When a Co-Worker’s Wardrobe Causes Concern

DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker wears clothes that are two to three sizes too small and look like they’re cutting off her circulation. Everyone feels uncomfortable looking at her; she moves gingerly because of the tight clothing. We really like her, and we’re afraid to speak to her because she will surely feel hurt and may even quit. What should we do? — Samantha, Decatur, Ga.

DEAR SAMANTHA: Weight gain is probably the culprit in your co-worker’s life. She may not realize how her body has changed, or that the way she dresses is unattractive. She may not believe she can afford to update her wardrobe to meet her expanding body’s needs.

During a private moment, with the intention of being conscientious and loving, tell her you care about her and want to share a sensitive observation: You’ve noticed that her clothes are getting very tight and she seems uncomfortable in them. If you’ve ever experienced rapid weight gain or other body fluctuations, reveal your stories. Often people can hear revelations about themselves better when they are presented with personal anecdotes. Be prepared for her to negate your comments and possibly become angry with you. Stay calm and positive, but don’t tell her that others share this opinion. Ganging up on her will only make her feel self-conscious and betrayed. You can even offer to go shopping with her to help her select a few new pieces. 

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to a private party by my friend, who was invited by her friend, who was throwing the party. Apparently, there was going to be a guest list at this party. I thought it would be OK to invite another person. My friend seemed a little upset and told me that it was inconsiderate of me to do this without asking her. I think she’s overreacting to the situation. Who’s right, me or her? — Chantel, Edison, N.J.

 Chantel: You definitely should have asked about inviting someone else before you extended the invitation. You could have faced a very awkward situation: your guest could have been turned away at the door. As it is, your friend is angry with you. Don’t presume anything when it comes to invitations. Ask for clarification before you proceed.