At the time of writing, Cork is enduring something of a heatwave. People are wearing shorts, men with bad, homemade Bic-blue tattoos are walking around topless, couples are nauseating everyone else with their tandem park-bench-PDA and sharing-the-same-ice-cream activities and bass-bangin’ tunes are blaring out of the open windows of ancient hatchbacks everywhere.
Yesterday morning I sat outside to have my breakfast. Within ten minutes a cherry-red burn had taken over my face, leaving only a sunglasses imprint untouched. I looked like the Lesser Spotted Grumpy Red Panda. Summer is in the air, finally.
Summer means all of these things; advanced stages of friskiness, extremely annoyed pale people, crap dance music and, predictably, less clothes. Much less.
Maybe this week it’s different and we’re pulling on the parkas and doing a Captain Oates on our way to the bathroom, but from where I am right now, it’s very sunny. It must be the extreme changeability of the weather that makes Irish people so wholeheartedly embrace clothes in smaller doses once the sun decides to pay us a brief visit.
Possibly the most depressing thing about summer dressing is bodycon. Bodycon clothing is tight; very tight. It is also small; very, very small. Bodycon has been around for a few years now in its modern incarnation. Herve Leger, the inventor of the bandage dress and thus someone for whom a special place in Hell has been reserved (probably not) has seen his label acquired and relaunched in 2007 by Max Azria, who is the man indirectly responsible for all those self-esteem crushing pictures of Kim Kardashian and Girls Aloud.
Bodycon isn’t inherently dislikeable as a trend. It’s young, it’s fun, it’s vibrant, it’s daring, it’s cliche. The name, however, leaves something to be desired. ‘Bodycon’ comes from ‘body-conscious’, which is a fairly laboured irony when you consider that the most body-conscious people are the ones who would look ridiculous in skintight, Lilliputian dresses.
Bodycon is about perfection. It doesn’t require your body to be the best version of itself that it can be – you have to be uniformly, homogeneously perfect. Bodycon is not for athletic women or skinny straight-up-and-down women. It’s for curvy (yet perturbingly toned) women. You must be soft, but your arms must also be yoga-fied within an inch of their lives. Curves where there should be, no bumps where there shouldn’t. Perfect, glossy hair and a blemish free body add extra bonus points. An ability to deflect the barbs of sour-grapes suffering fashion writers is also an advantage.
There is one caveat. If you’re under 21, then all bets are off. When a trend depends on perfection, then youth is the ultimate prettifier. More potent than a vat of Clarins Flash Beauty Balm, you can be young and any shape and still get away with bodycon. Skin is still elastic and healthy, cellulite is non-existent, nothing has drooped. The perfect storm.
Perhaps the worst thing about bodycon is that it makes everyone look the same – rows and rows of girls in small vest dresses. It makes summer vastly more complicated. Who wants to indulge in a park-bench-PDA if you’re never exactly sure who you’re kissing?