The comfort we sacrifice in the name of fashion

Yesterday I had dinner with a friend who claimed she never wore pants for she finds them uncomfortable. How odd did I think.

Then I find myself typing this article with my stiff blue jeans cutting my midsection as I sit. To be honest I am not even paying attention. It is what it is. Clothes aren’t always the most comfortable. And while I am no masochist, the look is totally worth some minor discomforts to me.

Do not get me wrong, I am not saying you ought to be uncomfortable to be stylish. You can be both. But it is a bit complicated and there are many really cool pieces you shall forget about.

Stiff vintage jeans to begin with.

I agree with Alexa Chung, great empress of style, when she declares: “you know, I was talking to someone the other day about how jeans aren’t actually comfortable; it’s a huge fallacy. So, I am still very interested in aesthetics”. And concludes: “with clothes, I can put up with quite a bit of discomfort”

As part of the “little discomfort to please the aesthetic” team, I will share my own experience of the small sacrifices I am willing to do in the name of style.

1/ Wear actual shoes rather than sneakers

Whoever tried sneakers knows there are no shoes that can equal their level of comfort.

Problem: when I put them on, I feel heavy and style lacking.

That’s a pity though since I love them so much on other human beings than my own (that’s a topic I shall talk about, the clothes we only love on others).

So I stick with by collection of tight and heels leather boots that are more than ok to walk all day whilst being nowhere near the comfort of sneakers (sights).

And have much more pizzaz (learnt this word, love it).

2/ Wear heels

I am the queen of wandering through Paris on heels.

Oh, not really high heels by all means.

The comfortable walkable kind.

I do not even think I am sacrificing any comfort! But the concerned looks of my clients who are ready for a day shopping together reminds me that it is not that usual.

Life is easy with small heels. I can tolerate the occasional slight slip on cobblestones (then I blush and walk away chin up trying to ignore any amused looks).

3/ Wear very high heels

Not every day of course!

But I must confess they look sooo mesmerizing in the shop some may have ended in my shoe closet.

As I am no monster, I am not going to leave them unworn and sad in their cupboard, so, from time to time, I take them out for an event.

Luckily, I am quite skilled to walk smoothly with skyscrapers heels.

Unfortunately, my unpadded feet make me suffer after a few hours.

Yet I resist the urge to remove them because I wouldn’t want to lose the allure (and also because the floor is sticky with spilled alcohol, let’s be honest).

On the taxi back, I proceed to swear no such shoes will ever enter my wardrobe again… but my Aquazurra search on Vestiaire collective is still registered…

4/ Wear 100% cotton high waisted jeans

For the style and the good ass, I am willing to renounce to big lunches that do not crush my stomach.

I may be a bit crazy in the end when I think about it.

5/ Wear waist belt

Same results as the previous item.

6/ Wear minis

And be annoyed when you want to picnic (a real issue in Paris).

7/ Wear tights

And have to be slow and delicate when going out of the filthy Parisian cafés bathroom when all you want to do is run outside.

But disclaimer: comfortable tights DO EXIST.

8/ Wear stuff that itch mildly

I try not to do such casting mistakes anymore. But in the past I have purchased a lovely dress that itches slightly. And as it is so lovely, I am willing to itch a little to have the pleasure to wear it.

9/ Wear tight blazers

I can’t play tennis in them and that’s more than ok (I don’t play tennis), but I do feel they hinder my movements sometimes. For instance when I go through clothes in a shop. But I can deal with it

10/ Wear real old fashion bra with the lace and all

I may wear no bra one way, full hardcore real bras the day after. Because I find them so gorgeous. Voilà. That’s the only reason.

11/ Wear slightly heavy earrings

No enough to torture me, just enough for me to want to remove them as soon as I get home.

I even have a pair I am mildly allergic to, but again, I am ready to handle the itch in the name of fashion (maybe I am crazy).

Oh and yesterday I watched an episode of The crown in which Margaret Thatcher removes her clip-on earrings and found that to be so representative of this article’s topic.

12/ Wear mascara

And not be able to rub my tired eyes when that’s all I wish for really.

Well, I also wish for long lashes and doe eyes, so I make my choices.

And sometimes end up panda looking.

13/ Have long hair. 

I did have short hair. They are much easier, no need to feed and detangle them. So demanding pfff.

14/ Wax

I mostly shave TBH and even enjoy this smoothing under shower process.

But waxing! Ha! The pain!

Yet I do it in the name of aesthetics (whether decades of criticism towards women’s hair have shaped my aesthetics is another issue we could discuss later).

15/ Have long nails

As a kid I was fascinated with my grandma’s long almond shaped shiny red nails.

I wanted some for myself. Since I inherited her strong nail genes, I was able to grow baby claws by the prime age of 13 yo which I proceeded to paint pearly blue (aaaah, the 2000’s).

Since then, I regularly indulge in some long nail growth although this is annoying at many levels such as pastry making which ends up with having tiny food storages at the tip of my fingers or risk of scratching the damn tights.

CONCLUSION:

By the end of the inventory I am a bit confused.

Am I doing those things for myself? Undoubtedly yes, no one is forcing me, and I am comfortable going out makeup free or bra less.

I am sure doing them because the aesthetic pleases me and no one else.

Yet who shaped this womanly aesthetics that constrain the body? Certainly not me I am afraid. It’s the aesthetics of a men’s dominated society. Men do not do half the sacrifices I mention. Even the style obsessed ones.

But do I feel those constraints take anything away from me? No. I am willing to dedicate the time and effort for the pleasure I have in constructing a style I enjoy living in.

Do I think all women shall sacrifice comfort in the name of style? Not at all. This list is my own. When I work with a client I match her standards of comfort… which usually are higher than mine and create great outfits in which she feels she can go through life being both stylish and comfortable.

And you? What little discomfort do you accept in the name of style?

Aloïs

Comments
22 Responses to “The comfort we sacrifice in the name of fashion”
  1. Libby says:

    I didn’t realize it was ok for blazers to fit tight! I always find ones that have the shoulder seams right where they should be but when I can’t do jumping jacks in them I figure they’re somehow too small still. Interesting…

    My husband and most of the men I know really don’t like “dressy” or fancy styles and most (excepting my very smart husband) are happy to tell you so. This is how I have confidence that when I do wear heels or dress up, it is absolutely and only for me.

    I think it is human to love beauty – a beautiful mountain vista or a beautiful outfit. Its all good.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Not to fit tight per say but when they fit just right, you cannot really raise your arms in a comfortable manner.
      And I know this for sure because I do that all the time when reaching for clothes as a personal shopper.
      The only way is to have an oversized blazer. (and I also have one).
      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jean says:

    C’est peut-être les hommes qui devraient s’imposer plus de contraintes. Il fut un temps où l’élégance était également une préoccupation masculine… Petite pensée venant d’un homme intéressé par le sujet, tombé un peu par hasard sur ton article ^^

  3. Christine says:

    HI Alois
    A great read and I so agree with you! I am 71 and love to “dress” for my day.
    I love high heels and sometimes wear sneakers (classy ones of course!) with jeans but, like you, I feel as though I am lacking my usual style and even though I like the look of them on others, I feel sloppy when I wear them.
    This year, due to Covid 19, there have not been so many outings but I am looking forward to rectifying this as summer is upon us here in the Southern Hemisphere.
    Keep up the good work and thanks again for your blog 🙂

  4. Anne says:

    What a fun read, and so true. I rarely suffer like this any more though as I am in my later years and comfort is more important to me. When I do have to dress up for a smart occasion I will grin & bear it for a few hours but that is all. If I have to look smart for a whole day, I will dress comfortably but chicly. I find this is easier nowadays with the better fabric options available, especially in shoes/boots.

  5. Lana says:

    No to all of the above – except occasional slightly tight blazer and slightly heavier than usual earrings 😉 . I’m not that young and don’t have someone super special to impress with my style and pay for it with my suffering. Yes to comfy clothes and sneakers anywhere and everywhere.
    However in my younger years I’ve done enough of all the things mentioned in the post – but not anymore. Fun read anyway 🙂 .

  6. Pauline says:

    Super intéressant cet article !
    Qui me fait réaliser que plus ça va, plus j’abandonne certains trucs stylés mais inconfortables dont je m’accommodais pourtant très bien à vingt ans.
    Je n’ai pas porté de talons haut depuis des années (j’ai vécu dans un appartement en haut d’un chemin extrêmement pentu pendant deux ans, ça m’a fait passer au 100% plat… et depuis je n’arrive définitivement plus à trouver le courage de reporter mes bottines à talon. Il faudrait peut-être que j’accepte que c’est fini entre nous et que je leur trouve repreneur d’ailleurs, plutôt que de les laisser tristement prendre la poussière, mais j’ai encore une once d’espérance).
    Par contre j’accepte tout à fait l’inconfort des gros godillots type docs (ça massacre un peu les pieds le temps de les faire quand même). Mais ça devient confortable après donc est-ce que ça compte vraiment ?
    Les robes et jupes pareil, j’ai abandonné le très court (alors que je trouve ça très joli) car j’en ai marre de devoir toujours veiller à ne pas montrer ma culotte. Et j’aime bien le style du mi-long et long, ça me prend moins la tête en restant stylé ! Mais pour compenser (faudrait pas trop de confort non plus lol), je suis OK pour devoir faire attention au flashboob/flashsoutif avec mes décolletés fluides et plongeants.

    Les jeans 100% coton et les ceintures je suis coupable ! Mais un jean un peu épais taille haute c’est si joli… par contre, je ne trouve pas ça si gênant au niveau de l’estomac que de l’entrejambe : la sensation du jean qui marque le camel toe c’est vraiment LE truc que je sacrifie pour le style ahah

    La lingerie, comme toi, je trouve ça vraiment trop joli, et je ressens ça comme un vrai plaisir vu que je ne me mets aucune pression pour en mettre quand je n’ai pas envie (le no bra c’est tout aussi bien). J’aime beaucoup ce qualificatif d’armure sexy 🙂

    Côté beauté j’adorais porter des rouge à lèvres bordeaux/rouge foncé avant… les masques, tout ça tout ça… et pour le coup c’est relou de devoir faire attention en mangeant/buvant/parlant. Avec les couleurs foncées ça ne pardonne pas en plus… mais je m’en fous car c’est stylé !

    L’épilation, j’avoue qu’en hiver, j’opte pour la tondeuse histoire que la longueur ne soit pas trop visible sous un collant ou dans l’emmanchure d’un t-shirt. Flemme de me faire mal toute l’année. En été j’assume pas (encore ?) par contre. C’est peut-être le seul truc que je vois vraiment comme une injonction parmi ces sacrifices pour le style d’ailleurs, c’est si chiaaant l’épilation.
    Je me préfère sans poil aux jambes mais bon, ça fait depuis mes 12 ans qu’on me dit de m’épiler et que c’est moche les poils, donc contrairement à un jean taille haute ou une veste un peu trop cintrée, j’ai pas vraiment l’impression que c’est “mon” goût mais juste qu’il m’a été imposé. Contrairement au reste, c’est le regard extérieur qui importe plus que le mien quand je m’épile (étant brune à la peau très claire, bah ça se voit un peu quoi). Donc voilà, ça c’est pas trop mon tribut au style, mais à la société ^^

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Les chaussures inconfortables qui deviennent confortables, j’adhère tout à fait… mais pour certaines c’est intolérable. Encore une fois tout est une question de point de vue!
      Le flashboob en décolleté fluide c’est très birkinien ça (bon les siens étaient discrets).
      Et la sensation du jean qui marque le camel toe, hum, mais OUI! je vais peut-être faire un edit à cet article. Uné souffrance méconnue haha.
      Pour le RAL sous les masques j’ai un RAL mat liquide du tonnerre! Même si on peut aussi très bien s’en passer..

      Tout à fait d’accord pour les poils, c’est plus normativement imposé que toutes les autres choses que j’ai citées.
      Donc effectivement plus tribut à la société qu’au style.

      • Pauline says:

        Si le flashboob m’arrive en public je justifierai ça “inspiration Birkin” alors…

        Ahah et ça fait “plaisir” de voir qu’on est plusieurs à souffrir du jean/camel toe ! Franchement parfois, avec ce genre d’inconfort dont personne ne parle vraiment, on finit par se demander si le problème ne vient pas de nous !
        Je prends carrément la référence du super rouge à lèvres s’il y a moyen 🙂

      • Marji says:

        Ah! Vaste sujet. Votre liste m’a bien fait rire. Merci! Continuez d’écrire!

        En vieillissant j’ai abandonné les talons trop hauts qui me blessent ou me font tanguer. Je me sens plus “puissante” à plat avec une démarche assurée!

        J’ai arrêter de flipper avec mes poils suite à une prise de conscience féministe (version officielle) ou peut-être car j’en ai fait lasériser une partie…

        Je ne porte plus que rarement un soutien gorge (j’ai d’abord essayé pour voir et maintenant c’est difficile de revenir en arrière : trop inconfortable). Même si j’adore les beaux soutiens gorge et l’allure un peu “conquérante” qu’ils procurent.

  7. When I’m tracking on what I wear, I notice that the word “comfy” pops up an awful lot. I need to be comfortable enough in my clothes that I am not distracted from my work. And I do love sensual fabrics and textures, such as cashmere, or a suede boot. Being tall, I’m not afraid of heels, but happily embrace all of the flat shoe choices. Still, I’ll tolerate some discomfort to be stylish – the slightly too pointy toe, the mule that doesn’t quite stay on the foot consistently, a waistband that pinches a bit, etc. In a perfect world, all of our clothes and shoes would always be comfortable, but I think there’s an inherent hazard in women’s fashion. The styles, cuts, fabrics, embellishments, etc. change so often, it’s hard to accurately predict how something is going to feel unless you’re simply buying an exact replica repeatedly – and where’s the fun in that? That being said, certain things are very well worth repeating, such as a good bra or bathing suit, or a particular brand of athletic shoes.

  8. Juhi says:

    When I read the title, I was about to respond that I don’t suffer for fashion at all, but on second thoughts I do. There are many things I won’t tolerate – itchy clothes are one, heeled, narrow or cheaply made shoes are another. I wear flat ankle boots in 3 seasons as I too don’t love the way I look in sneakers. I will wear blazers for work situations that demand them, and I avoid tight ones even then. I never wear blazers in my personal life preferring softer layers. I also try to wear natural fabrics, budget and convenience permitting.

    However, I suffer through waxing and threading. Also as an Indian I delight in large earrings, kohl pencils and longish hair … I don’t count them as suffering but as fun. Same with high waists and belts, which I don’t find noticeably uncomfortable. And while I embrace stretch I love my one pair of rigid jeans (a 90s girl at heart).

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      What you say is very true! But some thing some may count as fun are considered “suffering” by others. That’s why it’s all a question of point of view.
      Though I doubt anyone enjoys waxing or threading haha.

  9. Manderley says:

    Bonjour Aloïs,

    Article très intéressant comme toujours.

    Je suis acheteuse sur le MIN de Rungis et donc j’ai tout sacrifié en terme de mode : chaussures de chantier confortables et robustes, en cette saison superpositions de hauts du plus fin au plus épais, pas de bijoux (danger), et plus de maquillage (à quoi bon entre le masque et les lunettes). Je me rattrape le week end mais de façon de plus en plus nonchalante (pente savonneuse): chelsea boots, jeans, cachemire et boucles d’oreilles, maquillage minimal. C’est tout.

    Ps; en ce moment c’est la période de l’immense forêt temporaire de sapins de Noêl, incroyable.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Ah oui je comprends! L’utile passe avant dans de telles circonstances!
      Trop envie que vous m’emmeniez avec vous voir cette forêt de sapins du coup.

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