Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Why I hate shopping for clothes

by Suw on June 7, 2006

If you've met me more than once, you've probably seen my entire wardrobe. I'm not good at shopping for clothes – usually I have to be frog-marched round at gunpoint by my friend Kate. But I think I've figured out why. Well, an additional why to the why I already knew about.
The fundamental issue is that most clothes sold on the high street are not designed for women with a figure that's more akin to eight than one. If you're a stick insect size 8 with a bosom like split peas on an ironing board, then you're sorted. Everyone designs for you. You could wear a sack and probably still look good.
If, however, you're actually normal woman shaped, y'know, with, like, curves, then tough. You're out of luck. All those nice clothes that look spiffy on a mannequin will look shite on you. I've known this for years. This is not the revelation.
The revelation was this: Mannequins never wear bras.
Ok… So I'm in a shop, looking for summer tops. Something light and, well, summery. I see some nice clothes on the various mannequins dotted about the shop, and I select the correct size – I hope – from the rail, and go to try them on. So far so good.
The problem is… how can I put this delicately. I am not your normal size, and the bras I wear are more like scaffolding than underwear. Those pretty, dainty bras with thin little straps and delicate stitching? Those are not the ones I wear. The ones I wear are more like some sort of medieval torture implement, complete with enough whalebone to put whales on the wrong side of 'endangered'. They'd probably be more effective if they had flying buttresses.
Let me make this clear. The bras I wear are not corsetry, but a feat of engineering that Brunel himself would be impressed by.
So as soon as I try on the nice, fluttery, summery tops that look so delightful on the lumps of plastic on the shop floor, I am confronted by a vision in whalebone. And not a pretty one. The tops gape in places they shouldn't and reveal bits of underwear that they shouldn't – not in that sexy 'oh you can see a bit of my bra' way, but in that 'oh god, does it take three people to strap you into that contraption?' way.
As I made my way out of the shop, I realised that the mannequins never have to deal with this. Not only are they more modestly proportioned, but the clothes they are dressed in are cunningly pinned so as to look as if they fit just right. And to top it off, they never wear bras. You never see a mannequin with acres of black* elastic on show, or with bra straps wide enough to be mistaken for a cable on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Oh no. They go commandette**.
* The kinds of bras I wear do not come in pretty colours. Black. White. Flesh. That's usually all the choice you get.
** That's like going commando, but for girls.

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