Finding Function in My Wardrobe Malfunction


Last year I was speed-walking on O’Hare’s people mover trying to catch a connecting flight when I felt a tap on my shoulder and a gentleman’s voice saying, “Excuse me, but your dress is sliding up by your purse.”




I had no idea how long I was walking through the terminal in one of the nation’s busiest airports with my dress hiked up to there. Who knows how many people saw me? By the time I got on the plane, all I wanted to do was put on my noise-canceling headphones, open a Vogue and hide that stupid tote safely under the seat in front of me.  


Unfortunately, though, ignoring the world wasn’t an option, as I had a contract that I needed to review before landing in Dallas. I rifled through my bag and pulled out my laptop and legal pad, ready to get to work. 


My tote – which an hour ago was my wardrobe’s enemy, and my source of embarrassment – had suddenly become an empowering entity. That tote held everything that I need to run my life and my law practice, the tools that allow me to function as an independent woman in this crazy world.


I decided not to sweat it. My wardrobe malfunction was a function of who I am. Rather than being annoyed with my embarrassing airport faux pas, I realized I should be grateful. After all, I was running through the terminal because I have the freedom to travel, both for my job and for fun. I have the tote because I have the privilege of practicing law – something I enjoy, and something I’m paid to do.  


I’m also grateful for the gentleman who alerted me to the situation. I wonder how many people walked by me and didn’t say a word? He could have done just that, but instead he chose to save a total stranger from further embarrassing herself. I sincerely hope karma pays him back for that one.


Sure, the incident was a minor annoyance, but with a quick change in perspective, all my negatives turned into positives.


This situation also reminded me of something one of my family friends once told me about paying taxes. When I first started working, I was complaining to him about how much of my paycheck goes to Uncle Sam every two weeks. Young and naïve, I proclaimed that I had no reason to work hard if the more I work, the more is skimmed from my income. He responded that he’d consider himself a lucky man the day the government insists on taking $1 million from his paychecks (keep in mind, this statement came from a die-hard Republican).


Taken aback, I asked why that would make any sense. Because, he said, if the government’s cut is $1 million, then it means he gets to take home at least twice that.


With a change in perspective, that doesn’t seem like such a bad problem to have, right?


So, if a wardrobe malfunction is a minor unexpected tax I have to pay for so many things that I consider blessings in my life, I choose to accept it. I choose to embrace the malfunctions – the inconveniences – some of them might be good problems to have, because they mean you’re doing life right.