Saturday, 26 April 2008


... I remember that I am a girl and not a language-acquisition machine.

Then I go into a shop with clothes in and take armfuls of pretty cotton summer dresses and cool linen slacks and things that I would never dream of wearing like little tailored shorts and shirts with darts and tunics and I go into the przymierzalnia and spend half an hour playing dressing up and despairing over my strange and disproportionate figure which looks skinny from one angle and chubby from another.

Is there any British woman who can manage the fitting rooms with any real success?

If you pick everything in size 38, for example, it'll all appear several sizes too large and you'll look like an extra on Little Orphan Annie. Yet you know that if you'd picked out 36 it would have clung to all the wrong places, causing angry red welts and handfuls of pudge to squidge out over waistbands.

Petite Anglaise frequently bemoans the state of her thighs. I am certain that she is as slim as a pipecleaner. The minute you move to France, you become elephantine. Simply by entering Promod or Jennyfer you inflate from a respectable UK size 10 to a 42-44 European size. Don't even go near the front of the rack, your tent-wear is to be found hidden far far out of sight.
Upon moving from Paris to Poland, I lost around 10lbs in imaginary lard around the general upper leg area...
Polish women are only the third skinniest in Europe, as opposed to the French in first place. So that's all right then.

Equally, on return visits to the UK the reverse effect takes place. Since good old Marks and Spencer shook up their measurements, British clothes sizes have inflated beyond all expectation. This makes you feel wonderful when you realise you can squeeze into a size 8. Then you get over-confident and try your luck with a pair of pre-pubescent-skinny jeans at TopShop.


I've also noticed that Polish women tend not to be awfully tall. This doesn't explain why shops produce trousers that are always several inches too long. Is it reasonable to expect the customer to invest in a pair of nine-inch stilettos before they can wear their purchases in public without tripping over?

Then there's styling. I've been a penniless student/stagiaire/freelancer over the past few years, so fashion has passed me by somewhat.
But, from what I can make out, the predominant rule is to wear your waistband as low as possible, and as tight as possible, so that parts of what are rightfully your hips spill out over the top (and so it rubs when you attempt anything athletic, and vaulting over farm gates/climbing in through windows becomes impossible). To cover up this disaster in the general flanks area, you must wear a long top (also to cover the belly fat pushed up over the waist band of your hipsters). This will have a waist approximately right under your boobs, á la Elizabeth Bennet, producing a fetching maternity-wear effect. Who cares, at least no-one will see your beer gut. Plus people will give up their seats for you on the tram. Win-win situation.

Down to foot level. Shoes are a perennial problem, particularly if you're an ex-pat who (in theory) has to fly home in a month with Easyjet baggage allowances. I'd love to buy the kind of pretty high-heeled sandals you only really wear once.
The trouble is, I actually walk to places a lot. And I don't like getting blisters.
Fortunately, we're still in a transitional season, and you can just about still get away with calf-high boots under your summer skirt. Tights, incidentally, are a waste of time. Buy them too flimsy, and you've put your hand through them the first trip you make to the loo. The only kind worth having are the ribbed, woolly type your mother used to send you to playgroup in. Perfect.

In any case, I'm not buying clothes any more. Any spare cash hanging around is going to be saved up for flights to places with interpreting purpose, or for loan repayments.

I intend to bypass fashion altogether and start a new trend for pyjamas during the day time. I think I'm onto a winner.

p.s. This morning, feeling rather the worse for wear after a Japanese 'cultural evening' (cue cartoon on the art of sushi-making... when I can see the paper again...), I sat down for a moment on a doorstep to clear my head. Unfortunately, a rather scruffy-looking man mistook me for a tramp and started haranguing me.

It may be time to consider the restoration of my sartorial elegance after all.


Anonymous said...

Hi, you've been watched writing this post in the Couleurs café ;)

Cheers & good night

Flowers said...

does krakow have many of the strange orange girls?

my girlfriend and i always have competition to see who can spot the most. usually they are, well, orange due to a weird tanning ritual and wear white clothes, boots and ofen have badger coloured hair on their heads.

is this something polish or is it just a katowice ting?

good luck with squeezy jet. i hate them, hate them , hate them!

Anonymous said...

orange girls are everywhere

Shaunj said...

flowers- umpa lumpas you mean? oh yeah they are everywhere. and not a chocolate factory to be seen.

Pino you are being stalked I am sure of it. Did you get your tax declaration done? I was in the postoffice at 7.55 tonight. I didnt know how to fill out the form but at least I sent it. It will come back ofcourse but at least I wont go to jail. I think.

wiedźma said...

Hi Pinolona. Big thanks for adding my blog in your links ;P Wow! Yes that is problem in Poland for orange girls (to znaczy ze pettite size ?). I am normal size girl but when came to England I realize that over hire is so many shops with clothes for everyone :) For "umpa lumpas" like shuanj said ;P ang for Big Girl :) And I was surrprise ;) in Poland is very difficulty to find clouthes with size more than 14, women have to make this sizes byself u krawca. Poor ! Ja przepraszam jak coś napisalam bez sensu, ciągle się uczę i przychodzi mi to z wielkim trudem. Dostałam pracę domową , mam napisać esej- gdybym była księżniczką to- ...napisałam ale nie mam odwagi wrzucić ją na bloga ;( dam znać jak się odważę, pośmiejecie się :)))

scatts said...

I refuse to believe you have any "pudge"!!