Monday Hustle: A Fat Woman's Working Wardrobe
Even though so far it has been a typical British summer. By that I mean bright sunshine, followed by apocalyptic thunderstorms, followed by sunshine again minutes later. The heat seems to grow in intensity every year, and with that, every year the sun seems to stick around for longer. Who knows, perhaps in the next ten years we'll be sunbathing at Christmas in the UK. Thanks, global warming!
This is wonderful if you work from home, or don't work, or have time off, because you can kick back in as little clothing as you want, keeping cool and topping up your tan in the process. But if, like me, you have to head out to work every day, it's not always so fun. How do you dress as a professional in such unpredictable weather or in muggy heat, as a fat person? Despite working in more professional attire for quite some time now, I still haven't figured this out. Working out what to wear each morning is like algebra; I can never solve the equation to the perfect outfit that is both functional and complimentary of my body or size.
The problem is a combination of many anxieties that I face when getting ready. Should I wear something baggy or loose if it's hot? Would that make me look frumpy to others, even if I'm comfy? Will co-workers judge my belly rolls if I wear a pencil skirt or body-con dress? Do my boobs pop out of my shirt too much? Is it obvious that the buttons holding my shirt together is looking a bit taut? Can people see my knickers? The list goes on.
Shopping isn't easy, either. My body fluctuates frequently - I bounce between a UK size 16 and 18 depending on what store I buy from as I bloat and shrink on a frequent basis. As a result, my clothes fit perfectly upon purchase but soon stretch and no longer fit correctly, so I see little point in spending extortionate amounts on pieces. This means, much to the disappointment of more ethical buyers, that I am a loving patron of Primark. They provide a decent range, in somewhat decent sizes, for decent money. However, once I walk into the office and spy someone wearing a cute dress from Topshop or a blouse and skirt from Zara - clothes from shops that don't cater to my size - I suddenly feel like the shabby-chic poor girl who can't dress properly against these fabulous (and thinner) women.
And then there's of course my daily commute. If it's raining, then I opt for trousers and a blousy teamed with a trench coat; the mugginess leaves me a sweaty mess by the time I reach my office. If it's sunny, I go for looser floral trousers and a smart shirt with a cardigan, but I'm left feeling stupid as the other women in the office saunter around in dresses or skirts. The one time I tried a nice dress, I felt uncomfortable throughout the day and conscious of my figure. I spent a lot of time tugging on the fabric to make sure it was loose around my belly as I sat down and the sleeves strangled my arms as I perched between two passengers on the journey into work. I can't win.
I'm sure that this is a commonality amongst us working gals. If I'm honest, I would prefer a uniform as such, where everyone dresses similarly, therefore reducing my self-consciousness, but that isn't going to happen. As much as I absolutely love seeing what everyone else is wearing, and I shower them with compliments (because they genuinely do look amazing), I myself am yet to overcome my work wardrobe demons, despite loving my body.
Perhaps I'm just not a fan of summer dressing. Let's wait until the winter when I can snuggle myself with cosy jumpers and big coats and see if my demons hibernate. Maybe everyone will wear jumpers and that can be our uniform of solidarity. Maybe I'll even grow my confidence, and by next year, wear pencil skirts and tight dresses with pride. Until then, I'll continue to search for cute clothes and pearls of wisdom to help me navigate my work wardrobe as a fat woman.