The Shape of Fashion
THE SHAPE OF FASHION
Independence is a lifetime of finding personal styles and discovering discomfort while trying to become a fashion plate.
Friendships gather, evolving self-images emerge…looking alike. “What are you going to wear?” mutates into a tribal battle cry. The truly chic, smart, and snazzy know the power of secret undergarments sculpting a perfect body silhouette.
I used to be broomstick thin when Twiggy was popular. Even then, I wore a girdle with elasticized garter straps to hold up thigh high nylon stockings. Agony: pulling on a tight rubber Playtex girdle. Ecstasy: peeling it off later like a sausage skin. Torturous underwear, pretty much a chastity belt…without a lock and key. I’m sure I heard a choir singing “hallelujah” when panty hose became popular and inexpensive. A clear bottle of fingernail polish to paint on an annoying nylon run was a purse essential.
Unlike Twiggy, I wanted a shape with bumps and curves in the right places, not like the poem my best friend Marolynn wrote in my ninth-grade autograph book: “What a face–what a figure–two more legs–you’d look like Trigger!” I laughed when I was thirteen.
I wasn’t laughing at twenty-one when I went to a doctor to discuss breast implants to escape my bean-pole nickname. He explained the surgery and the cost, then asked why I wanted implants. My mind went blank after hearing implants weren’t as simple as a padded bra. I mumbled, “I want to look better in clothes.” There. I’d said it, leaving out expectations of an alluring curvy fantasy.
The good doctor suggested I try birth control pills for six months because the hormones could stimulate increased breast size. Those hormones did stimulate something. After three months I went from a size five panty to size seven. Instead of growing a voluptuous pair, I was beginning to look like a pear, with hips swaying in uncontrolled rhythm. The need for the pill vanished with the purchase of new bloomers.
I had read an article in Cosmopolitan Magazine. According to them, if you put a pencil under your breast and it fell to the floor, you didn’t need to wear a bra… except, of course, at work or to special “proper” events. I tried the pencil test, it dropped to the floor with a yellow graphite lead thud. On my days off, I expressed myself with this ultimate unleashed freedom. That is, until one day when I almost knocked myself out as I ran across a street with liberated enthusiasm bouncing and swinging in every direction. All I needed was a pair of tassels, a drumbeat, and clicking castanets to give the neighbors a sassy show. It was crystal clear; gravity drops more than an apple on Isaac Newton’s head. I no longer needed a new hormone prescription from the doctor to fill me out.
Styles change with the times, and fashion isn’t always easy—from lean teen to well-supplied senior. Either way, pretty underwear can produce a sly rebellious smile. Fortunately, for now, there are no Panty Police.April Ryan is a retired Seattle bus driver turned Seattle writer/poet. It’s our good fortune that she’s now sharing more of her fun stories with us.
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