[I have dug this post up from among my drafts, where it has been lurking for over a year. I think the moment has come to publish it. All the pictures were captioned 'old woman' in Google images.]
A few years ago, when I was still a rookie blogger, I wrote here about a makeover TV programme Trinny and Susannah had done for the over-70s. Some time later they did a similar one for the over-60s, but this new series had a slightly different angle. Instead of just picking a couple of candidates and getting to work on them, they campaigned on a wider front this time, touring the country with a horrendous pink 'tardis' into which they lured women to be undressed, revealed, humiliated and, ultimately, persuaded to revise their approach to dressing themselves. At the same time this fearsome pair enlisted crowds of local volunteers to join them in their research, and to carry their campaigns for change into the high streets and the shops.
In the programme I watched they were aiming to persuade older women to be bolder and more imaginative, to have the courage to shop where young people shop, to go for a size smaller and not to be afraid to show off their shape. The crowd of women they had assembled went on a giant shopping spree, and their battle cry was "We want the High Street". This seemed a more practical and positive approach to the problems older women have in dressing fashionably, giving them confidence in joint action, reaching a larger number, and, we hope having a knock-on effect on manufacturers and retailers as well.
But both programmes for older women had the same shortcoming, as far as I am concerned, which I feel sure will apply to a great many large women in their seniority. "Start by dragging your boobs up from your waist with a good uplift bra" Trinny and Susannah are wont to cry. However, I imagine that I am not alone among big-busted women, in finding that a well-fitting bra, capable of dragging up a couple of well-filled but drooping F cups to an appropriate level, is likely by the end of the day, with the effects of gravity, to have become a constricting, abrasive shackle, causing the utmost discomfort. There is never any discussion of, or help with this problem on these makeover programmes; nor are we ever told if the made-over women go on wearing their new bras after the show is over. Personally, I am past
making my life a misery in such a way.
Still, there is nothing wrong with trying to change one's mindset about what one wears, and I began to consider just what I might do. I rarely go out to shop, as I am exhausted by standing around in cubicles and trying on, so I wasn't really considering a foray into Top Shop, Mango, New Look or Miss Selfridge. In any case, to do that I think I would need some support: either a young woman to cover for me, or a bunch of other oldies, to overawe by numbers any young salespersons who might be sniggering behind their hands.
I would see what I could find on that faithful friend of the sit-down shopper, the internet. I had actually made a few notes while watching the Terrible Two, and had absorbed a few helpful tips for masking the portentious bosom and slimming the Herculean hips. I had also been paying a bit more attention lately to what is being worn by the mature woman on Neighbours, the one 'soap' I can't wean myself off. Although, as we are almost certainly at least a year behind in getting the programme, that was probably not a very good guide.