Ooooh it’s been a while. Sorry about that; 2012 was a bit of a shock to me. Anyway, here we are and there I was deciding that for New Years Eve, what I really wanted was to wear a velvet dress. I’d seen one in Topshop that I thought might be cute because on the hanger it looked cute and by ‘cute’ I actually mean ‘cute; adorable, twee, for small infants’. I am not a small infant so maybe I can’t pull off a ‘cute’ velvet dresses. In case that was the case I took a few different styles of velvet dress in to the changing room with me. Two of them were a size 10 and two were the same style but in the ever vague ‘S/M’ and ‘M/L’.
The cute one was perhaps too cute and it had a very specific cut which did not fit my shape. I pulled it at the back, in the same way that a stylist probably would if this was being modeled for a magazine. No amount of bulldog-clipping was going to make this look better on me so I moved on to the skater dress version of the velvet dress. It was certainly more grown up but also possibly more slutty? It wasn’t to my taste and it certainly wasn’t to my size. This size 10; made for the same shop, in the same material but in a different style was much tighter than the last one.
And the zip didn’t sit straight. Now, I’ve talked to a lot of people about this blog since I started doing it and only a few men were shocked at the array of problems I had with clothes. Women came back to me with tales of their own changing room melt-downs and clothes-size hang ups so I know from both first and third hand experience that it’s the clothes that cause the problems. AND YET, when that zip didn’t lie flat on my bum I thought oh god, my bum is huge. Even though the dress I’d tried on moments earlier in the same size had been a lose fit, this dress right now was showing me something that the last dress had failed to mention.
I wondered if my continuing irrational reaction actually came from a rational place. I grew up on episodes of Trinny and Suzannah and Gok Wan’s guide to dressing for your shape and perhaps what they have told me is this: that you fake the shape you want. So standing in that changing room my logic went something like- if clothes can hide your bad bits then they can highlight them too. This dress has highlighted to me a bad bit that other dresses have cleverly hidden.
Here are some dressing ‘techniques’ that I can reel off the top of my head because I watch far too much television. “Pear” shapes should broaden the shoulders by wearing a light colour across the top and dark across the bottom; it’ll make your hips look narrower… “Boy” shapes should bulk out a slender frame with chunky fabrics and then tie it together with a belt; it’ll give the impression of a waist… “Apple” shapes should wear empire lines which nip you in at your smallest part creating an illusion of something or other… Probably something to do with the ‘hourglass’ figure.
1) I have no idea why an hourglass is the now considered the perfect shape. The Venus de Milo was more of a pear and hers were once considered the ideal proportions.
2) All that’s really being said with ‘dressing for your shape’ is ‘if you do X you can look like Y’ and I’m not sure how healthy a message that is. The shape you are is the one that should be embraced and loved for everything it is.
3) CLOTHES ARE NOT THE ANSWER.
Clothes are flawed in their own ways. For example, when I told my Aunt who used to make dresses for a living about my zip dilemma she confessed that seams on zips are tricky. You have to get both sides to line up exactly and that’s hard enough when you’re on a flat surface and tending carefully to one garment but en mass, trying to create a three dimensional curve around the shape of a derriere is hit and miss to say the least. If you don’t accommodate a curve in there at all well then only people whose backs blend curve-lessly into their legs can hope to have a kink-free zip. I think I’d rather have a bum. In rational conclusion to the whole thing, the zip not lying flat was highlighting a problem with the zip and not with me.
In case you were wondering I did eventually settle for the third option of velvet dress. The cut was lose to go along with the vague sizing guide and it was much shorter than was entirely practical but I find that dressing is always a bit of a compromise. I could buy thick black tights for it, I liked it much better than the other two and it was already New Years Eve for which I wanted a velvet dress to wear. I thought, this will do.