Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Sizing Up The Numbers

At the moment, my life seems to be controlled by numbers - the ones showing on my bank statement, the ones I'm trying to balance for work, the ones that appear on the label of my clothes.

Obviously, they're the most difficult ones to deal with.

Clothes sizing is one of the great unsolved mysteries of our times. Random numbers that hold such power over women that they can cause seemingly rational types to burst into tears and embark on such crazy antics as crash diets and squeezing themselves into clothes that are far too small for them. Surely we are sensible enough to know that clothes sizes mean nothing? No, apparently we're not.

The sizings used for clothes are based on measurements first drawn up in the 1950s. Just looking at clothes from that era, never mind the plethora of research, shows that the average body shape and size has changed. Women are taller, have bigger breasts and bigger waists.

Add to that the fact that although the British Standards Institution has set measurements, there are allowances so one retailer could measure at the generous end of a size while another chooses to measure at the smallest end. Hence the never ending fun that is being a comfortable 8 at M&S but a tight 12 at Topshop. Most women know this so why is it still so painful to buy a pair of trousers that fit perfectly but have a number larger than your desired ideal?

Women, we should cast aside the shackles of random numbers. Sizing is in effect nothing but a number. So what if the digits on the label are higher than you'd like? Do the clothes fit? Then that should be all that matters. If it bothers you that much, cut the label out when you get home. There is no look of contempt from anyone if your clothes fit. The contempt comes when you persist in squeezing yourself into a size 10 because that's what you think is a good size. Even if you are blind to the muffin top, the back tits, the rolls of flesh straining against the fabric, we are not and do you know what? It sure ain't pretty to look at.

Take time out to try things on. Even in the same shop, sizes are different on different garments. If we all took a little more care in choosing clothes that actually fit and flatter our shapes then the world would be a much more aesthetically happier place. Not to mention the self-confidence that comes from knowing that today, you look damn hot!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

The Battle Of The Fugly: Crocs v Uggs


Pennpal was wandering around his fine city of New York (Manhatten to be precise) and found his eyes to be assaulted by the sheer volume of Ugg boots. This obviously set his mental wheels in motion and he said to me "Never Enough Shoes, which are worse - Uggs or Crocs?" My immediate reaction was to yell "Both! Godammit man, both! Neither should ever adorn a foot!" and to have a lie down in a darkened room to get over the fear that one day Uggs and Crocs might crossbreed and create a super race of fug called Croggs that would chase me around the world trying to steal my soul via the medium of scouring my retinas with their fug.

Anywhooo.....

Let's first look at people in the public eye who wear such footwear. They are lauded as "Fashion Icons" and "Trend Setters" by various publications whilst urging you to "Copy Their Look!!!" that I very possibly flick through for salacious gossip before purchasing Vogue.

Uggs.

Sienna Miller - Umhm. Right. So Sienna Miller looks like this, let this have intimate relations with her and now lets this have intimate relations with her. Can we in all honesty trust her judgement when it comes to footwear? (Ok, ok so she can look like this which is in her favour.)

Kate Moss - Ahhh, Kate. Looks like this, let this have intimate relations with her. BUT. Kate can look like this and let this have intimate relations with her. That kind of judgement I could just about trust. Sadly Johnny was pre-Ugg days though and therefore may be excluded.

Paris Hilton - I don't really need to add to this do I?

Crocs.

Rosie O'Donnell - Umhm.

Jack Nicholson - Riiight.

President George W. Bush - Enough.

(That really is it on those I could find photographed in Crocs.)

Round 1 - Winner: Uggs.

Next, let us consider practicality and comfort for the wearer.

Uggs.

Uggs are made from Australian sheepskin. They started off as a boot for surfers - warm in winter, cool in summer. So far, so good right? Indeed, they do what they say on the tin as it were. People have worried that they can't be worn in the rain - they can but it's not advisable without pre-treating. So they're big, fluffly and flat - all good for the foot no doubt.

Trouble is, they're just like big slippers. Comfortable, warm, not something to be worn out of the privacy of your own home. Indeed, Uggs are now available in a slipper format. This tells you everything you need to know.

Crocs.

Crocs are made from some kind of resin that the company have called Croslite. They also claim to be beneficial to the weary foot - in-built support arches, "circulation nubs"(?!?) and a heel cup. Right. Apparently everyone can wear them for all sorts of fun activities such as boating, chef-ing or nursing the sick and injured. So what happened when I tried a pair on and walked around a shop (in the interest of research and winning a £10 bet that I couldn't do it)?

Agony.

Agony that they were actually kinda comfortable and that the comfort was battling with my aesthetic sensibility in a horrifying stealth attack to deflect from the fug.

Also to their credit, they are waterproof. Apart from the big holes in them. And apparently slip proof. Until you wear them down in which case they become a bit of a health hazard. Though, as it stands, they are a health hazard anyway - Sweden wants them banned them in hospitals, while there are various possible urban myths abounding of small children being sucked into escalators and toes being lopped off as a result. Some podiatrists also question the benefits to the foot.

Round 2 - Draw. Both are comfortable (though it pains me to admit it) and practical.

So now to the biggie - aesthetics.

As with anything, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Uggs can be viewed as big shapeless mounds causing people to look a lot shorter and dumpier than they actually are. Crocs are basically clown shoes. There is no other way round it. Anything that is shaped like that and comes in every colour in the spectrum has to be.

The most worrying thing however is that the respective companies have decided that they are in fact producing a fashion item and have as such started morphing their creations into new and terrifying shapes. Behold! The Ugg Wedged Boot! Actually, that's as radical as it gets. Crocs, they're the real offenders. Bastardised Mary Janes, wedge, mule... things, boot crocs.

My eyes, my eyes!

Were that not bad enough, they've decided that brainwashing the world with footwear has qualified them to design actual clothes. Thankfully so far for children and men, who, as bbstucco has pointed out, are sometimes sartorially challenged anyway and Won't Know Any Better.

Round 3 - Winner: Uggs.

So. I have rendered my eyes useless for the next couple of hours researching this post for you. Good people of the interwebs, if you really, really must wear one of these two, the clear winner in The Battle Of The Fugly is Uggs.

Approach with caution and be advised that prettier footwear is available.



This post was originally published on This Is By Us here

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

It's All Just Pants

Caitlin Moran, of The Times, is a woman I've greatly admired for a long time. With her current rant about pants, I think she may have made me fall in love with her.

It's true. Big pants are best. Think about all the times you've sat a little off and had a wedge of your trousers or skirt position itself in your ass. There's a reason wedgies are still the schoolboy's prank of choice - they're bloody uncomfortable. So why on earth pay good money for the same experience? Especially when in most instances the scrap of fabric that makes up a thong costs about the same as its big knicker sister.

And she's right about one thing. Most blokes don't really care what your knickers look like, they're just happy to have got to that stage with you!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

New Year, New Writing Space

So a few days ago, the number at the end of 2007 changed to an eight. 2008. That'd be a new year then. The change in number has also brought about a change in writing space. That'd be this then.

I used to write on This Is By Us. I may well do in the future. Lately though, it's been a little negative for my liking and well, tales of shoes and misadventure in fashion would have seemed even more superficial than normal.

If you've found me through there, great! Glad to have you with me. There'll be more Battles Of The Fugly, more Shoes In The Life and more general ramblings about whatever's piqued my interest that day.

Hope you like it.

NES