Dress for success

By tamara on

During my stint at Merrill Lynch, I ran one of the most important projects of my career.  In order to launch the initiative, I scheduled a meeting to gather all the key stakeholders from around the globe.  Those expected to attend were senior managing directors and I was going to co-lead the meeting with the head of our fixed income division, who was my partner on the project.  It was a tremendous career making opportunity.

That morning however, I awoke feeling sick.  I had a rough night of sleep through fever and sweat.  But the pressure that I put on myself to deliver loomed overhead so whether I was sick or not, I was not going to miss the opportunity for such senior level exposure.   With that I put my best foot forward and dressed for success.  I chose my favorite outfit of the season, a black little number by the designer, Missoni.

It was early morning just before seven when I arrived at Merrill’s downtown headquarters.  Out of the taxi I went and straight passed the construction workers who were building the mecca that would become Goldman’s new headquarters; into the financial center and passed the snaking line of people at Starbucks; up the l-o-o-o-n-g escalator, through turnstiles and passed the security guards; into elevator and to my office on the 15th floor.

I spent the next several minutes pulling my meeting notes together and preparing.  But before heading to the conference room, I decided to pop into the ladies room for one last glance in the mirror.  And what I saw was jaw-dropping.

My beautiful black knit dress that hugged every curve of my body only covered my undergarments like an illusion.  It was completely shear.  Skittishly, I turned around and then around again.  My heart raised and I instantly felt overheated.  I had forgotten to wear  the under-slip of my dress. My panties, which was a thong no less, were fully visible like an outfit that Lady Gaga would wear to Grammys.  In shear panic, I grapevined back to my office – rear-end facing the wall and criss-crossing each step – my fingers spread out covering my crouch as if they were fig leaves.  I returned to my office and sat behind my desk “what to do? What to do?” I thought in my head.

I frantically called my boss who then ran into my office.  I tried to explain but the words were muddled with breathlessness and I was unable to articulate.  She didn’t seem to understanding and just stared at me as if I was insane.  All appeared normal to her, because I sat hidden behind my desk.  So I stood up and twirled like a ballerina.  She gasped, “Ok, ok”  and then searched for a solution, “I will run this meeting,” she says.  And off she went and left me behind.  [ha, ha]

I then called my co-worker and best friend John Wong.  His office was four feet away from mine, just across a narrow hallway.  But it was still early and he hadn’t arrived to the office yet.  I tried calling his cell phone but there was no answer.  I called incessantly  – like every 20 seconds or so until the moment that finally walked into my office.  He was confused by the urgency and sense of panic and in his Chino-Brooklyn accent he says “Yo man, what’s going on? Why you keep calling me?”  I tried to explain – but no comprende.  I then stood up and did the same twirl that I did for my boss just minutes earlier.  He stood silently for a moment.  Then a dirty grin“Can you do that again?”

Through the years, I have periodically seen women on the subway in their slips having forgotten to put on their skirts before leaving for work.  I have heard stories of women forgetting to wear a bra.  But I never in a million years thought that something like this could ever happen to me.

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