A Lifetime of Wardrobe Malfunctions

By Lisa Kline

My husband deliberately dresses shlumpy. As a veterinarian, he wears scrubs to work. Dressing up means putting on good jeans, and no outfit is complete without pet hairs.

To me, saving animal lives is way higher on the manliness scale than his fashion profile. But there are times in life when you must dress up. So, when we received an invitation to the bar mitzvah of Jeff’s best friend’s son, I freaked. “You need a suit!”

“Can’t I wear nice khakis?” he said.

“It has to be a suit.” I dragged Jeff to a department store. He fidgeted and grumbled while the tailor measured and pinned.

I picked up the altered suit before driving to New Jersey for the event and said, as we were packing, “Maybe you should try it on?”

“We don’t have time!” Jeff tossed the hanging bag in the back seat and slammed the door.

I didn’t push it. That night, in our hotel room, minutes before the bar mitzvah party was to begin, Jeff put on the suit.

“Honey…?” he said uncertainly.

I turned to look. One leg of his pants was five inches shorter than the other. One hem broke over the arch of his foot and the other revealed four inches of his ankle.

“Are my actual legs different lengths?”

“How could they be this far off?”

“What can we do?” Jeff gave me a panicked look.

Nothing. There wasn’t enough of a hem for me to pull out. Jeff gamely went with one short pant leg. He leaned to the left, like at Passover, to try to make them look even. When we sat, he crossed his feet at the ankles. He struck awkward poses and stood in the shadows. We did not dance.

Later, we told the story as an amusing anecdote.Fast forward a few years, and that same boy was getting married. Once again, a need for formal attire.

“You need a tux,” I told Jeff.

“Can’t I just wear my suit?”

“No. The invitation says ‘black tie.’ That means tux.”

“I’ll rent one.”

We were trying to save money for college for our girls and had a thousand other expenses. “Fine. But you need to buy some dress shoes. One of the cats peed on your old ones.”

The weekend of the wedding, in a gorgeous hotel room overlooking the water, with the Boston skyline in the distance, Jeff put on his tuxedo.

“You look fantastic,” I said. “They say clothes don’t make the man, but wow!”

He had discovered that he could also rent dress shoes. A perfect solution, right? But when he put them on, and took a few steps, the left sole fell off, flapping as he walked, like a clown’s at a kid’s birthday party.

“Honey…!” He took a few galumphing steps around the room.

Not another wardrobe malfunction! And it was the same friends as before! I racked my brain. “Maybe the concierge has some glue. Hurry, the wedding starts in fifteen minutes!”

So Jeff threw on his running shoes, with the tux, and ran downstairs. As I buttoned myself into my dress, sweat trickled down my side.

I finished my hair and make-up. Waited ten excruciating minutes.

Finally, sweating and breathless, Jeff rushed back into the room. “No glue – but you’ll never believe it, the concierge found these in the lost and found!” He held up a pair of worn black dress shoes.

“You’re kidding. Do they fit?”

“Pretty darn close!”

The first time had been a funny story. This time, we didn’t tell anyone.

A few years passed and the time came for the wedding of my dear friend’s daughter. After two wardrobe malfunctions, my anxiety about our clothing had become rather intense.

Well in advance, we bought a suit and had it altered. Jeff tried on the pants to make sure they fit and weren’t uneven. I bought him a new dress shirt and tie. We bought him dress shoes.

I bought a new dress, jewelry, and stockings that matched.

The night before the wedding, we drove to the Virginia home of mutual friends. After dinner Jeff came out of the guest room, crooking his finger at me with a concerned look.

Once inside, he opened his suit jacket hanging in the closet.

No pants.

We exchanged looks of horror. After trying on the pants, he must have hung them on another hanger instead of with the jacket. And I hadn’t checked when I packed it.

“This just goes to show, I am not a guy who is meant to dress up,” Jeff said. The next morning while I was at the bridesmaid’s luncheon, Danny took Jeff to a department store, the blue pin-striped jacket in tow. Danny had to take a phone call, though, and when he came back, found Jeff at the check-out counter with a pair of white khakis.

“No, no, no, they have to match the jacket!” Danny helped Jeff find blue pin-striped slacks and eventually all was well.

And the wedding was so lovely, and the band was so good, that we danced all night. We danced so much that halfway through the reception I went to the ladies’ room because one of my shoes felt funny. Then, as pairs of Jimmy Choos paraded by my stall, the soles of both of my shoes completely disintegrated. In strange wax-like chunks, they fell away into my hand.

The one thing I hadn’t bought new. Had Jeff’s wardrobe malfunction virus been passed on to me?

I took a deep breath. Everyone was looking at the bride and groom, not at me. I took them off, and, on my way back out to the dance floor, slid them under the edge of a long white tablecloth, and danced barefoot into the wee hours of the night.

In the future maybe our daughters will get married. Should we hire a valet? Opt for barefoot and khakis on the beach?

Maybe we should just encourage them to elope.

About this writer

  • Lisa Kline

    Lisa Kline

    Lisa Kline has published a number of short stories in various literary magazines, as well as a collection called Take Me (Main Street Rag). She has won the Press 53 Fiction Award, and honorable mention in the Glimmer Train Winter Fiction Open. She’s also published several books for young readers. She and her veterinarian husband Jeff live in Davidson, North Carolina, with a menagerie of spoiled animals. Their daughters visit frequently with their dogs and as can be imagined they have a howling good time.

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6 Responses to “A Lifetime of Wardrobe Malfunctions”

  1. Great story! I agree with you about the manliness scale. Kindness and a sense of humor are much more significant than style.

  2. Sheri Levy says:

    Lisa, That was hilarious. I want to know if this is from experience? My husband hates to wear nice shoes… We’re going to a cocktail party I’m already worried he’s going to wear his tennis shoes.
    See you at SCBWI

  3. Josh says:

    Ha! That’s my bar mitzvah and wedding. Never knew these stories. So funny. Hope you guys are doing well.

  4. Wow Lisa this is great! Thanks for sharing this hilarious story!

  5. Anna Riley says:

    Oh my goodness! Hysterical! Yes, opt for barefoot and khakis for future weddings of your daughters. A beachside wedding sounds good! :)

  6. Linda O'Connell says:

    This was so relatable. My husband would live in jeans too, if he could. Great story that made me chuckle.

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