Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Parading Around in Other People’s Underwear

Friday night a couple of friends and I went to a Naked Lady party.* A Naked Lady party might sound like some kind of girls-only version of strip poker, but it isn't. It's a free-for-all clothing exchange.

Our hostess had everyone pile their cast-off clothing under a blanket on her large dining room table. One woman walked in with a lawn and leaf bag that was so full and unwieldy that the first thing she did upon entering was trip over it and fall on her face. After she stopped laughing, she went back out to her car and brought in another bag just as huge. By the time everyone had arrived and added their contributions, the table looked like it was supporting a very obese, misshapen corpse.

We spent some time chatting and filling up on snacks and red wine. Then our hostess gave the go-ahead, and everyone attacked the pile with gusto, snagging choice items and occasionally holding up other items for ridicule, such as the burgundy silk baby-doll dress that had been hanging in my closet since 1992.** The pawing, churning, flinging, flailing, and snatching went on for a good 40 minutes before exhaustion set in. I came away with a pretty good haul: several summer tops, two wool sweaters, a skirt, a pair of trousers, and a pair of stowaway socks that snuck into my bag when I wasn't looking. Just so you know: I won’t be wearing those used socks (eeeww). I do have my standards.

After we’d had a chance to catch our breath and gloat over our loot, the hostess announced that she was looking for some volunteers to participate in a sort of pageant. Volunteers would be charged with concocting the most unflattering outfit for her body type, selecting items of clothing from the rejects left on the table. I was the first to volunteer. I may not know very much about current fashions, but I do know a thing or two about how to look bad in clothes. Rule Number One, which I learned from Jennifer Saunders of Absolutely Fabulous, is: “Go small.” Wearing clothes that are too small creates unsightly bulges where none previously existed and highlights and magnifies all actual flaws.

It didn’t take me long to select my outfit: a strapless, black-lace longline bra (size: 34D) and a pair of black long johns (size: petite) with the legend “Hot Chillies” emblazoned on the elastic waistband in big red letters. (Classless!) I wear a size 36B bra, so the longline bra had the virtue of being both too big and too small. No amount of squooshing and fiddling around with the underwires could get the lacy cup part of the bra to look anything other than crumply and concavely indented. I have to admit I didn’t try very hard to make mountains out of molehills (as it were), since--after all--I was trying to look as unfortunate as possible. The longline part of the bra fit so snuggly that it forced a small billow of fat into existence at the bottom of the bra and the top of the long johns--another very snug fit, which accentuated VPL*** and gave me a bit of a paunch. Nice!

The rest of the contestants were doing rather predictable variations on the frump theme. I was the only one who went for the trampy lumberjack look. I hope this doesn’t sound like boasting, but as soon as all the frumps saw my get-up, they bowed to my superior hideousness. They all suggested that I be the last to parade down the staircase--as the sort of grand finale of ghastly fashion choices. I did get quite a thunderous round of applause and was awarded the pink "Wish You Were Here” underpants as my prize.

OK. So it’s not like I would ever go out in public dressed like that, but I think it’s hilarious when women dress unflatteringly on purpose. Women don’t often do that--the “on purpose” part anyway. I’m not sure why I think it's so funny or why I was so eager to make myself look as awful as possible, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. And hats off to the frumps. They all won prizes, too.

About those pink underpants. They are brand-new, by the way, but you won't see me wearing them. I’m still trying to fathom the popularity of thong underwear, so until I can figure that one out, I’m not going to devote too much thought as to why mock men’s briefs are now being marketed to women. Someone at the party informed me that the pink underpants are “Sarah Jessica Parker underwear.” Knowing this does not endear them to me. Even though I’ve never watched a single episode of “Sex and the City,” I’ve developed an intense dislike for the show, and I think it’s mainly to do with SJP.

Anyway, the obvious thing to do with the pink underpants is to see how much comedic mileage I can get out of them. I hid them in B’s underwear drawer to see if he would notice them in there among all the other more manly colors. He spotted them right away and strolled into the kitchen wearing them on his head. I pointed out to him that the underpants had a functional fly/gusset/flap (whatever you call that thing) and that perhaps he should keep them in his drawer as an emergency back-up in case all his other underwear burned up in the dryer or something. He then informed me that the underwear was not, in fact, at all functional from the male point of view and would require the bending of one’s willy at a right angle to get it through the fly/gusset/flap thing to pee (or whatever). I guess that would be a drawback.

* Click here to read about a Naked Lady party where I scored some really great clothes.
**1992 (or thereabouts) was when my sister (the original owner) decided the dress had long been out of style and gave it to me. Fashion ignoramus that I am, I wore it a few times up until probably about 1995, when I allowed it to go dormant.
***Visible Panty Line.


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