I was young, in maybe second or third grade. Keep in mind, this was back in the VERY early '80s, when fashions for young ladies were not quite as casual - or comfortable - as they are today. Think polyester turtlenecks and corduroys ... and plaid, lots of really ugly plaid.
Anyway, I had this red turtleneck shirt that I wore a lot. It was mostly comfortable, once I managed to squeeze the too-tight neck over my head (which inevitably squished my plastic-framed glasses down on my nose so hard I saw stars, because I never remembered to take them off before I started). The sleeves were almost long enough if I hunched my shoulders just right, and if I didn't, well, that just allowed them to ride up enough to show off my awesome Mickey Mouse watch. But no matter how groovy it was, the most notable feature of this shirt wasn't its color, or its neck, or its sleeves - it was the snap crotch.
Yes, this shirt had a crotch... with snaps.
See, back in my day, mothers were somewhat obsessive about the whole "keep your shirt tucked in" thing. They were always telling kids to tuck in their shirt, only slobs go around with their clothing untucked - were you raised in a barn? In the interest of making shirts that would stay tucked, no matter what, someone invented the snap-crotch turtleneck. You'd put it on like a regular shirt, then fasten the two or three metal snaps that were on the flap that came between your legs. It was sort of a onesie for the elementary school set, if you can imagine that.
Given that I was tall for my age (see comment about sleeve length above), wearing snap-crotch shirts was inherently fraught with danger. I had my choice between hunching over to keep from embedding the snaps in my delicate regions, or standing up straight and hoping the snaps didn't let loose and send one of my overstretched shirttails flapping up in the air. Yes, that actually happened. I'm sure one of my friends on Facebook will be happy to confirm that for you.
By far the worst part of wearing a snap-crotch shirt was the fact that I generally forgot how much extra time was required to deal with it during bathroom trips. Inevitably, the snaps would get stuck just when you were really hoping they'd come undone, and trying to get them fastened again was a nightmare of awkward maneuvers and mis-matched snaps. Add to that the fact that I tended to try to "wait it out" rather than raise my hand and walk past all the other students to the bathroom, and it was sort of a recipe for disaster. There were a lot of near-misses, but only one trip was truly horrifying.
I don't know what had possessed me that morning, but I had somehow managed to snap up my shirt before I put on my underwear. But I didn't realize it, or else I forgot all about it in my hour of need. So when I finally got desperate enough to use the bathroom, I slammed the stall door, threw down my corduroy pants and Underoos, and sat down to business, forgetting all about the snap crotch I hadn't bothered to undo.
I noticed something was wrong almost immediately, but being only seven or eight years old, I had neither the presence of mind nor the control of my bladder required to prevent this disaster. So, smack in the middle of my school day, I peed all over the bottom of my shirt. It soaked in almost immediately and began slowly wicking its way up my body, like some sort of ammonia-scented nightmare.
My mind has somehow blocked out what must have followed - the embarrassed hiding in the bathroom until another student was sent to fetch me, the cringing attempts to wring out the tails of my shirt, the whispered consultation through the crack in the door, the summoning of the teacher, the call to the office for a plastic bag and a fresh shirt, the teasing of my classmates who could only imagine what I had been through but teased me about it nonetheless. It's horrible and cringe-inducing enough in my imagination - thank goodness I don't have to actually relive the memories.
I do know, however, that snap-crotch turtlenecks were no longer a staple of my wardrobe after that incident ... and now, thirty years later, I NEVER tuck in my turtlenecks, no matter how sloppy it makes me look. There are some sacrifices for fashion that are just too much to bear.