seeing the CEO in my rowing clothes.

    All of which is to say – this is about my comfort level, not my coworkers’. If someone had said something to me about it, I would have been PISSED.

  38. Susannah*

    College senior – oh my goodness, you are not turning down a great “job!” You’re turning down a request that you volunteer (and is it for a for-profit company?). They have been pretty sleazy here. If it’s an internship, they have to show you are getting more benefit than they are – they can’t just et you to work for free by calling it an internship. And if they are looking for volunteers, they should advertise for volunteers.
    I’d stay clear of this company in the future.

  39. Susan*

    I have a lot of respect for Alison’s opinion, but I probably have more experience with a male dominated profession than she does.
    With respect to the work out wear, the answer should be more like: “It shouldn’t affect your professional standing…but it might. Is it worth the risk?”
    At least it’s a lot better than it was 40 years ago.

  40. Overit*

    #3: How critical is this opportunity to your career? I ask bec I was in a similar situation and made the same choice. That choice killed my career before it began. I simply could NOT get a job in that field without doing an unpaid internship because — unknown to me or my advisors — it was the 2nd hoop in the real world after a degree. I ended up having to get a masters in a related field at my own expense.

  41. LW1*

    Hello, I’m the writer of the first letter. I appreciate everyone’s advice about my gym dilemma. To clarify, when I said “somewhat revealing,” I meant relative to office clothes. My gym attire is appropriate for a gym (imo) and I see lots of women there dressed like me.

    1. kitto*

      i’m sure your gym attire is super normal! it sucks that you/we as women have to even think about this stuff when we just want to work out. happy gymming :)

  42. Zee*

    #4 – I actually was in a similar, but not as extreme, situation where I was job hunting around the time we were doing our annual planning at my last job. I just viewed it as, I’m planning for the program for the next year and whether or not I end up being the one implementing it, it’s still part of the job that I currently hold to create that plan. Setting personal goals is a bit more awkward but I say, just fake your way through that part and give your notice after the retreat is over.

  43. callmeheavenly*

    If I encountered a single coworker one time at my gym, male or female, I would simply change gyms.

    But you should wear what you want.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      Nice if you live where there are multiple gyms or branches of your current gym in a pretty congested space, but I certainly wouldn’t switch to a gym that’s in an inconvenient location (the OPs was across the street from work) just because I saw a co-worker. TBH I think that’s a weird overreaction. Like, do you switch coffee shops and hair salons if you see a coworker??

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