There are many things to hate about winter. I won’t bother going into them here, but we can probably all agree that winter, particularly in New Zealand, sucks the farts out of dead seagulls. And the worst thing about the miserable weather is the wardrobe.
Oh, the climate experts will tell you that we need to have “seasons” and Buzzfeed will say that there are good things about winter, like skiing and hot chocolate. The fashionistas will exalt the winter fashion season, claiming “layering is fun! And so versatile!”
But for those of us who are less inclined towards skiing and more inclined towards hot chocolate, layering is TERRIBLE. Be warned. They’ll show you pictures of pretty models, all rugged up, and you’ll think “hey, that looks okay!” But when you’re like me – more Melissa than Jenny McCarthy – efforts at winter chic tend to end badly.
They try to sell me this…
…which inevitably ends up like this:
And there is a special circle of hell reserved for the sadist who invented that most dreaded item of winter apparel: tights. Fucking tights.
From the beginning, you’re screwed. It’s been a year since you last bought a pair, so getting new ones is an exercise in frustration and confusion. Every company does its sizing differently and you have no idea what brand or size you need. You THINK that the pair languishing in the back of your drawer is the right size, because you wouldn’t have kept them if they weren’t, right? WRONG.
I made this mistake once. Not only did the tights do horrible things to my midsection but, as I made my way down the street, laden with textbooks and coffee, they began to slip. With growing horror I realised that, against the laws of physics, my too-small tights were inexorably working their way down my legs and it wouldn’t be long before the crotch was below my skirt. On a single-file pathway, arms full, a queue of trudging workaday folk behind me, all I could do was keep walking, spreading my legs further and further akimbo as I went, in an attempt to avoid eventual death by humiliation.
They sell you this…
But what you pay for, and keep paying for, is this:
So this is the point where I bit the bullet and headed into the labyrinthine pantyhose section. I followed the sizing chart with my chubby wee finger, aaaallll the way across to the bitter end, to land on… “Extra Tall”. HA! Are you kidding? That’s a euphemism and a half.*
Now, the thing with “extra tall” size tights is that they seem to have totally bypassed any middle ground. It’s like they’ve taken normal-sized tights and upscaled them in every direction, including the top. I don’t know who they’ve designed them for but unless Andre the Giant comes back from the dead to satisfy a long-held cross-dressing penchant, they’re manufacturing for a non-existent market.
This is what they sold me:
Ooh, yeah – saucy, right? But this is the end result:
Aside from the ballet part, not so saucy and more like an elephant’s hide.
However, in the interests of perseverance and preserving my bank balance (these torture instruments don’t come cheap!), I developed a method for keeping them in place. I would stretch the top up as far as it could go and safety pin that sucker to my bra. This method took some refining and resulted in more than a few minor stabbings after sudden movements, but it was reasonably satisfactory… up to a point.
That point came at the end of an evening, when the lights went down, if I happened to have company… Now, I don’t care who you are, unless you’re a gym-going hardbody, not many people look particularly good in just a bra and tights. There’s the whole thing with the undies under the tights as well, all sorts of elastic digging into all sorts of places, resulting in a kind of undulating hills effect.
This is what they try and tell you you’ll look like in your altogether:
Now I can only speak for myself, but with my method of hoisting and rigging my underbits, the overall effect was more like:
Given my travails with tights, some people may suggest stockings instead (for those not in the know, stockings are the ones that only go up to the thigh and are often held on by a suspender belt). Now THOSE are sexy. I mean, they’re the ultimate sexy, right? Again, that’s true if you’re more like a lean rump steak with charcoal stripes across it, and less like a rolled pork loin bursting out of its strings.
My brief foray into suspenders and stockings, which I dreamed of resulting in Betty Boop…
Instead ended in a (damn fine) impression of Ursula ensnared in some hapless fisherman’s net.
Now these events all occurred many years ago and, needless to say, Mr Grumbley has seen me in all manner of hideous get-ups, so aesthetics are no longer a huge concern. Comfort and dignity, however, remain rather important. So until someone invents spray-on tights, I’ll take my legs chilly, thanks.
* I should point out some brands have now developed a new euphemism: “Fuller Figure”. Yeah, “full”… of pies.