Friday, 8 November 2013

You don't need a thigh gap. You need a slip!

I've been reading the news a lot lately. There's been a whole lot of fuss around 'thigh gaps'. Apparently some people have collectively decided (can't say I saw the polls on this one) that it is desirable to have a gap between our thighs. The actual purpose of this gap is never fully explained, but it is clearly important. More here. And here. And here. And here. And all over pinterest like a nasty rash.

Is this a thing? If it is a thing (come on human race, we can do better!) is it really news?

Personally, I don't associate a thigh gap with 'sexy' or 'desirable' as much as I associate it with 'prisoners of war'. I do want to acknowledge that some people do have a healthy space going on there, and I don't want to suggest that they should feel negative about their bodies. But for me, and I daresay for most women, having legs that meet in the middle is our healthy shape. The bone structure of our legs and hips defines means that while there is a bit of leeway depending on the weight we are carrying, trying to attain a thigh gap is as an absurd a goal as trying to attain a nose job through starvation alone. Even when I was a kid I know my legs touched. I remember discovering with great glee that my corduroy trousers made a 'zipping' noise as I ran. This at around about the time I was doing the odd bit of gymnastics training at the Western Australian Institute of Sport. The whole obsession is bonkers.
Anyway. I am aware that I've enticed you here for stuff about sewing so stick with me while I make a tenuous link.
Recently, I have been wearing some of my stretch dresses with stockings. The problem which has arisen from this combination is that the skirts have been sticking to the stockings like Velcro. As I walk, the skirt bunches up and starts to move between my thighs, creating an effect which looks like my legs are trying to eat the dress. Naturally, with some practice I have perfected a graceful manoeuvre in which I grab a bunch of fabric and yank it back out again. This is pretty much the height of sophistication.
I can see myself a Vogue cover in the near future.
So I wondered - if I had one of these thigh gaps, would I have less of a problem with my legs trying to devour my skirt as I ascended the stairs? Does this faddish emphasis on a particular shaped leg have a practical purpose?

In short, no.

I might assume that the problem was my hideous, hefty body (I weigh all of 8 stone, or just over 50kg) But that's crazy talk. What I really need, to turn to the wisdom of previous generations and even modern day rich people, is a slip.
You may notice that more expensive garments generally have linings - a built in slip. The main idea behind a slip or lining in a garment is that it allows the fabric to move freely and slide over other layers. It prevents friction and clinging (and wear and tear) and can make garments more comfortable, more flattering and cooler or warmer depending on what you use to line it.

Generally modern comfy casual stuff doesn't have linings. And during summer on something as simple and easy to wash as a t-shirt, you wouldn't want one. But by wearing a slip, effectively a separate lining, you can improve the look and function of a garment noticeably. 
After some searching I managed to find a knit lining fabric. This is a nylon jersey, from Fabricland. It is quite thick and heavy has a bit of stretch to it. Most importantly it is slippery and doesn't seem to gather much static. It feels nice, but because it is nylon I will certainly not be wearing it anywhere near an open flame. 

I put it together into a super basic garment.

This design is strictly utilitarian. It is not intended to support, enhance, change the shape of my body or be constrictive in any way. I haven't embellished it or added any detail.

It is a tank dress with the straps narrowed by 2cm on each side, and shortened by about 5cm. That's all.
For construction, I used a triple stitch, and then zigzagged the edges together for a neater finish (although I think next time I might make an open seam).  I hemmed the bottom and finished the other edges with a three step zig zig, just like on fancy knickers.

I wore it today for a test run, and it worked a treat. I didn't have to yank anything out of anything at any point. It also helped my dress sit better. When I wear stockings I have a bit of a dent where the elastic goes around my middle. With a slip, that isn't apparent. Nor are VPLs, or back straps. I think slips and skirt linings are da bomb, because you can sit down and stand up without accidentally clenching and gathering your frock in an indecent manner. 
Could probably have been avoided with a slip.

I'm not going to model it for you. Because while it really is more of an academic concept than a quantifiable distinction given that it's the same pattern as a dress, it is technically underwear. And I'm too much of a lady. Despite the use of the words 'yank' and 'clench' above.


  1. I've never worn a 'full' slip but have recently go back into wearing a skirt type slip. You are right, it sorts out the type of problems you've highlighted and I find I get an extra layer for warmth in the winter!

    1. Yep, that too! I think it's important to recognise that the wrinkles and riding up issues aren't a reflection of a) our bodies, or b) a fault with the stuff we've made. I'm a bit surprised it's taken me this long to make one. I've kinda gone on a bit of a vintage slip investigation and would like to make one with a bit more style now!

  2. I remember as a young girl, hearing/reading/being told about the coins theory. Basically the natural shape of a woman's legs should be touching in 3 places, so theoretically if you placed 3 coins between your legs they would hold in place at the top of your thighs, your knees and your ankles, with some daylight between the other places. Does that make sense?!

    Although I could personally hold a few more coins between my thighs, I think this is pretty apt - When people get far too skinny their thighs don't touch at all and you start lookin or becoming bow legged. Not attractive at all! Thanks for bringing this up. We need to be reminded of a healthy natural body shape! ;)

    M xo

    1. It's a bit nutty to be making obscure rules to judge our bodies against. And to be fair, there are people with naturally thinner legs too, and they are also healthy and natural shapes. Cultural and historical concepts of beauty are varied but the idea that one shape is an idealised goal is a bit weird, particularly when those ideas, whatever they are at the time work for a handful and against a lot of people. I guess it's important to be reminded that we are delightfully diverse, and that healthy isn't one size fits all. :)

  3. People always call me old-fashioned when I recommend wearing a slip. In addition to reducing static and "rising up," it also helps make your dress less opaque and works as an additional layer of clothing in the winter. FYI, if you find that your pantyhose make a swishing sound when you walk, wear them inside out. My mama told me that!

    1. I've certainly felt the benefit of the extra layer recently, and it lets me keep wearing stuff from last season. Re the stockings, I did not know that. I wonder why that is?