Monday, June 25, 2007

Clothes, Self-Esteem and Sex Appeal

My husband and I are big fans of the show “What Not to Wear,” in which fashion experts Clinton and Stacey help poorly-attired women (and sometimes men) revise their wardrobes. The ulterior motive of the pair is always to demonstrate to these women that each is beautiful in her own right, and by making the most of those assets, can come to believe in herself. It’s really quite heartwarming at times.

Now I’m not the worst-dressed person I know, but I’m no fashion plate either. I probably dress as nicely as anyone at my office, but meanwhile, I have my daughters to compare myself to. In particular my younger daughter, Amanda, is quite the stylish dresser. Yes, I have the chronic problem of so many mothers of young women: my daughters are eye-catching. :-)

Well, Friday night David and I watched WNTW, and I suddenly began to get the itch to clothes shop. I haven’t spent much on clothes in a long time and I had coupons and a gift card to use at the mall. Yesterday off I went, and returned with two pairs of capris, three skirts, a dress and camisole, and four tops. (And spent only $100 out of pocket, too!)

A number of these pieces feature the empire waistline. It’s funny how through the years I’ve had many favorite clothes that were high-waisted. I had a green print mini dress with bell sleeves in the 60’s (can’t you picture it? could have used go-go boots to go with), and in the 70’s I had a pink babydoll top that I must have worn to a dozen basketball games. Well, the empire waistline is back, and I’m happy to see it.

In spite of doing sit-ups all my life—one of my doctors once remarked on my rock hard abs—I have also always had a pot belly. I’m afraid sometimes these things are just genetic. High waisted clothing lets a woman show off her trim and shapely parts (waist up and knees down I’m good), while keeping the rest a secret.

The empire waistline also has always suggested to me romantic and feminine things. It’s the style Juliet wore, for example. And it’s also the style for maternity clothes. When you’re wearing a high-waisted dress, you can cradle that little belly of yours and be reminded that women are not built like men for a reason. You can actually appreciate the “heap of wheat” as it is called in the Bible, instead of loathing it.

I got home from the mall and immediately changed into one of my new outfits, a sleeveless empire waist top and full skirt made of 100% cotton in a fun print—sort of a cross between ethnic and funky, in brown, turquoise, lime, orange and yellow. This put me into the mood to make some jewelry, so I whipped up a batch of mojitos and took my beads out onto the patio for cocktails with David and Amanda. I felt young and fresh and attractive, and better about my body than I had in years. The necklace turned out great. We had a lovely evening, especially after the lights were off.

All because of some clothes.

Now I’m not one to be superficial, but if $100 can give a woman this much of a boost concerning her sex appeal, I say, spend it. And to the inventor of the empire waist and those designers who regularly revive it, I say, thanks to you from us petite, bulgy-bellied women everywhere.

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