Adult person planning on being polite to roommte
July 15, 2018 7:33 AM   Subscribe

After an adulthood of living alone or with partner(s) and family, I'm about to enter a situation where I live with a roommate. I'd like to be politely dressed when I am lounging around. Please give me advice.

I'm 33F and present very androgynously. Most of my clothes came from the boys section or are otherwise gender neutral.

My soon-to-be roommate is a 31 yo cis- straight woman.

I am sure this is a bigger deal in my head than in real life. Nonetheless, for most of my life I've lived with family, by myself, or with partners. As such, my go to loungewear is a t-shirt, no bras, and a pair of men's boxers. By "loungewear" I mean things I wear when I'm cooking breakfast before I put on work clothes, or things I wear after work and when I'm just watching tv, etc.

I feel a little stupid asking this, but for those of you who live with roommates...what do you wear to be comfy at home?
posted by redwaterman to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What you describe seems fine to me. A t-shirt and boxers is enough coverage that you could go outside in it and not be arrested or humiliated, even if you might look a bit like you were wearing your pyjamas.

My philosophy on this, as a forty-something who has had an awful lot of roommates in the last few years, is that you shouldn't expose your roommates to genitalia or boobs, but you don't owe it to them to pretend you have neither. So I don't wander around the house topless, but I also don't feel the need to be wearing a bra under my top. I don't hide feminine hygiene products away so no one has to see them and realize I have a vagina, etc.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:43 AM on July 15, 2018 [28 favorites]

Do you know the roommate well? If not, I’d say start out wearing a bra and some other kind of comfy shorts that are not identifiable as underwear. As you get more comfortable with each other you can ditch the bra and get back to boxers.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 7:51 AM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Anecdata: I’m a cis man that’s had a couple of cis female roommates and I honestly couldn’t even tell you if they were wearing bras when they were in loungewear. I just wasn’t paying attention.
posted by Automocar at 8:01 AM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I agree that it's a bigger deal in your head. I think a tshirt and boxers are fine. When I lived with a roommate that was typical . 32 cis F. Who wants to wear a bra at home.
posted by the twistinside at 8:08 AM on July 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm pretty sure it's in the Constitution somewhere that no person shall be forced to wear a bra in their own home.

What you've described is totally, completely okay. If your (female!!) roommate can't handle living with someone who possesses nipples, she should not be living with another human.

A t-shirt and boxers? You're good.
posted by phunniemee at 8:10 AM on July 15, 2018 [28 favorites]

I think you're good. If you feel the need for more clothing, maybe swap out the boxers for board shorts.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:13 AM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

My standard with room-mates who are not family would be, what would I wear to pick up the mail or if a delivery were coming? So I would say some sort of outerwear bottom (pajamas, shorts, a bathrobe) rather than boxers, but no bra seems fine.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:14 AM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

So If you’re wearing boxers (assuming the kind that opens in the front) as shorts, with other underwear underneath, then it sounds fine to me. If you’re wearing them as underwear I would say can you do actual shorts? Unless I was already close with my roommate I would feel weird about seeing them in their underwear.
posted by brilliantine at 8:15 AM on July 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

For what it's worth, I think what you describe sounds perfectly reasonable and it wouldn't raise the slightest eyebrow with me. But +10 for you for thinking about how to be a good space-sharer!!
posted by mccxxiii at 8:18 AM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I (cis F) lived with my best friend (cis M) for years. What you're describing sounds fine to me. I would wear loose pants or capris or PJ bottoms and a t-shirt at home. No bra ( My BFF would wear shorts or pants and t-shirts. The main thing is to be comfortable without risking accidental exposure of parts of your body you don't want exposed. Basically, if you'd be willing to take the garbage out or go get the mail in it (maybe not go shopping, but go briefly out in public), you're probably fine.

And yes, you're on track to be an awesome roommate.
posted by biscotti at 8:39 AM on July 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

When we have overnight guests, I usually wear jogging pants, a t-shirt, and an underwire-free bra. I find that jogging pants provide a little more coverage that something tighter (like leggings) would, and I have a few pairs that are made of material so thin that I don't think I'd be cooler in shorts. And a soft bra without an underwire gives a little extra support without being uncomfortable.
posted by neushoorn at 8:41 AM on July 15, 2018

No roommates, but if I stay at a friend's house or am sharing a hotel room with friends my standard is: "Can one see my areola through this teeshirt?" If no, no bra. If so, then I have a super lightweight seamless bra I pop on. (I think it's a Hanes comfort bra.) This only happens with the rattiest of tees that I should have retired years ago, so YMMV.

But that's me and I'm self-conscious about that.
posted by kimberussell at 8:41 AM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think you are fine as well, but I wanted to recommend what I think are very comfortable, affordable but slightly above the boxer look if you are interested. Target's Gilligan & O'Malley pajama shorts and lounge pants , tanks and t-shirts. They come in basic colors each season and also some prints. They are light weight and so soft. I wish I never had to wear real clothes.
posted by maxg94 at 9:17 AM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

The rule of thumb I use is, if my pubes and nipples are covered then I'm good. (The 'pubes' part means I can't just wear bikini-style underwear - it has to be shorts-length.) Maybe consider swapping the boxers for something that's technically not underwear, if you're feeling self-conscious about it, but you absolutely do not have to wear a bra around your roommate.

That being said, this is the kind of thing where I bet you'll both feel better if you just talk it out up front. "[XYZ] is how I usually dress when I'm lounging around, do you have any issues with that?" I have this conversation whenever I get a new roommate and it's always made things feel less awkward, not more.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:21 AM on July 15, 2018 [12 favorites]

I think this sounds good and I used to wear similar. I did keep a knee-length, lightweight robe on a hook over the back of my bedroom door so that I could toss that on within 5 seconds if I ever felt uncomfortable (whoops, roommate had someone stay over! Whoops, feeling nippy! Whoops, wish I had more clothes on!) A robe is easy and can provide a lot of coverage (tied closed around the body) or just a little (left open). Plus, although I initially thought it would be too “floppy” to lounge in, I soon adjusted and would forget I was even wearing it. (I sometimes fall asleep in my robe!)
posted by samthemander at 9:36 AM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

My main concern with traditional boxers would be the opening in front. I used to wear men’s boxers in high school, and if I sat just so, everything is on display. But I have quite a few Tomboy boxers that avoid that problem and I have zero issue wearing them in front of company.
posted by politikitty at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

What you're wearing is fine. She probably also lounges around without a bra on, and there's nothing wrong with wearing boxers, whether or not you are wearing something underneath them. You are not obligated to bend over backward to make sure a cis straight person is comfortable at the expense of your own comfort.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:12 AM on July 15, 2018

I don't think your clothes sound unreasonable at all. Boxers + t-shirt is a cute look. I'm a cis-straight woman and the first time a roommate comes out with no bra I notice the different look, think about it for two seconds, then never think about it again.

I wouldn't care about a boxer gap. I'm just not looking there and if I did see beyond the cloth, I would consider it my own responsibility not to look again.

Sometimes I wear a tank top under a t-shirt to get the middle ground between bra/no bra. ybacmv (your body and comfort may vary).
posted by ramenopres at 10:33 AM on July 15, 2018

I did not mean for that to be so gender shame-y. To clarify, as your roommate I would feel comfortable seeing you in traditional boxers. If I accidentally saw something intimate I’d look away, chastising myself for accidentally gazing so intently on your crotch to registered it.

But as the wearer I would find myself policing the gap too much to really feel loungey. I actually stopped wearing boxers as loungewear when I went to college and acquired roommates for the first time. (But I also became more comfortable in traditionally feminine clothing overall, so I might be over projecting)
posted by politikitty at 10:46 AM on July 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

My husband and I have two female roommates right now. I kind of live in a uniform of 3/4-sleeve t-shirts (with a tail that mostly covers my butt) and always at least a bralette, and bike shorts or looser athletic-type shorts or yoga/lounge pants. My husband wears at least a t-shirt and shorts, sometimes lounge pants but he is uncomfortable wearing the thinner summer-weight ones that are a little clingy. We do not wear actual underwear as an outermost layer in common areas.

We have robes (winter and summer weights) we wear out to the hot tub or when taking dogs on emergency trips outside at night, and I'll put my robe on if I'm obviously braless for whatever reason. I am almost always in a bralette or something for heat and support anyway, and it's not like bralettes are especially nipple-obscuring, so I'm not mandating any sort of hardcore coverage but it seems like the right middle ground.

I feel like potentially showing your uncovered pubic area to roommates is a little much, but there's lots of shorts out there that are very much like boxers without a flap or obviously outlining cling.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:07 AM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just wear cotton dresses/caftans, v-neck, knee-length or long, sleeveless or not. Just toss it on and you're dressed. You don't have to wear any underwear at all, if you don't want to. With pockets, of course. You can sleep in them, if you want to. Way more comfortable than anything else. In winter, I have silk pjs, snazzy enough to wear outside if need be, also with pockets, and robes if it's really cold. But the caftans are year-round garments to me. If I had a roommate who wears t-shirts and boxers, that would be fine.
posted by MovableBookLady at 11:08 AM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I would have zero problems with what you describe. No bras required unless they make you more comfortable.

BUT tee and boxers reads as (modest) underwear or sleepwear to me, not “loungewear.” Loungewear to me is soft indoor clothes like jogger style pants or board length shorts, i.e., not street clothes but a bit more coverage than boxers. Do you plan to wear undies underneath the boxers? I had a male roommate who wore a tee and boxers around and while I didn’t have a problem with it, he did inadvertently flash a few times which was icky.
posted by kapers at 11:44 AM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Your attire is fine. Nobody ever has to wear a bra who doesn't want to wear a bra, at home or any-fucking-where-else.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:52 AM on July 15, 2018 [12 favorites]

The lack of bra is fine - you have a t-shirt on, there won’t be anything on display.

I agree that the boxers might be a bit too revealing - I wore boxers as underwear in my early 20s too, and I would put joggers or some kind of shorts on over the top if I was sitting around at home. They are ok for a quick dash to the toilet overnight, but if you're sitting around the house you need something longer, that fastens up in front. I don’t want an eyeful of my room-mate’s pubes, sorry.
posted by tinkletown at 11:55 AM on July 15, 2018

I have a largish bosom. I'll generally go braless in front of female roommates. With male roommates or if the teeshirt is thin, or in that cautious phase of getting to know a new female roommate, I might throw a soft hoodie or flannel shirt over the tee for extra coverage.

My dealings with boxers are limited so I can't speak to that. Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 12:23 PM on July 15, 2018

BUT tee and boxers reads as (modest) underwear or sleepwear to me, not “loungewear.”

This is where I come down. Your choices sound fine for the situation you describe. That said, a guy walking around in boxers (with nothing underneath) is walking around in their underwear. Which I think is fine for "Heading from bedroom to bathroom" or "Grabbing coffee" but in my world (uptight New England world) I wouldn't wear it for around the house in case my roommate had people over. I do see it as different from loungewear which would be shorts without a gaping front fly (could still be boxer style) and a t-shirt that wasn't white/see-through. No bra seems AOK fine.

So like underwear in public areas when you live with a roommate (of any gender): sure. Underwear in public areas when people are over: a bit too casual.
posted by jessamyn at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

I am fairly conservative when it comes to clothing. I wouldn't be "uncomfortable" as such if you were sitting around the house in boxers, but I would notice and think "I guess she has different rules about clothes to me". In my mind, boxers are underwear and therefore aren't for sitting around in.

(I think my dad is the only person I know whose underwear habits I am privy to that wears boxers. Boxer-brief wearing people I have known put gym shorts on if they're sitting around "undressed". My dad will stand at the kitchen counter and read the paper in his boxers (I'm sure you wanted to know that), but doesn't sit down, presumably because of the gaping issue. Or because he's half dressed.)
posted by hoyland at 12:56 PM on July 15, 2018

I hang around home in tshirts with no bra but I’m mildly plump and DDD with middle aged droop so I throw on a lightweight zip hoodie over if I’m stepping outside to get the mail or water the plants. Houseguests I don’t need the hoodie for if they’re close friends. But that’s just my boundary.
posted by matildaben at 2:05 PM on July 15, 2018

I'm a cis-woman who has had a variety of roommates over the years, including many cis-women. T-shirts with no bras are pretty much the norm; there are no worries there. I usually lounge around in drawstring shorts or pajama bottoms. I did have a pair of boxers for awhile that I loved to wear, but I always wore regular underwear underneath them because of the flap. This would be my only cause of concern because you may find yourself moving or sitting in positions that expose yourself to your roommate.

That said, I don't know your roommate, so I'd go slightly above your normal comfy wear for a few days until you can better gauge her comfort level.
posted by acidnova at 2:59 PM on July 15, 2018

FWIW, Metafilter skews a little conservative when it comes to modesty. Most of my friends (mostly older millennials with a strong queer/poly factor) wouldn'tn eyebrow about their roomies lounging in bikini panties and a singlet style shirt and toplessness isn't all that uncommon. But I've also known women that would be uncomfortable with seeing hints of other women's nipples, so there is a wide spectrum out there.

I generally would just have some quick expectation setting discussion about it.
posted by Candleman at 7:27 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

There's no woman I know who would say you had to wear a bra around them.
posted by bendy at 11:15 PM on July 16, 2018

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