At my elementary school, the girls were not allowed to wear pants. I didn’t mind. I loved to wear mini-skirts and fishnet stockings, even though I was a chubby kid and couldn’t really pull it off. In high school, I needed a good gay guy friend who could give me fashion advice for my new and slightly improved body, but those were the days when gay guys were still in their own closets, and could not help me with mine. By default, my mother, who was also fashion-challenged (though with the confidence of Dior) remained my main fashion consultant.
When I graduated law school in 1983, my mother took me on a “last hurrah” shopping trip. She wanted to buy me a power suit for my new job as an attorney. Together we selected a pale yellow suit skirt and jacket, which presumably I was to use to crash right through the glass ceiling of my big downtown Boston law firm.
The suit was well made (it was lined, of course). The jacket had small shoulder pads and was cut full. The bottom was a pencil skirt that fell just below my knee, and was a little awkward from the start on my A-line body. While everyone else was wearing navy blue with pin stripes, I was wearing yellow. It was hard to hide in that suit.
I didn’t have much occasion to go to court as a first year real estate attorney. But on my first such occasion, I dressed for success. I carefully donned my pale yellow suit, panty hose, black pumps and briefcase. I was nervous of course, and made several trips to the bathroom just before court started. I checked my make-up, put on a little lipstick, brushed my hair, and had my final pee. I was ready.
As court began, I walked confidently in front of the bar, and took my seat. When my case was called, I was focused and serious. I walked confidently up to the judge and pleaded my motion. When I was done, the judge nodded to the clerk. And as I walked back, the clerk took me aside.
“Your skirt is stuck up in your pantyhose in the back,” he informed me, pointing to my rear end.
As if the suit were not ugly enough on its own. Perhaps I should have listened to the fashion gods. It took me another 28 years to quit practicing law.
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