‘What is this supposed to be?’ a friend asked last week, standing in Topshop Oxford Street holding up a drop waist dress. ‘This isn’t for girls,’ she huffed. ‘This is for people with no waists, boys! Girls have waists, no one actually looks like this…do they?’
‘My sweet,’ I countered. ‘Alas, they do. Such beanpole like structures do exist, but it’s news to me if anyone actually look good in one of these.’
The high street is having a waistless, sexless moment. Drop waist tunics are everywhere – you know when something’s ‘a thing’ when Topshop start doing it for twenty quid and in every colour. But for anyone girl shaped – I’m not going to use the word ‘curvy’ because it’s so tasteless – a correctly positioned waist is helpful when getting dressed. It provides some shape to one’s look, and nowhere is a shape more elusive than on a drop waist dress.
I confess that I have a waist, hips and boobs – sue me, I’m a girl. And a few weeks ago I bought a gingham dress – as you’ll know if you’ve been reading – that is what my Mum would call ‘smocky’. As a young teenager I was warned off such garments – ‘you don’t want to look pregnant now, do you?’ she’d say. Such is the problem with having boobs and a waist – clamber into a dress sans waist, or with the waist in the wrong place, and you can look a little, well, wide. As wide in fact, as your boobs which is never ideal, especially when you know your waist looks cracking in a bikini but less good under a smock. Namely because no one can see it and that’s half the point.
Lately finding dresses that work for waists has become a problem. I’ve had several small tantrums in changing rooms trying dresses that – despite having sized down to compensate for their smockiness – still make me look wide.
I’m not suggesting that we should all dress for our figures all the time. Of late, I’ve mostly been wearing ancient Topshop leggings and a big varsity sweatshirt: not hot but good for working (and sleeping) in. But there is something in flaunting what you’ve got and dressing for it too.
A few weeks ago for a date, I put on my ‘slut top’. It’s something I wear frequently now, for the liberation that comes with it. (As a disclaimer, I’d like to add that I named it myself and that I am in no way a ‘slut shamer’ – in fact, I barely know what that means.) It’s my ‘slut top’ because it makes me do naughty things; I know it shows off what I’ve got. It’s just a camisole and wearing it adds a gentle nod to effort, without looking like I’ve tried, in any sense of the word, hard.
Changing from my ‘slut top’ back into my comfy gingham smock dress makes me feel suitably ungirly. It’s a pretty dress – everyone says so, but not the most flattering piece in my wardrobe. It goes with everything, except my figure. It certainly isn’t date material.