Corporate High School and a Catalog of Regrets


I cannot rightly explain the many fashion faux pas of my youth.

Who can explain opaque pink tights worn with 4-inch heels? How can I justify the red mini-dress and gangster hat I wore to my Senior Prom, or the black crocheted string bikini with geographically significant rainbow motifs that adorned my 16th summer? Looking back to my younger days, I have many regrets. (Oh, for a time machine!)

This trip down fashion disaster lane has been inspired by, of all things, a trip into London to meet up with my Hubby for lunch. He works in the flagship building of a large English firm, a monument of reflective silver glass rising in three towers to meet the sky. This is an impressive layout and comes complete with a number of subsidized canteens, a drycleaner, hair salon, workout facilities, and all amenities imaginable to keep employees from ducking off-site for a quick lunchtime pint at the local pub. It’s all right there, lined up along an internal “Main Street” and bathed in the natural light of an atrium roof: Everything you could possibly need.

Well, everything but a pint, that is.  (Probably just as well – ha!) But I digress.

After lunch, Hubby and I took up residence on one of the benches in the center of the atrium, chatting amiably in the remaining minutes before he had to return to the cubicle salt mine he calls work. And it was here, amid the hundreds of employees lunching, I came to the realization that however grown up we are, however we may have convinced ourselves that we have matured and changed, we are really just the same old kids. Oh, the standards for dress and grooming have dropped considerably in the past 30 years since Hubby first joined the corporate ranks, but for all sakes and purposes, nobody has really left high school.

The rat-faced jocks sit with the rat-faced jocks. Groups of 3 or 4 women cluster together, joined by a common language, hair colour, style choice or ethnicity. The suits hang out with the suits, the nerds hang out with the nerds. There are cheerleaders in floaty sundresses, speech and debate types in white shirts and suit jackets. There are male interns who look about 12 with their professionally mussed and over-long hair, and female interns with low cut tops and deer-in-the-headlights eyes.

Sitting there amidst a sea of bad miniskirts, several cumulative yards of cleavage and otherwise dubious wardrobe and grooming choices, I began to reflect on my own catalog of style regrets. It is a fairly long catalog, actually, but fortunately the entries began to taper off significantly by the time I reached my late twenties, when the moral and spiritual landscape of my life took a definite turn for the better.

I cannot take back the red mini and heels I wore at marching band practice (which I actually regretted fairly immediately!) or the double vee neck tops that showed a lot of back and a fair amount of front. I cannot take back the skin-tight black lycra mini that was a staple of my wardrobe throughout the 80s any more than I can change the wildly permed mullet that matched it!

But, oh, if this Mother Hen could go back and relive her days as a young chick, she would change so very much!

For starters, I would have realized that there is a beauty and allure in modesty that simply cannot be achieved in any other way. I would have known the powerful attraction exerted by decency, and that what a good man finds irresistible is not what is on display to the rest of the world, but what he alone is permitted to discover. A good man will love you for your heart, and the rest is just window dressing. It is true: Some windows are better dressed than others. But at least they are dressed!

Fair enough. Many of you may disagree with my moral stance here. But perhaps we can agree that, considering the hygienic issues associated with impossibly short skirts, and the ocular logistics of trying to converse with a 3-inch cleavage, there are many, many things we really do not need to know about other people’s bodies. It is neither our right, nor should it be our burden.

Oh, I am not prudish or judgmental. There is a time and place for such clothing. Clubbing in Ibiza, perhaps. I am not an old, jealous hater. It’s just that I’ve been there and done that. I got the teeny tiny T-shirt, and in all honesty, it didn’t look so great even back when I thought it fit me.

Mother Hen

© motherhendiaries 2014 all rights reserved

14 replies »

  1. Oh, how I wish people would teach their kids this today!….modestly….not sharing SO MUCH in this realm………..omg. Sometimes it’s just downright embarrassing and not even just for us. We had some time with my niece friend last week. The friend (16) wore shorts that looked crocheted! Even my son (a walking hormone) was red in face trying to think where to look (or not look) to preserve her modesty for her.


    • Haha! This is PRECISELY what I’m talking about! It is pretty unfair to expect other people “not to look” when it is all up in our faces. Honestly! Your poor kid… it is cruel and unusual punishment and says rather a lot about the mindset of the young lady in question. Don’t tell me she doesn’t know. (Got the T-shirt, remember?)


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