Shane Watson: If clothes maketh the woman, must they maketh her so uncomfortable?

Theresa May's hat will have caused her no end of neck ache
Theresa May's hat will have caused her no end of neck ache Credit:  AFP 

So, many everyday women’s clothes – skinny jeans, parkas with hoods, big necklaces – are bad for your back and worse for your posture. The “hidden health impact”, according to the British Chiropractic Association, ranges from the instantly damaging (heels that send you sprawling) to the slow-burners (hoods or – as demonstrated by the PM this week – heavy-brimmed hats that force you to tip your head back to see where you’re going). Who knew? Well, we did and, what’s more, the list of offenders is endless.


Amber Rudd is let down by her footwear at Downing Street Credit:  REX/Shutterstock

How long have you got? Don’t try cycling in them. Or running downstairs. Or wearing them with tights (you will slip sideways off them and turn your ankle). Heels may throw out your posture, and even lowish ones are liable to trip you up (see Amber Rudd) but mules are the very devil. When wearing mules you are always subconsciously gripping with your toes, causing all manner of muscle tension and grumpiness.

 The heavy handbag 

You might assume this problem began with oversized status bags, but even my mother carries everything in her small bag, including tile samples and a torch, and has done for decades. This habit will make you lopsided eventually and in the meantime feel as if you’ve been carrying a heavy load all day. Which you have.

Socks that get sucked off 

The worst, because you can never tell which are the sort that get sucked off (usually inside a boot), so by the time the socks are balled up under your instep, and you are getting two kinds of blister, it’s too late.

The heavy coat 

Wearing a heavy coat is like wearing armour

Never mind tweed, which is like wearing a sandwich board, what about an embellished overcoat? It’s like chain mail. Topple over in a secluded spot and you’ll never get up again.


Fine when young but, as time goes on, you tend to tie them higher to give yourself a non-surgical bosom lift (very effective) while forgetting the intense downward pressure that this exerts on your neck.

Non-skinny jeans 

Beware the effects of lycra-less denim

Remember, if you will, what brutal unadulterated denim was like before the invention of Lycra? Stretch skinnies may cause joint pressure, yes, yes, but we were talking about fainting. Keeling over in Basingstoke because the jeans you’d shrunk in the bath were squeezing the breath out of you.

Boiler suits, jumpsuits, dungarees 

This lot are terrible for going to the loo in draughty houses – you could catch your death – and if they’re a fraction too short in the body (common design fault), bifurcating.

Narrow arm holes 

They can give you Chinese burns around the armpit area. A really narrow jacket will crush the life out of you by the end of the day.

Skinny sleeves and bodycons always seem like a good idea at the time

Unbreathable bodycon things (especially made of wool or sequins)

They seem like a good idea – and then you start to heat up. Pretty soon it feels like being in one of those seaweed, cling film and blanket wrap situations (not good). When they say bodycon, they mean body-constricting. We ladies don’t have it easy.

Is it just me...

Reese Witherspoon in Big Little Lies Credit: HBO

Who is watching Big Little Lies on Sky Atlantic, not to find out who murdered who, or which super-wealthy Monterey mother is hiding the biggest secret, but to snoop on their fabulous lives? The houses (right on the ocean, floor-to-ceiling windows, decks overhanging the sea). The clothes (Reese Witherspoon does the school run in designer dresses and heels). The artisanal cafés. Now that The Replacement has finished, it’s good to know we can get our lifestyle porn fix elsewhere, and Monterey, on the Californian Pacific coast, home to multimillionaires and beautiful A-list stars, is a very good substitute.

Is it OK to…

Ski-chic is a good look for Prince William Credit: John Stillwell

Note that Prince William must go skiing, as often as possible? When skiing you get to wear fetching sporty gear, cool shades and a hat, or helmet, at all times – including lunch. Everyone looks good on the slopes – or as good as it gets – and, most importantly, no one ever needs to look balding. It’s called the “ski boost”, and all men whose hair is on the wane benefit hugely from it. Those who are obliged to toe the line in pressed chinos, and never put a foot wrong in public, appreciate it more than most.