Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Clothes Made The Man

Corporate Couture, The Business Boys andThe Power of Secret Funderpants

Clothes were important to me once.  When starting my career, John T. Molloy had just published Dress for Success (1975) and I cloned his "I mean business even though I am a chick in my 20's, a smart ass and don't know squat" look as soon as I was given an office and a desk where serious people worked.  I ritualistically suited up every morning with the express intent to give the executives with whom I worked a dose of youth and professionalism they couldn't forget from that all-important 3 second first impression.
Flattering bra and panties - check! Cosmo said I could have a little fun with the undergarments, like lace or embroidery, so all girlie-girl underneath, I certainly did.  Pantyhose - Check! Button-down collar oxford cloth shirt - check!  Suit with matching butt-cupping knee length skirt and tailored jacket - check!   Pearl necklace and earrings smaller than a dime - check! Makeup, but not too much! Don’t want to look like a painted up cross dresser, do we? - check!
Molloy was right.  The clothes were the ticket to receive the attention I needed to get my ideas rolling in a room full of jaded, hard drinking and smoking business men.

None of them, the Business Boys, had to do much but arrive at work clad in a shirt with tie and a suit.  No careful pairings of makeup, jewelry, accessories.  No touching up the lipstick, curling the hair or teetering on stilettos.  Men had it easy, uncomplicated.  Oddly, though, my fussy prudish Edwardian threads, and all the power they represented to me, were very sexy indeed.  The racy underwear, my secret silky slippery-slidey ‘funderpants,’ closed the deal.
All work and no play didn't suit me at all, however.  When the career/empire building was over for the day, I had a boyfriend. Geoff. He was a guitar-playing new technology Apple computer toting geek, looked like Matthew McConaughey, and was a raging alcoholic.  In spite of the large pink elephant in the room, that ultimately doomed the relationship, my scales tipped toward keeping him around.  He was a short witty talented Adonis with a rock star smile and, sorry folks, my clothes just fell off around him.  Spontaneous disrobement.


Naturally I thought I could change him with all my professional I-can-fix-anything-know-it-all zeal, so he earned the key to my apartment one drunken sweaty tangled up night.  It was one of those relationships everyone in our immediate sphere loathed but me.  Insert clich√© here.
Then, one day, I found the panties in the laundry hamper. 

Granny Panties, Godzilla & Does This Make Me Look Fat? 

They were high waisted white cotton "utility panties" and were 3 sizes larger than I would wear.  The crush of questions that zinged through my mind went something like this: "These are not my panties.  These are weird large panties. Whose panties are they?  Could someone be sneaking into the apartment while I am gone and planting panties to see if I noticed?  Could any of my panties have had this serious an elastic failure as to stretch to this gargantuan size?" 
Then came thundering into my little befuddled brain:  "Is Geoff cheating on me with a huge woman?"  Godzilla in granny panties.  There's the visual.


It was time to go all paranoid forensic and investigate. I searched high and low for any further evidence of Geoff's monstrous infidelities and only found a hidden vodka bottle near the cat's litter box.  I never looked at my cat in the same way again, because I knew he had seen something sinister going on in that house and wouldn't even mime me a hint, the bastard.  I decided to say nothing about the parachute pants since within reason they could've been my Mom's transported into the house anchored by laundry induced static electricity on...something.  I was in denial.
Something was distracting me to a greater degree.  Everything was falling apart.  I began to notice that my carefully acquired Dress for Success wardrobe was becoming threadbare. The side seams on my tight butt-cupping skirts now showed every thread holding on for dear life before popping straight open.  Zippers were spontaneously un-toothing themselves.  Buttons were mysteriously missing.  My pantyhose came out of the drawers with runners I hadn't noticed.  The hooks on my bras were bent outward and my shoes had gone from narrow width to wide. 

Well, hell!  Why didn't anyone tell me I was getting fat?
Geoff just intoned the usual mantra uttered by most men upon hearing those malignant words and seeing the maniacal glint in his woman’s eye.  "I like you just the way you are."  I, nonetheless, flew into a diet and exercise regime that could've made Jane Fonda flinch.

A Lycra Iron Maiden, Faux Liza & Waiting for Godzilla 

Then, one morning, I found the girdle.

Preparing for a cocktail party, I found it folded neatly hidden in the liquor cabinet.  Hideous, it offered up its salacious June Cleaver 1950's promise of squeezing subjugated hips and bellies into its sausage casing, boa constrictor embrace. It was a nauseating shade of taupe-y flesh and tried, but failed, to be “pretty” displaying an iron maiden satin tummy restrainer panel on the front, thigh length Lycra lace legs and a sadistic fanny controlling derriere area festooned with faux damask roses.  It even had the hanging button devices meant to hold up real one-leg-at-a-time stockings!
Again my befuddled mind charged ahead:  “This is not my girdle.  Mom had one.  I remember peeking at them in her undies drawer.  I remember her doing that hopping shimmy dance to force that puppy on over her butt and legs.  This is a huge girdle.  Big enough for the tranny Liza Minnelli impersonator I had just hired for the party.   T’would make a great slingshot.  Why am I thinking of slingshots and Liza Minnelli? Whose girdle is it?  Am I so fat that Geoff had to drop a hint like this?”

 Then this thought sidled up and punched me in the head:   “Godzilla.”
The cat fixed me with a disdainful stare as if to say, “Well, duh!”
Freaky forensics took center stage. Geoff was gone for the day, so I called in sick and lay in wait. Hunkered down in my car wearing sunglasses gnawing carrot sticks I kept my apartment in sight.  The Mission Impossible theme thundered in my head.  And sure enough, there he was letting himself in, looking furtively around to see if he was followed, and then disappearing into the apartment.  I waited vacillating between rapt curiosity and blind rage for Godzilla to show. What would this gargantuan piece of work look like?
And I waited. Still waited. 
No Godzilla.  Impatience prompted me to settle this anyway right then and there.    Activating Plan B, I steeled myself to corner him with sharply pointed questions about the unsettling collection of ladies underwear reproducing in my apartment like so many horny dust bunnies. Into the apartment I charged, seething with “I gotcha” imperative.    

Busted, Dusted and Hot Roller Encrusted

My coral colored linen suit, although straining on his body like an overstuffed burrito, gave Geoff that perfect Dress for Success panache I had so long cultivated for myself.  I could hear the seams, zippers and buttons groaning as they tried in vain to encompass his girdle clad ass.  His make-up was applied with consummate subtlety; his pink press-on nails and charming coordinated neck scarf punctuated his very own signature look.  They were my clothes he had wedged himself into, but he had deftly transformed them into his own happy-place couture. The granny panties and the huge girdle he purchased online in secret were just the next steps on the journey. The only imperfections in this 3-second first impression he had so carefully assembled was the single forgotten hot roller dangling in his hair.  And if you looked real close, you could see his leg hair flattened out beneath my taupe pantyhose.
Otherwise, he was very well put together for a dude. 
So caught up in practicing his runway walk in heels in front of the full length mirror, I surprised him. 

He froze.  I froze. 
Here was a man, a stunning man, who only needed to run his hands through his hair and throw on a shirt, tie and a suit to face the world.  So easy for men.  And yet…
I understood.
A sound bubbled up from a great depth and spilled out of me like water.   I laughed. Hard.  And when I stopped laughing, caught my breath and wiped the tears away, I knew exactly what we needed to do.

 “Let’s go shopping.”


  1. Dear Linnnn,
    After a long laugh of relief and WTH, then acceptance. Good for you! And for leaving (?) for alcoholism unchecked, which is not in the same order of importance.

    Damn if I don't know all these pictures. I remember that grey suit, tie-collar blouse like it was yesterday. I remember Jane and the protests at the department stores. And I remember my six-foot, 110 pound mother wearing a stupid girdle. Just unbelievable: the 110 AND the girdle.

    Great, great post! I could go on forever, but no. I'd rather read yours.

    Thank you for a great read,
    Ann T.

  2. OMG!!! I knew it when I saw the grannie panties!!! Matthew McConaughey?? Really?? Shit, I might've put up with the panties and nailpolish for that! Great story girl! Had me rolling. =D

  3. Holy Shoulder Pads, Batman! I wasn't as quick as peedee, but I laughed my kiester off anyway.

  4. OMG. you can tell a story, girl...I was expecting the!

  5. Ho-lee crap! That is too funny.

  6. Yep... I saw that run-a-way freight train as soon as the mention of the granny panties was made...

    No mystery HERE!!!!!



  7. Dayummmm....that was a long post...then the granny panties...fucking epic

  8. You've been quoted!


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