Oh the craziness of fashion. Being the creator of a teenage fashion fiction character, Lily Max, I like to keep up with the latest fads. But the 2013 season must-have look fresh out of New York, London, Paris and Milan Fashion weeks has got me baffled.
The bare midriff
Thankfully this time round, unlike the 90’s, we’re supposed to be baring, below the breasts and above the belly button. Just a couple of pilates toned lower ribs on show will suffice. No whales tales, muffin tops or bulbous belly button dumbbells in sight. Phew.
So I started to wonder, is there an age cut off for this LOOK? Are only the very young allowed? Because if I may say so myself, my three lower ribs are in pretty good shape. Sun has not added age spots, gravity has not added sag and cellulite just won’t go there.
Taking up Pilates after the birth of my third child nine odd years ago has also probably helped. When my post baby tummy refused to budge, after weeks of mummy and baby toning classes I booked in with a physio. As I lay prone on the examination bed, a loud woman in a monogramed sweatshirt practically had her hand around my kidneys. I had a hole as wide as the proverbial Grand Canyon, (okay I exaggerate it was fist width) running from my herniated belly button to just above my pubic bone. I had what is commonly known as:
Diastasis recti-Abdominal Separation.
Disaster alright. My corset muscles, those used to hold internal organs in place, were completely stuffo. I had to start working on my Transverse Abdominis muscles quick smart, in order to protect my back and to wake up my pelvic floor muscles. The only way to fix it properly is to have a tummy tuck, shrieked the scary physio.
My stomach, which was still getting over a caesarian and I departed. I started Pilates instead. It was relatively new back then; 12 million people in the world including Gwyneth Paltrow were not doing it. But no new mum wants to do pelvic floor exercises (Kegels if you’re in the US) home alone. They’re boring. Thankfully, every exercise in Pilates begins with you engaging your PFs, along with every stomach muscle below the belly button that you can muster.
Nine years on, I can boast three fabulous ribs and a one-pack. Hence my pondering whether these babies need to go on show like a new KFC dinner combo.
Part of me hopes that by the time spring arrives this crazy midriff baring will have died a natural death. Like the rebirth of Levis 501 (boyfriend jeans) with stilettoes (these I’d like to point out have only ever looked cool and flattering on chain-smoking women on the cobbled streets of Paris).
Baring a huge amount of flesh, even in these fresh off the runway designs are probably best for the beach or our fearless youth. It takes courage to go to MacDonalds in a bandeau or bralette teamed with some high-waisted shorts. Yet crop tops (think long line bra) with flowing trousers and an enormous floppy hat could be a day at the races. And the ‘box’ crop with its high neckline, baggy cut worn loose across those ribs I can definitely see on edgier dames. Shut-up, my friend Ange would say at this point.
Winter is drawing in down here in the southern hemisphere. Not quite permanent puffer coat weather but getting close. So I feel safer that I have months of roast pork, pumpkin soup with gruyere cheese toasties and self-saucing choccy pud and vanilla ice cream to munch through while I ponder my midriff baring dilemma.
To double check I wasn’t totally off the track and off-trend I googled, ‘too old for bare midriff’. And discovered it’s your body shape, not your wrinkles that should be the deciding factor. Good legs: yes you can still wear a mini skirt. Forty and own a six pack: you rock that midriff top girl.
There was my answer, that lovely word forty. Come spring you might catch me in an outfit like this. I’m sure I could find something to work with in the vintage store. Either that or get out my sewing machine and my pile of furnishing fabric.
Just don’t ask me to take off my sunglasses!
(Natalie Joos, fashion consultant & casting agent NY 2013)
Oh and if you need some extra tips this video is very educational.
Laura Barton, How to wear a midriff top Class dismissed.
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