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Zip It! Should You Tell a Co-worker About a Wardrobe Malfunction?

You're walking around the office when you realize the back of your skirt has been tucked into your tights for the last hour or so.

Not one of your co-workers said boo about it, either. Let's talk about the co-workers who keep their mouths zipped when our zipper is unzipped!

This wardrobe malfunction 
couldn't have come
at a better time 
for you.


Wardrobe malfunctions -- as well as crumbs, stains and makeup mistakes -- happen to all of us. We tend to have only one reaction when we realize we've been parading around with egg on our face: Why didn't any of my co-workers bother to tell me?

It's a good question. I've certainly appreciated the friends and co-workers who were brave enough to say, "You have jam on your face" or "You have a long thread hanging down the back of your shirt." Thank you so much for telling me. I really do appreciate being told when I am falling apart at the seams.

But what's up with our co-workers who remain disinclined to tell us that we have a big, neon "Size XL" sticker still affixed to the side of our pants as we give a PowerPoint presentation to a potential client? How are we supposed to put this failure to inform us in proper perspective?

You might feel vaguely betrayed by the colleagues you thought had your mustard-smeared backside. You can't help but wonder why they wouldn't tell you about a major case of static cling. Because they had to notice. You're not Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl, but you still feel like everyone probably saw it.


Were your co-workers simply too shy to point it out? Maybe. Sometimes, it's hard to interrupt a hallway discussion about this month's numbers to say, "Just so you know, the seam on the back of your pants is splitting open and we can see your underwear. I didn't know you were a Fruit of the Loom fan." Timing is everything.

Just Thought I'd Mention...
Over the years, I've heard so many stories about The Time nobody told them about a major stain, lipstick on the teeth, used toilet paper dangling down their backside like a tail, a knotted necklace or another small-but-embarrassing snafu at work. And without exception, everyone utters the phrase "I wish somebody would have told me."

These moments present a perfect opportunity to tell colleagues: "Please feel free to tell me next time." These situations tend to pay themselves forward, too. At some point, the colleague who casually said, "Yeah, I noticed that you had a big blob of mayonnaise in your hair this morning, but I didn't want to say anything" will walk into the office wearing his shirt inside out.

What if your manager hasn't realized she still has price tags on her blouse? Two words: Tell her. Please tell her.

Bottom line: say something (quietly) to the colleague who has a booger on his nose, because I highly doubt he's doing it on purpose. These workplace interactions let our colleagues know that we're looking out for them. They are small gestures with big meaning. Besides, you would want to know, right?

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