Fashion Faux Pas — Oh the Horror!

by Cathy Rae Smith,
Founder of Culture Magazine

Anyone with even the remotest exposure to media in 2004 was aware of the “wardrobe malfunction” of the Superbowl XXXVIII halftime show aired live with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. The next couple years, speculation persisted over whether repeated incidents of Britney Spears going commando in short skirts were accidentally caught by the camera or a calculated ploy for attention.

A classic paparazzi shot from the previous generation captured the scornful gaze of Sophia Loren at Jane Mansfield spilling out of her low-cut dress. Though Lady Godiva could be defined as a wardrobe omission rather than a malfunction, such unexpected sightings of the fleshsustain interest.

Basking in the limelight of celebrity provides ample opportunity for the scrutiny of pervasive paparazzi lenses. However, if you fly below that radar, such wardrobe faux pas can prove quite unsettling at the time… and don’t we all have stories. I was in a national tandem surfing competition in Hawaii years ago. My partner and I were practicing at Waikiki Beach, a gentle wave site where droves of inexperienced people rent big red surfboards and languish in exhaustion, their backs to the waves. One of the boards pitched right into us and knocked me unconscious for a moment. Next thing I knew, my partner was pulling me up on our surfboard, my bikini bottoms at my ankles.

Then there was the time I was leaving a corporate boardroom meeting. Following behind me were two men, the company president and the CFO. I felt a fluttering feeling on my legs. “I think you have lost something,” came the comment. The elastic waistband of my slip had given way and quickly slithered off, lending clear view of my choice of underwear beneath my silk skirt.

The most recent incident occurred a few years ago when I was teaching a group fitness class. As I was stepping up on the bench, doing kicks, I noticed a couple on the other side of the window to the weight room. They seemed to be laughing at me. After I finished the class I went home to change, only then to find that my black aerobic shorts had split out to reveal my white underwear.

The moral of the story: check your outfit integrity carefully before entering the public domain, color coordinate your undergarments to your outfit, and if you do suffer a wardrobe malfunction, realize that the humor value will surely follow… in time.