For as long as I can remember, my underwear draw has been a sorry state of affairs; none of my bras fitted me properly and the elastic had gone on more than a few pairs of my pants. And for ages, I've been fine with that. But then recently, my boobs started to hurt a bit and I realised that the fact that none of my bras fit me properly was the cause of that. So yesterday afternoon, I found myself in the fitting room of the lingerie department at Selfridges, finding out how much my boobies had changed since their last visit to one of these places about 10 years before.
Well what a weird thing a bra fitting is? (If not ingenious btw, why we don't have this for all other types of shopping I don't know!) So, if I'm honest, the whole thing was a little bit embarrassing to start with, as I stood there in my five-year-old, pink and blue, Marks and Sparks bra being looked at and mentally measured by a total stranger, but I soon realised that the woman helping me literally sees bosoms for a living and so, despite my slightly stubbly underarms (IT'S WINTER LEAVE ME ALONE), I realised that I was being ridiculous and relaxed into my shopping time.
Normally, when us girls look at ourselves in the mirror, particularly the ones found in shop changing rooms, we hate it, our eyes dart straight to our 'problem' areas; our stomachs, or thighs, or whatever it is that we don't like, and we are left normally feeling a bit put out and depressed. We learned this at an early age and most of us now have quick, faff-free solutions when it comes to shopping which gets us out of there as soon as humanly possible and, as a result, we hardly see ourselves at all. But yesterday, after the lovely bra fitter at Selfridges measured me up and put me in a bra that actually fit, she left me in the changing room for about 10 minutes while she went on the hunt for more garments, and I had no phone, no bag, nothing to do other than stare at myself in this new, actually fitted bra.
And you know what?
I bloody loved it. I didn't at first, I'll admit. My thought process went something like this: 'omg is that what my hair looks like from the back? Why is it so wonky? Need to book a hair appointment, that is so annoying. And Jesus, these jeans do nothing for my arse. Urgh. How is it possible to have a muffin top in high-waisted jeans? And yes, that's ANOTHER spot. Holy bajesus my skin is so bad at the moment.' But then... 'Hang on a sec, this bra is so nice. Look at my boobs they look insane! And it sits so well on my ribs. Oh hella yes, I like this...' (I actually had so much fun appreciating my body, probably for the first time EVER, that I was almost disappointed when my new friend came back with more bras and suggested I tried them with a t-shirt over the top.)
I got a bit silly side out if I'm honest, the whole thing was pretty exciting and I felt a bit like I did when I was aged 11 or 12, standing in a fitting room much like the one I was in now, being told that the time was finally upon me to become a real life, bra-wearing, boob-having woman. That same feeling of happiness that had come from this little secret that I now had with myself, that under my clothes there was something special happening. I remember after being told that, rushing around the department like a headless chicken, not caring that mum was only picking out the boring ones in the most practical of colours (white and beige) and I remember rushing home desperate to be wearing them ALL and most of all I remember the feeling that I felt that first day wearing one... Like I was pretty hot shit and that underneath my clothes I was ALL WOMAN.
That pretty much sums up how I felt yesterday. Despite the fact that ten years has passed and that for most of that time, bras have done nothing but annoy me, I feel now like I have uncovered one of life's biggest secrets: that underwear is pretty amazing if you get it right.
I have a friend who is absolutely MAD for lingerie and she has a collection the likes of which I have never seen before. She always told me that she did it for herself because it made her feel special, which was something that I totally appreciated, but if I'm honest, something that I never really understood. Secretly I always thought: surely underwear was only worn for one of two reasons:
a) practicality. (stopping your bosoms from whacking you in the face or something to stick a sanitary pad to)
b) something worn to impress a potential lover or paramedics should a terrible accident happen.
Oh, how wrong was I?
My friend spends a fortune on truly beautiful lingerie, and I believe the fact that she has this little secret with herself has something to do with the confidence that she exudes more and more of every time that I see her. And finally, it's a confidence that I understand. There is something about having this little secret with yourself that feels really, really great.
Most of us have hangups where our bodies are concerned and so it is totally understandable that as a result, we don't really want to put something on that draws attention to our nakedness or requires us to concentrate on it for any longer than is absolutely necessary. It is therefore also understandable that those of us who feel this way see underwear really as nothing more than a simple practicality: one of the downsides of being a woman. But I think it's time I called bullshit on that idea.
Clothes make us feel special, we know that. Makeup makes us feel special, we now that too. So why shouldn't our underwear? Why shouldn't we have a little secret with ourselves if it makes us feel special? And more to the point: why shouldn't we dress our tits as well as we dress our feet?
I'm not saying that wearing a racy, sexy bra tomorrow is going to make your whole view of your body change to one of undying love in a heartbeat, but I do promise you that it will help you. It will help you to be happy and confident, I can't explain it, but I know it to be true. And why wouldn't you want that?
So, I don't know what you have got planned this week, but if you can, why not find a few minutes to go and get properly fitted and find yourself something that makes you feel GREAT and SEXY and WONDERFUL? It works, I'm the proof. I feel better today than I have in ages. And last night, as I thought up this piece, sitting in a baggy jumper, with no makeup on, I felt like a total fucking queen, and no one around me had the first clue as to why... and that was kinda fabulous.