What Not To Wear
Monday, November 26, 2012
A few years ago, there was this television show called 'What Not To Wear', featuring a duo of bitchy, opinionated women called Trinny and Susannah.
Each segment consisted of the 'stylists' visiting two or three participants in their homes, where after much snarkiness at the expense of said participants, T & S proceeded to pull out all the clothes from their closets, sparing nothing. Even reaching way way back to 1993 or thereabouts, making the poor women don the terrible garments, after which the hosts would perform the obligatory, po-faced, pop psychology required of all reality shows.
*Cue serous music* as Trinny and Susannah would take a gander at the underlying issues that caused women to let themselves go to such a degree that they would make such hideous fashion choices. Was it was because they felt ugly and unloved? Where they perhaps under appreciated and ignored by their spouses, friends, bosses?
No matter - What Not To Wear had the solution. With a few prods and pokes, national humiliation style, a generous clothing allowance and Trinny and Susanna's expertise, women of all sizes and ages were cured of their fashion faux pas and amazingly, all within the hour!
Despite the indentikit format, the victims, oops, participants, usually fell under one of the following categories.
1. overweight woman
2. older, dowdy woman set in her ways
3. young and slim woman but still clueless to what looks good
Actually, amend that. ALL of the women on the show were clueless to an extent. Why else would they invite perfectly obnoxious strangers into their homes to watch them demolish their egos, wreck their closets and poke fun at their lifestyles?
Upon being confronted with their failures, the participants, most times than not, burst into angry tirades or frustrated tears (sometimes both). Regardless, by the end of the show, the rehabbed women were transformed, posing and modelling their hip new wardrobes to an upbeat soundtrack.
Another fashion crises averted.
Despite all that, I did learn two things from the show. The first happened at the start of the programme when the participant was in the dressing room, trying on what used to be her favourite outfit but was now something viewers were placing 'worst-outfit-evah' bets on. Trinny or maybe it was Susannah, usually stormed in mid undress, to berate the woman for not wearing the proper undergarments.
That's right, as if all of it wasn't humiliating enough, breasts were cupped, elastic bands were snapped, appalling looks (cue camera 2), informing viewers that undergarments should never, ever, be taken lightly.
This was followed up by lukewarm compliments about the participant's various body parts, which thanks to the show, we'd seen in less than flattering circumstances. Maybe the woman had nice legs, slim ankles or big breasts. It didn't matter because T & S insisted we were all beautiful. Again, serious looks toward camera, as the stylists instructed viewers to catalog our best assets and to remember them when choosing clothing.
It occurs to me now that I disliked the show so much because I knew I was the perfect fodder for one of their episodes. I could imagine myself in tears, as Susannah, smirking at my unflattering beige trousers, would mention how the leftover fabric in the hips looked like a parasail. Trinny would then breeze in holding my oversized sweaters, each more unflattering than the last. 'What are you trying to hide?' one of them would inevitably ask. 'What are you so ashamed of?'
The worst would be my underwear reveal.
Even now, I've been putting off the inevitable, wearing giant Bridget Jones' drawers and soggy bras that have lost the will to live. I have no support network to speak of, so my clothes look ill-fitting. Worst of all, on Friday, as I was running for a train (I know, right? Me willingly running!). Anyway, imagine if you will the train leaving the platform and I'm hauling my caboose in order not to miss it. In one hand, I'm holding my ticket and handbag, the other is holding up the waistband of my underwear to stop them from falling down.
That was the last straw. With trepidation, as if I were being sentenced, I approached my local department store to get my undercarriage sorted.
Now ladies, if you are big on the top like me, buying bras is always the stuff of nightmares. From the bewildered sales associates who could not understand how I did not know my own size, as I spit out what must have seemed to them like random cup/back numbers, to the infinite choice of styles, fabrics, wire/no wire/lace/satin/cotton AGH!
The other thing is that most of the bras they carry in regular stores are usually what I consider decorative eye-candy but totally, non functional for someone of my frame. Inevitably, I get stuck with the ugly, white parachute numbers, which I've made my peace with, as long as they, you know... do something.
Finally, after trying on dozens of styles from the ridiculously uncomfortable to the ridiculously hilariously overpriced, I was surprised to discover I went down two entire back sizes and a cup. And you know what? It did make a difference when I put my shirt back on! It made such a difference that I went out shopping again the next day and bought:
1. one pair of skinny, black stretchy jeans in size 16 (14 US). You read that correctly, folks, size 16!! No more baggy-butt trousers.
2. one little red dress, Special K style. Me, in a dress is shocking enough. Now me in a soft, pretty dress in a vibrant colour that flowed as I twirled? Inconceivable. And twirl I did, as I wore it to my sister-in-law's birthday party.
I don't agree with humiliating women on television or elsewhere, regardless of their fashion choices. I also don't think everything, even a bad mauve striped jacket and matching skorts are the product of an inferiority complex. Sometimes bad choices are just bad choices. It doesn't mean you are unhappy, unappreciated or unloved.
For my part, I can't honestly say why I wore such unattractive, baggy clothing. Maybe I did want to be unseen. Maybe I didn't feel a fashionable wardrobe was worth thinking twice about, much less spending money on. Maybe I was ashamed of my weight gain and didn't feel worthy of nice things. I'm sure the revelation, if there is one, won't come overnight, but I can say that wearing better underwear definitely does wonders for my self-esteem, least of all because I can now walk around without having to haul up my undies every five minutes.
Trinny and Susannah would be so proud.
So ladies, don't neglect your undergarments. It really makes a world of difference to wear things that fit.