Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a brownstone that has been split into small apartments. I live in one room, and the landlord's daughter lives on the other end of the hall. We share a bathroom. When I signed my lease, it was with the agreement that only the two of us would share the bathroom. The daughter's boyfriend, however, basically lives in her room. He's slept there every night for the past two months. I do not appreciate having to share the bathroom every night and morning with two people. That was not our agreement. How can I address this without creating a stink? My room is tiny, and I pay premium rent. -- Crowded Out, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR CROWDED OUT: Reach out to your landlord and express your concern. If you made an agreement that was specific to how many people live on your floor and use the shared bathroom, you certainly have the right to point out that this third party has essentially moved in. Expect a little pushback, though, since it is the landlord's daughter's boyfriend who is the person in contention. Press either for him not to be a permanent fixture or for your rent to be reduced.

DEAR HARRIETTE: In response to "Overheated," the worker who wants to wear shorts to work, I have worked in a human resources department, and the problem with letting people wear shorts to work hinges on how short the shorts are. The problem with telling employees that they can wear Bermuda shorts (to the knee) is that after a while, the shorts usually get shorter than that.

When I first started working, most women wore skirts and blouses, and in the summer it was much better than long, hot slacks. They can be dressed up with a sweater set or blouse and a short jacket. It looks professional, and it can feel cool for those who wear them. -- Old School, Chicago

DEAR OLD SCHOOL: Yes, my dear, you are right. If you simply stay away from shorts in the workplace, you will be much better off. In this time of the casual workplace, I fear that many women may consider a skirt and blouse dressy rather than comfortably casual. This is not true for everyone.

Your look back at appropriate work attire is refreshing in both practical and professional ways. Being aware of the message that you are sending to others based on the way you present yourself is important. It matters what you wear to work. My position is that you should always dress for success, whatever that means for you and your place of business. This includes on casual Fridays, hot days, inclement weather days, etc.

An easy way to be appropriate on a daily basis is to review what you have to do for the day and select a wardrobe that will make you feel comfortable throughout the day. I also recommend keeping a jacket in your workspace, if you can. A jacket can dress up most outfits in case you have to interface with a supervisor or a client.