Wardrobe malfunction

Wardrobe malfunction

Wardrobe malfunction is an accidental instance of indecent exposure of intimate parts. It is different from flashing as the latter implies a deliberate exposure. There has been a long history of such malfunction, though the term itself was coined in the 2000s.

Linguistic phenomenon

The American Dialect Society defines it as "an unanticipated exposure of bodily parts. Global Language Monitor, which tracks usage of words on the internet and in newspapers worldwide, identified the term as the top Hollywood contribution to English (HollyWordie) in 2004, surpassing words like girlie men, Yo! and frass. The term was also one of the new entrants into the Chambers Dictionary in 2008, along with words like electrosmog, carbon footprint, credit crunch and social networking. The dictionary defines it as "the temporary failure of an item of clothing to do its job in covering a part of the body that it would be advisable to keep covered". One source defines it as, accidental and indecent exposure of body parts by a fault in someone's clothing (especially that of a performer) or by an error made while changing this costume.

The term was used by singer Justin Timberlake in 1 February 2004 to explain the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy, the incident during Super Bowl XXXVIII in which Janet Jackson's right breast was bared. The print version of the Urban Dictionary describes it as "an accidental or supposedly accidental failure of clothing to cover parts of the body intended to be covered, made famous by Justin Timberlake during a Super Bowl halftime when he tore off Janet Jackson's clothes. After the Super Bowl incident the term "wardrobe malfunction" appeared in 5,028 stories in major US consumer and business publications, newspapers, and major TV and radio broadcasts. Journalist Eric Alterman described the incident as "the most famous 'wardrobe malfunction' since Lady Godiva.

The American Dialect Society had a number or related terms for Word of the year nominations in 2004, including Janet moment (unplanned bodily exposure at a public function), boobgate (scandal over Janet Jackson's exposed breast), nipplegate (Like boobgate, but used earlier in squawk over John Elway's possible nipple ring) and wardrobe malfunction (overexposure in a mammary way). The term has been translated into other languages to describe similar incidents, including garderobe defect (Dutch), incident de garde-robe or défaut de fonctionnement de garde-robe (French), Garderobenstörung (German), disfunzione del guardaroba or incidente del guardaroba (Italian), and malfuncionamiento del guardarropa (Spanish).

Social phenomenon

In DJing for Dummies, John Steventon describes a range of wardrobe malfunctions from a revelation of butt cleavage to visible panty lines. In some US cities, low hanging pants and whale tail flashing (thong exposed over the top of pants or skirts) are considered as wardrobe malfunctions, and are considered as a school dress code issue. Bikinis also present a celebrity wardrobe malfunction opportunities to the paparazzi in the form of wedgies or bikini-top malfunctions. Celebrity upskirts and nip slips, like that of Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears or Paris Hilton have been described as deliberate wardrobe malfunction to draw public attention. In Wedding Planning and Management: Consultancy for Diverse Clients, Maggie Daniels warns, "With so many people involved in the wedding party, a wardrobe malfunction is guaranteed to happen. In Cheer!: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders, Kate Torgovnick warns of wardrobe malfunctions while cheerleading. The first reported instance of wardrobe malfunction occurred on The Price Is Right in 1977 involving contestant Yolanda Bowsley, though such incidents were not called by that name at the time.

Nipple slip

Nipple slip, an associated term, is the accidental exposure of a woman's nipple in public. Nipple slip is one of the commonest forms of wardrobe malfunction and occurrences are popular among the paparazzi, and on celebrity gossip blogs and websites Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction may be the most well known nipple slip of all time, but Paris Hilton, Tara Reid, Lindsay Lohan, and many other celebrities have endured or in some cases apparently courted the publicity. A nipple slip can, in some cases, be avoided with the use of lingerie tape.



  • The singer P J Proby became notorious in Britain for splitting his tight trousers during his act.

See also


External links

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