Times Change – And So Do Sizes…

 Frocks, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Times Change – And So Do Sizes…
Aug 172014
 

Last weekend, we were treated to some wild and woolly weather, up here on Beastly Bodmin Moor.  While the predicted weather (Hurricane Bertha) mostly passed us by, we are 600 feet above sea level and it did get rather blustery.  So blustery, in fact, that my usual dog-walking attire (for which read “usual attire for pretty much anything and everything during the day”, ie a full skirt or frock) wasn’t going to be a good idea on the Daily Rampage over the moor.  I’d tried hanging out some washing and my skirt ended up over my head, which meant I couldn’t see much and the pegs weren’t colour coordinated, thus not getting my day off to the best of starts.  Goodness only knows what would have happened if I’d had that happen whilst walking Alfred;  I could have fallen down a mine shaft or tripped over a sheep, not to mention traumatizing anybody who actually witnessed said sight.  No, it would never do. There was really only one option open to me; search for the pair of emergency trousers that lurk somewhere at the back of the airing cupboard for days when a skirt really doesn’t work.  Those days are rare and the trousers last saw the light of day back in November 2010.

Before your world disintegrates at the idea of Miss Wednesday wearing trousers, let me reassure you that they are not polyester hideosities or trendy, skinny jeans but a pair of cream-coloured, non-stretch, classic Marks and Spencer, slightly tapered jeans, of a fair vintage.*  Going by the label in them, I’d say that they dated from 2000 at the very latest, because they have both the “St Michael” brand and the “Marks & Spencer” brand labelling, indicating the time when the brand was transitioning from the former to the latter.  That isn’t as interesting, however, as the size label.  I bought them back in about 2008 from a charity shop and they were labelled by that emporium as “Size 12”, so bearing in mind that they are very definitely non-stretch, I wasn’t surprised that the waist was snug.  Last Monday, I checked the label inside and saw the legend, “Size 14”.  It then gave me more information: “28 inch waist”.   What?!  Seriously?  Size 14 clearly labelled as being for a 28″ waist?!  Halleluyah!  Nobody ever believes me when I tell them about ‘vanity sizing’, they just think I’m a sizeist old harridan.**

Size label from inside of jeans

Size 14 jeans from 2000

There we have it in black and white.  Back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, a size 14 was meant for a 28″ waist.  These days, I find people get slightly huffy when they discover that my Medium/Size 12 skirts have a 28″ waist and they need to buy a Large/Size 14 to get a 30″ waist.  (Dress sizing is different as I allow more generous waists for ease of fit and access.)

I checked Marks & Spencer’s up to date size guide and find that their current guide says that a Medium/Size 12 has a 29″ waist and a Medium/Size 14 has a 31″ waist.  So in 14 years or so, their Size 14 waist has expanded by 3 whole inches.  Which clearly explains why when people tell me they are one size, my head is bellows, “Delusional!”   And why most of my garments, which are almost all made to measure these days, are labelled “Bespoke”.  Yeah, I cater for vanity, too.  Oh, the irony…

 

*  Both the Vicar and Mr March assumed I was wearing jodhpurs as I was also wearing leather riding boots and leading a huge hound, who is often ‘mistaken’ for a pony.  Mr March’s eyes lit up at the ‘jodhpurs’.  Ridiculous.  We’ve been married nearly 10 years; I won’t be wearing those again in a hurry.

**  Guilty as charged.  I am a sizeist old harridan.  But should you wish for more proof that I am not just making it up about the sizing thing, have a read of this, which I posted on the Wednesday March Facebook page a while back.  I’ve also had genuine 1950s cocktail dresses in my shop, the erstwhile March Hare, and the size 16s fit today’s size 6.  If you can find one.

Jun 292014
 

You know that nice theory where everyone is nice to everyone regardless of race, colour, creed, orientation, shoe size?  The one that would make our world a very different – much nicer place – if everybody truly subscribed to it?  Well, it’s another of the bees in my bonnet.  (Yes, there are quite a few of them!)

A bee on a lavender spike

 

And people who don’t subscribe to it really rattle my cage. Like those ‘ladies’ who work in my building who go all quiet and refuse to acknowledge my cheery greeting but scuttle away and then giggle behind their hands like school children.  Well, like school children are actually taught not to do.   And I know why they do it;  it’s because I look very different both from them and what they would consider normal.  I dress in retro-style clothing, often with fluffy petticoats and to them that’s out of their comfort zone.  So they treat me like I’m an alien.  Which, in these days of multi-cultural society, isn’t really acceptable, is it?  I could understand them taking evasive action if I was drunk or dirty and smelled bad.  I’m none of these things.  (At least, not very often!)  I could even understand it if I had some dreadful deformity, like elephantiasis, as people often just don’t know how to react or what to say so as not to cause offence and therefore flee in order to get out of an uncomfortable situation.  But I’m a perfectly ordinary woman, in the same age group as them.  Nothing about me is particularly remarkable.  I’m pretty small and insignificant.  Hell, I’m five foot one and a tealeaf (that tealeaf is very important to a pixie) and 46 years old – that makes me so boring that I’m practically invisible!  Maybe they just don’t see me?  But no, they see me alright.  They see me smile and they hear me speak to them.  They just choose not to respond to me but to treat me with derision and/or contempt.

Of course, I consider myself lucky that this is all they do. I’m not on the receiving end of the horrendous abuse that caused the death of the beautiful Sophie Lancaster, who was basically kicked and stamped to death in a public park for dressing like a goth.  It’s okay, I’m an adult and I’m big enough and ugly enough to cope with other adults who really should grow up. And, if we’re being honest, should try dressing a little better then they currently do, especially in a professional/office work environment.  (Don’t get me started on their ‘fashion choices’!)  But the irony of the situation? Those ladies work for an organisation that works for and with adults with learning disabilities.  People who often look different from the ‘norm’.  And one of the main things they spout about on their website is equality.  Next time I find I’ve inadvertently cornered them in the kitchen, I may well ask about their organisation and its equality policy.  That should be fun…

But please don’t think that their behaviour is the norm because, happily, it is not.  The vast majority of people that I encounter – and most of my customers say the same – are highly complimentary.  I’ve lost count of the times people have come up to me in the street, the supermarket, all over the place, to say, “You look fantastic!” and other things of that ilk.  Dressing the way I do is usually appreciated – and not just by old men!  So many people say, “I wish I had the courage to dress like you,” and “We really should make more of an effort.”  Yes.  Make that effort.  In my book, it’s all part of courtesy to others and making the world a nicer place and that, I think, is really quite important.  Along with responding to a cheery greeting and not acting like a schoolgirl bully.

Wear that frock, hold your head high and make the world a nicer place.