Glamour don'ts

Readers get their panties in a bunch over Cary Tennis' comments about thongs in the workplace.

By Salon Staff
Published March 18, 2004 11:38PM (EST)

[Read the Since You Asked column "Glamour Don'ts."]

Cary, love your column, but you really made a misstep when you suggested that the crowd of office workers "discuss it within earshot of the offending thong-wearer." Where are we, a middle-school girls' room? Should they be smoking and rolling their eyes when they say it? Maybe swapping lip glosses?

No. They're gay men. Women depend on their gay male friends to set them straight, so to speak, when it comes to fashion. And they don't have to pull any punches. If your writer simply takes the offender aside and says, "Honey, that whole visible thong thing is so last summer. You can do better," she'll be off buying boy shorts on her lunch hour. He can wean her off the mini-dresses later.

This is from a woman whose beloved mass of long tangled curls was declared "a disaster" by a gay male friend who would give me a kidney if I needed it. My new sassy short do is a definite improvement and garners much more straight male attention than my so-called sexy long hair ever did. But I digress.

Please don't advocate covert activity. There's enough of that going on at the office already.

Still a fan,

--Tracy Rowland

I have seen (literally) a similar problem in the office, though we were seeing the bottom of the underwear instead of the top! Yes, those were some short skirts. You had a decent suggestion. My suggestion is -- even relatively small offices often have a human resources coordinator to handle employee complaints and issues. In small offices, of course, this person would have other duties. But my point is there is usually a person designated to handle Awkward Situations.

In the case of the short-skirted co-worker, following complaints, our H.R. person sent out a memo to all reminding them of the dress code and proper office attire. "Please dress in a professional manner," etc., and about 20 things were listed as "unacceptable," including micro-mini skirts, so it was not an overtly obvious attack on one person's attire. It worked. She stopped wearing the hooker skirts, and no one had to have an unpleasant scene.

Just my 2 cents.

-- Denise LeBlanc Bock

The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on.

-- Hanoch McCarty

Excellent! Thank you so much! Sound advice, indeed ... But so funny, too! You totally made my day. I am one of those who are annoyed by the Purposely Visible Thong crowd. Makes me want to yank on the little triangle and show 'em what a real wedgie feels like.

-- Ivonne B.

Because I consider myself a huge fan of your column, I felt obligated to shed a more accurate light on the visible-thong situation.

When I tried on my first pair of ultra-low-rise jeans, I had several simultaneous thoughts: 1) These look pretty hot. 2) I wish this trend had been popular when I was 17 instead of 27. 3) I will have to go commando in these suckers. And 4) I will need to keep back to the wall, or else spend night at bar standing up.

Inevitably, I realized that mass consumption of alcoholic beverages and remembering to keep back to wall or else remain standing is virtually impossible. So, I ultimately came to the following conclusion: I would rather not have a panty line visible to the entire world. I hope this trend ends very soon. And tonight, I will go ahead and wear a pair of thong panties. I will attempt to roll them down so that they are mostly hidden, but later, if I get drunk and plop down at the bar, you'll see the middle of panties instead of the middle of my butt.

I love your column!!

-- Aimee Proctor

Your advice is spot on. It's an office and she should know. Also wearing sleeveless mini-dresses? Come on!

I just want to point out a few technical problems we non-teen women have been having of late.

1. It took a longer time for the underwear industry to start making thongs as low cut as the pants. Really, it became impossible to figure out what to wear under pants that were by no means hip-huggers. I remember vividly the sense of relief that fell over me when I entered a shop and found to my great delight that they had finally figured out how to make low-rise thongs.

2. She may not know. The guys point out that it's only when she bends over. Pants that do not sit squarely above your waist have a tendency to gap when sitting.

3. It's really hard to find non-lowrider pants. Also they all seem to be made for teenage boys. I have big hips and a small waist and I have to get all my pants taken in at the waist. They just float there around the waistband like a ring of Saturn. My friends who have less extreme differences between their waist and their hips still have the same problem.

4. Unlike men, women cannot walk into a store and expect to find the same pair of pants they bought a year ago. They change every six months. You just have to start searching all over again. It takes hours. This is why men accuse women of spending so much time shopping. We all don't want to, but sometimes it takes me weeks to shop for a pair of pants. I've gone shopping with my boyfriend once a year for the past seven years and the most it took him was 2 hours. So as a result we make mistakes.

I am not bitching, just pointing out how the other half lives.

-- Polina Grinbaum

Unfortunately, taste seems to have been deep-sixed in the last 20 years or so. And exhibitionism is on the rise. Women with thongs showing are no worse than men whose low-slung jeans reveal crack and all. I recently returned from a conference that also served as a job fair for young women looking for professional positions. There aren't many of them I would hire, based on their attire. Three to four inches of midriff is de rigueur. Skirts no more than six inches long -- in some cases appearing shorter than the heels and platforms being tripped around in. Blouses at least three sizes too small and obviously un-ironed. More hair, usually un-washed and un-combed, than underwear. Yikes! I think it was more fun when the details needed to be guessed at rather than revealed in all their less than glory.

--Kay Roam

Salon Staff

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