A couple of weeks ago I bought the newly released paperback edition of “What Not To Wear” and it has simultaneously ruined and enhanced my life.

The book is based on a BBC series where two fashion ladies Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine bluntly tell people exactly what not to wear. Their philosophy is that there is no such thing as natural style, that style is, in fact, something that anyone can achieve, it just takes a bit of effort.

“We roll our inexperience in comforting excuses – there’s the kids, the overdraft, no time, nor inclination. Clothes are immaterial, because you can rely on your fabulous personality and your partner is blind to you looking like a tramp, because he loves you just the way you are. At the end of the day this is bollocks.”

The book is, as the cover blurb says, brutally frank. There’s no bit where they celebrate wide hips or boney chests or somehow pretend that having a huge arse or no tits is actually a really wonderful thing.

I love the blunt language. For example, this is from the “Big Tits” section:

“Unfitted sleeveless shell top: Udders take on a lumpy quality like badly made custard.”

Or this from the “No Tits” section:

“Anything too fine and low: The gossamer fabric clings to the skin, creating a wet t-shirt effect, clutching raisins as opposed to peaches.”

But as well as all the advice of what not to wear, there’s also the flipside, the kind of clothes that will look really good on a fat arse, or make tiny titties seem bountiful. And the best thing about the book is that it’s not about making everyone dress the same. There’s room for total individuality within the guidelines. You can spend $3 or $300 on a top, but be able to buy a top that doesn’t make your arms look like two fat sausages.

I’ve also started paying attention to what other people wear when I’m out. Yesterday I noticed a lady wearing a pair of high-waisted, tapered jeans with a baggy, unfitted t-shirt. “Ha,” I thought to myself. “The high-waisted jeans increase the amount of fabric covering her bottom and belly, drawing attention to its size! The tapered leg emphasises the difference in width between the narrow ankles and the wide hips! The baggy t-shirt creates shapelessness and extra bulk!” Fortunately I had the self-restraint to keep those comments to myself.

Having read “What Not To Wear,” I now feel that about half the clothes in my wardrobe (actually, strewn on my bedroom floor) are totally inadequate, but I have more confidence in being able to buy something that looks good. I’m just glad that I’ve never gone through a Lycra leggings stage.

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