I start this new year with an admission, which I hope you might applaud in the manner of a group therapy session: I’m Maddie, and I wear trousers with elasticated waistbands. I’ve simply never managed to be comfortable in actual trousers. Leggings, yes; tracksuit bottoms, natch. But actual fitted, designed trousers with buttons, a zip and proper seams? Definitely not.
I have a very bad history with trousers. I hate them; they seem to hate me in return. Shopping for them brings me out in a rage that ain’t pretty. And if I do actually buy any and get as far as wearing them, I become so uncomfortable I end up crying ginfully and ripping them off my poor compressed torso which sports the red marks left by buttons and bands that have dug into it all day.
Yes, I’m only 25 and I am already showing a preference for the elasticated waistband. And this is not some sort of ironic ‘young fogey’, geek-chic fashion statement – I don’t live in Shoreditch, you know – but rather a strategy that has come about by necessity and concern for my health: I physically can’t get through a day wearing any of the trousers that are on offer in shops these days. I can’t breathe properly in them, and I can’t sit down without them digging into my reproductive regions. I don’t care enough about fashion (I don’t actually care at all about fashion, truth be told) to give up my right to get through my life being able to breathe, eat, sit down, and one day bear children.
Modern trouser design shows a flagrant disregard for women’s real shapes, persisting in pushing the infuriating notion of the ‘hipster’ waistline, which fits and flatters precisely no woman who ever existed. The anger I experience as I shop for trousers – trying on pair after pair and going up and up and up the sizes, still not managing to get the blighters to go over my hips and actually do up without gaping at the back – is not caused by feeling bad about my own body, but by the outrage that the poxy shops are getting away with flogging us their stupid, unfeasible designs season after season.
I’ve given up attempting to align myself with any sort of retail-friendly dress size, because they’re all bollocks – especially with trousers and skirts and any item that has anything to do with the bottom area. I’m a completely different size from one idiotic shop to the next. Standing in front of a mirror in my birthday suit, I’m not unhappy with what I see; I’ve got some curvy bits and some bulgy bits, quite thin legs and a bit more going on in the upstairs area, but generally I don’t wince or weep or start thinking of drastic diet plans. All in all, I’d say I’m quite slender. This translates, ridiculously, as an 8 or an unfathomably vague ‘small’ in some shops, and a 12 or a ‘medium’ elsewhere. And that’s for the tops and shirts. For trousers, I’ve tried on anything from an 8 to a 14 and still not worked out what the hell my size is supposed to be and, no matter how many sizes I try, I still leave the changing room almost in tears and clawing about for the nearest cocktail.
When are shops, or designers, or buyers, or whoever is responsible for these matters, going to change the sodding record and try something new for us – something that allows for the fact that a woman has an actual stomach, some hips and a reasonable desire not to reveal her underwear every time she sits down? Until that happens, I’m left with no option, if I want to preserve my dignity, my ability to breathe, and my fertility potential, other than schlumping around in leggings with elasticated waistbands. Here’s another admission for 2011: I’m Maddie, and I think modern trouser design for women is a load of tosh. Read more by Maddie.