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Can I wear a sheer blouse with a dark bra to the office? Add to ...

The question: What do men think of the coloured bra under the sheer or white blouse? I’ve always thought a dark bra adds visual interest to a plain sheer shirt, but I’m wondering if it’s office-appropriate. Is it sophisticated or slutty?

The answer: First a philosophical generality: Sophisticated and slutty are not mutually exclusive. The opposite of stylish is not slutty or vulgar; it is bland. Seismic changes in public standards of taste have been effected by designers or subcultures (Westwood, McQueen, punk rock, etc.) that have deliberately embraced what was at the time considered vulgar. And you are right indeed that a visible bra adds visual interest – for men, maybe a little too much interest. It’s a hot look that suggests sensuality. That’s not a problem anywhere but the workplace. In an office, you don’t want us to be too pleased by your bra or by what your flaunting of it says about your sexual energy. Give us one glimpse of red silk under your shirt and we will be wondering what’s under your skirt. And that’s not the best emotional direction for a cohesive business or administrative team to be taking. Save it for social life after work.

Russell Smith’s latest novel, Girl Crazy , was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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