Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader's Office Holiday Party Gets out of Hand

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am lucky enough to be taking a tropical vacation this winter. After some research, I learned that there are topless beaches on the island I will be visiting. Although I will not be taking advantage of that, I assumed that this meant I could wear a G-string on the beach to not have unfavorable tan lines. My fiance said that the topless opportunity only extended to the top half of the body. Are there any rules or common etiquette for a situation like this? -- Top On, Rochester, New York

DEAR TOP ON: The rules around topless and nude beaches vary a bit from place to place, although the idea is that there is a level of freedom for women to be without a top on a topless beach. On a nude beach, women and men are welcome to go completely without clothing.

As far as a G-string goes, wearing scanty bikini bottoms is not the same thing as being naked. You can wear a G-string at a topless beach. What is also often true at many topless and nude beaches is that some people come to these beaches without disrobing. First-timers can often wear some kind of covering. At a topless beach, this could also mean wearing a bathing suit until you reach your spot on the beach and then removing your top when you lie down.

On a broader note, you and your fiance should talk about your values and beliefs about dress and states of undress in public. Since you don't want to make the choice to go topless and your boyfriend isn't into a G-string, you may want to rethink going to the topless beach. I'll bet there are plenty of regular beaches where you are headed. That is, unless you two decide to explore together without reservation and see what you experience!

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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