Cleavage At Work: Yay Or Nay?

Illustration for article titled Cleavage At Work: Yay Or Nay?

Can we talk about cleavage? Specifically in a work-related context? A piece by Christina Brinkley in today's Wall Street Journal has a quote from Gail Graham, executive vice president of marketing for Fidelity Investments, who recounts how respected co-worker showed up at a business dinner in a "practically" backless dress that showed cleavage. Male colleagues were talking about it days later. Graham states: "It became the story about her. You want the story to be about you and your accomplishments. There's no greater crime [for a businesswoman] than to show cleavage." Surely Angela Merkel would disagree! But seriously: Is it possible to maintain an air of professionalism and earn respect at work when your boobs are on display?

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As a chick with a big rack I'm divided (heh) on this issue. On one hand, fuck a mothertrucker who can't concentrate and look you in the eye just because you're wearing a scoopneck shirt. Any modern woman knows that getting dressed for work is hard enough. Guys have interchangeable suits and ties; we have skirts, cardigans, blouses, shirts, tanks, camis, trousers, pantsuts, skirt suits and dress suits. And if your chest is large, finding a jacket or button down shirt that will contain the twins without pulling or buckling is pretty damn tough. So the more scooped out and open a garment is in the bosom area, the better. My old job was pretty casual and I'd rock some cleavage now and then. My attitude was "If I'm comfortable, then I'm getting work done, and that's all that matters." Just because my cups runneth over doesn't mean I have to cover 'em up like a nun. Also, I can't just put them away in a drawer and pull them out on Friday night. It doesn't work that way.

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That said, I'm not a lawyer or an international bond trader. Salma Hayek might be able to wear low-cut stuff every day of the week, but, as Jonathan Fitzgarrald, director of marketing for a Los Angeles law firm tells the Journal, "If my attorney bills out at $1,000 an hour, I want them to look like a lawyer, not a celebrity." Because, yeah, on the other hand: Cleavage can look downright trashy. Sometimes it looks sloppy, like you're in need of some support, like your clothes are ill-fitting. And also, it reminds one of, oh, I dunno, Loni Anderson, Pam Anderson, Chrissie from Three's Company and other women not known for their smarts. Maybe the patriarchy did this to me. Maybe if bond traders, scientists, lawyers and doctors wore low-cut tops then cleavage would seem like no big deal. Maybe if Americans didn't only think of boobs as sexual objects but as just a regular part of a woman's anatomy actually intended for feeding infants, then cleavage would seem like no big deal. The truth is, I don't even really like cleavage all that much. As some comedienne once said, I don't need my bra to lift and separate; I need it to divide and conquer.

Risky Business: Décolletage At A Work Dinner [Wall Street Journal]

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DISCUSSION

@Catty Is Cumbersome:

Oh hai! I am a certified tailor!

Taking in the side seams is harder than taking in the darts, or than adding darts to a shirts if there aren't none.

First, wash and dry the shirt so that the possible shrinkage issues are taken care of.

Pin a shirt taking in just the side seams, just the darts, adding darts, or a little at each (if you are gonna need to remove more than 1" from each side, this will probably be the way to go so there are no fit problems).

Anyway, to actually take it in, you need tailors chalk, an unstitcher (the knife-like thing you use to undo stitches), pins, thread in a different color from the shirt (for the guide sewing; you'll later rip these out), and of course thread for the real sewing.

Once you are ok with the pinned result and the fit of it (measure with a measuring tape to make sue you took it in equally on both sides), you trace it with the tailors chalk. Then carefully unstitch the entire sides (doing just the part where you wanna stitch it is a sure way to make it bulgy) - but leave the part where it joins the sleeve stitched, or it will be trouble for you later.

Now you wanna use the different color thread and make huge guiding stitches - each will be about 1". When done, you iron it to get a correct fit. Try it on. If it is ok, now you can sew with regular thread, by hand or machine. I'm faster by hand when doing curved sewing, so I'd go by hand here, but it is up to you.

Now you need to cut the excess fabric off, and you are done.