It’s autumn here in Australia but in all honesty it’s warmer than I remember any summer in England being. I’ve just wandered around the local park. The weather app on my phone says it’s 21 degrees, but it must have been lying. Put it this way – jeans were a rookie mistake.
My clothing error got me thinking of how we dress when it is warm and how hard it is to ‘get it right’. By ‘get right’ I mean follow a set of ludicrous, contradictory rules that make summer dressing and comfort two things that never go hand in hand. Put it this way – I used to look forward to winter just so I could hide under big, baggy clothes.
You see, for many women summer dressing is a minefield. You suddenly have to show off the body parts you have been told to be ashamed of, but even then you can only do that by following a predetermined set of rules that consider all sorts of things from your age to your dress size to your skin tone. It’s crazy.
Don’t believe me? Then read on.
At some point in time, some people decide you’re ‘too old’ to wear certain things and that nobody over a certain size should wear others. I remember watching TV shows when I was younger that said women over forty shouldn’t wear jeans… jeans!!! What are women meant to wear on their bottom half?! So at 25, I started to wonder what clothes I am starting to be ‘too old’ or ‘too big’ for. Am I being judged for wearing short shorts? Will society let me wear this mini skirt without getting a sidewards glance and a few raised eyebrows? Do I have the legs for it anymore? Did I ever?!
On the theme of legs, you then are forced to worry if you have body parts that look socially acceptable in smaller clothes. In winter I can hide under layers, but there’s no hiding once you strip yourself down to just shorts and a T-shirt. Are my arms toned enough to wear this vest top? Does this crop top look okay or is my stomach not quite toned enough? Are my thighs wobbling too much now they aren’t strapped down by denim?
Then being a pale girl also brings with it it’s own issues. The amount of times I’ve been told ‘you need to tan to wear that’ or ‘that doesn’t suit pale girls’ is ridiculous. But then you also can’t fake tan too much – you need to look naturally sun kissed, that’s all. If your tan streaks at all then you have to be prepared to wear jeans until it evens out, even in 30+ degrees.
So then you think I’ll solve all this stress by wearing one item – a dress. A dress is the easy choice, right? It’s one thing that makes up an entire outfit. Easy, right?
Think again. So many dresses have thin straps, but if you have big boobs like I do then you need to wear a bra – but if your bra straps are visible, you get judged. No one wants to see your underwear. They just want to pretend your boobs sit there naturally. Plus dresses still realise the same old hemline question – am I allowed to wear this? Is it too short? Am I told old?
In the end, you wear more than you want to or feel comfortable in, then you get judged for not dressing for the weather, for your makeup running down your face and for looking like a bedraggled, sweaty mess.
It’s exhausting! I’m warm from even reading that stupid list of dos and don’ts. Dressing for summer leaves you flustered, full of insecurity, miserable and warmer than ever.
So I’ve decided that we should throw out the rule book. Screw it up, burn it, destroy it however you want – just throw it out. Seriously, why do it? Try something on. Are you too warm in it? Take it off and try the next thing on. Still too warm? Then get loosing more layers, sister! Eventually you’ll find your comfort level. Arms out, thighs out, who cares – it’s summer, go enjoy yourself!
To anyone still clinging onto the rule book, let go. Stop trying to control how women see themselves and others. Seriously, stop. If you can see my bra strap then big deal. I’m a woman with an E cup, I need a bra. If it offends you so much then look away. If the sight of skin bothers you, I pity you. Skin is skin, we all have it and when it is warm we all need to let it breathe. If you think I’m too old or too big for something then I think you’re too judgemental for me to pay attention to. Your lack of open mindedness says more about you than my clothing choices do about me.
Summer is the time of year we all look forward to – it means catching up with friends, BBQs, beer gardens, long nights, lie ins, freckles, ice cream… worrying about what to wear and what rules to follow shouldn’t impact that. Your body is great as it is. It is already a bikini body. You are already summer ready. Go, wear what you want and enjoy yourself!