Shared Stories: Wardrobe Malfunctions

More than a few women can probably relate to Helen Hampton’s clothing problems out in public. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns

By Helen Hampton

Back in the 1940’s, when I studied voice at the Boston Conservatory of Music, I used to go to dinner at Schraff’s before my voice lesson.  It was a pretty place with candy and other sundries on the street floor, with a lovely restaurant at the top of a spiral staircase.

One evening I was wearing a new girdle, and the stays in it were killing me! I knew I could not take my singing lesson in agony, so after dinner I went to the ladies room to take off my girdle.
Whew! Instant relief! Into my purse it went.

But then I realized – I had no way to hold up my stockings. Luckily I had heard long ago that pennies twisted at the top of hose will hold them up. And so, I twisted the pennies into each stocking and left the ladies room.

As I was exiting down the spiral staircase, the pennies started falling out! One by one they fell down the stairs, jingling all the way. I felt all eyes on me as I made my descent with my stocking around my ankles. I was SO embarrassed!

I rushed back upstairs to the ladies room. I took off my stockings and put them into my purse with the girdle! After making my way down the spiral staircase with my head held high, I then proceeded on to my singing lesson.

On another occasion, a skirt gave me problems. During World War II, my sister and I were volunteers for the U.S.O. in Boston. I sang with the band and we both danced with the boys.
One night I rushed home from work to change my clothes before going to the U.S.O.  I chose a beautiful light blue skirt with a matching blouse.

In a rush, I put the skirt on, and then I styled my hair. When I reached for the blouse, I found a button missing.  I hurried to look for something else to wear and found a pretty red dress.
My sister and I hurried up the street to the subway. Running late, we ran to the U.S.O. and signed in.  Within a few minutes a boy asked me to dance.

As I was dancing away, I kept seeing my sister waving to me. I kept waving back. Finally my dance partner asked what I was doing. I said, “Oh, my sister keeps waving to me.” 

He looked over at her and said, “I don’t think she is waving. I think she wants to come over.”
We danced over and my sister pointed to me, laughing her head off. I looked down and saw a light blue accordion-pleated skirt hanging three inches below my red dress! I was so embarrassed!

I excused myself, rushed to the cloakroom, took off the skirt, hung it on a coat hook, and returned to the dance floor. Needless to say, my dance partner was not in sight!