Friday, 8 August 2014

How Not to Piss Off Short Women

This is the likely perspective you will see me being pissed off from

There have been a few reports knocking around this week about a US Kickstarter account set up by Carolina Alvo, trying to produce a perfectly proportioned petite dress with different hem lengths for women of different heights.

It's all based in the States so not immediately relevant to those of us over here but the page does a great job of setting out the annoyances of shopping for petite clothes.

It also includes a video which expertly illustrates how normal people can become dicks when faced with shorter people.

I blame my penchant for increasingly low cut tops at sixth form parties on the overwhelming teenage angst generated by being called "the cute one" in my formative years.

But rather than become a Tiny Angry Woman over all cheap jokes about height, I do want to make it clear that smart visual gags and witty asides are a-ok by me.

To avoid confusion, I've laid out some ground rules below.


Pick me up without my consent

Pick me up and put me outside the front of my house and shut the door so I have to ring the doorbell to get back in

Call me any of the following:  Cute.  Diddy.  Munchkin.  Dwarf.  Hobbit. A Shetland pony.

Make this noise at me:  Awwwwwwwwww!

Deliberately put things I need in high places

Imply that I do not deserve sympathy when I bang my head on things

Try to maintain a conversation with me while we walk up or down stairs

Get down on your knees or theatrically bend down to talk to me as you would a child

Expect me to carry more than two pint glasses at once

Rest your elbow on my head whilst standing in group - I am not a stability aide


Experiment to see what spaces I will fit into (caveat: I'm actually kind of claustrophobic in tight spaces so there will need to be an element of trust)

Put an impressive amount of effort into setting up complicated staged photos that mess with perspective

If I have sanctioned a height-related nickname, feel free to use it at your leisure

Offer to reach stuff for me if I am looking forlornly at treats on a shelf

Help to locate me when I'm lost in a crowd and scared

Tell me I'm a good height for hugs

Make me hold giant things because it looks funny.

Make me hold regular sized things because it also looks funny

Make me stand with really tall people

Keep straight-faced whilst I climb onto bar stools

At my workplace, they enjoy sending me on jobs where I will look especially small in the picture.  
The news is mostly terrible so we make our fun where we can.

That's how I ended up with a miniature 3D model of myself.  It's also how I ended up doing this on page 3 of the London Evening Standard last week:

Hands down, a great place to take a nap

My editors seemed happy with how the pictures turned out, apart from one dissenting voice:  "To be honest, I thought you'd look smaller."

Must try harder.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

On Knockers and Containing Them: My Long Battle with Bras

Finding the right bra size

I've been meaning to write about lingerie for months and have finally worked out a way to do it which a) does not require me to pose in my unmentionables and b) squeezes in a lot of my personal favourite euphemisms for breasts.

I couldn't resist starting the post with a mini-rant and declaration of support for the wonderful No More Page 3 campaign, 
which frankly shouldn't even need to exist given the ludicrously antiquated nature of the whole shebang. 

I mean, Sixteen Candles is a great film until it becomes super racially insensitive.  Reading the news is great until you have to look at some tits just before reading about convicted sex attackers.  Just because something seemed normal once, doesn't mean it's normal now.  That's why we don't cure asthma with the traditional Tudor treatment of swallowing young live frogs - we evolved.

But, rant over, the debate I want to wade into is about undies.  Brassieres.  Boob jails (thanks New Girl).  Everyone who has breasts has a tumultuous relationship with them - read Nora Ephron's essay on the subject for a particularly acerbic viewpoint.  

Zooey Deschanel boob jail

When things are good, they're great.  You look perky but not pneumatic and no heat rash, acne or allergic reaction is mottling your decolletage.  It's enough to almost make you forget the bad times.  

The times when SOMETHING HAS CHANGED but you don't know what, but now your favourite white shirt gapes in all the wrong places.  When they just bloody hurt, and you're not even on your period.  Or when your most fail-safe bra finally, finally gives up the ghost.  

"It is true heartbreak to bin the bra you've shared such good times with".  
Me: 16th July 2014 

But there's no point whinging about the mammaries when it's the bras that are to blame.  Having a generous rack when you're petite seems to be quite a common state of affairs, and when it's especially important to make your proportions work best for you, an ill-fitting bra can really hinder your bodacious silhouette potential.

I'm a complete skeptic when it comes to high street lingerie.  As far as I can tell, if you're aged 15-30 and a size 8-12, Marks and Spencers will confidently size you at a 34C and leave it at that.  La Senza will chuck some bits of highly flammable "lace" at you and H&M use so much padding, a friend of mine once got hit in the boob and didn't even notice.

I'm a member of the Bravissimo cult - they're the only shop that have ever sold me bras that fit - catering for women with a D-L cup, the range is pretty varied, and it's getting better all the time.  If you have even the tiniest inkling that you might fall into the narrow back/full cup category (which a lot of petite ladies do), get down there sharpish, ignore the half the stock and find yourself something brightly-coloured and plunging from Freya.  The Deco bra works miracles.

Large cup lingerie
All bras by Freya, also available at Bravissimo.

My newest discovery via the lovely Mademoiselle Robot, is Love Claudette and they're pretty groundbreaking.  They combine the pretty sheer mesh and super-bright neon that I've always wanted with sizes ranging from 30DD-38FF.  They're available from ASOS which is a perfect opportunity to order a few sizes and try them all on without hassle.  They also have one of the most gorgeous lookbooks I've ever seen.

Love Claudette lookbookLove Claudette bras

Love Claudette lingerieLarge cup bras Love Claudette

I've only featured brands I've had a good experience with here and I know it's pretty limited but that speaks to how cruddy this sector of the lingerie industry is.  All I can suggest is to try on lots of different styles and brands and don't be disheartened when one doesn't work for you.  Research would suggest that the shape of your Twin Peaks, rather than the size is actually the biggest factor in wearing the correct bra so a fitting experience with Bravissimo is the best place to start.

They'll never be completely right, but the bottom line is that tits are great and we're all very lucky that they're a part of our lives.  High five bazookas of the world! So whatever the problems, hustle up and find the solutions because this is a long term investment.

It's like SPF and anti-ageing creams - start early and reap the rewards later.  I'd love to wear delicate little bits of mesh, or go bra-less in a slinky backless top, but not as much as I'd like to have half-decent funbags in ten years. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Tour de France and a story about my favourite t-shirt...

Always, ALWAYS rooting for Jens Voigt.  The man is a total bloody maverick.

I've been a bit lax on the old petite-specific posting lately, and despite speculation, it's not because I've finally had my growth spurt.  I have a lot to say about the perils and strife of being a little on the short side, but I try to keep the sulky rants and embarrassing anecdotes to a minimum where possible.  This one does concern my height though, and it's the story of one of my most prized items of clothing.

I grew up watching the Tour de France.  I vividly remember our first family holiday abroad when, during a 24 hour torrential downfall in Menorca, we holed up in the apartment and spent the day watching Eurosport's live coverage.

I also vividly remember being mortified to find out my dad had opened the front door to my friends wearing his full lycra kit when I was 13.

When my Grandad died five years ago, my family brought out the gallows humour - if you can't have a collective laughing fit about the breathless overweight funeral director failing to make it up a small hill in front of the hearse, then when CAN you?

One of the last photos of us together - Champagne still in hand

He was enormously important to us and he is greatly missed (the grandad, not the funeral director, although he's welcome any time).  But after watching strong, witty and tenacious people lose themselves to a relentless disease, there is some relief when it's all over.

The long and complicated process of 'putting his affairs in order' began with the house.  He was fiercely inquisitive and we spent several months uncovering his various innovative (and questionably safe) DIY attempts.  

We divided up the many toolboxes, and car accessories and endless bizarre pieces of garden furniture.  We possibly took too much glee in filling a bin liner with his persistent collection of novelty hats.

When it came to his wardrobe, the good stuff was nabbed pretty quickly by my uncles/dad/brother (the thieving bastards).  It's Grandad I always blamed for my cursed short genes but he was still a fair bit taller than me so I wasn't having much luck finding any mementos.

  I have no idea what's going on here but just a classic outfit there.  I presume that t-shirt is a souvenir of some kind.

I sat forlornly stroking the chunky fisherman knit jumpers that would drown me until I found two gems that I will treasure forever.  One is his impeccably made bowler hat, with his initials engraved inside the brim, and the other is the only thing that fit me: his souvenir t-shirt from watching the Tour de France on British soil in 1994.

My god, it's a shit t-shirt.  It's exactly the kind of naff thing he would buy, and proudly wear.   But not as proudly as I wear it.

Watching the peloton fly past me in Hertfordshire on Monday, I was amongst the lycra-clad flag wavers, twenty years after my Grandad cheered on the breakaway, and I was wearing his shirt. It was a little piece of Le Tour magic.

And if nothing else, I think what we all learnt from this is that if it fits me this well, this t-shirt definitely didn't fit my Grandad, who should really have bought the size up.

Allez allez, vive la France!

Also suitable for non-cycling-specific hairography

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Red & Pink Colour Clash

This beautiful necklace was a birthday present from a very old friend who's known me a long time.  She explained it by saying: "I saw this necklace and I thought it was kind of disgusting and also fucking amazing.  So I knew you'd definitely appreciate it."  I love that this is the logic behind buying me something, and she was spot on.  

I always worry a bit with attention-seeking jewellery that I might get bored of it quickly, or struggle to find outfits it might work with.  But I've actually worn this to death since I got it.  It looks perfect with a white shirt or a grey t-shirt but I would avoid wearing it with black.  

I remember many many years ago having a Trinny and Susannah book that contained a load of really limiting, unimaginative, judgemental shitty advice.

But there was one point that rang true for me - be very careful when pairing black with bright colours.  It can just sort of dilute the effect of both, and often look a bit cheap. If you're wearing something bright, find other complimentary brights or pastels rather than always choosing the safe option.

It's the same reason I am dubious about black shoes with an outfit that is otherwise colourful - it kills the vibe a bit.  And if you are playing it safe, the aforementioned white or grey are much more interesting choices.

Anyway, enough with the neutrals, because clearly for this post, I wore my necklace with a bunch of colours that made me look like "a stick of Blackpool rock" (direct quote from colleague).  

I've got really into red and pink together lately and I especially like that the colours in this outfit are not exactly a "true" tomato red or hot pink, but an orange-y red and a mauve-toned candy pink.

This is a time when I use my hair as an extra accessory - balls to redheads not wearing red or pink.  I love the copper clash.

Jumper: Topshop  Necklace:  Johnny Loves Rosie  Skirt: Primark  Belt: Forever 21

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

My & Other Stories Sale Picks

& Other Stories sale picks

Clockwise from top left: Silver silk top: £55 £27  Coral cut-out dress: £65 £33  

I worry about getting a bit same-y on here because I definitely have my brand favourites, and when I'm putting together a post, I gravitate towards the websites I trust and use.

But I'm covering the sales that I'm most likely to shop (or, indeed, already have...ahem) so, following on from my Cos sale picks, I'm moving on to their sister brand.

The best thing about & Other Stories is that they pretty much put everything in the sale.  You have to be quick, but the things you've lusted after for months are likely to be reduced.  Basically, this isn't the dregs by any means.

If you're after a new bag, this is the sale to check out. They have insanely wide range and good quality leather, but most importantly, really great designs.  It's by far the most ambitious of the high street brands when it comes to bags, and the detail is outstanding.  They look waaaaay pricier than they actually are.

We've all binged in the sales where everything in H&M or New Look seems to be under a tenner, but I don't get a kick out of that anymore.  I'd much rather get a decent discount on something quality than a tube skirt and vest for £4.50.

One of my favourite things about reading style blogs is discovering stores or websites that are new to me, so I'm hoping my Scandi semi-luxe phase will die down a bit soon, before I single-handedly render their in-house marketing team obsolete.

But I know I'm a shopping hussy and have questionable loyalty so I'm sure I'll be making out with a new brand in a couple of weeks.