“Even the most beautiful legs – Marlene Dietrich’s for instance – look better when the kneecap is covered.” Edith Head
Edith Head is arguably the most famous and celebrated costume designer of all time. She was nominated for 35 Academy Awards and won 8. She dressed everyone from Audrey to Taylor . So if anyone is in a position to make this claim, it is Edith Head. Now I have spoken of my legs before but for the uninitiated, you know how Betty Grable’s legs were insured for a million dollars? Well thanks to my varicose veins, my bulging calf muscles and my sturdy aka thick quads, the only insurance mine would warrant was the assurance that they would remain undercover and hidden away from the naked eye! And since I love jeans or trousers of any sort, they mostly are.
But occasionally I like to wear a dress and yet time and time again I am failed by the shops who offer only two hem lines – a short one or a long one. The latter obviously works but sometimes it would be nice to find a dress that wasn’t floor length, that showed a bit of skin but not enough to scare the kids. And as much as I like to think of myself as unique I know I am not alone when it comes to the hemline issue. For some fortunate buggers it is less about their legs and more that at a certain age it is no longer wise or professional, unless of course that is your profession, to show that much skin. For others it is that even the most beautiful or shapely legs age, knees in particular, revealing more about a woman’s digits than her face thanks to everything from makeup to Botox.
So where are my options? Recently I went shopping thinking now that it’s a little warmer and brighter wouldn’t it be lovely to have something flirty and feminine, as the mag’s say, to wear after months and months of jeans and heavy bulky sweaters? So with a spring in my step and a little cashola in my pocket I set off on my quest. Two hours later my spring was sprung, my arms were tired from all the effort of dressing and undressing, of contorting myself like Houdini just to zip and unzip. But alas no dress, no spoils to make it worth all the effort . Of course with the cashola now burning a hole in my pocket, and me determined to leave with something new, I headed to H&M where the jewelry section never fails to disappoint. And going out to dinner that evening my hands sparkled with my new jewels but the only thing flirty on me was my smile.
Despite my valiant efforts and my dogged persistence not one shop offered me anything other than the aforementioned. Which is a pity because there are some great colours and patterns out at the minute and those I tried worked well until I looked down. And either I looked like mutton dressed as lamb or, as it was in most cases, the top half of me just jarred with my bottom half. I looked fine from the waist up but the rest of me was just too knobbly, too patchey, too calvey (not a real words I know), in short – pardon the pun- just all wrong. However had even just one of those dresses had a little more material and extended about another few feet I would have been sorted. Now I am not aware of any material shortage unlike during WW2 which accounted for the rise in hemlines then, so what’s the story? Is it an unwillingness on the part of the shops to offer more options and therefore have to carry more stock? Is it ageism – although youth is no guarantee of attractive legs – a case of buyers ignoring entire age brackets? Is it just a lack of imagination – of ignoring all the lengths between above the knee and the floor? Whatever the reason I just wish someone out there would listen, if not to me, then to the great and distinguished Ms Head, and give us shoppers the opportunity to wear dresses that suit our body shapes and sizes, if not our age.