Monday, 7 June 2010

Summer Sexy, Sort of.

It's mean to take issue with articles like this one, I know. Pages must be filled and not all of the content will be Pulitzer Prize standard. I will happily read 1200 words on cellulite or The New Boho without my critical faculties kicking in once. I am accepting, nay welcoming, of mindless shiny pap. And God knows, I write some boring old shit. But this, called something like "What kind of summer sexy are you?" made me laugh immoderately. According to the breathless article, we must fall into one of four categories:

The Leggy look takes confidence to pull off. Confidence, and squats. As shown by Gwyneth Paltrow, queen of Leggy, shorts work it best. Keep your top half covered up with blazers and blouses, offsetting your considerable flesh flash with a bit of classy tailoring.

Milk maid
This sort of sexy is all about the power of pretty. With freshly Timoteied, natural hair and a healthy, heaving bosom, the Milkmaid is most likely to be seen working full-length florals (like Daisy Lowe) with a flash of a bra strap, a dash of denim and a bit of prairie white.

Starlet sexy is all about curves. Make like Kelly Brook in cheeky, figure-hugging shift dresses and peep-toe wedges. For downtime glamour, it’s all about retro references. Use sweetheart necklines, nipped-in waists and 1950s sundresses to create a 24/7 sexy look (the Starlet not being the off-duty type).

Beach babe
Nobody works wholesome sexy quite like Jennifer Aniston, a seemingly cellulite-free mix of beach hair, Pilates pins and semi-sheer-but-just-shy-of-slutty T-shirts. Work your denim cut-offs with wedges (all the better to show off toned calves) and watch the boys drool.

Did it raise a bitter mirthless smile, reader? Especially if you've been crammed into someone's malodorous armpit during your happy 30° commute, further enhanced by a forty minute delay due to a passenger incident?

It certainly doesn't reflect my own personal summer style Golgotha, or that of the many and varied ladies of all ages, shapes and sizes I see around me in Brussels and London. LOOK AROUND YOU. Are there many milk maids on your designated form of commuter travel? Starlets? No. I put it to you that there are not. There are cross sweaty people of all ages, inappropriately dressed for the heat and not quite as fragrant as they were this morning. Their straps are digging in and they have blisters. I know, because I'm one of them. I have identified five alternative types of summer style. Which summer sufferer are you?

The Dirty Hippy

The skirt - long, shapeless, vomitously patterened - is trailing in the pavement dust, tassles and medallions banging insalubriously against other pedestrians. The feet - in Birkenstocks or flip flops or other toe exposing abominations - are filthy. There is a vest. It is none too clean. The air around the dirty hippy is redolent of patchouli, dope, falafel and sweat. It's enough to make you want to bring back military service.

The Denier

The Denier watches the temperature rise with a heart as black as her layered separates and wants no part of it. She will no more part with her 90000 denier opaques than she will wear a chambray playsuit with a 'fun' neon lip colour, except possibly to wear a pair of heavy dark jeans, perhaps with boots and some kind of leather or wool jacket. She dreams all summer long of Nordic forests, possibly ones with hideously violent crimes occurring in them and lingers furtively in air conditioned department stores stroking the Autumn/Winter pea coats and shoplifting Wolford Velvets. She does not want to hear about your picnic in the park. You revolt her.

The Prickly Heater

The Prickly Heater searches her wardrobe in vain for something that isn't too tight, too transparent, too easily crumpled or too perspiration inducing. In fact, it doesn't matter what she chooses, because through some unfathomable mystery of chemistry, physics, and plain bad luck, whatever she wears will be a unrecogniseable sweaty rag within minutes of the fiery ball hitting her rapidly flushing countenance. She is likely to also display several of the following symptoms: large Compeed blister plaster protruding from shoe which is apparently several sizes too small (her feet has swollen painfully, like big fleshy Yorkshire puddings), squashed, smeary sunglasses, painful heat rash on her limbs and torso, big shiny red face, frizzy, lank hair, giant, infected insect bites in unfortunate places, lips tightly pressed together with the effort of not ripping all her clothes off and scratching like a rabid dog.

The Big Top

The Big Top embraces summer. She's been to Marrakech and she knows what to do. She shops in that peculiar Hampstead Bazaar place on St Christophers Place, sourcing vast tents of fabric, big enough to accommodate the whole Cirque de Soleil and a couple of spare tigers. Presumably she has some theory about the cooling effects of billowing curtains of fabric, but when she sits next to you on the tube, all your fears of being buried alive assault you, as her capacious shroud settles in a stranglehold around your windpipe. She does have two major advantages, however. Firstly, you can hear her coming from a considerable distance thanks to her half tonne of jangly jewellery, and secondly, her capacious draperies make an excellent hiding place for any Prickly Heaters trying to find a discreet corner to hide and scratch like rabid dogs.

The Car Crash Tanner

The Car Crash Tanner comes in two varieties, natural and artificial. Natural is the person you look at, whince, then nudge your companion so they whince and suck their teeth with mock sympathetic schadenfreude at the kind of sunburn that you KNOW remains as hot as a fiery furnace all night, no matter how many bottles of aftersun they smear gingerly on the affected area, whilst weeping "I only fell asleep for ten minutes". Usually the pattern of Car Crash Tan lines will be a crazy paving of reminiscent of a wonky Miro, impossible for the victim to adequately conceal or replicate. A Car Crash Tan is the sun's way of saying "fuck you, asshole". We've all been there.

The Artificial Car Crash Tanner may look ok from a distance, but come a little closer. Hang on, why is one leg three shades browner than the other? And, whoa. Her FEET! Has she been bathing them in Marmite? You look again, both fascinated and horrified. You realise she is as patchy as a piebald pony, her skin a mass of uneven pigment like something from a particularly hardcore dermatology textbook. Beware, gentle observer, not to move too close in your curiosity. The smell of rancid biscuit can overwhelm you when you least expect it.

Come on, tell me your summer shame.


carolinefo said...

Laughing too much to post anything coherent.

Brilliant, Waffle. Utterly brilliant.

Lydia said...

I'm a Denier! That's me! I'm certainly not a Starlet, Milkmaid or the other two lame ones.

Lisa-Marie said...


I think I might be a mixture or the original articles 'starlet' any your 'the denier'.

I don't like the warm, and though I own patterned, bright things, I tend to stick with punk kid colours and band t-shirts. My summer clothing at the moment is either 50's style dresses(strapless, floral, polka dotty) with legging underneath and cute converse style pumps, or the leggings with a denim skirt and a tshirt/shirt/vest/combination of these.

It's all about leg coverage for me, i'm pale, and I burn and it hurts!

StroopWaffle said...

Ooh deliciously funny!
I am a reformed car crash tanner, with prickly tendencies....perfectly described. I am ginger haired and have just recovered from my heat rash from a week in Ibiza, in time to give myself a mottled layer of Dover Sunshine for a party...mmm lekker

Les Tombay said...

I clicked the 'this one' link, expecting the original article to have come from a 70s copy of a Woman's Own you'd half inched from a Parisian dentist's waiting room.

It's the fucking LONDON TIMES 2010 !!

Jesus wept.

ganching said...

A prickly heater but with an added smattering of insect bites - some of which will be weeping.

Waffle said...

Ganching - Shit, I forgot the BITES. Going back to add. Not sure how i forgot since there are 3 mosquitoes chasing me round the room RIGHT NOW.

Em said...

Oh, so brilliant! I'm a mix of Denier and Prickly Heater (always with the mozzie bites). And summer has been full of Big Tops and Car Crash Tanners in my neck of the woods...

As we're going into winter now will hide under numerous layers of denier and focus on emerging like a Leggy butterfly with a Milk Maid bosom in September.

Bryony said...

genius post! I will be working a unique look this summer as today my leg came out of plaster so is white, splindly and hairy and as my other leg is more tanned, I look like a delicious Neapolitan ice cream. I will definitely be accessorising with bites...

Waffle said...

NIce, Bryony. One for the connoisseurs. You could probably make a fortune posing for 'specialist' publications...

AnonyGay said...

Prickly (sweaty, irritable, cold-beer-seeking) Heater in the upscale preppy look that is all over the men's fashion rags at the mo'. Having just spent two weeks in the abominable heat of the Northeastern US, I have purchased no less than $750 worth of shorts. I wish I were exaggerating and wish even more fervently that I will ever be able to wear them in Belgium, for they are lovely (though I don't look good in wedges). This reminds me I need to buy new loafers. Now I have a goal for this weekend's Berlin trip.

gretchen said...

i am definitely a prickly heater with car crash tanner tendencies, perhaps the slightest color of dirty hippy on the worst long hot days. also i do like black for summer which means i am also a denier, oh no, i've got them all!

Alison Cross said...

I'm a Denier with a smattering of Prickly Heater for those days when to be a Denier is to invite heat stroke and possibly a proper stroke.

I laughed like a drain at this, you are so clever and as funny as fuck.

Ali x

katyboo1 said...

Denier, definitely, preferably with balaclava.

I did try a new look yesterday which was sort of Kirstie Alsop inspired. How she stops her fifties style skirts blowing up round her chin every three seconds I'll never know. I think if I wear it again I shall have to sew magnets into the tights and the skirts. Or possibly just stick them into my thighs with a nail gun.

Bryony said...

my husband has already thought about that "specialist" market...

Laurel said...

The Middle-Aged Mum may or may not enjoy the heat but she is not at liberty to display any but the most necessary body parts because they are covered in classic cheesecake cellulite and the beginnings of varicose veins (shudder). Capri pants are a little borderline for her, showing as much flesh as they do. But she is also unable to dress with as much (opaque) flair as the Denier because, no matter what she wears, her small children festoon it with stains and bits of food in a matter of minutes. So she tends toward cheap t-shirts and patterns that hide foreign materials. Her hair is stringy and unkempt, she has forgotten her deodorant, makeup is pointless, jewelry is dangerous. No matter what your style is, it fills her with fear and loathing because it is superior to hers. She is however still spotty, because nature is cruel and unfair.

(No, of COURSE I'm not bitter!)

mary said...

Very funny!
I am ashamed to say that I am a mix of prickly and hippie -- so not quite preppie, but not a hick....
but there's no category for the matronly mom who carries a spare lightweight cardigan in her bag. (That is really me.)

Artichoke Queen said...

I am a prickly heater on the inside, but probably appear a starlet with my summer uniform of crisp sundresses, embellished sandals and pedicured toes (newer commenters, please note I am childless and coastal American, therefore my grooming standards are formidable. Don't worry, this is the only area in which I overachieve). said...

Lovely stuff BW, can I add another category? Tragically Bemused British Tourist Adrift in Chic Country. Just back from super-chic Nice, where everyone French seems to be dressed in neat frocks made of secret fabric that keeps you cool, in fact i think it might actually STOP perspiration. Whereas TBBTAICC is wearing fabric that actually encourages sweating. And crumples without style (unlike French linen wearers who seem to have inbuilt stylish creasing systems in clothes). is it a french thing? Do you know?

puncturedbicycle said...

What are you if you just stay in your pyjamas all day?

Oh, and like Mary, I carry a cardi everywhere, even on hot holidays where there is no chance of ever needing one.

From Belgium said...

I used to be a starlet, but since I am now pregnant I became a prickly heater in Birckenstocks.

carolinefo said...

My own summer style is of a rather specialised nature:

Aegean Dog Walker

This cool & stylish ensemble usually comprises:

Blue, grey or black cotton drawstring trousers (Ayvalik market, about 2 pounds a pair).

Permanently bleach-splattered polo shirt in one of a number of different colours (purchased en-masse from Ayvalik market, about 2 pounds 50 per item, less with bulk discount).

Sturdy lace up shoes (for scrambling around on steep stony hillsides) with thick socks.

Battered, shapeless khaki hat, for protection from the sun.


Small black bag slung across chest bandolier-style containing a bottle of water, telephone, etc.

Naturally, in such an enticing outfit I have to beat men off with sticks, which makes it fortunate that the last item I carry is a large old carved stick (in a former life, an Anatolian weaving implement), with a goat horn implanted on the end. This is officially for beating off wild dogs, should the necessity arise, but more and more I just seem to be leaning on it.

It's possible the high maintenance, shiny, buffed Artichoke Queen may wish to rethink her proposed visit to the Camel Barn with Waffle, as being seen with me in public might cause her to Die Of Shame.

Margaret said...

My secret shame? I love summer. I love summer clothes. I would live on the beach if I could. It's a tough love to sustain in the sweaty armpit of NYC, but I work a preppy look in warm weather that seems to keep me reasonably presentable. I also give up the sleek hair attempts for a messy Boden-girl bun, which helps. (The Times article is bizarre. It's like something out of a 1981 Cosmo.)

ClaireSlapStitch said...

Hehehe... I'm a cross between a denier and a prickly heater. I just can't stand summer!

Lisa-Marie said...

Katyboo, if you can sew, if you put the lightweight weighting rope for curtains inside the hem it does the trick, as long as your waistband fits properly.

Betty M said...

Nothing worse than the British in the sun. One whiff of a temp over 20 degrees and they think going to work in skanky shorts, vest tops and flip flops is fine. I'm currently a denier/ prickly heater who would prefer still to be her pre children Leggy/beach babe look. Unfortunately I cant wear any of my dresses as I have breastfeeding pornstar boobs (recently measured as 32 H I nearly died) so nothing that fits the bottom can go anywhere near the top. Plus my auto immune disease now means each time an infernal insect bites me the bite site swells up and turns magenta for days. Nice. So I am currently denying and GRUMPY.

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