All these rules come with the proviso – break ’em if you want. This my opinions and waffling.
After watching Gok Wan and his odious faux empowerment (of which Pamflet have done an excellent job of dismantling) and inane ‘confidence tips’, which seem to boil down to ‘wear spanx and be boring’ I felt a need for some ‘rules’ (which are after all made to be broken) I have titled;
“How I Learnt to Throw away my Spanx, Embrace my Wobbly Bits and Stop Worrying”
“How I learnt to Not Wear Spanx and Stop Worrying”
Here is what I have learnt over the years of being an enthusiastic if a bit podgy clothes horse, home of many fashion disasters who was asked in school on own clothes day if I was in fancy dress when I wasn’t, I was just rocking a vintage leather jacket and floor length skirt before this whole boho thing happened like 5 years later.
Ignore Size labels
The sizes of clothes, women’s clothes in particular, are often little more than random numbers affixed to items with no correlation to their actual size. Apparently standard sizing only applies to paper patterns and not clothes. This is how you can be any size from an 8-18 on the same day and even in the same shop. Things like style and cut can also affect sizing as well as the wonder that is lycra. If it fits it fits, the label is useless. The same also applies to shoes. This annoyingly makes online shopping a bit of a faff but thats why you look out for those magical two words ‘free returns’.
Most of us are different sizes on different parts of our bodies, I have trouble buying button up things like shirts and cardigans due to my big boobs so either avoid them or buy a size that goes over the biggest bits and take it in in other places. I tend to wear a vest under button up things after having had one too many popping open moments.
Don’t ever base your self esteem on a size label. Fitting into a randomly numbered piece of clothing isn’t anything noteworthy or god forbid an achievement or aspiration, as it so often marketed, especially towards women. But looking awesome and feeling confident in something and not caring about the digits on the label? That’s worth celebrating.
Despite being quite shy I have always had a thing for show off clothes, hair and make up. I wear what I like and what I think looks good. Sometimes this correlates with a trend, sometimes it doesn’t. Whatever. People will try to tell you you ‘must’ wear certain styles and colours to suit you, these rules sometimes make sense but there are always exceptions. Rigid adherence to ‘style rules’ often equals a spanxed up to the eyeballs neutral beige, with a waist cincher belt, wrap dress festival of mundanity. Some colours may genuinely make you look nauseous but others that you aren’t supposed to wear or wear together, look awesome. The same goes for body size and shape, people will tell you if you aren’t a certain size you should suck it all in in some sort of elasticated tube prison or wear a tent, fuck ’em.
So your belly sticks out a bit and you have the odd roll of flab? You’re human being you are not a walking photoshopped mannequin. I’ve got a lot of stick over the years for my, admittedly sometimes comically misguided, fashion choices but I don’t care. I don’t want to blend in and look identikit. I like wearing crazy shit sometimes. It’s fun. If anyone tells you your individuality needs to be ‘toned down’ to fit in or attract people, ignore them they are talking complete and utter bollocks and probably have the style of porridge. Boring porridge with no sugar or syrup or any nice stuff in it.
Uncomfortable things, Why Bother?
There are some who assert we should ‘suffer for fashion’ but I can’t be arsed with that. I don’t do high heels ‘cos I can’t walk in them and they really fucking hurt. Other people can walk in them and don’t mind the pain, swear they get used to it (I have never reached that point but perhaps I am a tender footed little flower wimp). If you feel uncomfortable in something or it downright HURTS don’t wear it,
unless you love it that much you just don’t care. Don’t feel pressured into it cos you ‘should’. It’s the ‘rule’ women should wear heels with dresses etc, pah. I wear my DMs, Hi tops, brogues or flat pumps or whatever else doesn’t leave me limping. I care not for the supposed leg lengthening ankle snapping foot death miracle of ‘heels’. I’ve tried and I just don’t like it and don’t think the pain they cause me is worth it. This also applies to any sort of ridiculous crash diets and the like, drop a dress size by eating only some heavily marketed foodstuff, body shaming nonsense. If it hurts you physically or mentally and/or makes you feel uncomfortable. Fuck it. Wear something you feel comfy in. This goes a million and one times for ridiculous ‘shapewear’ spanx things(This is best post on spanx ever, you must read the comments too, hilarious tales of underwear woes!) that seldom improve my shape , oddly they seems to make my waist appear less defined, and made going to the loo a feat requiring infinite patience and strength. MY shape is fine as it is thank you very much, I am not a smooth plastic barbie type person, I wobble, deal with it, I’m not wearing something uncomfortable that has a pee hole.
That said I have fallen victim to ‘previously comfortable but suddenly turn so hideously uncomfortable they make your feet bleed you have to limp into superdrug and buy emergency plasters’ boots I haven’t worn in ages but still don’t want to throw out.
Some Things Are Worth Splashing Out On. Some aren’t
These are in my experience, underwear. A good bra is worth its weight in gold and a bad bra is not worth it no matter how ‘sexy’ it is. I once had a sexy purple bra that made my boobs look amazing but it dug in so much it left sores, not so sexy. Ditto pants that don’t vanish up your arse or constantly need pulling up and tights that don’t keep falling down. I also like to splash out on nice fabrics. There is nothing that depresses me more, fashion wise, than a lovely looking item of clothing in nasty fabric that feels all icky next to your skin. I am not a fan of synthetic fabrics; the sweatiness, the static shocks, the unfortunate tendency for acrylic sweaters to bobble, and if in the underwear dept the increased likelihood of a UTI. Yes I am a snob but I do like to splash out on things like merino wool, silk etc (top tip, also splash out on anti-moth products, I lost some lovely jumpers to some hungry moths, my wardrobe is now a fortress of anti- moth sachets and doo dahs). Good tailoring is also worth splashing out on, when it’s done right you just know, it just fits, as someone who has sewn (or tried to) a bit I really appreciate this. It’s bloody hard to get right. If you are poor like me, develop a bargain antennae. Be not afraid to elbow people out of the way for reduced designer goodies in places like TK Max, sales and those weird but wonderful fell of the back of a lorry shops. Learn when it’s really a bargain, is it made well? The fabric, the cut, the construction. Just cos it has a posh label or logo on it does not mean it will be good quality. I swear a lot of ‘designer’ places make money on selling t shirts and other cheap crap with a logo on and charge a stupid amount because of said logo. Especially things like bags and accessories in fake leather, IMHO if it’s over £30 for fake leather it’s a rip off. Well maybe £40 at a push if it’s really, really cute. This is also why it took me a year to find a handbag I liked, in real leather for under £100, but then I am a bit fussy, ok I’m very fussy.
Beauty wise a good hair conditioner is A MUST, especially for the awkwardly haired and if your hair is dry. There was many a horrific moment in my childhood before I discovered conditioner and the importance of detangling with conditioner on and was reduced to tears on many an occasion, even that de tangle spray for kids my aunty swore by did sod all on my hair. If you have kids and they are in tears cos of tangles and you’ve resorted to cutting the knots out of their hair for the love of god buy some conditioner, like bucket loads of it. I still don’t like people doing stuff with my hair and hate other people combing and brushing it, it may be why I don’t really like going the hairdresser.
Whatever You Wear Now, You Will Look Back and Cringe
No matter how awesome and amazing your outfit, hair, make up whatever is now chances are in a few years you will back and think you look like a tit until you leave it long enough and it’s come back in style again. Even if you wear boring ‘neutral classics’ they will date anyway, one day we will look back on our skinny jeans like we do bootcut jeans, flares and ‘casual fit’ jeans in stonewash. So you might as well go for it. My uncle has a bag of old glasses he keeps for spare parts, sometimes at family gatherings we get them out to laugh at them; but now those comedy plastic giant owl glasses could be sold in some sort of hipster retro fest for a small fortune, ditto this novelty koala jumper my mum made me and my sister wear for a school photo (we had matching ones, given to us as presents, as well as matching hair cuts and no we’re not twins, we don’t even really look a like).
THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE EVER, EVER, EVER!!!!
Don’t give a fuck!
If YOU like it and feel comfortable in it, that’s all that matters. Sizes, labels, brand, colour, whatever none of that matters. Part of embracing fashion and developing a sense of style is that personal thing, that confidence to have fun with clothes and make up, you have much more fun if you go wild sometimes. Make mistakes, embrace bizarre sartorial flings that seemed like a good idea at the time, live a bit. Do you want to be the one in all the photos who is wearing the same stuff as everyone else, with the same hair etc etc or do you want to be the one who might look a bit ‘eccentric’ but at least you made an effort. Of course if it’s your genuine desire to blend in and wear beige and stuff, go for it. I might be cynical but I don’t judge people for wearing anything, even if you think something is hideous someone else might love it and it’s their choice and that’s the end of it.