Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader's Office Holiday Party Gets out of Hand

DEAR HARRIETTE: At my work holiday party, I ended up taking shots with my co-workers and other employees from different departments. We all had a great time, and my boss even ordered us a hearty lunch for our hangovers. I've never had a holiday party like this one. For future celebrations, am I expected to let as loose as I did at the holiday party? Everyone at this company loves to party! -- Fashion District, Manhattan, New York

DEAR FASHION DISTRICT: You should do what you can handle, and nothing more. The good news about your job is that your boss seemed to take care of the staff even after seemingly encouraging everyone to drink up. This does not mean that you should let your guard down and decide to be overly indulgent in the future, though. If you have the wherewithal to keep your wits about you at any office function, use that to your advantage. You can become the one who helps to ensure that nobody gets hurt. You can be the team protector. You don't need to make a fuss of this. Just keep your eyes open so that you are always alert and prepared to take care of yourself and support your team.

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 askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)