Why? Well frankly, having a high waistline is profoundly unflattering to the vast majority of body shapes in this country. For some reason fashion pundits are always referring to the 'slimming' effects of empire line tops and frocks. This may be the case if it is subtle. Otherwise the result is simply that you look pregnant, fat, ungainly and your bust starts to resemble something like the prow of a tug, or something you could organise objet d'art upon. They makes us look like pregnant heiffers. This is a fact that has been observed again and again in the press. Three years ago, in March 2007, the Telegraph's Sarah Mower pointed out that:
".... the British are in the grips of their own special fashion delusion: the smock. Sometimes it takes people from other cultures - such as men and foreign visitors - to point out that there's something absurd going on.
The first warning came from my husband, who jovially exclaimed in the pub: "Oh look, have you seen? That girl from EMI's pregnant."
"No," I hissed. "It's a smock. Fashion."
The second came from a Los Angeles Times journalist whom I sent to Topshop during London Fashion Week. The next time I sat next to her she said: "When did they turn it over to maternity wear?"
I hate the smock. Only babies should wear them; grown women, never. Last time they were in fashion - about 1970, I seem to remember - only teenagers (and pregnant women) wore them, and then with long skirts or flares. Teenagers in those days were flat-chested. Women now are not, and the ubiquitous wearing of under-wired double D-cup bras renders the 2007 smock look, well, pregnant, or at least sleazy in a What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? sort of way.'?"Maternity evening wear?
I concurr. The ultra gathered smockiness has been superceded by the complete dominance of the high waistline. This cannot be blamed on haute couture or designers. Their collections have contained a plethora of shapes and cuts. Who, also can forget the influence of designers such as Westwood or Mouret who champion waists and hips? Notably the high end high street retailers who cater for an older clientele have dresses with waists, sadly their prices exceed my current spending power.
The blame for this continuing slavishness to the shape can probably be laid at the feet of the current crop of teenage style leaders, the least stylish since those who inhabited the mid 70's. When, come to think of it, this shape denying cut was last dominant. Perhaps the super skinny feel that being by wearing clothing that is unforgiving to all but the borderline anorexic they are showing off their slimness? The problem is they can still be skinny and pregnant. Men now resist asking apparently pregnant women if they would like a seat on the tube, as the bearded one has complained it is impossible to tell if someone is up the duff. The genuinely bun in ovened who often have to adopt tents are being deprived of comfort by their sisters' poor fashion choices!
Ooooh, fattening and greige!
Fashion magazines of the cheaper kind also don't help as their stock response to the size 14 -18 lady in their make-overs are routinely dumped into some form of tailored smock over skinny trousers. This is partially due to the percieved unfashionableness of the wrap dress. The wrap dress is of course genuinely skimming and flattering; why has this become de trop and the fabric equivalent of a balloon suit remained popular? Is it something to do with the times? surely recession tends to breed interesting fashion, think of the stylish recessions of the past. Maybe this white collar recession has not bred rebellion and edge but a big national whinge of 'why me?' Perhaps this urge to look like fat, childish creatures is a call for help. Who knows, all I know is that it is boring the hell out of me. I suspect it is one of the factors, along the popularity of a hundred shades of griege, that has driven me towards retro and vintage influenced styling.
The baby doll look had some element of novelty in the 60's on a Bardot, but now it simply looks a bit skanky. Somehow our so called 'it' girls don't look like fresh ingenues like Julie Christie but just inelegant. It is about time someone called time on the whole thing and that the high street realised it's important, mid-level, 30s-50's customers are not being served. It is about time we told them all to 'SMOCK OFF'.