Sixteen in Spring

Sixteen in Spring
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I have not become entirely deluded – I don’t think I’m the same age as a young girl twirling in a gazebo with a blond boy who, as it turned out, was a member of the Nazi Youth.  Apart from anything else, I have only two brothers, and therefore I’m miles away from the required number of siblings for a successful musical routine.

What I do have, however, is this printed dress in a size 16.  I hear you ask – Megan, it appears you are not a size 16, so why do you wear a dress that is a size 16?  Is this a blog post about the powers and perils of Photoshop?

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First of all, I clearly do not have any Photoshop skills, and if I did I wouldn’t be using them on this blog, but would instead be Photoshopping pictures of my friends into various scenes, in order to create a series of slightly weird but definitely hilarious Christmas cards.

I loved the print on this dress – the size of the print, the colour of the background fabric, the impenetrable geometrical shapes – but when I tried it on originally, in my size, it was horrendous.  It was almost too tight across my legs and shoulders, with a strange paunch effect through the middle – I would have needed to be several months pregnant for it to suit.  It seemed a bit much to become “with child” in order to wear a dress.  I can almost guarantee that if the hand of God ever reaches down and, for reasons unknown, chooses me as His next vessel, I will immediately gain a billion kilos as I “eat for two” and “rest for the baby”.  So the dress would never fit me anyway. 

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That’s where I failed.  I didn’t look at the dress, at its shape or cut, and think about it.  I just shrugged my shoulders, put back the dress, and went on my way with my childless womb.  

Months went by and from time to time I would see the dress in the shop where it lived, and I would think about trying it on again, but I knew nothing had changed between us, that our differences were too difficult to overcome. 

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Finally, the day came where I discovered the dress had been reduced.  Other women, with different bodies, who the dress had favoured, had bought all but this one.  And on that day – I finally saw the dress not as the Requirer of Baby but for what it was – a sack, without shoulder seams, but with a useful seam that runs around the base to create a flippy skirt effect.  I had broken my cardinal rule – I had looked at the size on the label, instead of at the proportions and construction of the garment. 

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I’ve touched on the idea of fit over size before, but this example, while not perfect, demonstrates better than any size 10 blouse could that what matters is two things: how a garment is put together, and how you wear it:

·       In the absence of shoulder seams there is no obvious marker of fit at eye-height.  Without a shoulder seam hanging an inch or two down my arm, the illusion is unbroken.

·       There’s no waist line – because I am short, often my biggest problem is that the waist band on dresses (and some tops) is in the wrong place.  Once you learn about a well-placed waist line, you really understand why some of your dresses suit so much better than other, apparently identical ones.

·       I am bottom heavy, so the higher neckline works better for me in this dress, by creating a larger top half to balance my bottom half.  It also avoids the problem I would usually have in a size 16 dress, which is that the front is usually so gaping that I could fit my entire Miracle Baby down the front of it without trying.

·       Speaking of my bottom half, the size 16 (when un-belted) skimmed past my body in a straight line from shoulder to hem, without doing the unfortunate trick of getting tight over my bum and therefore paunchy in the front.

·       It has enough length that I can wear it belted (as I did here) without flashing too much leg, but the flippy skirt action means I can also wear it Full Sack Style without looking like I quit on life.  

I know it’s easy to give the number in your clothes some kind of meaning it doesn’t have – I have felt a weird sense of success, of worthiness, when I fit into a smaller size of pants.  What is this thinking?  It’s surely insanity, because the numbers in clothes are intended as a simple reference guide to assist you in selecting an option to try on for general fit, not as a simple reference guide to whether or not you have succeeded in life.  Who gives a hoot if some other girl’s jeans have a 23 inch waist on them instead of a 32?  Who cares if your dress is a size 4, or a size 14?  I recognise that I haven’t had the struggle of being plus-size in a shallow, vacuous world with a surprisingly narrow concept of beauty, and no doubt I sound like an annoying idiot right now.  But for those who can – ignore the labels and look at the dress.  Half the time those labels are fecking useless anyway.  Standardising sizing across all clothing – now that would be an achievement worth feeling good about. 

Dress: obviously long gone, but any sack of a dress similar to this one would do; Shoes: my trusty Ted Baker friends, these ones are on my wishlist now; Belt: from Kilt.

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