Is it ever ok to show cleavage at work? If so, how much? Is a centimeter too much? Two centimeters?
Why do I ask? Let me back up a bit.
In my school district, teachers can only wear jeans on Friday. (Yes. It's related. Give me a minute.) BUT on the other hand, I feel like it's necessary to keep things pretty casual with my students. They (alternative high/at risk kids) already have a very negative predisposition to all things schoolish and teacherly, and I need to be able to move around, sit on a table, and help them feel comfortable by being comfortable.
Enter my 4 pairs of brown pants.
Well, they're not all the same shade of brown. One is dark brown. One is light brown. One is a kind of a fuzzy tan. The other is a kind of grayish brown. Brown pants with a button up shirt Monday through Thursday, and jeans (hallelujah) with the school t-shirt on Friday. (You know you're a teacher if wearing jeans and a t-shirt on Friday is something you look forward to all week. You also know you're a teacher if in your nightmares, your GIVING the test in the nude rather than taking it.) Yesterday I shook things up a bit. I wore Capri pants (Jump back! They were tan though.) and a pink peasant-ish shirt. Also, the shirt showed about, oh, 1.25 cm of cleavage.
Let me tell you, I haven't had so many comments on an outfit since the time I left my fly down all through second period. A couple of teachers, and several students commented on how nice I looked. And honestly, it felt really good to hear it.
Then, I got this from Kendra. "Wow! Mrs. Jay you look so different! You actually look…good!"
Apparently I've been looking a bit on the "haggard-lady-who-has-totally-given-up-on-herself-and- would-rather-you-just-didn't-look" side.
Now I realize that it wasn't the cleavage only that was garnering the compliments. Just the fact that I wore something different from the brown pants/button down shirt regiment was sure to catch some attention.
This morning, I decided to try on a couple of shirts that I hadn't worn since summer. They fit (mostly) and are very cute and springy, but because I got the boob gene, each one showed a bit of cleavage. Not porno cleavage. Not even PG13 cleavage, really. But cleavage nonetheless. Long story short—I didn't wear the shirts. Today, I'm back to the brown pants and button up.
(Yes, I realize there are noncleavage/nonbutton up shirts available in the world. But—there are fewer than you think. Also, a v-neck really goes a long way in creating the illusion of an hourglass rather than a, oh, let's say tomato.)
Where is this going? I don't really know. I do know that though I pretend that I don't care how I look most of the time, I really do. I do know that since losing a little weight, I kind of want to show it off. I do know that I am afraid of caring too much about how I look, or thinking that other people think I care too much about how I look.
Physical appearance is a tricky, tricky thing. How much should it matter? How much does it matter? Does it matter that it matters so much?
Comment whore has 2 questions for you.
1) Cleavage? Is it ok at work? If so—how much?
2) What's your take on appearance? Why do you wear what you do? When does just caring about your appearance become vanity?