A few years ago I was invited to a close friends wedding in Ibiza. The first thought that pops into any girls head the moment they receive a wedding invitation is always, ‘For the love of God, what am I going to wear?!!’ (closely followed by how happy we are for them, obviously…).
As I’m sure most of my scoliosisters (and brothers) will agree, it is almost impossible to buy an item of clothing other than shoes or a hat without trying it on first, as they tend to be designed for people with, you know, a waist. Buying an ‘occasion’ dress would usually involve hours traipsing in and out of changing rooms, having a tantrum because I look like Spongebob Squarepants in everything and finally admitting defeat and settling for the ‘tried and tested’ section of my very limited wardrobe. However, I’d managed to leave it too late for a meltdown-inducing shopping spree, and my friends had seen me in the dresses I already owned a hundred times before. There was nothing else for it. I had to buy a dress online.
As with any significant, life-changing decision such as this, I consulted with my mum and sister before I took the plunge. I explained that I’d left myself with no other option, it was either buy something online or dust off the black Bay Trading dress from 2001. They were both slightly dubious about it, and understandably so. They’d been there for the majority of my fashion flip-outs and were well versed in the obstacles I face trying to dress for my shape.
We scoured the internet and finally came across a dress we thought might work. High empire line, adjustable straps, loose skirt, black top and bright colour on the bottom, it looked like it might actually be flattering. I clicked on ‘checkout’ and hoped for the best.
The dress arrived the next day and I ran straight upstairs to try it on with my best bra, high heels and stomach-holding-in pants to get the full effect, as any professional female will do. It seemed promising, it fit round my ‘waist’, the adjustable straps allowed for my uneven shoulders and it felt comfortable. I then looked at the bottom of the long floaty skirt and noticed that the hem was completely crooked at the back. My left hip sticks out twice as far as it should do, and my right hip is in line with my ribcage and looks almost non-existent, giving me the silhouette of Jessica rabbit on one side and a ten year old boy on the other. My giant hip had raised the hem of the dress so much that you couldn’t miss it and I knew I’d feel too self-conscious to wear it. I’m fairly used to this scenario by now, I know there isn’t much point in letting it get to me, so I simply took the dress off and resided myself to the fact that I would have to recycle an old faithful.
My mum called me later that day and asked if my dress had arrived. I explained that it hadn’t worked out and told her it was fine, as I was going to wear something I already had. I tried to sound upbeat about it so she didn’t know how disappointed I felt.
A few days later, I was packing my suitcase ready to fly to Ibiza and my sister popped round as she often does. She had a glint in her eye and she was holding a parcel. She gave it to me to open, and inside were a pair of flesh coloured, up to the armpits, down to the knee Spanx. On closer inspection I noticed that each hip area had a pocket, and inside was some padding similar to the kind you get in certain bras. She told me that mum had found them online and bought them to help solve the problem I’d had with the fit of the dress. To this day I don’t think I’ve ever seen an item of clothing more hideous.
I looked at my sister.
She looked at me.
Then, I put the bastards on.
We took both pieces of padding and placed them in the right-hand pocket to create a curve where my hip should be. After some careful arrangement, I put the dress on…and as if by magic, it fit.
I was over the moon! The padding totally transformed the look of the dress, the hem sat straight, and even though my body looked slightly wider than usual you would never have noticed. I just had to hope I wouldn’t get hit by a bus as underneath it I looked like I’d borrowed Mrs Doubtfire’s fatsuit, but it was a chance I was willing to take.
I phoned my mum to tell her the good news and she was so happy for me. I commented on what a random purchase they were and asked how she’d come across these magical pants, to which she casually replied ‘I found them on a website for transvestites…’
Now I’m a very open-minded person. I’m thrilled that there are options available for all the men out there wanting to explore their feminine side. But, I can’t say it didn’t come as a shock that my mother had bought me underwear designed for a man dressed as a woman. Then again, my mum will go to any lengths to make sure my back never stands in my way. I’m very grateful to her for that.
So it was with great pleasure that I attended one of my best friends weddings, proudly wearing my new dress. To all the other guests I’m sure I looked fairly effortless, one of those lucky girls who can just chuck anything on and look nice, when in actual fact I was wearing an enormous pair of padded transvestites knickers.