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Look, Behind You!

What do you look like from behind? Right now, in whatever outfit you are wearing?

See, now you’re all nervous and stuff.

For some reason, the last few months, I keep looking at people and thinking that they must not know what they look like from behind. And of course, I don’t myself—oh, more or less, as my outfits are mostly very similar, one to another, and not very close-fitting. But if the back of a particular waistcoat doesn’t match the trousers I have on, I wouldn’t know, and it’s likely no-one would bother telling me (yes, my Best Reader would, if she noticed, but alas my bad habit of tardiness means that I am generally the last one out of the house and often throwing the last of the garments on at that moment, so she has no opportunities to walk behind me until she drops me at my office curb). I am always startled to see how grey I have become back there, and I have worn hats for two or three seasons without knowing how the back part looks.

I’m not worried about it. Those seem like minor things to me. I’m more worried about my hair sticking up in the front, which of course I can see in the mirror, when I don’t forget to look.

I think the reason it’s been on my mind is this dreadful fashion trend of the mullet skirts—have you been seeing them? Short in the front and long in the back? Boy howdy do they look dopey to me. I mean, kids these days. The first few I saw in the spring were extreme cases, a good eight inches above the knee in the front and shoe-level in the back, and I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and ask if she knew about it—are you aware the back of your skirt doesn’t match the front? I have asked some young women, and some like them and some don’t, but those are the skirts and dresses available in the stores these days, evidently, and that’s how it is. I can’t imagine that if they all knew how they looked from behind they would be so popular, but then presumably they are all seeing each other from behind at various points, so it’s just fashion.

It’s not just the skirts, of course. When I was a teenager, the visible bra strap was an embarrassing accident, and now it isn’t. I am OK with that, I suppose, although I don’t think that the look of the strap has improved as much as it ought to have if it is going to show. But when the back part of the brassiere shows—in those shirts that are open in the back, or the other ones that are mesh or lace in the back—that look really bizarre. I mean, I get that it’s revealing, but the actual clasp part is all bumpy and whatnot, and often there’s a little tag sticking out, and it just ain’t on. And I look at them and think is this a deliberate choice, or do they have no idea what they look like from behind?

Guys, too, suffer from this, although I’m afraid with college age fellows the issue is more likely a stain or torn bit on the back of the tee shirt. The fashion for street-dragging jean bottoms has more or less ended, so I’m not seeing idiots trailed by denim fringe and cigarette butts anymore, thank goodness. Among older men there’s the thing where the necktie peeks out from the collar at the back; I hate that.

And the thing is that most of us now have the technology at home to actually see what we look like from behind before we go out into the wide world. The thing where I set my phone down, walk away, turn around and snap a picture? There’s bound to be an app for that. In fact, I can use video to see if there’s anything that slips or wiggles in an unfortunate manner. My laptop will do it without a specialized app. Do I take the time to do it? I do not. Nor anybody else.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


"Mullet skirt." Brilliant.

I heard that one from a rather brilliant editor friend and immediately I was unable to think of them by any other name—to the point where I forget that not everybody calls them that.


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