I am jumping on the bandwagon and joining millions with their resolutions to cleanse themselves. Although the purging will not be last night’s chocolates and champagne; rather, the box of support-wear hidden in my wardrobe allowing me to wear the purchases I made in a size too small. I am ready to be free from the middle-ages torture of corsetry (aka Spanx) and be comfortable in my clothing.
I was an early adopter of ‘slimming underwear’. Some years ago I was invited a fashionable cocktail party that was being photographed for Vogue. This was before I had children and looking back I can tell you that my body was in fine form. I wore an amazing Donna Karan (borrowed from a friend as I was on modest fashion internship salary) black, skin-tight, jersey, full-length dress. It was long-sleeved with the shoulders cut out; a hint of skin is incredibly sexy. When my friend delivered the dress, clipped to the hanger was the funniest pair of knickers that I had ever seen. They were essentially skin-toned bicycle shorts that were reinforced from the waist to the knee. ‘You have to wear them, they will help the dress to fall and not cling.’ she instructed.
That night I dressed in private; God forbid my husband should see my underwear. I put on the knickers and she was right; as I slipped the jersey over my head, the dress just fell to the floor skimming my body. As we left the house my husband gave me an affectionate pat on the bottom, his look was quizzical when he was met with a backside that was sprung as tight as an Olympic trampoline.
This was the nineties and support-wear was only found in the darkest depths of the underwear section in the department stores, next to the bras for women with breasts the size of watermelons. After the success with the dress, I had decided to purchase a pair of these magic knickers myself.
‘Do you have these in a size eight (US2)?’ I waved the huge knickers to a sales assistant that bore a remarkable resemblance to Mrs Bucket from the UK TV show Keeping Up Appearances.
She rifled through the shelf pulling out pair-after-pair of panties that both my friend and I could fit in to. I sensed the scornful glance of an older woman shopping beside me. Mrs Bucket smiled at her as if to say, that I should be shopping in the children’s underwear section. ‘Wait here, I might have something out the back front the fashion parade.’ She handed me a pair of voluminous panties and disappeared into the even darker depths of the storeroom.
After what felt like ten minutes of standing in the support underwear aisle scaring off any prospective customers, Mrs Bucket returned triumphantly waving a small pair of skin-toned bicycle-shorts over her head. I quickly sealed the transaction, stuffed the knickers into another bag and headed home where they would be stored at the back of my underwear drawer.
Over the years they were well-loved, until one day when I saw their glamorous younger sister beckoning to me from the front of the underwear section in an upmarket store. These were smooth, silky and small. The lace was sexy and the model on the swing tag was just that, a regular model. I grabbed a pair in nude and one in black.
‘Spanx are our best sellers.’ The sales assistant commented as she handed me my now not so secret weapon.
In the years since I had somehow amassed quite a collection: knickers, slips, shorts and half-skirts. No night-out on the town was complete with out my armour. Fortunately I was married and just like the ‘wonderbra’(I have been known to wear both simultaneously) somehow Spanx also felt like cheating. My husband already knew what lay underneath! A friend recently told me that celebrities wear two-at-once to award ceremonies and there is now even a range for men.
And so my friends, now I that I have confessed my guilty secret, it is time to rid myself from the constraints of my support-wear.
Ladies, it’s time to breathe. Literally.