Are bare shoulders acceptable in work?

(81 Posts)

Am a teacher in a comp. today I considered wearing a strappy top. Nothing see through . Just a top with thin straps. I didn't wear it because my shoulders would have been exposed. But did think to myself what is the problem with shoulders?
In work a colleague was spoken to about wearing a strapless top by a senior member of staff who was wearing a dress with thin shoulder straps.

So what is acceptable? And when did shoulders become something seductive?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 10-Jul-13 23:17:11

I think any expanse of flesh looks wrong in a professional situation. Legs, chests, arms....male or female.

Shoulders have always been seductive but for me it's about armpit exposure! I don't want to be in proximity to colleagues pits!

thismousebites Wed 10-Jul-13 23:18:40

I think that, as a professional, you are expected to "maintain a certain standard".
However, as it has been unreasonably hot lately ,then a bit of leeway should be given.
what do thy expect you to wear......a cardi?

lessonsintightropes Wed 10-Jul-13 23:18:45

I don't think it's that acceptable to be honest, and I work in a charity head office. It just looks unprofessional and as if you are on holiday rather than at work and setting an example to the kids - particularly if they are sweltering away in (uniform) shirts/tie etc.

maddy68 Wed 10-Jul-13 23:19:26

no when you bend down too much flesh is on show - wide straps woud be more acceptable I think

thismousebites Wed 10-Jul-13 23:20:28

And when did shoulders become sexy? They'v obviously not seen mine.

thismousebites Wed 10-Jul-13 23:22:16

Also, I don't really care what the teacher wears just so long as they teach my DCs the curriculum.

AnyFucker Wed 10-Jul-13 23:22:23

It looks unprofessional

A t shirt with short sleeves would be ok, but not strappy, assuming your bra straps would be on show

AcrylicPlexiglass Wed 10-Jul-13 23:22:37

Depends on your shoulders and your job.

echt Wed 10-Jul-13 23:25:30

I tend to agree that lots of skin on view at work is not good, though the fact that a standard of dress has been set by a senior member of staff means you can go ahead and wear the strappy top.grin

I also work in a school, and while I do not accept that staff should dress as the students do, I'm mindful of the fact that their uniform covers a lot and is strictly enforced. For this reason I have clothes for work I'd never wear at home, and vice versa.

Lj8893 Wed 10-Jul-13 23:26:39

I work in retail and we have an allowance of our current fashion stock to wear as uniform, so my general uniform could consist of casual wear such as leggings, jeans, etc but I would not be able to wear a strappy top at work without a cardi.

Something with thicker straps is ok (espessially in this weather!!!) but as a pp said, if bra straps can/could be seen then i don't think its professional or acceptable.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 10-Jul-13 23:31:45

I've been thinking about this lately. At my work it seems to be ok if the straps are wide enough that it's mostly arm on show, but anything too strappy that shows the back of shoulders would be seen as inappropriate.

I have spent many too many hours this week wishing I could remove a little cardigan.

SanityClause Wed 10-Jul-13 23:32:39

It doesn't look professional, IMO.

Short sleeves would be okay, but nothing too low cut, or too short. Your male colleagues would be wearing a shirt and trousers. Possibly a jacket and tie. I think you could cope with short sleeves, TBH.

BOF Wed 10-Jul-13 23:34:17

Yes, inappropriate for a teacher. Especially as the students usually have to be more covered up.

mikkii Wed 10-Jul-13 23:34:27

Like others, I don't mind sleeveless, but not with bra straps showing.

Sleeveless, eg a shift dress is fine, strappy not, I would say.

SinisterBuggyMonth Wed 10-Jul-13 23:39:31

Please, all my body fat is unevenly distributed below my boobs, my shoulders are the only thing I can actually show off! blush

RainbowRabbit33 Wed 10-Jul-13 23:57:42

I work in a fairly free and easy office work-wear wise (we don't see much of the outside world!), and I think only the very young and very slim would get away with it. And then only just. As soon as you're management it would be a no no.

Mind you, I'm the one almost vomming over the number of feet on show this week, so maybe not the best judge!

LadyIsabellaWrotham Wed 10-Jul-13 23:59:06

We have a very "straight" work dress code. Sleeveless dresses are acceptable. Strappy ones are not.

ilovesooty Thu 11-Jul-13 00:09:23

Not acceptable for school I'd say. In my job casual wear is the norm, but no one would wear something strappy or showing bare shoulders. Before now I've had a quiet word with a couple of members of staff who were showing a bit too much when bending down/leaning forward.

allaflutter Thu 11-Jul-13 00:13:34

what about sleeveless not strapless, but slightly see-through? I've noticed that lots of shops this nowadays sell stuff made of very thin fabric - Topshop has great cuts but again thin fabric, it's the way they keep their prices down maybe. So if it's not clingy or strappy but the (black, solid) bra shows through the black or coloured fabric a bit - is that ok on a 35+yr old? not a teacher, I hasten to add, as that's obviously a no.
But even not at work, but say gatherings with older relatives? I'd be horrified to know people think it's inappropriate as quite a few of my tops are like this. I'm not busty though, so it's not like it's in anyones faces grin but still - maybe I'm past it due to age! It's something you'd definitely wear on holiday, but this weather is so unusual here, that it's a grey area re what's acceptable.

MidniteScribbler Thu 11-Jul-13 01:38:17

Sleeveless is ok at our school, but strappy with exposed bra straps would not be. We regularly teach in temperatures over 30 degrees, even up to 40, so wearing a sleeveless dress or nice top wouldn't be an issue here.

Onesleeptillwembley Thu 11-Jul-13 02:12:20

It looks sloppy, and therefore unprofessional. Also, wearing straps will not make you warmer than not. I would have thought that anybody in a professional position, no matter how minor, would wish to present themselves in a professional manner.

garlicsmutty Thu 11-Jul-13 02:36:38

Flutter, more expensive tops in very fine fabrics come with a little vest, don't they? I think if you're keen to look 'together', then you need to find a suitable underlayer - or a smooth bra that actually matches your skin.

I think I understand what you mean about being 35+. It can be frustrating when you and your skin are still in good shape, but your status dictates more grown-up outfits than you could get away with ten years ago. It's certainly do-able; just think a little more upmarket!

Then you can look forward to rapid ageing around the menopause - to my own surprise, I am relishing my crinkly, unevenly-coloured chest & upper arms ... nothing's going to make me look smooth & chic in this weather, so I'm cheerfully revealing my flaws along with all the other older women grin

EugenesAxe Thu 11-Jul-13 02:38:37

I think a camisole-type strap would seem a bit casual. I'd have no problem with a blouse that cut off at the shoulder, or a cami under a light cardi.

trinity0097 Thu 11-Jul-13 04:11:07

Wide straps yes, thin straps no!

I used to work in a classroom that got up to about 35 degrees plus in the summer, and with it being on the 2nd storey restricted opening windows! They didn't prepare me on my PGCE for dealing with a 15 year old girl that was too hot so took off her school shirt and stripped down to her bra!!!

rabbitlady Thu 11-Jul-13 04:13:14

you should be fully covered in school, no strappy tops, no strapless tops, no cleavage in any direction and a skirt that reaches your knees (top of knee is fine, any thigh exposure isn't). nothing lycra.

MidniteScribbler Thu 11-Jul-13 04:20:53

What about teaching PE rabbitlady? Or when we take students swimming?

Want2bSupermum Thu 11-Jul-13 04:29:31

When considering my workwear I like to think along the lines of 'Would a man be ok dressing like this?' For that reason I don't wear sandals or expose my underarms. I do wear short sleeved tops/dresses. I always wear tights or stockings too. I don't want men to ever think they can expose their feet, underarms or not wear socks.

PeriodMath Thu 11-Jul-13 04:32:17

Good point. Imagine a male teacher showing up to work in a wife-beater.

I think it dies depend on your workplace but in a school? Go conservative I'm afraid. If you're exposing more skin than your pupils, you need to rethink the outfit.

imademarion Thu 11-Jul-13 06:43:31

YABU. It's school not the beach.

You don't need to provide any unnecessary distraction.

Shoulders have been 'sexy' for centuries. Winterhalter?

What's wrong with dressing professionally? Teachers in the tropics do it daily. In my school, they also wore black academic gowns!

katydid02 Thu 11-Jul-13 06:46:41

It's against the dress code at the school I work in.

nkf Thu 11-Jul-13 06:52:39

A strappy top is a bit beach wear, I think. What about bare arms? I have been wondering about this. Other people in my workplace do, but the very senior people seem to keep their jackets on at all times.

HoratiaNelson Thu 11-Jul-13 07:40:20

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with having your shoulders out - it depends on the item of clothing. I wear dress suits for work, and the dresses are sleeveless, in this weather, if I'm in the office I take my jacket off and voila! I have bare shoulders. It is neither problem or unprofessional. If you wear either a properly tailored sleeveless dress, or you can get sleeveless tops which don't have so much of a strap, but quite a substantial width, then you'll be perfectly acceptably dressed.

MrsMelons Thu 11-Jul-13 07:50:05

Sleeveless is fine but not strappy.

I work in an office so it can be a bit more flexible but unless I know I am in the office with just one or two people I wouldn't usually wear a strappy top but often wear sleeveless ones as it looks a bit more formal.

Helpyourself Thu 11-Jul-13 07:56:16

I've worn a vest top at school. However it was in a v hot classroom, reception and I wore a jacket outside the classroom.

orangeandemons Thu 11-Jul-13 07:59:02

Absolutely not. Inappropriate. In our school, the 6th formers aren't allowed to wear them.

I used to wear strappy tops at work all the time, so I suppose it depends where you work. This was at a big London office where the men had to wear suits. I really struggled wearing anything else because I suffer from a form of Urticaria. I get overheated incredibly easily (even in winter) and come out in big horrible itchy hives, which were pretty debilitating until I finally managed to get taken seriously by the doctor and get some proper medication. Even walking into town in a t-shirt would make it happen, and a hot bath used to make me swell up so badly I could feel my throat closing.

I think if worn in the right way they can look professional, but I can understand people not agreeing with me. I just had to make do with what I was physically able to wear and be comfortable at work. My boss never had an issue. But obviously this wasn't a school so I can't comment there.

soontobeburns Thu 11-Jul-13 08:23:41

Oh guess im unprofessional then. Oh well its only a temp job grin

ThreeMusketeers Thu 11-Jul-13 08:29:38

Not a professional look for teachers.

echt Thu 11-Jul-13 08:35:25

I think the flesh revelation is less about the arms, as sleeveless dresses seem acceptable, but the strappy top exposes chest, shoulders and back, and is usually, though not always, cut lower in the front.

I wouldn't do it myself.

Bonsoir Thu 11-Jul-13 08:37:42

Sleeveless blouses and dresses are fine in very hot weather but strappy tops are very unprofessional. As a rule of thumb, if you uncover one normally covered area of your body, be reasonably modest with the rest.

imademarion Thu 11-Jul-13 08:38:40

If you really cannot cope with the heat, something loose in linen has been proven, for centuries, to be your best bet.

2rebecca Thu 11-Jul-13 09:25:29

It doesn't look seductive, it just looks sloppy and unprofessional. Why do so many people think they have to take their clothes off to be cool? A loose cotton long sleeved top will be cooler than a tight strappy one.

OctopusPete8 Thu 11-Jul-13 09:37:18

I don't think a strapless maxi dress with like a necklace would look too bad.

echt Thu 11-Jul-13 09:40:08

Strapless maxi? In a school?? Trying to imagine the moment the teacher puts her foot in the hem and pulls the top of the maxi down.

orangeandemons Thu 11-Jul-13 11:02:26

Heh heh at strapless maxi! All those adolescent boys and their rampaging hormones...

happygirl87 Thu 11-Jul-13 11:05:40

When I worked in retail (in last 5 years) tops had to have straps which were minimum 1.5 inches thick, and the bosses would measure with a tape measure.......

meganorks Thu 11-Jul-13 11:12:35

I have a vest top that I think is suitable in the office - wide straps, high neck, loose linen type fit. But thin straps I would say no, and strapless definitely not! That said in my office you can wear what you want so would probably be ok.

BadRoly Thu 11-Jul-13 11:15:24

I wouldn't (and didn't) in a secondary school but I have an ample bosom and wouldn't want to make hormone ravaged teenagers lives any more awkward!

Damnautocorrect Thu 11-Jul-13 11:53:39

I second no to spaghetti straps, yes to wider straps.

Blu Thu 11-Jul-13 11:59:04

It's a school, there is a certain professional formality, and I think strapless tops etc are too informal / beachy.

It isn't to do with being sexy or not, it's just that an accepted level of professional workwear rarely features expanses of bare flesh.

Otherwise, why not go the whol hog and wear a bikini?

I tried loose cotton AND linen long sleeves etc...the only thing that allowed me to regulate my temperature properly on most days was strappy cotton vest tops. I wasn't just trying to be awkward, it was genuinely the best thing that worked for me. Spending half of my life an itchy, swollen, blotchy mess really wasn't a lot of fun, I did what I could to get by. Now I've found medication that works I can wear what the hell I like and it's SO liberating grin

Not being able to wear layers or jumpers in winter was a right pain in the arse. Anything covering my armpit area would set off an attack if worn for longer than 10 minutes. Strange thing is, I'm not even a sweaty person.

flowery Thu 11-Jul-13 12:03:47

Strappy? No.

Strapless? Good grief absolutely no.

Sleeveless? Smart top or tailored dress, fine.

specialsubject Thu 11-Jul-13 12:05:41

I would say no bare shoulders. Perhaps a top with thin straps but there must be a loose shirt over it. Cap sleeves are plenty.

the kids don't really want to see cleavages. And as for the strapless, no.

doingthesplitz Thu 11-Jul-13 12:34:14

I would say no as well. I've seen a few people where I work coming in wearing low cut maxi dresses or very skimpy t-shirts and it just doesn't look right. The unstated dress code has relaxed in this very hot weather and casual dresses, flip flops or floaty tops with knee length leggings are being worn and look fine.

alemci Thu 11-Jul-13 12:51:31

I must admit I wore a sleeveless top to work which was like a shell top so highish round neck as I found that if i got too hot my underarms would be wet on top which is embarrass ing but not in sleveless ones.

however not comfortable with strappy or vest tops unless thick straps and higher neck and desperate, a few years ago we were allowed to dress casual in another workplace as it got so hot 1 summer. did help

ZZZenagain Thu 11-Jul-13 12:52:36

THere is nothing wrong with shoulders IMO but a top with thin straps would give you a vulnerable, fragile look IMO which isn't the image you need as a teacher. In my work environment I can pretty much wear what I want but I wouldn't wear a strappy top or dress even in the heat because I am kind of the boss so to some extent, I have to reflect that in my clothes (although not to the extent a lawyer in the city has to). As everyone else has said, a tailored dress or top with wide straps can look professional, a tshirt or sundress with wide straps which is not low cut might also be fine if you can generally wear more casual things.

MotherofDragons82 Thu 11-Jul-13 12:56:51

Strapless - Never.
Strappy - No.
Sleeveless smart top/ tailored dress - Fine (though I would team with smart shoes rather than sandals/flip flops).

DoveDovePigeon Thu 11-Jul-13 12:58:03

I work in a school and always have a scarf to wear in case I'm feeling a little too exposed. ( big boobs). I wear sleeveless shift dresses

alemci Thu 11-Jul-13 13:01:33

I used to work in mixed secondary but the school got so hot it was awful. I still tried to look reasonably covered. dont think strapless maxi is a good look but people may get round it in schools by wearing cardi or shirt in corridors.

I think the men there were peeved as the dress code wasnt fair on them in tie and shirts or the students.

always wear sandals though but not flip flops.

KevinFoley Thu 11-Jul-13 13:08:57

Not in a million years. Don't like to see feet on display in birkenstock or similar either. looks unprofessional.

theredhen Thu 11-Jul-13 14:25:24

I work I'm an office in a traditional profession (ie not funky) and my colleague turned up in about tube yesterday! shock

theredhen Thu 11-Jul-13 14:30:25

Boob tube - sorry. wink

samandi Thu 11-Jul-13 15:59:42

I don't think it's particularly professional, especially for a school. I wouldn't wear bare shoulders to work and I've worked in some pretty relaxed places, dresscode-wise. But then I can be a bit of a prude when it comes to workwear.

allaflutter - see though tops are just as bad in my book, if not more so. I really don't want to see women's bras under their clothing. Would you expect to see a man wearing a see-though top in a professional environment?

samandi Thu 11-Jul-13 16:01:38

And it's nothing to do with shoulders being seductive confused

OctopusPete8 Thu 11-Jul-13 16:07:29

strapless maxi's aren't that sexy neither are shoulders really, I'm sure it won't cause a lust riot grin

PeriodMath Thu 11-Jul-13 17:31:31

Are students allowed to wear sandals and maxi dresses?

krasnayaploshad Thu 11-Jul-13 18:42:28

Bare shoulders at work - no, it's unprofessional.
The excuse that's hot doesn't wash with me because I can't see how strappy top is cooler than a short sleeved t-shirt or shirt once it gets hot.
As someone else said, men will be wearing trousers & shirts (maybe short sleeve) so why should women be allowed to have bare shoulders?

amothersplaceisinthewrong Thu 11-Jul-13 18:45:26

Covered shoulders at work, especially a school.

Also no maxi dresses, or hippy dippy clothes if you want to be taken seriously!

Smart tailored dress, with no sleeves, yes.

NotAQueef Thu 11-Jul-13 18:47:14

I don't like seeing armpits so prefer a covered shoulder/top of arm <weirdo>

sparkle12mar08 Thu 11-Jul-13 18:48:14

As others have said, in our school, strappy camilsoles would be a no go, as would strapless. A smart sleevless top or dress with wide straps and a neckline that exposes no cleavage, only the collarbone area, would be absilutely fine.

Bluestocking Thu 11-Jul-13 18:51:05

OctopusPete, I suspect the general reaction among teenagers at school to a teacher in a strapless maxi would be total revulsion - which would be just as distracting as if it was seductive. Totally inappropriate for school!
There's a woman at my workplace who's been turning up for work in a range of desperately inappropriate shoulder-baring outfits. Yes, we all get that you got very brown on your recent holiday and have no strapmarks in your tan - now put your acres of flesh away, please!

reggiebean Thu 11-Jul-13 18:57:52

Yes, I think a strappy top is unprofessional. If I wear a sleeveless sheath dress, I'll bring a cardigan. If I'm at my desk, I'll have it off, but if I go into meetings or am meeting with clients or anything, my cardigan goes back on which is so annoying in this weather.

Alisvolatpropiis Thu 11-Jul-13 22:34:14

Sleeveless shift dresses/blouses are fine. Thin straps not so much. The company I work for has a relaxed dress code but specifies no strappy vest tops. Most ignore it granted but I suppose it's there because of perception of what is sti work wear and what is not.

alemci Fri 12-Jul-13 09:38:50

Kras for me it was better to wear a sleeveless top as I outlined earlier. otherwise I take 2 similar tops and change them over. I don't like anyone to see my cleavage but where I work you do see some sights from Staff.

thank goodness I am not in work 'til September especially not this week. i

Trills Fri 12-Jul-13 09:43:09

Does your school have a sixthform? Do they wear uniform, or "office wear"? If they are supposed to dress smartly but not in uniform then the rule would be "would you be happy for them to be wearing it?".

My DD (15) isn't allowed to wear, or do PE in a strappy top, the same rule should then apply to staff (except make up).

It is about looking professional.

How hot it is has nothing to do with needing to wear less clothes, it is the fabric that is important and the fit, people manage to be fully covered in other countries, Eygpt, India, Rome etc, in work (and about), wearing cotton/linen etc, which keeps the body cooler than a clingy vest top.

alemci Fri 12-Jul-13 10:01:05


not sure if you were asking me. 6th form is ultra scruffy. they are allowed to wear most things.

I dress conservatively but on a couple of days I wore a sleeveless top which came up reasonably high on the neck so no cleavage. I think i still looked fine.

also some schools are like greenhouses with lots of glass and no air con as in some offices.

flipchart Fri 12-Jul-13 10:05:57

I read this thread before I went to work yesterday.
I went into a staff meeting and checked out what everyone was wearing.
Bloke 1 shorts and polo shirt
Bloke 2 jeans and a superdry t shirt
manager knee length skirt and sleeveless vest top with sequins
deputy manager 3/4 pants with spaghetti top vest
women 2 had white trousers with t shirt tops, 1 had denim mini skirt and vest top. I had a Sundress on and another had a White Stuff skirt and linen shirt

Everyone looked good.

Trills Fri 12-Jul-13 10:18:29

Sixth forms in schools (as opposed to separate sixth forms) generally have an "office wear" dress code.

I was mainly asking the OP, since she was asking what was appropriate dress code for a teacher.

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