Wardrobe Malfunctions at Work

I’ve had my share of wardrobe malfunctions at the office — as I’m sure all professional women have! Today’s guest poster, Kai Falkenberg, shares one of her personal doozies. (Kai was also good enough to share her favorite wedges for Fall 2011 — the perfect commuting shoes.) Thank you, Kai! – Kat. (Photo Credit: linuswong.)

How to Deal with Wardrobe Malfunctions at Work | CorporetteAs the newsroom lawyer for Forbes magazine, I try to dress like the editors and journalists that I advise. “They’re more likely to accept your advice if they think you’re one of them.” That’s what I was told by a panel of entertainment lawyers years ago who also said to leave the law school diplomas at home when you move in house. But there’s quite a range of attire among the editorial team here at Forbes. A good number of them wear jackets and ties, but jeans are common too and even Birkenstocks. Some are known for their unusual wardrobe choices. Our letters editor regularly shows off his collection of Aloha shirts and his bold printed pants which he buys from this aptly named site. A copy editor occasionally wears fuzzy pink bunny ears – even while working out in the office gym – and not on Halloween. That said, the majority of folk in the newsroom stick to tailored business casual and generally I try to choose clothes that put me squarely in that group.

Occasionally, however, I push the envelope and recently that led to what I’ll call euphemistically “an undesirable outcome.” When it comes to dresses I typically wear shifts that are tailored and structured. But on a shopping outing a few months ago, I spied a loose fitting silk dress at Zara that satisfied two of my obsessions: python prints and bargains. Bargain hunting is, of course, a perennial obsession but the python thing has been with me for a while as well. I’m embarrassed to say how many snakeskin print items I actually own though I will reveal that even my new iPhone has fallen victim to the obsession.  So I scooped up the dress for $68 and wore it to work the next week.

I was reviewing a story with two male editors when one, standing behind me, signaled me to come closer and pointed at my dress. I thought I was about to receive a compliment. Instead he whispered, “Your dress is split down the back. I mean all the way down. Just thought you’d like to know.” “Oh,” I said and retreated to my office, speedily. Fortunately, I had a spare jacket hanging on my door – for those unexpected court appearances that never actually occur. Luckily, the jacket was long enough to cover my rear end and I made it through the day without flashing anyone else. The dress is in the dumpster now but a lesson was certainly learned. You get what you pay for. There’s a reason that dresses with lining cost more – and now I admit, it’s actually worth it.

Has something like this happened to anyone else at work? Please do share so that I’m not the only one baring all…

(Kat: For my $.02, I remember buying my first DvF dress, which I’d seen Lorelai wear on Gilmore Girls.  Great dress, and Lorelai didn’t need a camisole with it.  I’m proudly strutting around the office in it and go to my first meeting of the day, fortunately with two women lawyers.  As soon as I look down at my notepad, there it is: my entire bra, peeking out from beneath my dress.  FUN. At my first opportunity I rushed back to my office for a black scarf that I kept in the office, tucking it into the dress like a half-attempt at a blouse — an imperfect fix for sure!)



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  1. This is the reason for my emergency work sweater:
    I was chilly in a meeting and crossing my arms to keep warm. The guy accross the table started looking at me with really wide eyes and I realized that, with my deeper-than-usual-v-neck, I’d been giving him the Dolly Parton treatment.

    • Esquirette :

      Died laughing at this picturing the saucer eyes he was giving you.

      • He was even slightly slacked-jawed…

        • Sounds like an old boss of mine. Apparently, he absolutely could not control himself and ogled women shamelessly. Everyone joked about it behind his back.

  2. I’m actually surprised to hear this was a Zara purchase. I’ve had pretty good luck with the few things that I’ve purchased there. Then again I don’t shop there too often so maybe I’ve just been lucky?

  3. I once realized after the big meeting that I had my cardigan sweater on inside out the whole time. It takes a lot of confidence to pull that off. :)

    • spacegeek :

      LOL I often find that my underwear is inside out when I take my first break of the day at work… I get dressed many times in the dark to avoid waking my sleeping husband! Good thing no one else knows!!

  4. Sorry for the early threadjack, but I need some advice.

    I am a recent JD/master’s grad looking for work in my hometown. I am trying to send out networking emails to alumni from the program. I have a list of alumni from the school doing the type of working I’m interested in, but there is not that much contact information, and a lot of what they do have is inaccurate. I am finding a lot of people I would like to get in touch with on LinkedIn. My question is how best to use LinkedIn to get in touch with these people. If we’re members of the same group, I can send them a message through the group no problem. If they’re not members of any groups the choices are either to try to get introduced through a common connection, or to just invite them to my network. The problem with the invite is that they limit you to 200 characters, which makes it really hard to introduce yourself and personalize a message.

    So which is better, go through a common connection (a person who maybe doesn’t check their LinkedIn very much so it might take a while), or send a terse 200 character message in an invite? Which would you rather be on the receiving end of? All I’m looking to do is send out a “Hey, can I take you out for coffee or talk to you on the phone for 20-30 minutes about your career?” email.

    Thanks for your help!

    • I would go directly to the contact, but if I’m not mistaken, can you just send a LinkedIn message to someone who is a 2nd degree connection? I would prefer that to a “cold” request to connect.

  5. One black pointed toe shoe. One navy square toed shoe. To lunch with a partner when I was a summer associate. ‘Nuff said.

    (This is what happens when you keep multiple pairs of shoes under your desk.)

    • anon for sure :

      Sounds like my recent adventure with a peep-toe and round-toe.

      I’ve had two really horrible work wardrobe malfunctions, which make the mismatched shoes seem relatively harmless. Happily, just realizing that both were at least long ago, when I was a summer associate.

      First day of work as a summer associate in biglaw – decide to wear a pretty, medium blue silk button-down shirt. Even think to wear a camisole in case the buttons gape occasionally. It’s the first day – I’m a little anxious – I realize half-way through the morning that I am sweating a little, and the medium blue silk is wicking away that sweat into huge, dark blue sweatstains. Which makes me completely, agonizingly embarrassed and more anxious, grossly compounding the problem. It gets even worse when we head outside into the heat and go to a big group lunch. HORRIBLE. Had no way to mitigate the problem other than take bathroom breaks and try to mitigate the problem with paper towels.

      Later that summer, I had been investing in a work wardrobe for a few months. Purchased a gorgeous ivory woven silk skirt that hit just below the knee and had a little swing at the bottom. Loved it. Wore it to work, and something happened to me that hadn’t happened since about age 12. Aunt Flo suddenly arrived with a bang. Huge, bright stain on the back of the ivory silk skirt. Luckily I was wearing a sweater set and wore the cardigan around my waist until I could go home. Looked bizarre but better than the alternative.

      Relatedly, anyone know how to remove an organic stain from ivory woven silk? I still have the skirt (both to keep myself humble and because, honestly, I still love it and want to wear it someday)

      • anon for sure :

        Sorry if that was TMI. Recognize both were gross situations.

      • Oh my… I’m sorry that happened to you!

        This is exactly the kind of situation I contemplate whenever Kat et al feature a white garment or white suit/pants here on Corporette.

      • another anon :

        I think there are enzymatic stain removers for this, but if it happened a while ago, I’m not sure how effective they would be. If you’re not too embarrassed, you could take it to a dry cleaner and see what they can do (maybe take it to a different dry cleaner than your regular one if you are embarrassed, but they have probably seen every type of stain imaginable and won’t bat an eye).

        For any future blood stains, if you don’t have access to an enzymatic stain remover, blot as much out as you can with a paper towel, and then put some saliva on it. Seriously. The enzymes in your saliva will break down the proteins in the blood and make it much easier to get out later. A little gross, but hey, you already have a blood stain on your clothes.

        • Diana Barry :

          Blood stains also come out if you use really cold water right after the fact. I haven’t found this to be as effective for stains that happened a while ago, though.

        • Second the saliva – works even better than cold water.

          • Youngster :

            Oxi Clean. As a teen, I had pajama pants with similar stains that I could never get out, despite the cold water + soap treatment right after the fact. After sending the pants through the washer and dryer several times, my mom bought Oxi Clean and the stain came out! Those pants were cotton though – check to make sure it’s fabric safe first.

          • Second oxi clean! It wasn’t exactly the same kind of stain, but I spilled a lot of red wine all over a friend’s white shirt I had, avoided it for a long time because I thought it was hopeless, then washed it with oxi clean and the shirt was like new!

        • the saliva tip definitely works!

        • Hydrogen peroxide works well on blood.

          • Second the peroxide. We rented a beach condo and my two-year-old had a bug bite he scratched and it bled on the upholstery of the sofa. We headed to the drug store and were able to drip it on and blot until the stain dissapeared.

          • The best. Learned that from the roomate who was an emergency-room nurse :-(..

      • AnonInfinity :

        Oh no! I would take that silk skirt to the dry cleaner. It seems like it’s been a while, so I would not try to remove it myself for fear of making it completely unsalvagable.

        On the first issue — Does anyone know how to keep that from happening? I have a shirt that’s a beautiful blue color that I really really want to wear, but it shows sweat like no one’s business.

        • Anonymous13 :

          Wear an undershirt. Seriously, I don’t know how I lived without doing this for so long. I have an assortment of cheap, relatively thin tees in a variety of necklines, colors and sleeve lengths. I have saved so many trips to the cleaner, and extended the life of a lot of my more delicate tops.

        • anon for sure :

          I haven’t figured that one out. Haven’t worn that shirt since. As for the skirt, I have had it dry cleaned already – stain still present, though muted. I’m sure it’s set by now. I should just throw the stupid thing away.

          • Could you have it dyed?

          • If you are at the point of throwing it out anyway, you can try boiling it in a big pot with a scoop of OxyClean. I have no idea what affect this will have on silk (it may break down the fibers), so I would only use it as a last-ditch effort.

            I have used this technique to successfully remove old stains from antique linens.

          • anon for sure :

            I’m going to try that! At this point, couldn’t hurt.

          • NO ! Do not boil it if yr stain is blood! Use a toothbrush, cold water and hydrogen peroxide or oxiclean and scrub from the inside so the slubs don’t show.

            You could also take it to a seamstress & ask her to tame it apart & use the pieces for a new skirt.

        • You could try dress shields or garment shields. My favorite are the washable dress shields from Kleinert’s that easily snap onto your bra straps (in “fabrapel” rather than vinyl). I wear these almost every day with my button down shirts. http://www.kleinertsshields.com/proddetail.php?prod=1114F

          These things are definitely old school, but they work. I think there’s even an episode of Mad Men where Joan scolds one of her friends for not wearing dress shields.

      • Hah – a version of your story is why I started keeping a stick of deodorant in my desk drawer at the office. Driving to the very first deposition I ever took, I realized I had completely forgotten to put on deodorant that morning. And I was in Texas. During the summer. Fortunately, I’d left with enough time that I found a drug store, ran in, and bought deodorant. Imagine sitting in drug store parking lot trying to jam deodorant under your arms. Here’s hoping nobody saw me.

        • I had to shave my underarms in the drugstore parking lot once. It wasn’t my most ladylike moment, to say the least.

          • Conclusion: nothing good happens in drug store parking lots??

          • Anytime I have to “run to the drugstore” for something… it’s usually not a good situation :)

      • Hydrogen peroxide works well for blood stains, even ones that are a few weeks old. Dab it on, wait for it to foam, and then rinse.

        • anon for sure :

          I’m going to try that, too! I will report back.

        • Anonymous :

          Amen to that! Fortunately I have a CVS in my building and running down and buying some hydrogen peroxide really saved me when a cut on my hand leaked onto my ivory sweater.

      • OxyClean (the spray kind) works really well on my Aunt Flo stains. Unfortunately, it only works when they’re fresh. But it works like magic. So now you know for next time…

      • anon for sure :

        I just remembered another one, also from that same summer. Thank goodness that was back in the boom years.

        At firm golf outing, somehow managed to knock a full frozen raspberry daquiri (no, I didn’t order that) off of the table and straight into my lap, covering the entire front of my conservative khaki knee-length shorts. In front of everyone, another summer says hey, I have an extra pair of shorts you can change into. Great! But then they were about 5 inches shorter and made of sweatshirt material. Completely mortified for the rest of the evening.

      • OMG!! You just described two of my worst nightmares. I am impressed and inspired that you lived to tell the tale. You are my hero!

  6. ok, not a malfunction per se, but today while at the courthouse I noticed a woman wearing a tiered satiny black skirt about 4 inches above her knee. It was cute, but only for a night out. Pairing it with a jacket definitely did not make it court-appropriate attire. I was hoping she wasn’t an attorney, and then I saw her in the room for compliance conferences, so clearly she was. I really wanted to point her toward corporette…

    • I went to a networking dinner (as a law student) where one of the female partners walked in late explaining that she’d been held up in a client meeting wearing a nice sit jacket over a button-up shirt….. and a bright pink tu-tu.

    • The new legal assistant here has a tiered miniskirt that is definitely her favorite skirt because she wears it like 3 days a week – it’s a size too small and about 4 inches above the knee. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt and guessing this is her first job and she hasn’t had the money to buy a work wardrobe yet.

    • I know of an attorney that wears ridiculously short and tight skirts and unfortunately for those behind her, bends to pick stuff up from the waist.

    • Anonymous :

      The new assistant at my firm likes to wear skin tight, thin jersey miniskirts that are definitely sheer when pulled that tight. She pairs them with 5″ tall black basket-weave shoeties that she can’t really walk in–she does a sort of slumping, skulk-walk that I think she may actually think looks sultry.

      I think she’s straight out of college, so I’d probably be willing to give her a pass except that she’s been filling in quite a bit at reception, where all clients coming in for meetings see her when she gets up to get them drinks.

  7. Sorry for the threadjack but can anyone recommend a good bronzer for a fairly light-skinned white girl? I don’t want to look ridiculous.

    • This isn’t a “bronzer” per-se, but as fairly light-skinned white girl, I use Bare Escentual’s all over face color to add some life to my face. It helps to balance out the difference in the color of my face (which I religiously keep covered with SPF) and my neck, upper chest (which I need to be more careful about).

    • Always a NYer :

      I love MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Dark when I want some all-over color without looking orange. As someone who is as white as you can get, I was very excited when the MAC consultant suggested this for me. Traditional bronzers never worked for me but this does. It’s also very silky and lightweight.

    • Esquirette :

      Stupid WordPress — I am not posting to fast. I use Bare Escentual’s all over face color (warmth) as well over my cheekbones, nose, temples and jawline but I don’t think it’s doing for me. Recently saw a post by Sydney at The Daybook doing a makeup tutorial and she uses bronzer — maybe check out her recommendation. The overall look was pretty, though possibly a little too fresh-faced for the office (I tend to prefer polished/sophisticated to dewey).

    • Try Smashbox O-glow bronze. I’m super pale, and it’s one of those things that goes on white and then “senses” your skin or something. (I’m not sure how it works). It gives me healthy color without being orange or too dark

    • Laura Mercier Bronzing Pressed Powder in Dune Bronze.

    • As a fellow fair-skinned white girl, I find that the type of brush I use to apply bronzer matters more than the shade itself. A makeup artist once tipped me off to “fan brushes”; they’re literally idiotproof and provide very lightweight coverage. It’s almost impossible to put on too much makeup with one.

      I use whatever bronzer color I want (right now I like Tarte’s Park Avenue Princess) and I apply it with a fan brush. I sweep it once or twice over my cheeks and around my hairline and it looks very natural.

    • Anonymous :

      The Neutrogena blush that has half a pan of blush and half a pan of bronzer comes in calibrated shades, light to dark. I have the rosey blush which is a medium-light bronzer. Has a bit of shimmer which I always want in a bronzer, to have it less muddy on my pale skin, but not glitter, which I avoid. Cheap and good.

      For expensive and good, Benefit has tons that rock. “Dallas” I think is a pinky-bronze, could be “10”, I have and love both.

    • Cargo makes the best bronzer in the wooorld. You need only a tiny bit and you look much more alive and human after putting it on (I’m pale olive, my sister is pale peach, we both use + love it).

    • Bobbi Brown – go to a counter and ask them to match your color. Mine’s really natural… in fact perhaps a bit too natural…

  8. The same thing happened to me and my first DvF dress. In the first month of a new job. Terrible.

  9. Not a work related malfunction, but hilarious nonetheless.

    Last winter, I was scrambling around trying to get my last minute informatio in for my bar application. It was cold, and I had a pair of long johns under my jeans. These were jeans I had picked up out of a laundry basket of what I thought was freshly laundered clothes (it turned out that it was my bag of “take to Goodwill clothes”, still clean, of course). I paired it with an amazing new sweater, and stylish boots, topped off with the appropriate jacket to keep me warm.

    So, I head downtown, hit the register of deeds first, then the DMV, then head to the law office where I interned to pop in for a casual lunch and to get my application notarized. I end the afternoon by dropping it all off at the post office.

    Not a single person all day told me about the large gaping hole in the backside of my jeans. Thank goodness for long johns.

    • Amelia Bedelia :

      I am dying laughing. this is a great thread . . .

      and no worries – they probably thought you did it on purpose for the fashion statement!

  10. When I’m walking quickly, some of my pencil skirts are very prone to twisting themselves so that the slit is in front. I learned this as a summer associate, after walking to lunch in a group of 4-5 people (so not monitoring the skirt rotation situation while chatting), then discovering the slit was now up the front of my thigh when going to sit down at the table. I’m still not sure if anyone *really* noticed, but I was cringing anyway…

    • Diana Barry :

      Yes! I had two skirts from J crew a while back that always had this problem. The waists were just slightly too big, so they would twist around all day and I’d end up with the zipper in the front instead of the back.

      My worst faux pas was wearing bright turquoise (REALLY BRIGHT) nail polish to a lunch with my ‘partner mentor’ at my first job. He commented on it like “wow, that’s really bright.” I didn’t realize until years later that he actually meant “that’s too bright for the office”. Sigh.

    • I thought I was the only one who had had that experience. :-)

    • Cats Ahoy :

      I work for a hospital, and recently, one of our VP’s hosted a staff meeting for about 200 of us. Her skirt had inched around and the slit was in the front. At first I thought, “THAT is a daring fashion choice!” and then I realized what was going on. If I wear a slip I can’t feel what’s going on below the waist so now I’m terrified that will happen to me.

    • Law Student 2L :

      Has anyone figured out how to fix this? My skirts ALWAYS twist. no matter how snug they fit

      • I usually wear a camisole tucked in, so I pin it to that with two tiny safety pins on either side of my waist.

  11. Halloween :

    In my naïve early 20s I worked for a startup with a stereotypically young, super-informal culture – the only person over 35 was the president, and she and I were the only women. She sent out an e-mail preparing for a meeting that would fall on October 31. She wrote “So wear your costumes!”

    October 31 came and I wore my Renaissance wench dress from college. Turned out, the president had invited Important Consultant to come lead our meeting and had *completely* forgotten it was Halloween. (I could tell by her facial expression when she walked into the office that morning.) Important Consultant was gracious about talking to a conference room full of pirates, clowns and one Renaissance wench but I was sooo uncomfortable seated at the table with my cleavage while he circled the room leading the meeting.

    (I learned a lesson and haven’t worn any costume to any job since, even for PTB-sanctioned festivities.)

    • Recently Downgraded :

      You can still wear a costume – you just have to choose carefully. My first year in big law, I simply attached a devil tail to my belt loop with a bobby pin. Removable in 30 seconds. Last year, on casual Friday before Halloween, I went as Liz Lemon – navy fitted blazer with jeans and my usual glasses. This year at my new, small firm, I plan to go as Jacki O. I got a beautiful cream wool skirt suit with an asymmetrical fold over collar at the Ann Taylor Factory Store that fits her style. Add round toe pumps, big sunglasses, and maybe a pillbox hat and I am both festive and ready for a meeting (without the accessories).

      • MissJackson :

        Seriously? I would not recommend wearing a costume of any kind to my BigLaw office — even if it could be removed in 30 seconds.

        There is vast debate about whether one is ruining their career by wearing *gasp* peep toe shoes. I choose not to imagine the kind of judging that would occur if I wore a devil tail.

        • Anonymous :

          Not if you’re asked to wear a costume and everyone including bosses are? I wouldn’t disobey a request. But agree about mini costumes– devil ear and tail with a red sweater, etc.

        • Recently Downgraded :

          I will clarify that my Biglaw office was designed such that clients and visitors only went to reception/conference floor, so we were exceptionally [business] casual. If not entertaining, we were in the trenches and I barely left my corner that early in my career. My assistant and the one or two partners that even showed up on a Friday/holiday for their young children were the only people I probably saw that day. I used window clings to decorate my office for the holidays too. The partners in my section seemed to like that “enthusiasm.”

          • Minnesota Lawyer :

            For Halloween last year, I wore black slacks and a bright blue St. John jacket the same shade as those worn by Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor during their Senate confirmation hearings. Placing a color copy of them from the hearings on my desk, I could justifiably say I was costumed as a nominee.

    • On Halloween, I tell people I am dressed as a serial killer. After all, what do they always say about serial killers? Nice guy/women, kept to him/herself, we had no idea.

      • I love this. I think this will be my response whenever I get grief about not wearing a costume.

      • One of my favorite costumes is “pedestrian”. Just wear street/office clothes – awkward costume issues solved.

      • I like this! Usually I just tell people I’m costumed as a lawyer, but I like serial killer better.

      • Some guys at my company (IT industry) wear suits for Halloween – “Investment Banker” is the costume.

    • At my last big-lawish (medium-sized firm in competitive niche market in big city, ran itself like biglaw), we were practically required to dress up and participate in the annual Halloween costume contest. There were rival groups, factions, elaborate hoaxes and plots and lies. And skits. SKITS. In costume. I’m not kidding, the entire year was built up to this, and I *hated* it. Not because I didn’t love dressing up for Halloween (I do), but because it was an appalingly fake show of teamwork and morale wherein there were still “losers” that would hear about it all year.

      *Shudder.* I guess I’m still a teensy bit traumatized from that place. :)

  12. Emergency threadjack – I’ve been in trial all month and haven’t had a chance to think about this until this afternoon! I’m going to a mehndi tonight as part of my good friend’s Indian wedding celebration. Does anyone know if it’s customary to bring a gift? I’ve already given them a wedding gift, but I’m not sure if tonight’s event calls for its own gift. Thanks in advance for any insight!

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I don’t know but you can use one of my favorite white lies. “I just want to let you know, I ordered you a gift but it didn’t come in on time. I’ll drop it off as soon as it gets here.”

      That way you can just feel out the situation, if you need a gift, use above, and now you don’t have to spend precious trial time shopping.

    • My experience, it’s not typical to give gifts for the mehndi party (i.e. I’ve never done it!) — but if you don’t want to arrive empty handed, a bouquet of flowers for the hostess would go over well I’m sure.

      • Nope, not at all necessary to bring a gift to mehndi. It is simply a separate celebration for just the women (bride, her family and guests) in the wedding.

    • Nope, no gift required (or wanted, really). You’re just going to have a great time. Show up with smiles and energy.

    • No need for a gift for this specific event. One gift for the entire (perhaps multi-day) wedding is fine. And if it’s a large wedding, mailing is probably preferred.

    • Just to add my voice to the chorus – no gift needed for mehndi.

    • My mehndi/sangeet is in a couple of weeks – definitely not expecting people to bring gifts. People generally just give a wedding gift.

    • Indian here. Gift not required at mehndi party. Have fun!

    • anon in Texas :

      indian weddings = no gifts unless cash

      most brides & grooms won’t even hvae a registry.

      gifts are not traditional at the menthi only the wedding.

  13. “They’re more likely to accept your advice if they think you’re one of them.”

    They you know you’re not — don’t kid yourself (Former journalist and lawyer here.). Journalists, no matter how serious their subject matter, tend to think of themselves as creative children who are entitled to have fun; lawyers are the staid grownups who say “no.”

    Reading about the split dress reminded me of the famous restaurant scene with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in “Bringing Up Baby.”

    • In other words, you’re a “suit” regardless of what you’re wearing.

  14. First day back from maternity leave, I arrived at work with my slippers on. Oops.

    Fun trivia for today:

    On September 21, 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan, was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice. To me, the most amazing (and alarming) fact about her story is that after graduating near the top of her class (William Rehnquist was the valedictorian) at the Stanford Law School and serving as presiding editor in chief of the Stanford Law Review, in 1952, no law firm in California was willing to hire her as a lawyer (although one firm did offer her a position as a legal secretary). It was a different world then – and not in a good way.

    • The firm that offered SDO a legal secretarial position was Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, if memory serves.

      Different world, but still plenty of room for improvement.

    • My mom went to Law School at Columbia starting in 1970. Out of a class of 200 there were 4 women. And their average LSAT score was 20% higher than the men. She says it was a very. lonely. existence.

    • Anonymous13 :

      I try to remember this when I encounter older female lawyers who come off as witchy, cold, scary, etc. I figure they had to cultivate a certain persona to survive back in the day, and that they’ve been through a lot more crap that I’ll have to face in my career. Not that I haven’t encountered sexism in the workplace . . . apparently it’s still alive and kicking.

  15. Anonymous :

    Can anyone weigh in on hanging diplomas when you are in house? I recently moved in house. I hadn’t heard this before, but noticed that so far I have only seen one person with diplomas hanging. I haven’t hung mine yet, and am wondering whether to skip it.

    • I’m in-house, and fewer than half of our department has diplomas hanging. I don’t. I wouldn’t judge you if you did, but I don’t see the point.

    • I don’t know about in-house, but in my experience with the very top of big law, lawyers tended not to hang their diplomas. No one ever discussed it, but I think the attitude was “We’re all from the best schools and if you want to know where I went to school, look me up.”

      Of course, you often found out in the first five minutes meeting of someone.

      • I just don’t want to frame mine. I feel like it needs a placard next to it: “The $150,000 piece of paper.”

        • Sydney Bristow :

          I got mine framed, but I’m only doing document review right now. Its hanging in my apartment, and I’m totally adding a placard!

    • Nobody in my department has their diplomas up.

    • I’d say it is about 50/50 at my company. I would probably skip it if no one else does it. When I was at a law firm, they actually had a “no diplomas” policy.

    • What are you supposed to do with your diplomas if you don’t hang them? I always hung mine because I don’t know where I’d put them if I didn’t. Propped up against a wall doesn’t look nice, and I certainly don’t have room for them in at my apartment.

      I don’t work in-house, but where I work most of the people who have an office hang their diplomas.

      • Mine are rolled up in poster tubes in a closet.

        • Did you never get them framed? Because framing them was expensive – no way I’d get rid of the frames.

        • I did get them framed back in the day. I’ve kept the frames – they aren’t embossed with my school seals so I can repurpose them…when I get around to it, that is! :)

        • Anonymous :

          Mine too. At my mom’s house, even.

      • The Worst Corporette Ever :

        Mine’s on my fridge. Literally.

    • Framing is not that expensive if you do it yourself. I got some cheap but nice-enough looking frames from Ikea for less than $20 each. Then I spent about $20 each to order custom mats to fit the various diplomas/licenses. I assembled everything myself when the mats came in, and they look really nice.

      • Reading this reminds me of a similar question I had at work. I summered and then worked part time with a law firm in my 3rd year of law school. During that time, partners teased me about how “sterile” my office was. The parter I worked for even kidded me once saying, “would it kill you to get a plant in here or something?” The truth was, I just didn’t want to decorate my office until I had graduated from law school and was a full time attorney. Well, now that time has come and I recently hung my diplomas and a piece of artwork. It was only then that I noticed that many of the other associates don’t have their diplomas up and have only minimal office decorations. One has three small pictures of flowers, others have picture frames on their desks of family members and thats it. Now the partners come in and tease me about my artwork on the wall. (Partners have more decoration).

        Is it that they are just looking for something to talk to me about? Or am I missing some sort of office decorating culture thing? Or am I just being sensitive?? :)


  16. When I was a young associate, I wore a dress with buttons down the front to a firm outing, which was a dinner/dance. When one partner twirled me around, every button on my dress “unbuttoned” and I was exposed from stem to stern. Dumb enough not to have a camisole on.

    • This story made me cringe, I can’t imagine! Does anyone else do dinner dances with their firms? I would be extremely uncomfortable dancing with my colleagues, and can’t think of any event where this would even be encouraged (at my firm).

      • Different cultures, I guess. There’s always dancing at our parties.

        • Same here, all events include dancing (be it a team building, a conference; or a townhall meeting)

      • We used to, but the problem was everyone wanted to lead. Seriously.

      • Ugh, at one conference I worked at we had a jazz band. One (very drunk) older man literally grabbed me and dragged me onto the dance floor while I was trying to work. I extricated myself as soon as possible but I was mortified!

  17. Blonde Lawyer :

    I have two, both from the same job!

    1.) I wore thin brown/tan summer pants to work with a white dress shirt. I probably had a cami underneath. I was a clerk/intern at the time during law school summer. I was asked to hand deliver a document an approximate 10 minute walk away. After I dropped it off and started on my walk back the sky opened and it POURED. I had no jacket or umbrella. This was a freak storm. I needed to give the proof of filing back to senior attorney before I could leave. My outfit ended up drenched and completely see through. I looked as if I had jumped in a pool. They saw me walk in. I lived an hour away and the only other clothes with me were my softball uniform. I said “I obviously need to change” and went and put that on. I spent the rest of the day in my jersey, shorts, knee highs and sneakers! They all thought it was hysterical and thought I was a trooper for sticking around and bringing the document in despite my current see through issue.

    2.) I was wearing a skirt suit and walking with a partner to a hearing. At the time, I was dealing with a medical issue and couldn’t wear pantyhose or anything very tight around my stomach. To comply with the formality of the occassion, I wore thigh highs. About three blocks from the office and 2 from the destination they started to fall down. I managed to pinch them through the sides of my skirt and waddle with him the rest of the way. I don’t think he noticed. When I got to the hearing I said I needed to use the restroom, ducked into a female clerk’s office and begged her to find me elastics. I then used those to hold up the thigh highs through the rest of the hearing. Ugh.

    • MissJackson :

      The thigh-high thing happened to me once. Luckily (I guess?) it happened on my commute to the office, so I kind of just stepped out of them in the middle of the sidewalk well before I got to the office. I did not know what to do – there was no way to pull them up without exposing myself to the world, and I was no where near a bathroom! I am quite certain that the handful of people who saw me thought that I was mildly insane. I just ran into a drug store on the way to the office and picked up the world’s cheapest pair of replacement hose.

      Also, once when I was a summer associate, I was wore a skirt with quite a bit of flounce on the bottom that was all the rage at the time. It was quite windy that day, and as the group of summers walked back to the office after an evening event, the wind picked up suddenly and lifted my skirt in a freak way that had never happened before (or since, thank goodness), briefly exposing my unmentionables. I was mortified. Thankfully, only my contemporaries were around to see the show, and although they teased me a bit, there was no real professional harm done.

      • Lalalalala :


        That happened to me too! I showed a Chicago street my unmentionables. I stepped over one of those ground vents, and my flared shirt dress went right up to my waist. HORRIFIED.

    • econ prof :

      I got soaked to the skin walking from the subway to the office one morning while wearing a cute new linen shift dress that promptly shrank like crazy. I ended up wearing my workout shorts and t-shirt all day that day. Comfortable but embarrassing!

    • Dumb question? :

      [sorry if this posts twice – got the posting too fast notice]
      I had the thigh-high incident too. On my first day of work at a new job As General Counsel. A secretary was escorting me to HR for onboarding, and it started to slip. Before I could do anything about it, it was around my ankle. The admin was great about it – we stopped in the restroom (thankfully close by), and I got a rubberband and wore it the rest of the day. The admin and I laugh about it every year on my anniversary.

    • I had something similar happen, but with regular waist-high tights! Luckily it wasn’t at work, but it was still embarassing. I was going out on New Years with a bunch of people I didn’t really know that well. Right before I went out, I realised it was too cold to go tight-less but that I had forgotten to bring any to the friend’s house I was staying at. My friend lent me a pair of hers, but as soon as everyone left the cocktail/house party to walk to the play we were going to, I realised the waistband was shot and the tights began to slip down. There was no way to keep it up while I walked withough anyone noticing, and there were no bathrooms to duck into! Luckily, my dress was long, because by the time we were standing in the line up outside, they were down at my knees. I ended up trying to subtley wiggle out of them in a lineup on the middle of the sidewalk. No one commented, but I’m sure someone must have noticed.

    • Am I the only one amazed that these women are mentioning wearing rubber bands around their thighs without getting their circulation cut off?

  18. When getting ready one morning last week, I put on a sheath dress and only zipped it halfway (to just under my bra line). I usually need my husband’s help getting my zippers up all the way due to an old shoulder injury. Well, this time, I forgot to ask him. I threw my trench on over my dress, kissed him goodbye, and headed to work. At work, wore the dress all day, and no one said a word! I met my husband for dinner after work, and as he helped me out of my coat, he pointed out that my back was completely bare. My dress had been unzipped all day! I was mortified, but there’s obviously nothing I could do but laugh about how ridiculous the situation was.

    • Anonymous :

      It does show how little other people notice/care about the things we nit-pick in ourselves.

    • My former boss did this once! Fortunately, we were very close, so when I went in for our morning one-on-one, I closed her door and pointed out her unzipped dress. She was mortified but relieved that I said something.

      • I have definitely done this. I also have stopped women on the street or at the Metro to let them know that they made this mistake. Maybe it makes me creepy, but I would want a stranger to let me know if my back was exposed to the world!

  19. This may be the best thread ever.

  20. During law school I went to one of those half-day summer associate interviews with a prestigious firm. During lunch at the end of the process I realized I was not wearing a bra. And, at the time, I needed one. That is all.

    • AnonInfinity :

      This my biggest fear. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten dressed in the morning and thought, “Gee, I feel like I skipped a step.” Then right before I walk out the door, I realize I’m not wearing a bra. I guess the upside is that you were probably wearing a jacket?

      • Yes, thankfully. Although I was about to take the jacket off at lunch and put it over the back of my chair (we were eating on a swanky outdoor patio and it was pretty hot out) when I realized my mistake. I can’t believe that’s the only time I’ve done that. I’m such a scatterbrain sometimes.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I did this one too. While working as a corrections officer with 18-21 year old boys. I had a super early shift and didn’t want to wake my husband so I put my uniform on over the t-shirt I slept in without even thinking about the bra issue. Luckily a coworker had a spare sweatshirt (that went about to my knees) that I wore all day. Even luckier I didn’t have to run once the whole shift.

  21. Zipper broke on a pencil skirt. All.the.way.down. Hello, the plumber’s in! I safety pinned my shirt down over top of it, which made it look like I had a tail. Lovely.

    • I had this happen mid-day during a deposition. I realized that I didn’t have a safety pin and no one in the office I was at had one. I finally had this secretary use tape to tape my skirt together so that it wouldn’t fall down. Needless to say, I ALWAYS have safety pins in my purse now.

  22. Thankfully this has never happened to me, but my favorite is every summer or during interview season, there are always one or two law students who don’t realize that you are supposed to remove the brightly contrasting stitching that keeps the slit closed on the back of skirts and jackets.

    • econ prof :

      And guys who don’t know to remove the label from the sleeve of their jacket. Sigh.

      • I bought a nice wool coat last year, and did not know I was supposed to remove the label from the sleeve.

        I was informed of this at a business luncheon by none other than the restaurant host himself.

        • That’s actually nice of him – much better to be advised of a wardrobe malfunction by a polite stranger than by someone you have to see every day.

          • He did mean it to be nice–but he did it in front of the entire table of partners! Needless to say, I was mortified.

    • Anonymous :

      I totally hate these – I mean, what do you say? People just look silly!

    • Anonymous :

      I just started a new job. I know I’m supposed to remove that stitching on a new skirt, but I think I’ve forgotten 3 times already in the last 2.5 weeeks. And once was on a skirt that isn’t new. Sigh.

  23. work-in-progress :

    I wore a light-colored button-up to an outdoor reception following work. I didnt wear an camisole underneath (it’s a miracle shirt that fits perfectly and doesn’t gap) and within 15 minutes, I had nice sweat line going down my spine and under my arms. Gross. Now I know why boys wear undershits.

    • I once suggested to my BF that he wear one of his “technical” workout t-shirts under his dress shirt when we had to attend an outdoor wedding. In July. In Washington DC. He said it worked better than a regular t-shirt for avoiding giant sweat marks because of the wicking properties. Not sure this would work for women because of different styles of clothing.

      But honestly, I think that if one is expected to be dressed work-appropriately AND be outside in hot weather, there are just going to be sweat marks. I don’t like it either, but there’s only so much you can do. I personally all work-related or somewhat formal outdoors events should be banned if it’s hotter than, say 75 degrees F or so.

  24. Hah–dealt with this just yesterday. Was traveling, wearing a new dress for the first time. Got in te car, thought “hmm, that front/side slit is maybe a little high when I sit”…and then as I got out of the car at my destination, I moved wrong and the slit tore open another couple inches!! Oops. Now definitely too high, even if the dress was mid-knee!

  25. Lalalalala :

    I have this pinstriped dress shirt with short sleeves and pretty shell-like buttons. Worn it like 3 times, so it wasn’t new.

    I had a meeting with my Chancellor and a whole bunch of higher-ups where I was clearly the youngest at the table. I look down about 10 minutes in and notice that EVERY single button is gaping. I am not “large of chest”, but evidently too much washing had loosed my pretty buttons. The space between each button was popping open.

    I spent the next 30 minutes laying semi-prone in my chair because my shirt stayed closed that way. It was either that or show all of my lacy bra.

    Now, I keep a sweater and scarf in my purse for moments like this.

  26. I have three:

    1. Recently after coming back from maternity leave, I was getting ready for a meeting with a couple of other attorneys. I ran to the bathroom and noticed that my boob had leaked all over the front of my shirt! I had stopped wearing nursing pads because I normally pump at regular times, but had been extra busy this morning. I had to ask everyone to wait while I pumped, and they all saw my wet shirt. :/

    2. During law school I worked in the legal department at a construction company (so with mostly men) I was walking through the halls, and felt something at the bottom of my pant leg. As I took another step…a lacy pair of underwear fell out! Must have been caught in the dryer or something. So I had to pick them up and carry them back to my office. I’m sure everyone noticed!

    3. I was going to one of my first court appearances (oral argument in our state supreme court) as an attorney and had on a new suit. On the drive over, I noticed that I hadn’t cut the tape that held the pleats down off of the skirt! I had to, while sitting in the car with other attorneys, wiggle my skirt around to pull all the tape off. So embarrasing!! But glad I noticed it before arguing…

    • Anonymous :

      The nursing thing I hope we can all cut ourselves and other women some slack on. Even with pads, this can happen, and does. Bless your heart for experiencing it, but I don[t put it in this category. There are dress fails and bod fails, and the bod probs we can’t control. We are all at the mercy of our bodies. Even lucky, lucky, suit-wearing, easy-wardobe dudes.

  27. Sort of related to the theme: the worse wardrobe experience I may have ever had was when I found a pair of lacy black women’s underwear in the clothes hamper that were clearly not mine. I asked my husband whose they were, and I don’t think I have ever seen him look so freaked out. We ultimately decided they were my 8-year-old stepson’s mother’s and had somehow ended up in his clothes. Then the question became whether and how to return them to her. We decided not to even go there.

  28. I just spilled water all over myself because, apparently, I’m inept at drinking out of kleen kanteen.

    Does that count?

    • I think I do that about 3 times a week.

    • I regularly spill water all over myself from my Kleen Kanteen. I did this in the middle of a meeting once while my boss was talking, and without missing a beat, he says, “And the next item on the agenda is Ruby’s drinking problem.” I had to excuse myself to get napkins.

      The Kleen Kanteens kind of have a wide mouth and when they to about a quarter full and you have to tip them higher to drink, the water sloshes everywhere. Very annoying.

    • Little Lurker :

      Totally counts.

      I am capable of small talk but horrible at clean eating. My rule of thumb is — if I haven’t ruined my outfit in anyway, the event/workday was a success.

    • Ruthy Sue :

      This used to happen to me constantly with my Nalgene. Then I got a “splashguard” for it: http://www.rei.com/product/729119/guyot-designs-splashguard-universal. This one says its universal, so it may even fit a kleen kanteen. Totally solved my problem!

    • LadyEnginerd :

      I solved this problem! I keep a Klean Kanteen cafe cap at my desk. When I need to put it in my purse, I swap out the caps for one that’s water-tight. I feeel clever every time I do it :)

      On the other hand, I am incapable of drinking from wine glasses. It goes down the wrong pipe every time and instead of looking sophisticated, I am coughing and hacking like a kid who shouldn’t have graduated from the sippy cup yet.

      • I can’t drink from martini glasses because the stem bumps into my euphemistic girls and i can’t get it to my mouth without tipping. Comical, but very annoying.

        Does the cafe cap fit the non-insulated bottles? I have the sport cap, but it makes a whistling sound, so I only use it when I’m actually working out and use the regular loop cap otherwise.

    • My old bank had coffee cups in the cafeteria with such poorly designed lids that I’d leak coffee on myself at least once a week. It happened to everyone in that firm repeatedly, we just learned to bring mugs and stock up on tide to go pens.
      At least water dries without leaving a mark!

  29. During a company outing, we went trekking up a small hill. I was the only girl, among twenty. After we reach the top first, the guys let me climb down first, and that is when I notice that my dark brown spandex shirt had two dark blots of sweat near my nipples.

    That felt really bad.

    There were a couple of guys who didnt know how to warn me, and did try to persuade me to stop and rest midway to the top, but another asshole egged me on… I just wish one of them had outright stated what was wrong.

    • And I didn’t wear that brown shirt for the rest of my stint at that company!

    • Anonymous :

      I get that heart-shaped bust stain when working out, right in the middle… I feel your pain.

      • I get headlights when working out, regardless of what I wear.. I am very flat-chested so it looks awkward..

  30. I’m in London for a big presentation and my hotel room was lovely, but very dimly lit. I walk out into the bright sunlight and look down – I’m wearing a black skirt, black pumps – and obvious navy tights. I went back and changed. I was a little late but since I was presenting there was no way I going like that.

  31. First, because of all of these horror stories and others conceived by my imagination, I keep a full suit, shirt, and bra in my office. You would not believe the times that freak client visits, rainstorms or a coffee run-in send me running to the items on the back of my door.

    Second, my worst story. Flying to DC with a partner, I’m a first-year associate that has just put on about 10lbs since I started. At the airport on the way home, I squat down to remove a document from my rollerbag … and tear the seam up the back of my suit pants. Not a small tear. A huge behind-revealing gaping rip. I couldn’t very well tie my suit around my waist, but pink-cheeked I handed the partner the document he requested and (somehow keeping my front to my co-workers) high-tailed it to the airport store where I bought a “pashmina” for $9.99 which I artfully draped around my shoulders/back/covering my behind/under my suit until we got on the plane, got back to the office and I could change into my behind-the-door suit. Best $9.99 ever spent.

    • I had taken a look at those fairly old black silk pants before taking them to Paris, and decided that it was probably their last trip, but took them all the same. Well, it was June, there was a heat wave. So I stuck desperately to the metro vinyl seat, and when I got up the entire back of the leg ripped, seam to seam. Well, I did have underwear on, but not exactly the black long johns I would have needed. And it was definitely not pashmina weather, I probably didn’t even have a kleenex. Fortunately I was near home, so I grabbed the travel companion, applied her firmly to my back, and we marched mime-like back to the suitcase..

  32. For any ladies who do a lot of business trave: any advice for avoiding travel burnout? I’m up to 92 travelling days since April and I just got a call for a week long trip leaving on Saturday, when I just got back from a three week one 2 days ago. Frankly, I’m exhausted and I almost started crying in my office after I got off the phone. I feel like the rest of my life is on hold right now, because I can’t join groups, get routines going, or keep personal relationships up when I’m gone almost as often as I’m in town.

    • traveller :

      I regularly travel to Europe, which kills me too. I have resorted to taking sleeping pills on the plane and every night to ensure I get enough sleep. It doesn’t sound like you have kids, but if you do or if you have a significant other, try to skype as much as possible. Yeah, you can’t join classes, but know that this is only temporary. You won’t (or shouldn’t) do this forever.

    • LadyEnginerd :

      Can you take up/rekindle a hobby that can come on the road with you? I’m thinking knitting, sketching (colored pencils? charcoal?), photography, even yoga (there are foldable travel mats).

    • Oof, I feel your pain — I felt the same way when I worked rotating shifts. Even though I was in town, every other week-ish (worse that it was a 9 day rotational schedule, so the days of the week didn’t even consistently line up) I needed to be sleeping during the day, and working when all my “normal” activities were happening. The irregular sleep schedule was terrible for my mental health, and the irregular work schedule was terrible for my social life. Luckily, I only had to do that for a year, but it felt like a LONG year.

      I say just join whatever groups (free ones, so you don’t feel like you’re wasting money when you miss 2 weeks in a row) you want and make it to the meetings you can. I found that everyone was really understanding, and having people to “come home to” on the nights I was able to make it to the community band practice/church group/whatever did wonders.

  33. Jules' Law :

    When I was interviewing for summer associate positions I bought a new black suit, pretty standard except that instead of having a slit in the back it had two small slits in the front, kind of like how some skirts have a little in the back. This seemed fine when standing, they weren’t very high slits at all, more like vents so you can walk. However, I realized when interviewing with a partner who invited me to sit in a low armchair that when I sat the skirt hiked up a bit, my thighs made both slits open and created a flap in between that looked like a peak-a-boo access to my vagina. I quickly moved to the very very edge of the chair so I could point my knees almost straight down and kept them squeezed as tightly together as possible to minimize the gaping. Sooo embarassing.

  34. As a summer associate I came to work wearing a skirt from one pinstriped suit and a jacket from another. They did not match in the slightest.

    Luckily, at the time, I worked over both a J Crew and a BR so I ditched the jacket for a lovely new black cardigan.

  35. I was at a formal dinner last month. A lady two tables away, the cross-over neck of her dress had completely separated, and her lacy white bra was completely visible. You could see all of both cups. It was a very pretty, obviously brand new, bra, so it could have been worse. It did take a while for anyone at her table to notify her.

    • Anonymous :

      That happened to me– I had to clip my sunglasses onto my dress to keep it together, which totally worked but looked totally casual and bizarre… one of those things I bet others didn’t really think of or notice, but I felt beachy BBQ-y all day. Better than exposed…

  36. 1. Law firm formal, second year associate. Short dress with gauzy strips hanging down below the opaque hem – I call this dress my carwash/flapper dress. Sounds tacky, but it’s pretty and understated. Towards the end of the evening, I head to the bathroom, do my business, and mingle a bit more before leaving. When I get home, I realize that about four of the gauzy strips (making up about 8-10 inches of circumference around the hem of the skirt) were tucked into my underwear, showing my goodies to the world. Friends say that they didn’t notice, but I don’t believe them.

    2. Different law firm, day of drudgery in the file room. I wear a more flouncy skirt instead of my normal pencil skirt in anticipation of said drudgery. I head to the bathroom; forget that I have on flouncy skirt; and fail to adequately gather all of the skirt up before sitting down on the toilet, dunking the entire back of my skirt into the toilet water. This was before I knew the wisdom of the Back of the Door Complete Outfit – so I decide I need to the affected area with soap in the sink and then dry it in the blow drier. Thank goodness the skirt was mostly synthetic (dried quickly) and that nobody walked in.

  37. Just realized, yesterday, that for the past two months, I’ve been giving my (very hot) Supervising Attorney (who is also a friend, but not *that* kind of friend) , a straight shot view right down my shirt every time I sit down at the table in his office. Which is frequent. The table is a bit low to the ground, so if I want to actually use it, I have to bend slightly forward and down. It’s not because the shirts that I’m wearing are revealing (they are the calson long-sleeved tees from nordstrom), it’s the weird angle that I end up sitting at while using the table surface. Mortified that he thinks I’m doing this as a come on.

    In my previous career, I definitely had my share of blowouts due to AF coming unexpectedly. But I just went home, changed, and came back to the office. Hats off to you ladies who have endured a whole day trying to hide the mess! I now keep extra undies and a spare pair of pants in my car (the joys of peri-menopause and endometriosis means you can never tell what’s going to happen when).

  38. Here’s a recentish one. I had a big client meeting, and was running around all day. Was wearing an annoying shirt that kept bunching and coming untucked from my skirt. Late in the afternoon, exasperated, after checking both ways down the hall on the conference room floor, I ducked into a visitor office, hiked up my skirt and commenced yanking the shirt down into place and smoothing it out.

    Door immediately across the hall opens and a group of men comes out. I had chosen the visitor office directly across the hall from the men’s restroom. At least I was wearing dark tights and hadn’t turned on the light in the visitor’s office. The man in the front met my (stunned) eye, then engaged his cohorts in conversation and led them down the hall. sigh.

  39. We’re organizing a Corporette meetup for NYC. Send me an email at [email protected] if you want to be added to the list!

  40. This isn’t a wardrobe malfunctions story per se, but a few years ago in the days after I started practicing law but before I started reading this blog or paying enough attention to what I wore to work, I had a pair of BR black pants that I wore on a weekly basis to work. They were machine washable, which I liked because I didn’t have to pay for dry cleaning them. I brought them with me to a training seminar out of town. When I got dressed in them and looked in the full length mirror in the hotel room, I was embarassed. The pants had shrunk and faded from washing. They fit horribly and looked terrible. I could not believe I had worn them so many times and could not even bring myself to take them home with me to donate. I ordered a new full length mirror that day and set about learning more about how to shop and dress appropriately and attractively, which eventually led me to this blog.

    • I pulled a blazer out of the back of my closet recently that I hadn’t worn in a while, but it was a favorite that I used to wear all the time. I started to press it, and realized the fabric on the elbows was completely worn through, with actual holes in the fabric. It must have been that way the last time I wore it (or maybe the last couple of times), and I had no idea.

  41. MaggieLizer :

    Not so much a wardrobe malfunction as a ML being clumsy and awkward moment, but I have learned NEVER AGAIN to buy a pencil skirt without a kick pleat/vent. My second week on the job, I was in such a skirt kneeling in a ladylike manner on the floor to reach some books on the bottom shelf of a bookcase. I pulled out all the books I needed and tried to get up by stepping onto one foot. Of course my skirt was too tight around the knees to step properly because it wasn’t vented. When my knee caught on the fabric I was totally thrown off balance and I, and the books, spilled all over the library floor. At least my skirt was long enough that I didn’t show off the goods as I lay sprawled on the floor.

  42. housecounsel :

    I love this thread but am sad that Anonymous3’s comment got lost. I have met some really mean female lawyers who are of a generation older than mine, and I have often wondered whether they HAD to be that way in order to succeed in what was really a man’s world at the time.

  43. housecounsel :

    P.S. and count me among those who have urinated on the sash of a wrap dress.

  44. Totally had one happen to me a couple of weeks ago. I just started a new job at a media brokering office. One day on my first week, I was wearing a knee- length Ann Taylor skirt, which I generally trust to be very work-safe, but it did have a slit in the back.

    First thing in the morning, I’m in my boss’s office and lean over his desk to get a better look at a computer program on his monitor that he was telling me about.

    And I felt a breeze. That’s right, the slit revealed my undies when I leaned over. The rest of the day was spent sitting demurely in my office chair.

  45. I had the back seam of a new pair of pants come unsewn midday at the office (thank you Talbots). It was a several inches long gap, and I was wearing white undies under the black pants. I took my little sewing kit to the bathroom, took them off, and hastily sewed them up to get through the day.

  46. I wore a brand new Ann Taylor dress on a business trip to Brazil. It was brown and white, and had these pretty, fabric covered buttons that closed by slipping them through a loop. The buttons were down the front bodice and the sleeves. Over the course of a very long day, including dinner, almost every button simply fell off the dress. Which required me to ask the secretaries for tape to try to tape it shut–and of course, they spoke English as their second language and couldn’t quite figure out what my problem was.

    Really needed a glass of wine that night.

  47. This is not one of mine, but such a classic I can’t resist. When I was in 9th grade it was the very beginning of the slip dress trend- only the trendiest people were wearing them. One day my 50ish French teacher came in wearing a slip and we were all looking at each other thinking she must be ultra trendy because no one would forget a dress, right?

    We all had the same French teacher in 12th grade, at which point she finally admitted she forgot her dress that day. She’s long retired and as far as I know, people still talk about it today. What was amazing to me was that she actually managed to pull it off the whole day by acting like it was completely normal, so everyone thought for three years that she was just trying a new fashion trend.

    • This made me laugh too hard and shoot water out my nose. Ouch but worth it.

  48. Anonylawyer :

    Not a fashion faux pas, but on my first day as a summer associate, I went to lunch with my partner mentor and associate mentor. I walk into the restaurant and don’t notice a stair and I toppled over on the floor in my skirt suit. Luckily it was 2004 and people still wore pantyhose. Oy.

  49. Threadjack…Can anyone give advice on navigating the US law school system? My friend’s child wants to get into law school in California and says that is where the best schools in the North America are. He plans to do pre-law in Canada (University of Toronto) and he has a high GPA. He hasn’t been able to give her any concrete information on how hard it is for non-US students to get in, availability of scholarships, cost etc. This path was recommended by his undergraduate professors.

    • If your friend’s son wants to end up practicing law in Canada, it’s better for him to attend a Canadian law school IMO. I was faced with the same decision about 5 years ago and decided since I wanted to live here, I should go to law school here. Canadian law schools are fantastic and pretty reasonably priced, especially compared to similar US schools. The hoops you have to jump through to get licensed here are a pain in the ass IMHO.

      Just my two cents

    • There are some great law schools in CA, but also in many other states. CA certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on that. Methinks he is picturing sunny beaches more than law school. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    • As a lawyer who studied in Canada then worked in biglaw New York, I think your son’s friend needs to figure out where he wants to end up (as Lily mentioned) before picking a school. California has some good schools, but it certainly is not the only place for good law schools. Does he want to end up in the US generally? or a specific state? The answer should inform where he goes to school.

      I think the best reason to go to school in Canada, even if you want to work in the US, is the low cost tuition. I was so thankful that I didn’t have the debt load of my US colleagues and it gave me much more flexibility in my career. If he goes to a good school in Canada and does very well, he should be able to get a private biglaw job in the States. But it will be harder to do non-profit stuff and there are certainly many more hoops to jump through for Canadians (who don’t have US citizenship) who want to do non-profit, non-big-law stuff – if that’s his passion, he should go to a US school.

      Also – he needs to get a high LSAT score. Seems to matter a lot more in the US than in Canada.

  50. A couple of weeks ago the strap on my sling-back shoe broke. I rigged it together with string and a rubber band so my shoe wouldn’t fall off. This has actually happened to me a couple of times, and is why I rarely buy sling-backs. I have learned that you cannot staple together leather shoes with a regular staple, or even the big heavy duty stapler in the copy room. I’m just glad no one walked in and saw me trying to stick my shoe the big stapler in the copy room.

    • somniculosa :

      I completely understand where you’re coming from. I was heading to a legislative committee meeting, and I realized that when my dog made a break for it a daycare that morning, and I tripped and almost busted it, I split my black leather pumps down the front side. I ended up stapling the two parts together and coloring the staples in with a black marker. Then I tiptoed as much as I could and tried to hide that foot behind the other when I sat down. Why am I always wearing a skirt when these things happen? It’s so much easier to hide show malfuntions when you’re wearing pants!

  51. Anon for this one! :

    I recently purchased a khaki skirt at Target for casual Fridays at work. It was a decent skirt, but half-way through the day one of our legal assistants (bless her) came up to me and said “I think your zipper is coming undone.” Yup, the back zipper had completely failed and was halfway down my booty. I keep a black pantsuit at the office but was wearing some kind of brown shirt that would have looked hideous with it.

    Fortunately one of my colleagues was collecting for Dress for Success and she lent me a black dress, over which I threw the jacket from my suit. I also changed the brown-hued shoes to the black pumps I keep in my desk. No problem!

    Liked the dress so much I kept it, in fact. But I still need to make a donation to Dress for Success to make up for it…

  52. Since nobody has said this until now:
    Love the Gilmore Girls reference, Kat! :)

  53. The Bad Wife :


  54. (1) This was law school. It was a social event marking halfway through the 2nd year. That’s winter in Chicago. I was wearing a wrap skirt in a silk ikat print that I loved. While walking with three male friends to a bar afterward, I suddenly noticed that my skirt was at my ankles. It had unwrapped. Fortunately, I was wearing a wool coat that fell to my ankles, so there was no indecent exposure. Unfortunately, the only fellow of the three who I felt would understand my plight was the married gent, due to his expected experience with women’s clothing. Much cursing ensued on my part, and then the difficulty of beelining to a bar’s bathroom to slip the skirt back on, while smuggling it unseen yet uncrumpled somewhere on my person.

    (2) I have also once shown up to work in the midst of trial prep wondering why on earth I thought the brown shoe worked with an outfit, and then after some time pondering realized the other shoe was black. Borrowed a pair of black shoes from a friend; moved an uncomfortable (though cute!) pair of black Stuart Weitzmans with a tortiseshell toe to the office.

  55. I am in-house Chief Litigation Counsel for a manufacturing company and work with mostly men. I am usually really careful after using the restroom, but it was a super busy day, and I was in a rush. I was wearing a full skirt, which I rarely do, and had just returned from the restroom and had stopped to check my mail, which was required that I have my back facing the male finance supervisor’s office. Suddenly, I realized I could feel a breeze and started frantically checking my skirt in the back and could not feel it. I had been standing there for a good five minutes. He actually asked me “hey, what’s going on with your skirt” and I had to respond, “I am flashing you my ass, aren’t I?” He laughed, and I ran into my secretary’s cubicle and realized my skirt was tucked into my undies and flashing my bottom to everyone. I retreated to my office and stayed there for the rest of the day. I threw away that skirt and still get teased my flash at the holiday party.

  56. somniculosa :

    I was heading to my first appearance in federal court, and I got dressed i the semidark because my husband was still asleep. I got to the firm, picked up the client and the partner, and drove to court. I dropped them off at the front door, and I went to park. As I was walking to the courthouse, a complete stranger stopped me and ask, “Ma’am, do you know you’re wearing one brown shoe and one balck shoe?” I looked down, and sure enough–completely obvious with my knee-length skirt suit), I had on one black pump and one light brown pump. All I could do was laugh. Then I got into the courthouse and had to remove my shoes to go through the metal detector. I just looked the security guard in the eye and said, “Yes, I know that’s one brown shoe and one black shoe.” And then I held my head up, carried my bag down low to provide some distraction, and walked into the courtroom. I went home and changed at lunch, but it was an interesting mornig. I always check the color of my shoes before I leave the house now. Lesson learned.

  57. Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good spirit.

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