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May 6, 2009

I love consignment shops. I love imagining the stories behind the pieces, the dances they’ve danced and the places they’ve been. I love the patterns, the styles, the variety that I just don’t get from a regular store.

One thing I do not love about vintage clothes (dresses in particular) is trying them on. I will have already fallen in love with a piece of clothing and planned the adventures the two of us will have before I even reach the dressing room, only to find that it does not fit.

Not even that it is a little tight or a little big somewhere. It  just out and out was not made for my body. Not for my body as is, and not for my body as it would be if I gained or if I lost weight.  It was not made for my body shape. My waist will never be significantly smaller than my hips, my hips will never be voluptuous. And trying on dress after dress that is made for women with those proportions sometimes made me feel like maybe I wasn’t one.

One day, I decided to vent my frustrations to the kind lady at the checkout counter. We were remarking about how beautiful the dresses were, and I burst out “Yeah, but I just wish they would FIT!” I told her about how a dress that fits my hips perfectly has no chance of fitting my waist. It was always too too too small.

And then she told me, “They used to wear corsets for these dresses! Hardly anyone’s body is like that naturally!”

I did some research.

Apparently, girdles were not only custom to women of Scarlet O’Hara’s time. They were considered essential well into the 1960s.

Wikipedia told me so, but so did a bunch of random hits on Google, like this one.

And there is this website entirely devoted to women’s undergarments.

I am convinced (and consoled) that the lady at the check out counter was offering truth rather than sympathy.

I am also consoled by how much women’s fashion has evolved since that time. I’m not saying that there aren’t difficulties with shopping today, that I don’t have to worry about clothes being cut for a body shape other than mine. But I am saying that progress has been made.

Fashion intended for a woman’s body as is, not as it will be when the girdle shapes it, allows for a larger range of body possibilities. And hopefully leaves fewer females (and one day, hopefully none) doubting their femininity because it does not fit into these manufactured proportions.

What I am saying is that a girdle is not a necessity (or even something I would consider) for every day life and clothing choices. And that is leaps and bounds in a better, more body positive, direction.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    May 7, 2009 10:26 AM

    I also love consignment shops and I’m always disappointed when nothing fits. However, notice which sizes are available. The stuff that normal people wore isn’t going to be in good condition anymore, because it’s old and ratty. Only the absurdly tiny clothes are still around because no one ever wore them.
    At least that’s what I tell myself.
    Also, has really pretty dresses.

  2. Ashley permalink
    May 7, 2009 1:43 PM

    This is great. I think it’s a really interesting thing that girdles and corsets have gone from an everyday necessity for women to something that is considered mildly kinky bedroom attire. I’ve wondered from time to time why this is. Because it’s a form of (very sexy) undergarment, because of the way it shapes a body? It’s interesting to think about. I personally fucking love corsets and the way my body feels in one. But only for short time; there’s no way I could or would want to wear one every day under my clothes.

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