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The answer is never spanx: a guide to occasion dressing

Next to ‘do I look fat in this?’ there is a question that every man dreads, or if he doesn’t he should. No matter how creative, considerate, intelligent or brave… he will never have the right answer to ‘what should I wear?’

Don’t get me wrong, I sympathise with the dilemma. I have many times stood in front of a ransacked cupboard, knee-deep in entirely unsuitable clothing, none of which was previously objectionable, but now it’s all wrong and (everybody now), “I have NOTHING to wear!”

I pity the poor man who is unaware of the pitfalls of this particular question. Please don’t be offended fellas, but no girl in her right mind would seriously ask you what she should wear. If she asks you, she has already succumbed to delirium and there’s no way you’ll get out alive.

‘Why don’t you wear the blue dress?’ the unsuspecting bloke might suggest. Undoubtedly I love the blue dress, it fits well, it’s a good colour… summarily, it’s a fine garment. Only right now, ‘fine’ just won’t cut it. The wardrobe crisis really only happens when a girl is looking for much more than a simple outfit.

No matter what suggestions I receive from well-meaning man-friends and onlookers, nothing will be right. Not the outfit I was proud to strut about in yesterday, maybe not even the brand new frock with the guiltily hidden price tags still safety-pinned to the label.

I dig deeper and deeper into the moth-balled, not-seen-since-1992 recesses of my cupboard and drawers and compose ridiculous ensembles which could not even be worn in jest. Not even in Brunswick.

I muse ridiculous options, citing sympathy for the poor neglected pants and dresses that haven’t been out and about for a while. It’s a bad idea to believe that any item in your wardrobe is suffering personally from underuse. They don’t need exercise or require a social life. There’s a reason they haven’t been worn. In other words, do not feel sorry for the ugly dress.

However, this practically straightjacketed state makes it nearly plausible that the Cleopatra dress languishing at the back of the cupboard since that dress-up party two years ago has been sobbing quietly ever since, asking itself over and over… ‘what did I do wrong’?

I caress the fabric gently and convince myself that it is a real shame to waste such a glorious white and gold polyester sack. Sure, it means I will need to wear spanx to ensure my ass-dimples maintain their modesty, and perhaps I will get some weird looks, but hey, it’s ‘fresh’.

Only in the same way that cut cheese is fresh. My Cleopatra revival idea stinks. And it’s that stench that motivates me to struggle free of the garb mountain and walk away, past my rightly bewildered man-friend, to examine the source of my insanity.

The ‘what should I wear?’ question and the clothing chaos surrounding it may be terrifying, but what lies beneath is far more sinister. Like all good horror movies it starts with an innocent premise. I am invited to an ‘occasion’. It’s a wedding, or a baptism, perhaps an important birthday… as long as embossed paper invitations are involved, it counts.

‘Oooh!’, I exclaim. ‘Isn’t it lovely that my distant cousin/ex-roommate/parent is turning older/getting hitched/up the duff/getting out of jail!’ But suddenly something changes. The circled calendar date is no longer the joining of two souls in love. The glaring red text instead screams accusingly ‘why are you still single!?’ a house-warming invite pinned to the notice board is nothing less than a cruel taunt to remind me that I will never ever afford a house of my own, the subtext reads: you loser.

It’s not relevant whether I actually want to get married or own a house; as soon as I receive the pastel paper announcement that someone else is doing it, I am incensed by a million ‘what-ifs’ shortly followed by the corresponding million, ‘should haves’.

Clearly, the only way to respond to this sudden life crisis is by wearing something that communicates beyond all doubt that I am completely at ease with my choices. More than that, that my life is fabulous. (Can’t you tell from my shoes?)

Logically, nothing screams ‘insecurity’ more than needing a new haircolour, eyelash extensions and a ridiculously overpriced dress from Harts before attending a wedding. As an aside, nothing screams ‘uninspired’ more than a Harts dress. But by the time you are in the centre of a sartorial storm, logic has nothing to do with it.

Clearly what I need is a foolproof circuit breaker to stop the panic that inevitably results in a poor wardrobe decision. At the very least, it requires a single large dose of ‘get over it’, a very deep breath and a big fat slice of home-cooked humble pie.

If that’s what it takes to prevent asking my man-friend what I should wear, it will be more than worth it. And I guarantee there won’t be any complaints, well except maybe from that poor neglected Cleopatra dress. Sorry luv, spanx is never worth it.

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