What is the threshold for neighborly decent exposure?
March 18, 2010 10:53 AM   Subscribe

I moved into a new apartment where my back windows now face other neighbors, not too close, but not very far either. This exchange of views is a new thing to me. My question is: how dressed up do you have to be in order to avoid offending the neighborhood? Anyone with "rear window" experiences?

I don't walk around naked, but is wearing a t-shirt and boxers considered appropriate or decent enough? I don't want to have my shades down all the time during the summer.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total)
This is what curtains or even privacy film is for.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

Tshirt and boxers is fine. The former Mr. Mayhem's kitchen has no blinds, and faces right into the neighbor's kitchen, maybe 10 feet away. We used to risk nekkid coffee making all the time.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2010

You're fine. There was occasional neighbor breast the last place I lived, and, really, as long as you're not waving your genitals at kids or something of that nature, it's not that big of a deal.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2010

I think a t-shirt and boxers would be fine, but I'm not your neighbor. Sheers are great for this. They let the light through just fine but no one can see in.
posted by cooker girl at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2010

I would consider a t-shirt and boxers the bare minimum for what you should be showing the neighbors, imho...
posted by Hanuman1960 at 10:58 AM on March 18, 2010

I came to suggest sheers. Light comes in, no one can really see in.
posted by anastasiav at 11:01 AM on March 18, 2010

If someone is offended by seeing you wearing a t-shirt and boxers in your own home they have problems. I wouldn't want someone like that peering into my home. I would just get some privacy film for your windows.
posted by amethysts at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2010

This depends a little bit on the culture. I live in Vermont where a lot of people consider people with curtains ever so slightly suspect. However, there's also a real culture of... keeping your nose out of other people's business, even if you can see right into their houses. So, I don't have curtains [though no super close neighbors] and my general feeling is that I keep my bathing suit area covered and assume that people will basically pretend they haven't seen me. Sheers are also great but keep in mind that if it's light in your apartment and dark outside, people can pretty well see in anyhow.
posted by jessamyn at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2010

I live in an apartment with pretty clear views into about ten other apartments. I was a little apprehensive about this same thing that you're concerned with, but after almost a year there I have come to realize how infrequently people look into other apartments. It's just not much of an issue.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:17 AM on March 18, 2010

I honestly couldn't care less what my neighbors are wearing - or not wearing. Who has time to worry about such things? Of course, I'm not offended by nudity, so ymmv, but I honestly feel that if they're in their own home and they aren't, you know, purposefully sexually assaulting anyone, then everyone should wear as much or as little as they choose. You want to make your morning coffee in the nude? Make your coffee in the nude. If I'm your neighbor and happen to catch a fleeting glance of your naked flesh as I'm stumbling through my own morning haze, I mean...who cares? Not like it would be a shock to realize that my neighbor had a penis, or breasts or whatever. You should only worry if you find your neighbors staring into your windows frequently, or purchasing telescopes, etc.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

How does the sun shine? Seriously, that can make a difference. Maybe they can't even see in. Also, half curtains are a nice idea. But I wouldn't worry about it too much either way if it's just a passing-through kind of naked. If you're planning on clothes-less lounging or grilled-cheese sandwich making, I'd sport for some sheers at the very least.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:31 AM on March 18, 2010

If you're male just boxers should be enough.
posted by Mitheral at 11:47 AM on March 18, 2010

We hung a stained glass window hanging, privacy and looks good.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:49 AM on March 18, 2010

Boxers are fine. You don't need a shirt. Or just put up a flimsy curtain and that will take care of them being able to see the details of your junk.
That's interesting about Vermont, I never knew there were places where people were suspicious of curtains!
posted by ishotjr at 12:31 PM on March 18, 2010

Like BozoBurgerBonanza, we have a stained-glass panel in one window. But the MrsMoonPie also did some rather striking things with stained-glass window paints from the craft store.

I don't worry too much about walking around the kitchen in my birthday suit, even though the neighbors, if in their yard and looking just right, could see me--their problem for looking, say I. But they aren't in the yard much, and I'm not nude much, so it's not much of a problem.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:34 PM on March 18, 2010

I never knew there were places where people were suspicious of curtains!
Used to live in Amsterdam (which is a pretty dense built place) and the first thing friends from abroad coming over would notice was the lack of curtains. Back in the 50s people would make a point of having nothing to hide, showing their decency, by not having curtains.
Amsterdam's become a lot less decent since then. Still no curtains in many places. Great way to get to know yr neighbours; most would wear boxers.
posted by gijsvs at 12:38 PM on March 18, 2010

Boxers are fine, but this is really what sheers are made for, and during the day they do a really good job of letting you see out and light in without letting people see in. At night they are a little more transparent going in, but you'd still have to want to be looking to see anything, instead of no window covering at all where if your eyes pass by casually, you might see nudity.
posted by rmless at 1:00 PM on March 18, 2010

Seconding ishotjr: unless you body is grotesquely unattractive, boxers are sufficient.
posted by halogen at 2:11 PM on March 18, 2010

Three days into my lease at my last apartment, I stood up out of bed naked and stretched as I looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Across the street was the old Chinese dude who owned the corner store. He was also naked, stretching in the window.

We made eye contact, I know we did. But there was not the hint of recognition from either side.

The next day we both showed up in boxers.
posted by Netzapper at 4:25 PM on March 18, 2010 [18 favorites]

This was my exact situation twice and I think the best thing is to be covered. A guy? Boxers is my guess. Don't worry about offending anyone. You won't look and neither will they (unless they are crazy - and, then, it's really not your problem so much as it is theirs).

Curtains help.
posted by marimeko at 5:14 PM on March 18, 2010

One possible solution I haven't seen mentioned are "top-down bottom-up" window shades. But I personally am in the camp of if someone is peering in my window and sees something they'd rather not see, they can look somewhere else.
posted by trip and a half at 5:55 PM on March 18, 2010

You can frost your windows.

Check at your hardware store. There is at least one product that comes in a spray can that can be used to effectively frost windows. We used it on two windows that face neighbors, and we get the light and the privacy.
posted by mbarryf at 5:41 AM on March 19, 2010

I tend to believe in the swimsuit rule: whatever swimming costumes are expected to cover wherever you live is what you're expected to cover when you're visible from the street or the neighbor's. It doesn't actually have to be a swimsuit or street shorts; if they're looking closely enough to tell that they're boxers and not shorts or swim trunks, you're not flashing, they're peeping.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:38 AM on March 19, 2010

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