October 20, 2005

White Shirt Syndrome

I think I'm a pretty easy person to please and get along with. I think I'm a tolerant guy. Yet, like most people, I do have a few peeves. For instance, I don't like it when people don't use turn signals, make things plural using apostrophes or use "supposably" as a word. I don't like being late - I'm compulsively early - and I don't like lateness in others. I dislike excessive use of chickpeas and I think mayo is Satan's "number three". Yesterday, however, I found myself face-to-face with perhaps my biggest workplace peeve - Male White Shirt Syndrome.

White shirts exude professionalism. No other color or style of shirt is as professional or formal. But that illusion, my friends, is shattered all to hell when you find yourself staring not at a well-dressed professional but at two perky man-nipples and some sparse tufts of chest hair. This is what happens, you understand, when men wear white shirts without undershirts. And it ain't pretty.

Now, I might not always be the most level-headed person but I like to think I know the difference between right and wrong. And I know, beyond all doubt, we have a right to exist in a society that is free from the encroachment of man-nipples in the workplace. If we let the man-nipples run rampant through our society, the terrorist have truly won.

Posted by Chris at October 20, 2005 8:28 AM

i couldnt agree more. its always a dead giveaway that a man is completely single when he comes to work in a white shirt without a t-shirt. or...black pants with brown shoes. for some reason, that really bothers me.

Posted by: steph at October 20, 2005 8:35 AM

Amen. Preach on brother....

Posted by: alfredsmom at October 20, 2005 8:36 AM

I think I am going to yak at the visual I just got from that. That pet-peeve is totally up there with the "holding doors-non-thank-you" thing, lack of turn signal use, and the fact that I didn't win the Powerball last night. This is definately not the start of a good morning. I really didn't want to come into work today. Sorry if I went a little off track there...

Posted by: Michelle at October 20, 2005 8:46 AM

I so agree with you rudecactus. And heres adding on to your post...I have somebody at my workplace whose button or two are always undone. So here not only do you get to see his gold necklace but also the chest hair directly (not even under the shirt with no undershirt). I cant ever talk to the person for long...and if i do i keep looking around...and try not to look there...its horrible and very very unprofessional...
BTW I am Dee and I have been reading your blog for awhile. Love it, Love it, Love it!
Also I second you on the peeve of "Plural with apostrophes"...Have fun...Love to the bean...

Posted by: Dee at October 20, 2005 8:53 AM

But how do we feel about woman-nipples? My old boss used to love to wear this hot pink shirt that was like a second skin. I don't know what it was but every freaking time she wore the shirt, the headlights came on. Which, hey, normally that's a beautiful thing but when they belong to your VP that's just wrong.

Posted by: pea at October 20, 2005 9:27 AM

wait, there is something worse...Women who should be wearing a bra, who don't; to WORK. Now that my friend, is a sad situation.

Posted by: Heather B. at October 20, 2005 9:29 AM

Too bad smoking isn't allowed in the workplace. You could strike a match on one. Maybe he'd get the idea then.

Posted by: dragonlady474 at October 20, 2005 9:39 AM

And now I've got to fight that visual tattooed in my mind all day. Ew.

Man-nipples are the male equivalent to women's panty-lines. Or muffin top.

It's all very, very wrong.

Posted by: Pammer at October 20, 2005 9:50 AM

Thank God someone else feels this way, too. Totally love my boss, but he seems to have an aversion to the undershirt. It irks me to no end. At least he doesn't wear the short sleeve/tie combo.

Posted by: Boutros at October 20, 2005 10:00 AM

we have a conflict where I currently work. Our company has a dress code requiring men to wear dress shirts (any color is ok) but with the "proper underpinnings". Because I live in Florida where is is October but it is still extremely hot, most of the guy's I work with have a valid complaint because when wearing a dress shirt versus a polo (the preferred dress code by the guys) you must wear the "proper" underpinning. IE: undershirt. Thusly they are complaining about having to wear TWO layers versus one. (the polo) So far they have been unsuccessful. I fear they will start to show off the man nipples in protest and I wholeheartedly agree with you. It's just NOT....RIGHT! (They are not allowed to wear short sleeve dress shirts....so these poor Floridian men are covered from shoulder to wrist,double layered and fit to be tied.

Posted by: PoeticaL at October 20, 2005 10:16 AM

i think you saw my english teacher, actually. he decided to do the same thing except in his case it wasn't too surprising, he's fairly... eccentric in general.

oh and "supposably" makes me say AaSDFJKLSAJFDRAJAHSFDJALKJSFD in anger.

Posted by: kate at October 20, 2005 10:17 AM

oh and it should be noted that the females (ie:me) have to wear proper underpinnings and what is termed as "professional dress". Meaning I can wear pretty much whatever I wish within reason...including short sleeves." The women have come to the men's hot defense. You can't work happy if you're hot. (should be noted our a/c sucks!!)

Posted by: PoeticaL at October 20, 2005 10:18 AM

My boss at my old job used to not wear undershirts, yuck! And he never clipped his fingernails either. Nasty!

Posted by: Pinky at October 20, 2005 10:24 AM

Rude Cactus for President! No More Man Nips!

Posted by: Queen of Ass at October 20, 2005 10:36 AM

So that's why the men here at the newspaper are not allowed to take off their jackets during work hours... (I've always figured they're not allowed, since they never ever do)

Posted by: ava at October 20, 2005 10:45 AM

Two perky man-nipples and some sparse tufts of chest hair?

Thanks, man. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Posted by: MetroDad at October 20, 2005 10:46 AM

Satan's number three - that's twice today I wish a blog post had come with a warning - "DO NOT TAKE A DRINK OF COFFEE WHILE READING THIS ENTRY!"

And man nipples at work is just wrong! Wrong!

Posted by: Theresa at October 20, 2005 10:53 AM

man nipples
I'm hot.

Posted by: dazeymae at October 20, 2005 11:06 AM

I think you mean terrorist's, supposably. *wink*

Posted by: mooalex at October 20, 2005 11:13 AM

"If we let the man-nipples run rampant through our society, the terrorist have truly won."

HA!! so true. long live the undershirts! also, most of the pet peeves you listed apply to me as well. the turn signals, the grammar; totally. and i'm usually disgusted by mayo as well. the lateness thing, though... i'm almost always 5 minutes late to things. except for really important things like work or interviews or meetings. ok, so i'm not really ALWAYS late, but it feels like to it me. i don't LIKE to be late and i really try to NOT be late, but sometimes it happens.

Posted by: Judy at October 20, 2005 11:23 AM

Whoa! Nice visual on that one. I feel dizzy now, thanks.

I was also going to ask - do seeing women's nipples through a white shirt make you just as angry? How totally unprofessional! ;)

Posted by: VirgoJen at October 20, 2005 11:24 AM

ARGH!!! Man-nipples! Blah!

And the only place I like chest hair is on my hubby at home. Don't go hanging it out all over cuz that's just NASTY!

And truthfully, there is nothing sexier than a crisp white shirt and black pinstrip suit.

Posted by: zanie at October 20, 2005 11:30 AM


But female nipples? How do you feel about seeing those?

Posted by: angela marie at October 20, 2005 11:42 AM


Posted by: Dawnie at October 20, 2005 11:51 AM

Oh my god, you are my husbands alter ego (if you weren't a flaming liberal, that is). :)

Posted by: A.K. at October 20, 2005 12:07 PM

ewww... mipples! Makes you want to get a pair of these and slip 'em into his mailbox http://www.laurensilva.com/nipple_covers_s/9.htm

Posted by: Jen at October 20, 2005 12:16 PM

Another trait of the "white shirt without proper underpinnings wearer" is pit stains. Just thought I would truely gross everyone out.

Posted by: Mike at October 20, 2005 12:18 PM

Oh my, the undershirt is a must! I thought all men knew this. Isn't that part of the film they show you guys when they separate out the girls and the boys in junior high? "Use a condom, and always wear an undershirt, fellas!"

It annoys me when some women are in denial about the existence of their own facial hair. Be not ye too proud to seek a lip or brow wax!!!!

Posted by: donna at October 20, 2005 12:19 PM

Oh, my. You always have the best rants, Chris, ones I can totally get behind. Especially about the apostrophies! Oh, and exspecially, as well as supposably, drives me batty.

Posted by: Heather at October 20, 2005 12:28 PM

My word pet peeve is "prolly" instead of probably.

And chest hair is never okay in the workplace.

Posted by: Veronica at October 20, 2005 12:34 PM

Ugh. My other white shirt pet peeve is when women purposely buy a super see-through white shirt to try and draw attention to themselves. Pathetic!!

Posted by: Kitty at October 20, 2005 1:04 PM

Ok, living in Europe I have come to appriciate man nipples, much in the same way I appriciate smelly soft cheese and good wine. I am sure I have never seen a European wear an undershirt - but what I find hard to deal with are man nipples, perched upon man boobs, peering through a white shirt...

Posted by: Amber at October 20, 2005 1:14 PM

See this isn't so much as a pet peeve for me so much as it evens the score. I can stare at man boobs. This must be an american phenomenon because I've yet to run into it in our office, fortunately.

And the biggest pet peeve for me is nose, ear and back hair. There's nothing worse than that.

And apparently I'm a b*tch and I have to stop reading your blog. ha.

Posted by: Grace at October 20, 2005 1:28 PM

yes, men should wear undershirts all the time. Nipples are gross. Always.

My husband is a hero and wears an undershirt every single day. As do I (but that's more because I am cold all the damn time and need the layers to stop from freezing to death).

Posted by: Isabel at October 20, 2005 1:41 PM

LMAO...oh my goodness. The white shirt syndrome is my pet peeve too!

Posted by: Colleen at October 20, 2005 1:49 PM

Hear hear! Down with the man nips. That's so inappropriate.

Also, I share your extreme distaste for the word "supposably" and it IS often used incorrectly but, as I learned right before a lecture I gave, it is a real word that means "conceivable". Sadly. I hereby propose that we abolish it anyway on the grounds that it sounds really, really stupid.

Posted by: Ms. Q at October 20, 2005 1:53 PM

Here is a link, should anyone doubt me. Dictionary.com

Posted by: Ms. Q at October 20, 2005 1:57 PM

Your fascination with man-nipples (mapples? mipples?) is intriguing and also vaguely disturbing.

Posted by: bhd at October 20, 2005 1:58 PM

oh i agree with you one hundred and 97% on the mayo. if it comes into contact with my food, i start to act like a victim of peanut allergies after eating a peanut butter sandwich. i had to practice long and hard to be able to swell up my own face, but it makes people take the "no mayo" request seriously.

Posted by: jodi at October 20, 2005 2:00 PM

And here I thought I was the only one who didn't like mayo. I use the "I'm allergic" excuse, too, but people really don't seem to want to believe it when I say I don't like it.

Oh, and I can't stand the lady at the gym who works out with no bra and a t-shirt with ripped off sleeves. And she's not tiny, either!

Posted by: Jen at October 20, 2005 2:11 PM

We share many of the same peeves. I freak out when I'm even a tiny bit late. I think what's worse in regards to the shirt is when it is an ill-fitting shirt. As in way too tight. Actually, that's kind of a peeve no matter what color the shirt is. But uh...I digress.

A not-pet-peeve of mine regarding businessy shirts is when they're comfy-fitting and obviously cut that way to try and hide a little pudgy tummy. I *heart* pudgy tummies.

Posted by: Rhonda at October 20, 2005 2:12 PM

In addition to the no-undershirt deal, we have some middle aged men at my office who wear t-shirts on Fridays. The last thing I need at the end of a tough week is a view of the flabby, girly-man triceps of senior management. The combo of a tie with a short-sleeved shirt bothers my fashion sense, but it's not actually nauseating.

I, too, hate the use of "'s" to make a plural. And "supposably" instead of "supposedly." And the use of "irregardless," which is not really a word.

Posted by: MamaKaren at October 20, 2005 2:17 PM

Did he wear a heavy gold chain too? That's just sad and really disgusting!

Posted by: Amber at October 20, 2005 2:58 PM

ew and ew.
that's all i have to say.

Posted by: ali at October 20, 2005 3:15 PM


Posted by: autumn at October 20, 2005 3:50 PM

I am never sure if I leave my e-mail address. Even though I click on "remember personal info" it doesn't.

Posted by: Grace at October 20, 2005 3:56 PM

Blech! I'd rather see the white dress shirt without the undershirt than what I see each day. One of my professors has a large sagging belly that folds over his pants and none of his shirts are long enough to cover it. I cringe each time he writes on the board.

Posted by: Jaycie at October 20, 2005 6:43 PM

This brought to mind the "Seinfeld" episode about the man-bra... P.S. SUPPOSABLY?! Are 'professionals' uttering that word??

Posted by: Marilyn at October 20, 2005 7:42 PM

As much as I love men's nipples, I really don't think that anybodies nipples should be visible at work. While we are sort of on the subject - not much is hotter than a man in a white business shirt with cufflinks - yummmmm.

Posted by: Theresa at October 20, 2005 8:00 PM


Ok, well, my boss, who thinks he is a very snappy dresser, he wears denim shorts a la Debbie Gibson in Electric Youth, has taken to wearing pants lately. For which we are all grateful. Except they are:
1. Too tight and reveal more of him than I need
2. Lower rise, but since he is a child of the 80s (or something) he pulls them and belts them too high... which only serves to highlight problem #1.

Excuse me, I need to go give my self a frontal lobotomy now...

Posted by: Nat at October 20, 2005 8:24 PM

As I was reading this post, I was also eating a salad...with chickpeas! I love chickpeas. The more the better. :)

Posted by: Zandria at October 20, 2005 10:12 PM

i too hate mayo. passionately. however, i've not yet been accosted by the man-nipples in white shirt. but i feel your pain... ;)

Posted by: suze at October 20, 2005 10:53 PM

my husband wears t-shirts under button downs even when its like 120 degrees **thank God!**

maybe men who don't should check the thread count of their shirts!

Posted by: bellacara at October 20, 2005 11:28 PM

You have me in absolute hysterics! I for one agree with the man nipple scenario. I have seen that before, and it only leaves me to wonder "Did his wife see him on the way out the door?" Then again, most offenders are single dudes. I also get totally peeved when women show a lot of cleavage. Is it really necessary to show your ample bosoms to the entire office?

I also abhor when people say 'supposably'. Grammatical faux pas are more annoying to me than anything. Here in Houston - and I haven't heard it anywhere else - people say "I took the baby a bath" WHAT the HELL is that?!? You take a bath yourself, and you GIVE a baby a bath. WHAT is wrong with HUMANITY?!?

Posted by: Katie-be-bored-at-work at October 21, 2005 1:07 AM

I know when I see that I always HAVE to look. I than look at their faces and think...is the light on, anyone home?" Gah.

It's almost as bad as my business ethics professor who wore wife beaters under his white dress shirt and I could see the million tattoos of his body it was TACKY. I'm NOT a tattoo person either.

Posted by: Michele at October 21, 2005 2:24 AM

Me and my running on Latina time is sending me to hell then isnt it ;)

Posted by: stinkerbell at October 21, 2005 6:11 AM

I thoroughly enjoy coming to your site after being out of the blog loop for a while and finding the laugh-out-loud funny posts from you! Yes, white shirts without undershirts are GROSS. So are gold chains with one too many buttons unbuttoned.

Posted by: catbird at October 21, 2005 11:01 AM


Can perky man- nipples be any worse than the unsexy sight of a deathly boring white (white!) undershirt under a deathly boring white (white!) shirt? Not sure

Posted by: nina at October 21, 2005 11:35 AM

What the hell have you got against mayo? GOSH. Miracle whip I could see ...

Posted by: chepooka at October 21, 2005 8:19 PM

What a great blog! 59 Comments! It's a glory!
You are right, elegance is always welcome, even in Brazil, a very hot country!

Posted by: Sonia at October 23, 2005 10:07 AM

Bewewewew. When I started at the company I work for now I was 17. The 1st O/T Saturday I got to work I was so excited, I could wear jeans to the OFFICE! I also got to see my boss in a polo shirt and could see the rather large circumference of his aereolas and n-i-p-p-l-e-s. mort T fied.

Yes I hate saying that word.

Posted by: LooLoo at October 23, 2005 6:58 PM

White undershirt goes on everyday no matter what type of outer shirt I'm wearing that day. The undershirt usually shows under open collar shirts or outer T shirts but I think it is still better than no undershirt. White crewnecks only, v necks feel wrong, What does everyone think about that?

Posted by: Lee at October 30, 2005 11:37 PM