Kate Bailward

Elegantly Waisted

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Apparently ladylike fashion is back in again. Now, I’m all for that- tunics and skinny jeans do absolutely nothing for women like me, who have what is known as a ‘classic’ figure – but I’m beginning to notice a disturbing trend. Last night on ‘What Not To Wear’, a dress was described as ‘empire-line’. However, to me it looked as if it was fitted at the waist. For those who don’t know about the various codes of women’s clothing, empire line means that the skirt falls from just below the bust – think Jane Austen and you’ve got it.

Then this morning, as I browsed the online store of a certain well-established women’s clothes shop, I noticed a lovely dress which was also advertised as ‘empire-line’, despite having a belt that sat squarely on the waist. So I decided to check the sizing guide on the website. I quote:

“Waist positions have got lower over the last few seasons, so we don’t tend to wear things fitted into the smallest part of the waist just below the rib cage anymore.

What you’re looking for is your ‘natural waist’. To find it, put your hands just above your hip bones in line with your navel, then measure around at this level.”

Sigh. Now I understand that traditional waist measurements for clothes that sit on one’s hips (as has been the fashion in recent years) are somewhat redundant. However, that is surely why we measure both waist and hips. If the garment doesn’t sit on the waist, then measure the hips instead. Logical, no? Evidently not.

Quite apart from being cause for a rant, though, I’m worried about waistlines dropping. Women through the ages have had to fight to keep everything in the right place as they age. My waist was the one bit of me that I thought was guaranteed to stay put. If it’s now 2 inches lower than I thought it was, what hope for the – er – curvy bits of me? Plus, from the point of view of pure vanity, my ‘natural waist’ is about 6 inches bigger than my proper waist, and up with that I will not put – bring back corsets, I say!

(This post was originally published elsewhere in August 2007)

Written by Kate Bailward

May 14th, 2010 at 10:53 am

Posted in Fashion

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