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Woman Sparks Debate About Work Attire After Angering Female Co-Worker By Telling Her She Prefers To Dress 'Modestly'

Woman Sparks Debate About Work Attire After Angering Female Co-Worker By Telling Her She Prefers To Dress 'Modestly'
Luis Alvarez via Getty Images

For many, the office dress code is a confusing beast.

It's important to be comfortable, but one must remain professional.

Though being overdressed sends a bad message too, like you're elitist. And then there are casual Fridays in the mix.

How casual are we talking?

For one Redditor, the correct answer was to play it safe, don't fuss around, and stay right down the middle. But even that aroused office conflict.

"Healthy-Working," as she appropriately goes by on Reddit, spilled the whole tale in a forum post.

The story hammers home an important point: no matter how diligently one attempts to avoid conflict, conflict finds a way.

She kicks off with a little background info that pretty directly illustrates that for this narrator, gender is on the mind.

"I am a woman 35F and I work in a very male-dominated industry."
"I am not a tomboy or 'one of the guys,' I have 'feminine' hobbies and interests like knitting, baking etc. But I also like some 'masculine' hobbies as well (I do MMA, I dabble in blacksmithing)."


She moves on to address the issue at hand: work clothes.

"I dress pretty modestly at work. There's no particular reason for it but I usually wear a button down shirt, slacks/trousers and a cardigan."

Seems harmless enough.

In fact, it was harmless for a good while.

Until a new recruit upset the apple cart.

"About a year ago, another woman joined our firm and she's more Sex in the City type fashion, very chic, feminine and put together but that means she often wears see through blouses (with a singlet underneath), lower cut tops and skirts of varying lengths."

The differing approaches to professional dress were not to remain in their silos.

And, as with so many issues, online shopping was to blame.


"I was doing some online shopping during my lunch break the other day in the kitchen area when she saw and sat down next to me to chat."
"She kept telling me to get tops and skirts that are not in my comfort zone and she kept asking why when I said 'it's not me.'"
"Finally I had to say, I like to dress modestly."

"Modestly," she would learn, was a provocative term to invoke.

"She got offended and I said that I had no issue with what she wore but I preferred to be more covered up because it made me comfortable."
"She's now extremely cold and told me I was 'shaming' women in this industry who didn't want to lose their femininity in a male dominated field."

The narrator then concluded with a brief, unapologetic statement.

"I get that but I'm not super girly anyway, I dress for my comfort."

Reddit, a place stocked with people that spent the entire day at just such an office and now huddle around computers to blow off steam, offered Healthy-Working an ideal space to look for hot takes.

Some respondents did see how "modestly" could stir up some defensiveness.

"'Modestly' is extremely loaded and frankly implies that people who don't completely cover up are showing off. It sounds judgmental, and absolutely comes off as you are trying to shame people who dress less 'modestly.'" PetticoatRule
"I think you may have inadvertently offended her by saying you dress modestly, thus implying that she dresses provocatively." smithjojo99
"You weren't trying to imply she was dressing promiscuously and she was kind of pushing you when she shouldn't been."
"But 'modest' has stupid connotations in our society when it shouldn't because it implies there's an ethical good and ethical bad when dressing when there really isn't." Alternative_Answer
"She was clearly trying to be friendly and let's be honest, 'I like to dress modestly' not so subtly includes the subtext 'unlike you.'" wafflesforprez

Others locked in on these two women's place as possible allies in a male majority.

"I think the subtext here might be that she is looking for an ally in an intimidating male-dominated environment, and she's actually seeking your support for being herself." tamsui_tosspot
"It makes sense for her to feel insecure if she feels like the most femme person in the office." rachelina
"It's possible she was trying to bond with you, and got a little too forceful. It sucks to repeatedly say 'no' like that, but she may not have realized she was being pushy, or thought she was giving different options." whatthewhythehow

Of course, she did find some out and out supporters of her conduct in the recounted experience.

"She should have backed off when you said it's not your style."
"You didn't say anything about her clothing until she started prodding you about your preference." stunning-stasis
"If she can't understand that everyone has different comfort levels and opinions about what they find appropriate then don't worry about it. That's on her. You weren't trying to change how she dresses and she shouldn't try to change how you dress." memapski
"If anything, she is trying to shame you. Feminism should be about respecting a woman's right to choose. Respecting her right to wear revealing clothing that she wants to wear, and your right to wear modest clothing that you want to wear." bliznitch

Alas, the search continues for the core, ultimate truth in the realm of ideal office fashion.