My first denim skirt wearing session of the year lasted a grand total of about 90 minutes and exposed parts of my legs that hadn’t been exposed in a while to the people of Norwich.
I spent the whole of said 90 minutes excruciatingly aware of this fact, pulling the stupid thing down every few seconds and internally cringing when I had to edge my bare thighs past someone’s eyeline to get to our brunch table. When you’re a girl with chunky legs, you see, any raise in hemline suddenly seems like you’re revealing quite a lot – even if it’s only slightly shorter – a far greater surface area on display, if you will.
I changed into a pair of culottes as soon as I could and spent the rest of the day a little too warm, but far more relaxed.
The increase in temperature has brought back a little friend I’d put to the back of my mind for a while. I call it (or was forced to call it, I should say, because I needed to articulate it in some way) summer dressing dread. The fear of sleeves and skirts and tops getting shorter and smaller, resulting in that sinking heart feeling as I try on anything that might be considered a ‘summery’ outfit and realise that all the parts of me I most dislike suddenly seem bigger and more unavoidable than ever before.
Along with films, books, and popular culture in general, I often position summer in my mind as ‘carefree’. I’ve certainly described it as such in other posts; I’ll profess to love summer and the spontaneity and the fun and the beer gardens with undying enthusiasm. And while I do love the season, worry free it is not, because along with the joys of the warmer weather come genuine fears about baring the parts of me that haven’t seen the light of day in a while in all their pasty, wobbly glory.
As with most women, my relationship with my body is a complicated one, but one way of tracing its history is in summers. Summers obsessed over, anticipated and sometimes disappointed; summers feeling beautiful, summers feeling like the most uncomfortable being to have ever graced the earth in a too tight, too short outfit, and summers where both of those feelings happen in the space of a day or less.
The build up to every summer that I can remember (as an adult at least, if not as a teen) was always at least part focused on the notion that I should be getting ‘hot’ (side note: what?!) in time for the season of skin-baring.
When I thought ‘hot’, of course, I meant slim, because it often feels like summer clothes are, broadly speaking, made purely for people who fit a certain (very beautiful) mould. Everything starts to get very small, and if any part of you isn’t small to match, you might just end up uncomfortable; don’t even get me started on the hunt for shorts which don’t leave me feeling like I’ve been cleaved in two, because apparently no matter how many sizes above your actual size you buy, they still wont accommodate a pair of chunky thighs or a disproportionately large arse. And if they do, and I manage to purchase and wear a pair that fit – don’t worry, there’s still another crack at the discomfort cherry to be had in the form of chub rub.
Most things that allow for a happy level of chub rub or general skin friction avoidance and are a comfortable material make me look tremendously frumpy, and the ones that don’t…well, I love floaty numbers and longer lengths, but there are only so many midi dresses a girl can handle (it’s a lot, but still). This year, I concede, we seem to have it a little better than previous ones. There are a higher number than average options that I deem acceptable and that make me feel cute out there, but that niggling summer dressing dread still doesn’t seem to have disappeared.
And I know that’s because if I’m being completely honest with myself and for all my beliefs about us all being worthy at any size and shape, I can’t pretend that there’s not a part of me that wants to slide easily into a pair of denim shorts and a bikini top and look like the instagram girl; typically beautiful, tanned, and definitely slim. That same part of me is starting to become mildly terrified and embarrassed by the thought of my own thighs in shorts or the way my arms would look when pressed against my side without the cover of sleeves.
Every year in the past I’ve thought I would get over my fear of summer wardrobes by being my skinniest self in time for sleeveless tops and short skirts weather. This year I thought I might get over it by resolving to wear only long floaty dresses (although chub rub is still very real in those) and jumpsuits. Neither of those seems to have worked, so I’m beginning to think that getting over summer dressing dread will be a little more involved than that.
I’d love to say it’s nothing at all to do with what I look like at any given time, but realistically I know that’s not the case. Nevertheless, whether I’m at the upper or lower end of my personal size range is not even close to being the only factor; the journey to body confidence is a long and rocky one, it seems (as, clearly, is the hunt for a beautiful, varied summer wardrobe including a pair of well-fitting shorts).
So while I’m sorry for being so bold as to position what is essentially a glorified complaining session as an article…sorry, I don’t have the answer, but I know that plenty of other women will be feeling a familiar fear as the weather heats up, so hopefully we’ll keep trying to fight it head on. This doesn’t seem to be the year I finally manage to shake the summer dressing dread…but maybe next time?
What I’m wearing
Dress – River Island| Espadrilles – H&M | Bag – Zara | Sunglasses – Primark | Earrings – C/O Lisa Angel (Use code SOPHARSOGOOD15 for 15% off until the end of June)