Skip Nav
6 Ways to Make the Absolute Most of Your Summer Internship
Automatically Enrolled in Your Company 401(k)? Here’s What You Need to Know
Transformative Career Advice From 1 of Kate Spade New York's Boss Ladies

Don't Show Your Cleavage in the Office

Cleavage Could be Asking For Trouble When Colleagues Are Involved

Voluptuous is definitely not a word to describe me, so the topic of sporting cleavage at work hasn't ever been an issue I've had to combat. But I've witnessed several well-endowed entry-level employees trying to figure out what's acceptable and what's not and walking the fine line between fashion forward and sexy. When you're working in a conservative environment some dress codes are strict about toe cleavage, so common sense would imply that your chest cleavage is out of the question.

When you're just starting out in your career dress code slip-ups are more expected and therefore usually easily forgiven, but as you move up the ladder your colleagues won't be so forgiving. While dress codes at the office leave little room for interpretation, there aren't any structured rules that tell you how to dress for evening events like work dinners. The Wall Street Journal recently addressed this issue, so to find out their tips on finding a happy medium just

The WSJ article called "Risky Business: Décolletage At a Work Dinner" tells us that for a businesswoman, "There's no greater crime than to show cleavage." Jonscott Turco, a psychologist and consultant with Partners In Human Resources International, commented in the article saying, "They're thinking it's an empowering thing that they can be sexy and professional, but guys don't see it that way. If she's dressed sexy, that's all they see."

For an evening with your colleagues, the article's author tells us to "look for outfits that are dressy but cover the same parts of your body that you cover at work" and to "spiff up a business suit with bigger jewelry and dressy shoes," while image consultant Evelinda Urman advises, "If you look down and see your cleavage, so can all the men around you."


Join The Conversation
smiling smiling 9 years
Do you want advancement? Do you want a raise? Then cleavage on the job is probably not a good idea. I never showed cleavage on the job, but it was a funny thing, I found a brand of silk blend crew tops (JNY Collection) that I liked, started wearing them exclusively at work, and I became "the expert in the chair"...the respect level went up, the cred went up.... I'm a C, proud of it, but when the chest left the equation, focus on the job from other people went up. (Recently got a raise too...) :)
poizenisxkandee poizenisxkandee 9 years
thanks gals for the advice!
lacourt lacourt 9 years
Ugh what a frustrating thing. As a larger than DD gal, I don't try to dress sexy at work- usually form skimming sweaters and slacks-nothing tight- but you can't deny that my curves are there. I'm used to being stared at by my male AND female colleagues- and I really don't think I'm wearing anything provocative!! It's hard to try to look good without throwing a little sex appeal in there...I'm resigned to dressing like a kindergarten teacher (no offense) at work and wearing what I want outside of office hours.
okmaebe okmaebe 9 years
syako, I was going to say the same thing! I love Clinton and Stacy. I work in lingerie sales, and so having a decent expanse of cleavage showing isn't a bad or unusual thing. Most of the management is a little older, so they dress a touch more conservatively, but another of the younger managers and I dress a little more sassily. I wear a lot of corset-inspired pieces with a suit, and she's really well endowed, and shows those girls off. It's a really normal thing in our building to hear "Your cleavage is phenomenal today!" You get a little weird around all that underwear.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that a lot of entry level (right out of college) girls tend to wear things that aren't the most appropriate to work. they think taht they need to look sexy in the office, but they don't realize that it's not a feedy frenzy to find your mate - but a professional place. in my old job, HR used to have to go around and monitor what people wore since clients would come to our offices all the time and there was a line that was being crossed on what was ok to see and what wasn't. they would send ppl home if they weren't dressed properly....or they would make you wear a long white t-shirt over your clothes which was just as embarrassing.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 9 years
I have DD's so here's what I do. #1 - Invest in a good bra that also minimizes. I like Wacoal a LOT. Most minimizers claim to reduce the bust line about 1 inch. Also, investing in a good bra reduces the risk of torpedo tatas. #2 - Wear an undershirt or camisole and leave the top 2 or 3 buttons on your button down unbuttoned. If the shirt sizing is good, it will fit at the waist but allow for extra room for your girls. #3 - Sweaters are awesome, too. Remember that if it is a v-neck sweater, you need a camisole or undershirt! #4 - In case I wasn't clear with #1, invest in a GOOD BRA! Stay away from Victoria's Secret's demi bras if you have a big chest! No cheap 2 for $15 bras from JC Penny! Invest! :D
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Cleavage at work is a no no, plain and simple. :oy:
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
I've definitely noticed some of my superiors looking even when I'm wearing something appropriate so I think this is not something that is always controllable from one person's side.
Deba22 Deba22 9 years
Haha, you crack me up. Love the first line. Me too!!
emalove emalove 9 years
TidalWave, I agree!
splayer splayer 9 years
poizenisxkandee, I'm the same size and have the exact same problem. It's really difficult finding work-appropriate clothing. :( I've tried having button down shirts tailored, but it still just doesn't work. I've resigned myself to the fact that I can only wear button downs under a sweater.
syako syako 9 years
poizen - I don't have the same problem as you, but am an avid what not to wear watcher, I believe stacy and clinton suggest buying a shirt that fits the biggest part and bringing it to a tailor to get the rest taken in.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
I just follow the rule, "If you would wear it to a club, you probably shouldn't wear it in a business environment."
Kubaff Kubaff 9 years
Wow! That cleavage is pretty distracting if i was working with you,but am not. Thank God.
Kubaff Kubaff 9 years
Wow! That cleavage is pretty distracting if i was working with you,but am not.
Kubaff Kubaff 9 years
I rarely have problems with my colleagues, its the ones i attend to that distract me.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
I don't have to worry about this one. But I used to have a co-worker who loved showing off her cleavage and to top it off she always wore very high heels to work. Not a good combination.
MindayH MindayH 9 years
I am glad it makes no difference for me being in sales.
ladychaos ladychaos 9 years
I wonder...what is and isn't appropriate in the shoe dept. I mean I know no fetish heels and distracting shoes, but what else is appropriate?
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
Hahaha this totally reminds me of a moment last week when the new girl at work went into a meeting with me ... she's quite well-endowed and was wearing a VERY low-cut shirt AND a pendant that had a charm that seemed to drop appropriately into her cleavage! I don't know about the men in the room, but I was so distracted. Luckily she's a bit more covered up today ...
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I see when all the time wear tops and dresses like the above pic. I always try to cover mine like Lovely, when you're bigger you just try to be more conscience of it.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
I feel you Lovely! I have to try hard not to show anything.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
oh man...I know this one! I have to be SO careful because I am pretty busty but tiny too! And I hate it at work...all the old yucky engineers ALWAYS stare at my cheast...and trust me it's not something I flaunt around at work so I get pretty uncomfortable about it...
Sexy Tattoos You Can Hide
Good Questions to Ask During an Interview
Cop Helps a Woman During a Horrible Date
Career Advice From Mary Beech of Kate Spade New York
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds