“He said my top was not in line with company prescribed code and that it made him very uncomfortable during the meeting.”

Dress Codes for women make it easier for misogynists to harass them. Here’s another example. 

This comment reminded me of this post –  He said, “You’re a very beautiful girl, but don’t wear such clothes…”

Sharing a comment from the previous post.

We have a dress code at work and recently have had a number of freshers join the company. It’s IT by the way. So the freshers’ dressing sense is quite different from the older women and raised quite a few eyebrows, male and female. Just because people are not used to seeing such clothes here. So the dress code is being quoted left and right so as to ensure employees adhere to it. A couple of days earlier, I was wearing a kurti, three fourth length sleeve, butt-covering length with jeans. The unfortunate kurti’s neckline had a couple of buttons and one of the buttons came undone during a meeting that i participated in. This was entirely unintentional and I was not even aware of it. The buttons were not revealing anything – my mangal sutra chain was filling the gap the button should have closed and i was also wearing my company tag. There really was no cleavage exposed but after the meeting ended, my manager (male) requested me to stay back and told me that he wanted to tell me that I should watch my dress code. He said my top was not in line with company prescribed code and that it made him very uncomfortable during the meeting. He also added that I should not be offended because he thinks of me as a friend and only wants to tell me ‘as a friend’. My immediate reaction was one of shock and i did not know how to respond. I merely nodded and said thanks in a numb sort of manner, walked right out of the meeting into the restroom to check my top. I found the undone button, pinned it and then added another safety pin on top. But the whole episode has given me a bitter taste in my mouth and I feel really yucky. I also sort of feel this is another kind of harassment. My clothing was well within the dress code. The fact that I had a loose button on a single day that I was unaware of does not make me a violator of the code, does it?

I would like to understand what people here think of the whole sordid episode. Thinking of it still makes me feel so awful. I feel uncomfortable when men with bellies wear jeans with their stomachs hanging all over them.. but does anyone talk to these men and ask them to wear loose t shirts?

Why is it only women who have to watch it?


–  Anonymous

Some thoughts: What makes you uncomfortable? Are you able to enforce a ban on it? Why is some people’s discomfort (if any) more important? What would this man have done if he did not have the option of controlling how his colleagues dressed? Say, in a public space? Would he then feel justified in being ‘provoked into sexually assaulting’ her? 

Related Posts:

Not Just a Pair of Jeans

The way a woman dresses…

Women and their unmentionables. Understanding Objectification.

What do ‘Modest’ women have that their ‘Immodest’ sisters don’t…

If you were this woman would you want to know what your juniors thought of your personal life?

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill

“Such mannequins will excite men and pose a danger to women.”

“So why do we wear clothes again??”

A response to: Why we think women activists should change their attitude of “wear what you like”

“This is how we all do it. We find a corner in the house, where the others can’t see, and then dry them.”



62 thoughts on ““He said my top was not in line with company prescribed code and that it made him very uncomfortable during the meeting.”

  1. Please unfriend your managerial friend immediately ! For one time intentional or non intentional flouting of dress code doesn’t mean he needs to talk with you !!
    What nonsense ! !


  2. Disgusting. This would qualify as harassment in many places and at least get a caution from HR. Not in India because the harassers make the rules here and are entitled to enforce them. If he’s uncomfortable by cleavage, then he should not look at it. Simple. Our culture has made it easier for him to control his colleague’s personal choices than controlling his own eyes.


  3. This is harassment pure and simple. I can not think of it any other way. The ba**ard should be reported for it. I suppose India has strict laws against workplace harassment. I am still shaking my head; where do these guys get courage to comment on women’s dress? I would be mortified with fear of being slapped in the face if I ever thought of doing so.


    • My colleague commented on my shirt recently saying “Lady, where is your modesty?” I replied by saying “This Shirt designer is a pervert too, he makes sure he does not provide the first button to the shirts he designs”, hearing my response my colleague walks away laughing….

      He is funny and is harmless and also I correct him when he forgets to wear his shirt buttons properly, it does make me uncomfortable when he shows his skin, I don’t want to look at a 60 year old man’s hairy chest or beer belly for god’s sake….


  4. I am actually going to take the manager’s side in this and suggest some improvements for the future. The company has a dress code in place – so things are clearer than in other places where the lines are undefined and blurred and liable to misunderstaning. The manager didn’t humiliate her in public, but pulled her aside. My overall take – allot responsibility for “talking to” people who are unintentionally in violation of the dress code. A woman middle manager to talk to women trainees, men for male trainees. Call the person aside privately and just tell them that their button is undone – like you would tell someone their fly is open. It’s not a firing offence, just a temporary social situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “The manager didn’t humiliate her in public, but pulled her aside.”
      So basically it is okay for someone to humiliate you as long as they don’t do it publicly?

      I don’t think it was as harmless as telling someone their fly is open. He did not say hey your button seems to have come undone. It was, literally, your clothes are not as per company policy and they are making me uncomfortable.

      Also, I think that in most organizations, HR is the party responsible for making sure people comply with any and all policies. Also, even when serious feedback (and not friendly advice) is being given by a reporting manager, HR needs to be present, and the interaction documented.
      And since this ‘temporary social situation’ is entirely unpleasant for at least one party (or if we’re to believe the manager, for both parties), I feel that a formal complaint should be filed by the woman.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can empathize with you here. I have not worked in India but once, I have had indian project manager who came from India on a project. I wore a scarf to work and let my hair down. Guess what, he called me aside and made a comment on my hair and dressing. I was aghast. Being new to workplace and naive at that time and was trying to understand people, I did not speak back. From them on, I learned to speak back when some one comments on what I dress or how I dress.
    Forget men, I have female indian colleagues, an accidental bra line that’s visible without any revealing will come and fix it. I am like.. what? It’s not that I am showing cleavage or showing my entire skin off.. just a mere small little thing. Is it that, most of us are conditioned and programmed in such a way?
    What surprised me the most was, the same when happens with white girls here at work, they never point it out or adjust it.. what is this discrimination?


  6. I know I will be chastised for this reply but I will still go on.

    I work in IT in America and I have been for the last 10 years.

    I am conflicted with this particular example. As much as I feel women must be allowed to dress as they’d like there are and need to be certain dress codes for all employees in a professional setting. Like a manager could request a male employee to wear closed toe shoes or formal trousers at a professional event s/he could similarly ask a lady to be more conservative in such settings.

    What I did not find offensive here is that he asked her in private, made his stance clear that it made him uncomfortable and requested her to adhere to the company dress code (which I am sure mentions women and men attires).

    I don’t think this is harassment,

    If she feels that men with bellies hanging under shirts in jeans makes her uncomfortable, I would advise her to speak with her manager about it. If she really wants equality, she must speak up and not chastise him for bringing up an issue with her. Yes, I know its hard to accept when people comment on our clothes in a way we don’t like. I would encourage her to open a dialogue rather than chastise him.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think the point here is that one undone button does not require a speech about how it makes someone uncomfortable. She has mentioned that she was complying with the rest of the dress code. If he was really being friendly,he could’ve discreetly pointed it out.

      Also there is a definite difference in the definition of “appropriate”:clothing in the US and in India. For example a woman in India who is wearing a pantsuit that covers everything will still be accused of dressing provocatively. Forget pant suits, I’ve heard of people making fusses about the absence of dupattas.


      • We undergo a training for harassment at workplace every year. It talks about telling someone before you report to HR that something they do makes you uncomfortable. If they don’t stop what they are doing (this is deliberate) then they are encouraged to report to HR.

        Now, in this case it was an accidental wardrobe “malfunction”, so it definitely doesn’t come under harassment or deliberate act. Now, what if the manager has been noticing [and this is different from ogling or looking for cleavage – we ladies know when that’s happening and I condemn such acts vehemently] that she has had such non-compliance with dress code before but chose to speak up only now? Again this is pure speculation based on the account narrated to me. I am being the devil’s advocate here.

        All I am saying is,

        1. If this lady feels men with hanging bellies violate dress code and it is making her uncomfortable, she can report that to her manager or HR.
        2. If she feels hers rights were violated and she was sure she complies with her dress code she can report to HR saying she was incorrectly chastised.

        It will be interesting to see a copy of the dress code and how it regulates male vs. female dressing.


    • I dont agree with 2 things.
      1. Just because he talked in private doesnt mean a thing. She says it was not in violation of company policy, thats it then. he cannot TALK to her in private, public or inbetween.
      2. He felt uncomfortable. – So what. Its a workplace, His feelings dont matter. especially his feeling about someone else and their dress absolutely do not matter.

      If were the mgr and felt he/ she is not adhering to dress code, I’d print the dress code and leave it with them. They are adults, they can read and im sure follow directions, beyond that it’s HR business. my personal feelings, comfort, etc., have no place in a business setting.


      • I would argue with you on point#2. Yes, feelings matter. Within a team they definitely do matter! You cannot perform optimally if you are squabbling over things and making each other uncomfortable.

        There is a professional line to it. The way he said it could definitely be a matter of discussion. Sometimes a little communication skills go a long way.


        • Yes agree that #2 is debatable and team harmony is essential. But hopefully no one has to pander to anyone. This manager was clearly lacking in his communication skills/professionalism if he kept harping on the ‘As a friend’ part.

          Talking about being uncomfortable. I remember visiting a lab outside India with a non Indian female colleague. I was talking to a woman working in the lab giving us a demo. She had very large breasts and a really low cut blouse. I found myself struggling not to look at her breasts and it was probably the first time I experienced how distracting clothes could be.

          I was in my mid 20s at the time and coming from India so obviously not used to it. I did forget about it as the demo continued. But I wonder how Indian men handle these situations. In the IT sector, employees come from small towns and big cities so in many ways it must be difficult to come up with a standardized dress code.


    • I’d back you up one hundred percent if (a) this had not been a one-off, accidental button-coming-undone situation, and (b) if the statement had been made by the HR, who are technically the guardians of company policy.

      A random male colleague has no business telling me how to dress. If he thinks I’m being unprofessional, he can go tell the HR and let them handle it. Unsolicited “friendly advice” is not okay.


      • Only the remark didn’t come from a random male collague but from the LW’s manager. “Friendly advice” from a manager is apolite way of saying “first warning”. Might be a generation gap problem more than a harassment problem.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually, you have a point. The guy may have been giving her a soft warning,
          though from her description of how she was dressed, I do not think feedback was required – unless she usually dresses objectionably and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

          Even if it really is the case (which the LW assures us it’s not) then the manager should’ve gone to HR first, especially since this is a sensitive topic and has the potential to lead to gender sensitivity issues in the workplace.

          Also, seeing as most managers in IT companies around me are more or less the same age as me, I don’t think it could qualify as generation gap. But then we don’t really know how old the guy really is, and you could be right about that.


  7. I can see how uncomfortable that must’ve made you feel. This can be absolutely identified as harassment. In workplaces that have clearly identified what qualifies as harassment, this comment of his would have gotten him into a lot of trouble.
    Good that we’re talking about this. As more and more women become aware, that can bring about a change in laws.
    In the US, workplaces were way more sexist in the past. Women were called ‘honey’ and ‘sweetheart’ and made passes at. Now, people are much more careful to treat them like professionals, we have much better HR policies, but a subtle form of sexism still very much exists. For instance, the ‘jokes’ on women. I mean, ‘it’s just a joke, so lighten up’ kind of sexism. About how women have difficulty with ATMs, how women use their laptops as a makeup station. Recently, a colleague of mine (a guy who is really not that bad/offensive) was talking about how the new iPhone is ideal for ‘moms’ (read moms are stay at home hence not very smart). I was shocked. “Seriously? You just said that?” I asked him. He realized it a second later and said, “oops didn’t mean it that way.” I asked, “What way did you mean it?” and then let it go.
    Most people don’t realize they’re being sexist or entitled, it’s so inherent in many cultures.


  8. The ways people harass you are disguised as ‘I am telling you as a fiend’, ‘you’re like my sister’, ‘I care and only I do’. Now I don’t stand for all these and say Thanks but no thanks or fuck off if the situation demands 😀
    But earlier, I used to keep quiet. My mind wd be screaming ‘who the fuck is he to tell me that and how is it his business’. Then the friend, sister part wd make me keep my mouth shut.


    • That’s the trick – they give you all the brotherly/friendly “advice” and make it sound like they’re doing you a favor, when they’re actually trying to control your behavior.

      Btw, the “fiend” typo is so friggin appropriate it makes me want to hug you!


  9. It is especially unfortunate when a superior at work acts this way – they should be the ones watching out for behaivor of this kind and protect their employees. Personally, I don’t think this is even about the dress code. I think he’s just trying to enforce his possibly very traditional views on you using the cover of ‘dress code’ and ‘I’m tell you this for your own good because I’m a friend’. Happens too often in India – ‘Mein tumhare bhale ke liye he keh rahi hoon beti…’ types. I think you should bring this up with HR, assuming they are supportive and such where you work.


  10. Your manager is a weirdo. I’d say keep your distance from this guy, but not sure if that is possible since he is your manager. If something like this happens again tell him (politely) to mind his business and his eyes. I can see how something like this feels sordid, but remember that it is not your fault – he’s the creep.


  11. Ahhh, IT in India. During my internship, I was taken aside by my female manager (who was told to do so by her male boss) and given the “please dress appropriately” speech. Back then, I actually felt guilty and ashamed about it. So glad I know better now!


  12. Next time tell him how his pants are too tight that it made you uncomfortable !! Seriously the nerves of these men ! They dont have anything better to do than obsess over woman’s fashion !


    • I know, right??
      I see tons of men everywhere making comments about women wearing tight jeans and sleeveless blouses.

      What about the crotch-exhibiting pants that overweight men wear? What about the nipple showing thin shirts? And chest hair showing above the collar?


  13. For many men having a female body is indecent.So no matter what your wear.How much you hide you will always be indecent coz you are a woman !


  14. The way you dress outside work is nobody’s business.

    At work, it’s very, very important to ensure modesty at work (for both sexes equally!). That means no tight clothing, nothing revealing. Neither the shape nor size of your body should be known exactly to anyone else. Men’s clothing tends to achieve that by having a loose fit, but if it doesn’t, it should be called out and enforced there too.

    In your case, it was unfair to chastise you because you weren’t dressing in any inappropriate manner, even given the above.Unless your kurthi was really skin tight.


    • There are overweight men at my work who wear tight shirts with their tummies and love handles bursting out but no one seems to mind this as much a woman’s breasts in a snug shirt or her hips in snug pants/skirts. Every culture and religion in the world seems to have prescriptions for how women ought to dress but no one really cares how men dress. Why is this? Just making a general observation here, not saying this to you personally, but it is in the context of your comment.


  15. What would have happened if at that very moment you had told him – ‘That if he feels uncomfortable…..that’s his problem and that there’s nothing wrong with your dress.’ ?

    I guess he would have just rushed out. May be complained to the HR – like a baby.

    If he wanted to point out that a button on open -‘as a friend’ – he could easily have done JUST THAT and nothing more, discreetly – and there would be nothing wrong it.

    I think – in cases like this – there’s absolutely no point in complaining or talking about it later if at that very moment you don’t sort it out with that guy. When he says that he doesn’t want you feeling offended – it means….he’s going to be shit scared if you raised a ruckus. Try and do it – and see the results.

    These types of issues should always be sorted out there and then. Otherwise – its some other girl tomorrow – and the same guy.


    • “When he says that he doesn’t want you feeling offended – it means….he’s going to be shit scared if you raised a ruckus.”

      Good point, I did not notice that earlier.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Apparently, there is no such thing as “limits” when it comes to the topic of women-dressing. Every-bloody-one has an opinion AND wants to give it to the first woman in sight who does not conform to that opinion under the pretext of “friendly advice”. Why don’t they mind their own business?


    • Very true.
      I generally dress extremely butch to work – shirts and pants only. On casual days im in jeans and t shirts.

      I’m often asked by both men and women why I do not wear girly clothes -skirts/frilly blouses or indian clothes – salwars /sarees.

      I don’t like salwars or sarees. Or frilly blouses. Or skirts. I like them on other people, I always complement women if they look nice.

      When I tell people I dont like wearing salwars or skirts i get replies like “oh you’re still a child, wait till you get a boyfriend”.

      I dont see any boys getting these sort of comments if they dress boring or scruffy.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I was an intern when one of the superior said me to sit properly cz one of my inner’s strap was showing.
    It actually taught me that this superior is having a dirty mind. He just doesn’t miss a chance to talk about personal things with a girl in a hope that she wl talk about personal things with him in return.


  18. Wait a minute, did he say “your top makes me uncomfortable” when he really wanted to say “your cleavage is giving me a hard on”? Lady, if the asshat can’t stand the sight of a little cleavage, tell him to look the other way and not step out after dark because he is a danger to society. Also, I’m curious – how does he watch TV without running to the bedroom to jerk off?

    In all seriousness, you shouldn’t have to justify having a cleavage. All women (and some men with hanging stomachs) have it. We also have ass cracks, which will occasionally show despite your best intentions. If there is a policy regarding clothing, adhere to it by all means. But if anyone has to give feedback to a woman on how she should dress, it should be HR. No male colleague or “friend” is entitled to commenting on how women dress in office.

    And did he say “you should not be offended” – WTF? I’d say report it to HR and tell them you don’t appreciate sexual advances and people staring at your cleavage in meetings.

    That ought to shut him up.


    • “But if anyone has to give feedback to a woman on how she should dress, it should be HR. No male colleague or “friend” is entitled to commenting on how women dress in office.”

      Very true. It should only be a HR issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. The manager is a sicko..What he did was harassment.
    Please say him outright that you do not think what he said was right . Tell it in a firm way so that he gets the message.
    Is it possible that you can talk to the hr about it ?
    Generally the HR in tier one IT companies have pretty solid policies in place against the harassment at workplace problem and they do respond to complaints..


  20. I think this is one of the several examples of misogyny that women face at the workplace, thanks LW for writing in and IHM for publishing.
    As I’ve worked for a misogynistic pervert and general scumbag male manager (who was unfortunately best friends with HR) in the past, I definitely empathise.

    Now, I’ve noticed that the response to such issues is influenced by two things:

    1. How much you need your job – I think we all tend to put up with a lot of crap,including sexism because we need the money/employment. Especially when it comes to issues with people above you -such as managers, we are sometimes tempted to gloss over this stuff due to the risks involved and potential dangers.

    2.How experienced you are: Naturally, freshers at the workplace will be more cautious dealing with this because they havent encountered it before and are unsure how to handle it. With time and continuous exposure to this sort of behaviour, most women eventually form their own strategies.

    With regard to your present case,one option is the risky but appealing Take No prisoners approach:
    Talk to HR. Dont file a formal complaint,but say you want it to be looked into. Go higher up,if possible. Be prepared for a backlash,but push your case forward.

    If you think thats way to much trouble,I would perhaps suggest this:
    Ask to speak to him privately. Bring up the issue and say that HE made YOU feel very uncomfortable by highlighting the loose button. Say that you were well within dress code, and you were offended by his comment and it made you feel like he was ogling you. Be very firm, keep an even tone. Keep a record of the conversation. If as consequence you find that you are being denied promotions,kept late blah blah file a complaint.

    But most importantly I would say, the next time such a thing happens, try to tackle it head on. If someone says what you are wearing is not appropriate, respond immediately,publicly and do not hesitate. The amount of aggression is of course,left to your discretion but be FIRM and confident. This is India – it is either eat or be eaten.

    I think its the only way to stop this rubbish.


  21. Dear letter writer,

    Firstly, you don’t have to justify yourself and others giving reasons for why the button had been undone accidentally. It had come off , that’s all. You don’t have to feel insecure or be in a position to justify that it was not your fault after all! be confident about yourself and your beliefs!

    I don’t see anything wrong in having it unbuttoned even if it’s intentional. As long as one is comfortable with whatever he/she wears, everything is ok!
    so don’t take this issue serious.

    And for the dickhead manager (or your goodness willing friend as he calls himself to be), if possible, try to ignore him. If he keeps annoying you with these things, think about taking this matter to a superior (hoping that those people are not dickheads like him)!


  22. Being the sceptic that I am, I seriously doubt that he was uncomfortable with a button being undone. I think he wants a plausible reason to talk of cleavage-related-topics to a fresher and still sound authoritative and look concerned.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. I’m the person that wrote the original comment. Thank you for publishing it here, IHM.. and thank you for responding – it makes me good to find validation of my feelings here.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. With Manager in India , its tricky situation. However you could have replied the same which you have written in your post. That it was a isolated incident and was not dress code violation. However you feel very humiliated as team was busy in paying attention to your button rather than content of meeting. At least some IT employee should not behave like street loafer.

    But I know its difficult to reply in these situation as it makes you talk of the floor. In IT people are literate only. There is mindset is not different from street side loafer.

    One more thing they will not make this drama in front of their on-site counterpart who are at foreign location or even come to India. At least not in front of them. And I have seen this, one Russian lady was wearing georgette shirt only with inner wear but none of the male senior or junior has dared to make an any comment on her.So its collective mindset.


  25. I agree that the “talk” wasn’t required in this case since OP wasn’t some serial offender and it was just an accident. But in general there is nothing wrong with having a dress codes or having managers enforce them. This is not a pub where you can wear whatever you want. You are expected to wear professionally in a workplace.

    And for all those who are saying the manager’s feelings doesn’t matter, I am sorry to let you know that it does. A major part of HR’s responsibility is to ensure that employees are not made uncomfortable by their colleagues. That’s the reason why even legal speech (like politics or religion) may be restricted in the workplace (even in the US). So, the manager has every right to ensure that his colleagues choice of dress (which violates the dress code) doesn’t offend him or other. In addition, he wouldn’t have to deal with the “he saw my cleavage” complaints since you are not supposed to show them in the first place.


    • His feelings matter because her button came undone ? But her feelings don’t matter why? She said she’s dressed to code. So in this instance nope his feelings don’t matter. Sure one can’t hurt his sentiments, religion, political affiliation etc., but how he feels about some one else’s dress , that off limits.
      If that door is opened thee will be a flood, everyone will have feelings on everyone’s dress.


      • “I agree that the “talk” wasn’t required in this case since OP wasn’t some serial offender and it was just an accident.”

        PP is talking about dress codes in general.


  26. I can understand why you felt uncomfortable. But, I doubt you could bring up the topic with him again, considering in his mind it is all done and taken care of. I would say, wear the same kurti again to work. If he brings it up again, tell him that you looked at the company dress code and this kurti adheres to it. If he is uncomfortable, you can get a written statement from HR stating that he is in the wrong as it is well within the company limits. Currently, for the incident, it is your word against his. I don’t work in India, but from what I understand, you’ll have a hard time convincing HR that he was in the wrong for an incident in the past. You can only prepare for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Its better to give the bastards a good answer back so that he never speaks again.

    If it makes him feel uncomfortable, then who asked him to look at her? What’s he concentrating on? The meeting or her dress? Phew!


  28. In a professional meeting where I presume several people were present and serious matters were being discussed, it is ridiculous that what the manager noticed and focused on was a button missing from the LW’s outfit! Why was he even looking? It reveals what kind of a person he is. If a guy had a missing button on his shirt, would he have called him aside for a straight talk? If it was an older woman would he have noticed? Is the body of a young female seen as a threat? A fresher can’t really square with a seasoned manager, so I understand the LW’s frustration at being in a position to do nothing but accept the intrusive/offensive behavior. I have to say that it’s not just men, some women are also very judgmental if they deem another woman’s outfit to be provocative or different. Where I worked the dress codes were relaxed and I was wearing a loose sleeveless top. A bunch of us ladies were waiting for our male manager to arrive, and as soon as he came in and took a seat, one of my colleagues announced that I was trying to show off! It was pretty embarrassing. Moreover, it came from someone who routinely wore sleeveless outfits herself, but happened to wear something with a longer sleeve on that particular day. I think what people say to/about others reveal more about themselves than the person they are targeting.


  29. Why does liberal Iceland want to ban online pornography?

    Iceland’s proposed ban can be seen as a continuation of earlier legislation to regulate the sex industry. In 2009 it introduced fines and prison terms for those who patronise prostitutes (though not the prostitutes themselves, which the law treats as victims). In 2010 it outlawed strip clubs. And distributing and selling pornography in Iceland has actually been illegal since 1869.

    The country is run by the world’s only openly lesbian prime minister, while 65% of Icelandic children are born outside marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I would have quietly passed on a note to her, “Your button has come off” and would have enclosed a safety pin if I had one handy.
    This is just an awkward social situation, like Sharmistha said.

    Threre was no need for a lecture from this senior male colleague, even if it was in private.
    And there is no need to give this incident more importance than it deserves and consider it as a case of “harassment at a workplace”. I don’t think it is.
    It is just a case of a faux pas , accidental in the case of the letter writer and due to needless over reaction in the case of the male colleague..

    These things just happen to everyone at some point in their lives.
    I think it’s best to just drop the matter and forget it.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. If in your place, I would feel embarrassed and intensely angry. If I had the presence of mind, I would have smiled broadly, looked him straight in the eye and said,”Thanks for sharing this with me. I appreciate honesty and can see why it might make you uncomfortable. However, as I recall, the button is on my chest, and I do my talking and thinking with my head, so why were you looking there in the first place? For it to make you uncomfortable, I have to assume that your eyes wander to places they shouldn’t, and stay there long enough for you to register a response. Were you undressing me with your eyes? You know, now that I say this, I am feeling uncomfortable that this is what you do in meetings. Next time, if a button bothers you, look away and if I catch you watching me inappropriately I will lodge a complaint.”

    Ok. but that moment is gone. Boat has sailed. If this is still on your mind, I would address it with your manager. Just like your button made him uncomfortable, that conversation with him made you uncomfortable. You could talk to him privately in a one to one and say, 1) I appreciate your concern but not your manner or the fact that you were watching my chest. 2) Next time, ask a female colleague or HR to talk to me about it, or if you want to talk about it, I want a witness. 3) please forward me the company dress code on email and highlight, in written word, where the dress was inappropriate.

    But this letter made me think about an incident in my life. When is it appropriate to reprimand someone about their clothes? I had a colleague with big breasts, who wore shirts a size too small; she was quite arresting, and her button looked precariously about to be undone. I tried to compliment her when she wore clothes that suited her nicely, in an attempt to get her to feel motivated to wear them often, but with limited success. I was craven though; I needed a professional environment, and I never conveyed my sentiments because I knew how sensitive she was. We were a small company, no HR. If a man told her this, it would be like what your manager did, If I told her this, being a woman, she was apt to think that I was jealous and wanted simply to sabotage her. Still not sure what’s the best way to handle this.


    • But at times people do need to be told ,……especially in startups ! But that telling is for repeat offenders ! Women have more choices as office wear in India ,.so some people take it too far !
      In general, this post was just an observation by a commentator from previous thread … I don’t think she’s is asking for advice !!


  32. Hi,

    Original LW here. Reading most of these comments only today. Wanted to clarify a couple of things:
    1. I don’t think I would have felt so bad, if my manager’s comment had been just to tell me, ‘please check your top or something along those lines’. he need not have brought up the dress code. It was a one time thing and an accident. I am not a fresher, I have plenty of experience but I report directly to him. I do think that this guy is extremely narrow minded in his view of how women should dress; especially married 32 year olds like me and decided to tell me when he got the chance.
    2. I am part of the women’s forum in the company that i work for and i think a good takeaway from this whole thing for me is to write to HR asking for published guidelines on who can talk to who in case of dress code violations. Currently it gives managers full leeway to talk to subordinates irrespective of gender and that gives too many harassers a big chance to exploit.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I think we all should start a collective agenda for all the men wearing tight jeans or tight shirts that its against Indian culture and we should start posting on Facebook. Lets pick every small visual or picture of men exhibiting their manhood and post it on FB with hashtag #IndianCultureForMen


    • No!!! I don’t think women would even think of letting their eyes wander where it shouldn’t, and would be horrified/repelled by such pictures, forget about posting them on the web!
      We better maintain our dignity. We’ll have to fight for sure, but mutating ourselves into shameless, quasi-male-no-good-loafers looking out for faults is certainly NOT the solution!!
      Just my two cents.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Pingback: “I am perfectly alright with being ‘unattractive’ to a majority of boys – love is not some job interview where you try tailor yourself to someone’s needs.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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