Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Jen's World: Pantyhose? It could be worse

Last week, Mayo Clinic announced a change to its dress code that caused pandemonium throughout its campus. Pantyhose, which had long been required for female employees, now are optional.

Cue the screaming crowds. The news was so big, apparently, that it not only hit Rochester media outlets — but also made the rounds through the Twin Cities.

Many women throughout the Clinic campus rejoiced — happy to be freed of their hosiery. A less vocal crowd shared disappointment, saying they thought pantyhose were important for decorum and professionalism.

Since I'm not a Mayo Clinic employee, I don't have a strong opinion one way or another. But the news does have me reflecting on the dress codes of my past. And there were a lot of them.

Now, there are a whole lot of things I don't know. I don't know the first thing about calculus, changing oil or how to fold a fitted sheet. But I do know this: Some of the outfits I've worn in the name of earning a buck make forced hosiery seem like a gift from God.


Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

My first job was at the Galaxy Twin Theatre in my hometown of Thief River Falls. And, reader-friends, I wish I had a picture of that hot mess to show you. Here's what I wore to work concessions: A bright-blue, A-line, polyester maternity dress.

I was 16 years old, 85 pounds, and, for the record, not pregnant.

Why a maternity dress? I don't know. It guess it's just the pattern the owner's daughter used when she made the uniforms. Maybe she was pregnant at the time. Or maybe she figured maternity wear would make one-size-fits-all uniforms for a range of future employees.

As it happened, no one who worked there during my three-year tenure was taller than 5'3" or weighed more than 100 pounds.

We wore white shirts under the dresses, which were sleeveless and boasted wide shoulder straps. And we cinched the waist with belts. Mine was blue pleather with a starburst clasp. I wore white slip-on shoes. And no pantyhose. (Even though, one evening, the owner's daughter — who eventually became my good friend, but who didn't like me at first — said pointedly to me, "Don't you think that pantyhose are important for completing an outfit?")

I made a good effort for a few shifts, but it didn't last. Partly because pantyhose are itchy and make my ankles look baggy. And partly because if you're going to ask me to invest in that much L'eggs, you're going to need to pay me more than $3.35 per hour.

My next job was at Handy Farms, which had been a Country Kitchen until the owners decided they didn't want to pay the franchise fee anymore. I wore dark blue cotton pants, a blue shirt and a plaid smock with pockets in the front for my order notebooks.


No one looks good in a smock.

But it was a functional outfit, and not so bad, really, except that it's intrinsically tied to a memory that still makes me cringe. I'd forgotten to put the pants in the dryer one night, only realizing they were still wet, in the wash, when I dressed for work the next morning. I threw them in the dryer for all of five minutes, then pulled them on, heavy and dank against my legs.

On the way to work, I stopped for gas. I had a crush on the service station guy—and, for reasons that still escape me, I found this the appropriate moment to, for the first time in my life, ask a boy out on a date. While wearing wet pants, a ponytail, and a smock.

I can't imagine why he said no.

The next summer, after I finished my freshman year of college, I went to South Dakota to work at tourist mecca Wall Drug. And all you need to know about that is that I had to wear a gingham short-sleeved shirt with pearlized snaps, an ankle-length denim skirt, and a red apron. Six days a week. While handing out yellow paper menus with jackalopes on the cover.

I followed that up with a stint as a cashier (red smock), an evening waitress (white tuxedo shirt) and a lunch-rush waitress (wide waist apron and significant "bling") before, finally, landing a job as an assistant editor (any darn thing I pleased).

So, you know, pantyhose? Maybe not such a bad deal.

What To Read Next
Get Local