Bump wrangling

ManFriend and I went to a wedding on the weekend. And we have another one this weekend, which ends our eight-weeks-in-a-row of weddings, hens and bucks parties.

When I tell women about all these weddings we go to – about five a year for the last four years, and six this year since August – their first question is, “have you been able to wear the same dress to them all, or is the same group of friends getting married?”. Isn’t it funny that men can – and do – wear the same suit to every wedding, but women tend to wear different outfits? I don’t have any outrage or theory about this. It’s none of my business what people spend their money on. Besides, I quite like frocking up for a wedding. It means I can wear my second-hand dresses from the 50s-80s that are a little too fabulous for everday wear. In my experience, the cheaper the dress the more compliments you’ll get. Oh, I did wear trousers to Lexy and SuperDik’s 1920s garden party wedding: grey men’s trousers, white shirt, white tuxedo waistcoat and black bow tie. All second-hand bargains with the original tags still attached, for a grand total of $31. (Lawandshoes will hate this, but I’ve only got one pair of wedding shoes, which are black and, in my mind at least, go with everything.)

So, for the last wedding of the year, I want to wear something a little bit special. It’s another second-hand find and is simply gorgeous:

black and white satin skirt

Still life with black and white striped satin skirt and rollerskates

It’s made from that thick, structured satin that you just don’t seem to find anymore.

But it’s a bit tight and I’m worried I’ll split a seam when I sit down. So I went to see if a body-wrangling control garment made any difference. It didn’t, but the experience was educational. This is what I learned:

* Some control garments you can get into by yourself, but require two (sober) people to get out of.

* Some have little slits in the crotch so you can go to the toilet without struggling out of them. However, you do need to use both hands to pull the fabric out of the way and frankly, I fail to see how you could do this without pissing on your fingers.

* If you just want to suck your belly in a little, there’s a band of stretchy fabric you can wear around your middle. But be warned, it will roll in on itself the minute you sit down and can only be fixed by a trip to the bathroom to hoik up your dress.

* Sadly, designers are yet to come up with a garment that squishes the fat from your arse up into the boob area.

* There’s nothing wrong with bumps on your body. How did we willingly get back into corsets for non-kinky reasons?

I know slim women who wear control garments so their bodies look completely smooth, like they’ve been airbrushed. Don’t get me wrong, that’s their business and I’m not about to tell people what they can and cannot wear. But how did it become so normal to wear something so uncomfortable, that no one else can see, because of this idea that bodies look better when they don’t look like bodies? I wore one of those waist cinchers to a freakin’ bbq the other day. A bbq for fuck’s sake. Who have I become?

21 responses to “Bump wrangling

  1. Yes, I wear them now too to any special event and yes, how did it become so damn baseline? The airbrushed body description you used says it all.

  2. “How did we willingly get back into corsets for non-kinky reasons?”
    “Willingly” implies that there is a choice. When the consequence of rejecting a particular ideal of femininity, of not doing it, involves feeling inadequate/socially unacceptable, social disapproval and the risk of being labelled a man-hating feminsit bitch, then that’s not a choice. That’s social coercion. That’s do it or pay the price, bitch.

    • Perhaps. In many cases, yes, that is definitely true, but I don’t feel it in this one. It could just be my group of friends, but I’ve only worn a control garment to one wedding and at all the others I didn’t feel as though I wasn’t looking feminine enough. I’m wearing a skirt today and I don’t feel any need to wear any kind of control garment. But then, I don’t feel the need to look “polished” today, so there’s no make up either. And this gets back to the airbrush thing and about what’s required to look polished, rather than just looking nice and clean for a wedding. Which gets back to your point. Ah, circles.

  3. I refuse to wear anything that will hamper by ability to eat and drink to my heart’s content at a wedding. Most of the time I don’t even wear high heels as that stops me from being able to dance!

    • Nataly, welcome to the News with Nipples. I only have two pairs of heels – one pair is a little too high so I’ve only worn them a few times, and the other pair I’ve worn to every wedding for the last few years because I can dance in them. At the wedding on the weekend, they had a box of thongs next to the dance floor, in a range of sizes and colours, in case anyone wanted to ditch their shoes. I thought that was a nice touch.

  4. I’ve also been considering this issue for the last few years. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the (re)introduction of “shapewear” correlates with the increasing panic about obesity. But I was brought up to think of the corset as a symbol of oppression and it’s hard for me not to have a problem with people wearing them. I personally can’t bring myself to wear one (and my body shape does not fit strictly into the “particular ideal of femininity”, BTW). It is not such a high price to pay when you compare it to the notion of women back in corsets again. Shudder.

  5. I don’t know anything about you personally, NWN,so I responded as if to a bigger picture question because that’s what I thought you meant.

    The further you deviate from the current prescribed femininity rules, the more social disapproval you experience. Women haven’t just all mysteriously started making different, more uncomfortable, clothing choices.

  6. Leaving the issue of bits-flattening undies aside, that skirt is fucking fabulous.

    If you are after non-hideous shape wear, look for the Rago brand. It’s actually quite sexy. Apparently the cast of Mad Men wear it.

  7. I wore a girdle from secrets in lace today. It was surprisingly comfortable and certainly gave me a very smooth look from waist to thigh. Great on one of those colder summer days we seem to be getting this year but not for one that is hot and humid.

    The skirt is beautiful and must swish around you very satisfactoraly.

  8. What a coincidence that you are talking about this, as I’ve been going through the exact same thing. Because I buy things I like, rather than fashionable things, and because my shape didn’t really change for years and years, I built up a stack of dresses that I’m very fond of. Then this year, kaboom, body shift and suddenly my treasured stash of pretty doesn’t fit anymore. So I’ve been experimenting with ‘shapewear’ (who came up with that?) purely in the hope of getting a few more wears out of some things I can’t imagine not having in my wardrobe anymore. With mixed results.

    That really is a profoundly fabulous skirt.

    • I am preparing for that to happen to me as menopause approaches. I have been warned that I will put on 5 kilos around my waist regardless of any exercise or diet measures. It makes me very careful about what I buy now as I am aware it may not fit in just a few years time. but the upside might be more reason for fabulous, colourful retro shapewear rather than that nanny beige modern stuff.

  9. I choose not to wear one on my wedding day cos I felt unsexy in them. But I have a vast collection ….like many women. For shame. 

  10. I think it is an extension of effortless beauty. Women are bombarded with products that make it look like we are suspended with the hair/skin/body of our youth. It seems every time I wander into the stereotypical female domain I am discovering another expensive, painful, uncomfortable, time consuming, non permanent thing that apparently everyone else does (eyelash extensions, skin brightners, shapewear).

    Like make-up and heels I am all for shapewear to help create a look but am worried when it is an expectation.

  11. OT: when I read your post title, I assumed you were talking about the other kind of bump, which so many of my friends are currently very proudly sporting 🙂

    Anyway, less OT: I have not been tempted to wear shape-changing garments, except a corset, for fun (and I borrowed one as a once-off, and she was a size or two bigger than me, so it wasn’t even that uncomfortable).

    I do, however, wear stockings. And refuse to buy stockings that have “SHAPE CONTROL” or equivalent all over the packaging.

    This means it is virtually impossible for me to find stockings. Because of this:

    But how did it become so normal to wear something so uncomfortable, that no one else can see, because of this idea that bodies look better when they don’t look like bodies?

    When I was younger (not that I’m that old, not that it matters, just as a point of reference), I thought that it would get easier as I grew up, easier to find clothes that didn’t require me to fit a particular image. Instead, it seems to get more and more difficult, and I don’t think it’s only about the target (age) market for shape-changing garments.

    • My goodness there are a lot of bumps around. My friends are sporting many of those bumps too. At a recent wedding, three due-any-moment women were discussing who they’d want nearby if they went into labour and first choice was Monto (a GP) and second choice was ManFriend, because they figured it’s probably something he’d know how to do.

      It does feel like we’re required to do more now that we’re older. To look fresh and young and “dewy”. That the best thing we have to offer is a youngish face.

      Try http://www.welovecolors.com for control-wear-free stockings. They have free shipping to Australia and New Zealand and a bazillion colours.

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