Friday, June 11, 2010

I Have a Hunch: Fashion and Posture

It is impossible to read any sort of style guide - be it Cosmo magazine, a book by Tim Gunn, or the classic Guide to Elegance - without being reminded at some point to mind your carriage. Good posture is credited with making one look (at least) ten pounds thinner, younger, better dressed, smarter, and all manner of wondrous things.

Posture has such an interesting intersection with fashion. As undergarments and silhouettes change, so does posture. It's rather strange to think of posture as being trendy, but it absolutely can be. The flappers of the 1920s are often associated with a fashionable slump, steering away from the Edwardian era that encouraged the "s-curve" silhouette for women - a pigeon chest, tiny waist, and sway back.  Twiggy was famous for her slouchy poses in the 60s, and today, fashion-y types like Tyra Banks and Christian Siriano declare hunched-shoulder poses to be very couture.

It's interesting to see the heroin-chic slumps of Vogue spreads, while simultaneously being told by fashion experts that we all look terrible and fat because of our poor posture.

 A brilliant LOLVogue spread from Jezebel

Truth be told, I wish my posture was better. I found myself agreeing readily with this passage from A Guide to Elegance:
When a woman is trying on clothes, she almost always holds herself beautifully erect in front of the dressing room mirrors. If afterward she hollows her chest and lets her entire body slump, she should not be surprised to find that her new dress does not look at all as chic as it did when she tried it on in the shop.
Indeed! I've often caught a glimpse of myself sidelong in a mirror and am horrified by the way I'm slouching about. The style experts are right: it really does nothing for your carefully-sewn ensemble! Unfortunately, having good posture isn't as easy as reminding oneself to stand erect. I have forward-rounded shoulders that are getting more forward-rounded by the year and hours spent hovering over a computer or sewing machine aren't doing me any favors.  But what's a lady to do - walk around with books on her head in her spare time? Do hours of pilates or buy one of those weird posture bra contraptions on the market?

Do you worry about your posture? Have you tried and succeeded in improving it? (Please share any tips here!) Or do you get annoyed with magazine articles promising you "instant weight loss!" by just standing up straight?

from Jezebel


  1. I'm a slumper myself, but after two months of pilates (1-2 times a week),I saw major improvement and my back felt so much better. Its funny, I've missed a month recently and I noticed the slumping is back.

  2. another well written and interesting post Gertie, i missed your daily blogging while you were off hiking on holidays!
    I definitely think pilates improved my posture... and i felt taller too which is always a good thing of me!!!

  3. Every time I slouch, I hear my mother's voice telling me to suck in my gut and stand up straight! lol. I have to admit that her haranguing me (okay... she wasn't that bad ;) about posture has paid off in spades as an adult. I seriously will be walking around, realize I'm slouching, and correct myself! lol.

    One thing I have found that has helped loads with posture is strengthening my core muscles; particularly stomach/lower back. Since I started working on those areas, it's a lot easier for my body to maintain good posture for longer periods, and in some cases it's uncomfortable for me to slouch! Also, my brief foray into yoga and pilates helped with correct posture as well (need to get back to doing that...). That being said, I'm no angel--I do slump about on the sofa when watching a movie, and I'm sure I hunch over my sewing machine!

    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  4. I had back problems in my early twenties, definitely caused by slouching and weight. Then I did pilates, didn't lose much weight but my back was indestructible and I's have to remind myself to slouch! Now I lost 80 lbs last year and I threw my back out over spring break. So wrong.
    So I've learned my lesson, worry more about strength less about fitting into my jeans.

  5. 'Stand up Straight, stop looking at the ground..' etc etc.. I heard that alot growing up. I do try to be careful of my posture. Good posture is the first step to good body mechanics; 'issuntul' to my job. lol.

  6. Your first photo reminds me of walking around the classroom with a book on my head in the second grade ... yeah, they had us do that in public school back in the early '60s!But my secret to good posture is really 3 years in high school marching band.

  7. Your point about sewing not doing one's posture any favours is quite true. My mother was a seamstress all her working life, she used to sew for herself from a rather young age and she also made a lot of clothes for me and my siblings and she now has a hunch as a result of all that sewing. It's not a huge hunch, but it's not hard to notice either.
    As for what you can do to improve your posture, I can only comment on what has worked for me. I never really had problems with my posture as such, but in my teens my doctor warned me to strengthen the muscles in my back, otherwise it would affect my posture as I got older. One of the things that really helped me with that was yoga, which I have recently started doing again. I don't know if you've ever done yoga, but you'll usually be instructed to lengthen your spine and I find that it definately has an effect on how I carry myself. Last year I started taking dancing lessons (1950s-style swing and rock'n'roll dancing) and that has also had a good effect on my posture. While I think other types of dancing, ballroom dancing for an example, probably has an even better effect on your posture, I definately think it's one of the more enjoyable ways to do exercise and the effect on your posture is just a bonus :)

  8. They had us cross our arms on the back of the chair in 1st and 2nd class.
    It still helps me to retain good posture when sitting on a chair. Cross the arms in the back, and stretch a bit, and you'll get upright again. (Do not keep the arms in the back for too long, though, it's unnatural ;-), just use this trick to remind yourself of good posture.)
    When I hunch sitting, my back soon starts hurting!
    Unfortunately, as I recently discovered, I often hunch and slump when sitting because the seat is too big and too high for my short legs! So even on seats with backrests made to help one's posture, I end up slumping and hunching. So, in a paradox, I often have a better posture on seats without anatomical backrests.
    My computer table at home (actually an old one from times where there were no computers) has a leg-rest, which is fantastic for my short legs. I should keep it in mind for elsewhere!
    Also, I often find myself hunching in front of a computer, or when sewing, because the monitor or the sewing is too low for me. So the monitor of my computer is sitting on some old books. Although, now that I think of it, one more book wouldn't hurt... the most natural position in front of my eyes is occupied by the URL line of my rowser, which is certainly not the spot I'm looking at most often!

  9. I'm a complete Pilates convert and if I don't have my twice a week sessions, I really see (and feel) the difference. It not only works on your posture, but it also limbers everything up and improves your core strength (and tightens the tummy and bum muscles!).

    I also believe 100% in the power of a good osteopath. I've arrived half-crippled after days of hunching over my computer and sewing, and half an hour later, leaving standing straight and in no pain... I could also bore everyone to tears with tales of the wonders my osteopath has done, not just on me, but also my two young daughters (you'd think children have good posture, but it's amazing how quickly they can lose it...).

  10. I myself have had difficulties with posture and even had to see a chiropractor about it.
    The two methods I was taught was to: A) pretend you have a rope coming from your head (quite grotesque sounding) pulling your body up and think tall.
    B) roll up a jumper into a log shape when sitting on a chair and place it in the curve of back like a cushion. It's almost impossible to slump then :)
    Hope this helps

  11. Perhaps you should consider Ballet as a hobby?
    I have never found myself worrying about my posture.

  12. Great point! I had the same problem, also work-related. I have to agree - I tried yoga and it really works! It also "reminds" me to be aware of my spine throughout the day. I also found that punching exercises and pushups, tightens the bra line under the arms.

    Really all of this to say that I just stumbled onto your blog and I'm loving it. Thanks for these wonderful posts!

  13. My posture was absolutely terrible when I was younger. My family has a history of bad backs and I've not been excluded from this.

    To help myself, I did some pilates, both on and off a reformer. (Reformers rock by the way but they are so expensive and hard to store!) I also do some core exercises at the gym on the fitball. They're difficult but the stronger my core gets, the easier they become.

    But I think the one thing that made the most difference to my overall posture and the way that I moved was the Alexander Technique.

    I did some looking into where to start and a lot of people recommended a book written by this lovely lady, Missy Vineyard. Its on her website as well as some interesting info on who created the Alexander Technique and for what purpose. (

    I found it easy to read but was still puzzled by some of the stuff so decided to go to a lesson to see what a teacher could do for me. My teacher helped a lot with understanding the technique better in a way that only someone who lives and breathes it every day can. You can only apply so much that you learn from a book yourself. Sometimes it helps to be shown.

    I noticed that whilst I was going to lessons once a fortnight, I was standing so much more upright and I moved much easier. It felt like had grown almost an inch just by sitting and standing and moving as my teacher had instructed. It was awesome!

    Its not difficult to give it a try at home on your own. You can find many useful resources online and just start doing a few things at home and it might be really beneficial.

    I hope it helps!

  14. I don't usually have to think about my posture - my back will let me know if I've been slouching, hunched over too long. Those big balance balls are great for lying on my back and rolling it up and down. Feels wonderful! Most likely any exercise that helps build up your trunk muscles and balance are good.

  15. I started doing yoga about 9 months ago and I think that has made my posture better. It teaches you a lot about how you position your body and how to improve it. Sometimes my back starts if I'm slouching. So I agree with the other recommendations of trying yoga or pilates. Check out as they have some nice videos on their site.

    One trick I've heard is to put some tape on your back while standing up straight then if you start to slouch you feel the tape tugging at your skin and remember to stand up straight. I've never tried it but it makes sense to me.

  16. I have to focus on my posture. Years of neglecting it when I was first playing violin ended up giving me tendonitis in my shoulders. If I'm not careful now, I get flare ups, which mega mega mega sucks.

    Forcing myself to stand up straighter just added more tension. Pilates and yoga have really helped strengthen my core which makes it easier to keep my spine straight without force.

  17. I do half an hour of pilates most days. It is relaxing, helps me keep my figure and I keep my posture. It's not impossible unless you tell yourself it is.

    I can't slouch either, it hurts me. When I get tired and slouch, I stop drafting/writing/sewing and find another way to occupy myself. Very, very simple.

    I'm slowly rehabilitating my husband's posture. No one ever told him to stand up straight so I have to do a 1.5" shoulder rotation on his clothes.

  18. Thanks for raising consciousness about this issue, Gertie! My partner, the Male Pattern Boldness blogger, referred me to your posting today since I'm an Alexander Technique teacher. I've written recently about fashion and posture on my own blog, specifically, the about the current trend of pigeon-toed modeling. Here's a link in case any of your readers are interested:

    The main thing about posture that I have learned from practicing and teaching the Alexander Technique is that almost never comes down to needing to strengthen muscles. (Actually, I've NEVER had a student whose muscles were too weak to support her body properly, even the elderly students I've worked with.) It's really about learning to use your body in a way in which the muscles coordinate better, as you would learn in a course of Alexander lessons.

  19. That thing about putting a book on your head is true - I do the rice carry with heavy groceries when I'm walking home on top of my head, balanced with one hand), and it really, really improves my posture. Of course, I also get stared at - thank god I live in a place where carrying your groceries on your head is a minor eccentricity, not a major one!

    I think if standing up "straight" hurts your back, you're probably doing it wrong - everyone's built differently, and a little curve in the upper back is actually healthy - it acts as a spring against the weight of the head, at least according to my chiropractor, who blames my extremely erect back for my lumbar pain.

  20. My posture is by no means perfect, but it has improved massively since I started Scottish Dancing. I believe yoga has also helped me, as it has improved the alignment of my body in general and made my muscles stronger. My two friends with the worst back pain have it because their back muscles aren't strong enough to hold their spine in its proper place.

  21. Somewhere I came across a better posture reminder than the one about pretending a rope is coming out the top of your head. It said to pretend you're a beauty queen. If you don't stand up straight your crown will fall off. So everyone, on with your imaginary tiara.

  22. I've found that any exercise routine that focuses on the torso muscles (yoga, pilates, t-tapp, ballet) will give you better posture.

    But it's all those spinal muscles that have to be built up and retrained - and that's no more instant than any other body sculpting.

    It DOES make a difference.

  23. I have always thought that good posture made all the difference. I find it helps to imagine your nipples are staring at the sun! :)

  24. amywashereI am a huge stickler for posture!!! Not that mine is perfect but i am actively working on it. After 8 years in ballet school not standing up straight(ish) is weird and it does make you look awful. case and point miley cyrus at the oscars. she got berrated for her dress but if she had just stood up straight she would have looked gorgeous. I spend a lot of idle time sitting at work and i try to sit on the edge of the chair and hold my stomach and drop my shoulders back. it take while to get into but it is helping and it does make me feel better about myself!

  25. I'm a firm believer in pin-point perfect posture.

    Maybe it was my mother knuckling us in our lower backs to make us stand up straight.

    Maybe it was seeing my self conscious sister hunch over because she developed quite a bit more than the rest of the girls her age.

    Maybe it's years of doing sports and exercising and taking dance lessons, and have bad arches and keeping my stress in my lower back....

    But yeah, my posture is pretty darn good - so much so that I sometimes feel like I look like a have a stick up my bum! :)

    It really DOES make you look taller and skinnier though - no one ever believes how much I weigh when I tell them!

  26. I fight the posture battle all the time. It's especially difficult because I have a congenitally sunken chest (partially surgically repaired when I was a kid) so collapsing my shoulders forward is what my skeleton has been trying to do since birth.

    I used to be very serious about riding horses and competing at shows which helped tremendously with maintaining a balanced posture. (Hunt Seat Eq, holla!) Also, shoveling shit and pushing wheelbarrows for ten years taught me that there are certain angles and balance points that help my body work most efficiently. I think if I had to go muck out a barn today, my body would probably snap back to the balanced, erect, relaxed posture that makes it work its best.

    These days I don't ride (or muck) anymore and my posture sucks. I fake it by wearing a sturdy waist cincher foundation garment under most of my self-sewn dresses. When I slouch forward the boning pokes me in the ribcage under my bust. It helps my silhouette and my posture at the same time!

  27. When I entered college, I started doing a lot of desk work in cheap dorm furniture. I found that swapping my desk chair out for other less stable options helped me sit up straighter. I've tried several options, but my current desk seating is a swivel stool with a very wide base (no tipping over!), but a relatively small top. When you have to keep a small but active effort to stay stable, maintaining a better posture comes more naturally.

  28. One of the reasons I began practicing yoga 3-4 years ago was that I was always slumped over a computer and my posture and back were suffering. Yoga teaches you to be mindful of your body. It is not so much about building strength as it is about awareness. And you don't have to practice on a daily basis to see some benefits - even a weekly practice is enough for to see positive results in your posture, flexibility, balance, and well-being.

  29. Yoga gave me an awareness of alignment and taught me what good posture felt like, but it was weightlifting that really drove the point home. Your posture has to be just so when you're deadlifting a 100lb.+ bar!

  30. Hi Gertie! I'm doing P90x so I do feel my posture has improved - but I feel that Tim Gunn's book on fashion is very instructive (and enlightening) in this area. He instructs the reader to hold their shoulders down (rather than back) from their ears. I started doing this as well as Jonathan and we've seen an 100% improvement in our crappy previous posture. Love you blog!

  31. I think several people have mentioned this, but yoga. Something always reiterated in yoga is to keep your shoulders down, away from your ears and the blades moving toward each other. Even if you don't do yoga everyday or anything, I find that for about 2 days after a posture is improved without even thinking about it.

  32. I was on of eight closely spaced children. My mother was a genius at finding things to occupy our time. One of her favorites was having us all walk around the house with books on our head, little kids, big kids, all. The game was to see who could keep the books on their heads the longest. Then we would have contests stacking increasing numbers of books and walking. Fast forward, and until about 5 years ago I would very often get the question, "do you dance"? I would ask why and was told I had an erect dancer's posture. Five years ago I retired and have also been over a machine or a computer. (I'm back to work in the past few months just to keep the record straight here.) For the first time ever I have issues fitting my shoulders. I have started doing lots of core exercises and lifting small weights over my head with my arms. This seems to be bringing my posture back. I find that I am actually uncomfortable now at the computer unless I am sitting quite erect. So my suggestion is arm raises over your head with a small weight in each hand. Work up the size of the weights. Great Post.

  33. Many years ago, I worked at a marine electronics shop in Florida. I heard thru the grapevine that the guys were talking about my posture--saying I was sticking my boobs out! My response was, "So I'm being criticized for having good posture!" I was highly annoyed, I can tell you that! That was before the advent of computers and, regrettably, my posture is no longer as good as it used to be!

    Gail D.

  34. "Engage your stomach muscles" as my body balance teacher says. I'm a terrible sloucher too but holding myself up by my stomach (rather than the shoulders) rectifies the situation... temporarily...

  35. I learned good posture during puberty. I had no boobs (seriously, like less than an A cup). I learned really quick that if I stand up straight it helped my boobs appear bigger. And then I realized that I felt and acted more confident when I had good posture. Eventually the boobs appeared, but the good posture ever went away. I've actually had stranger comment on my good posture (which is actually really weird...)

  36. I recently decided to take up jogging and was reading about proper form when running - all sources recommended lifting the chest and tightening the abs, but one used the illustration of pointing your chest at a distant building as if you were running to it. For some reason, that visualization really worked for me and I find it helps me achieve good posture without feeling like I'm sticking my chest out even when I'm not jogging. I'm pretty top heavy, so that's something I want to avoid - it could be hazardous to innocent bystanders!!! :)

  37. I'm quite tall and by 4-6th grade I probably reached my current height of 6'2". Needless to say, I've spent my life slouching because it was always ingrained in me that it was bad to be tall or at least it got you made fun of or stared at. It's only in my mid 20s that I've started to attempt correcting my posture. I think wanting to look better externally (in this case posture-wise) comes from internal improvements on self-esteem and wanting to project that. It's funny, I am so unused to proper posture so that doing so completely changes my state of mind. This may sound funny but I might even liken it to the excited elegance a little girl feels when she dresses up like someone older and more glamorous.

  38. Like Nancy, I am quite tall. I'm being forced into better posture with physical therapy due to some back problems, but here's the part that will entertain all of you: I'm finding I can't hear the conversation "down there"! Seriously, my slouching in middle age appears to have been related to my declining hearing abilities. Funny, eh?

    So the thing I've learned about good posture is that if you're doing it to look a certain way, you're most likely doing it wrong (i.e., throw your shoulders back!) It shouldn't hurt(like purplesews said), it should feel better. Create space between your hip bones and your rib cage without raising your shoulders. Relax your shoulders and lift your rib cage (don't exaggerate this, just feel it). I've regained an inch this year, not that I needed it. But much less pain. Also, some strength in the upper body (arms and shoulders) actually makes all of this easier (apologies to Michael, this is just my experience).

  39. I started taking ballet lessons when I was 4 and have been dancing in one way or another pretty much ever since. (Actually I've slacked off the past couple of years and have headache problems now, which should tell me something!) I think any form of movement that help your body awareness is good!

  40. Wow there are some fantastic comments here!

    I must confess, I started slouching as soon as I grew boobs - too much unwanted attention. Add years of computer work and birthing some giant babies and I'm about 2 inches shorter, I'm sure. There are some great tips here on how I can go about fixing it, so thanks!

  41. I play piano for a living, so I'm pretty much always conscious of my posture. Actually, I have to do an "erect posture" alteration on many patterns, because I have to remove the curve they add for slumped posture!

  42. I've found that yes, yoga helps, but also riding public transportation. When sitting I'll spy a cute guy and realize I'm slouching and must look horrible so I straighten up. (I also do this when I feel frumpy and another woman who is dressed well goes past.) When standing I have to stand up straight to avoid pinging about the train or bus.

  43. Actually, hours of Pilates, yoga, ballet ... all good ideas! My teachers emphasize posture so much during class that it does stay with me throughout the rest of the day.

    And who cares if slouching comes in and out of style. I'll stick with nice elegant posture ;)

    [only women of a certain age can get away with slouching to look cool - ie young women]

  44. Oh man..I can so relate! I work in front of a computer all day, then I get behind the wheel of my car, and then I come and work in front of my sewing machine. All day long, it's a struggle NOT to slouch! And when I've been hunching all day, it hurts to try and put my shoulders back where they belong. Having better posture would be better in so many ways, besides just looking thinner :)
    I see myself in candid photos all slouchy and think, sit up straight, slacker!
    Funny enough, wearing a dress with a corset to work was the best trick for guaranteeing perfect posture. I didn't slouch all day! I just don't see myself doing that on a regular basis though :)
    My best tips are to make your computer/sewing machine/car as comfortable as possible for upright sitting. Like someone else said, put your monitor on a stack of books. Raise the sewing table so it's more natural. Wherever you find yourself slouching, try and improve it so you're less likely to slump.
    Though, I like the suggestion of taking up dancing, fun!

  45. I didn't even notice I slouched until a yoga instructor pointed it out. She had a great trick for making sure you're sitting properly in a chair when you're at your desk: You should feel your "sit bones" (the bony parts of your butt where your leg bones connect to your pelvis) connect to whichever surface you're sitting on. Engage your sit bones, and your back just straightens.

  46. My posture improves the more I dance (bellydancing), walk, and run. Since I love doing those things it works out!

    The minute I read the word "posture" I thought of:


  47. What a timely post. I've gotta get signed up for that Pilate's class I've been thinking about. I've always been a sloucher (damn boobs!), but since having a baby last year I've also had back pain and need to get my abdominal muscles working again!

  48. Posture is a weird thing. I teach belly dance to college students, and getting them to roll their shoulders back, lift their chests, and stand tall is often very difficult. Older women tend to have this a little more together, but not always. Hunched forward posture seems to be designed to hide ourselves and make ourselves small.

    I had to train posture. I started with yoga in my 20s, and then moved on to belly dance and ballroom dancing. I'm 5'7" and the other week I had a guy that I went out with tell me he thought I'd lied about my height and was as tall as him (he was 5'11" before I kneecapped him...kidding).

  49. That posture in the cocaine chic Vogue spread is the "I don't give a f**k" pose.

    "I'm a size 2 and I can exaggerate slouch and still not look fat"

    Like skinny people wearing horizontal stripes.

  50. I recommend the Alexander Technique.

  51. Julia - nipples "staring at the sun" is sooo funny! Older women would have to do a back-bend while they are walking!

    If you place something under the back of the machine so that it tilts towards you, it is easier on your back. You can sit up straight and see what you are sewing.

    Another back-saving tip I have recently read is to place the sewing machine on a raised cutting cutting surface and sew standing up. I would like to try this but my cutting area is a table that is normal table height.

    My ideal would be a sewing station that raised and lowered (and tilted) so that I could sit or stand while sewing. That would make for a bit more movement and less feeling as if I was stuffed into a pickle jar all day.

    Oh....and at a very affordable price!! A girl can dream, can't she?

  52. i swear by pilates. just twice a week sorted out my posture (and my sciatica). Its a lifelong thing for me now. Its brilliant!

  53. Gertie! TOTALLY OFF topic but Joann's Fabric store has a sale going on and today is the last day!! All Butterick Patterns except see & sew are on sale for $1.99. I thought it was too good to be true but I just got three! I'll most likely head to another store in a bit and see if they had any good ones. Even the vintage butterick's are going for $1.99. Just thought the readers might like to know (:.

    & now on posture, I think it's very true that American's have poor pusture and that your body looks so much better when you're standing up straight. Heels do wonders for posture, I think it's because you just feel sexy so your stand straight. I'm more of a sandals girl but I do notice that I tend to slump in them. Changing posture seems soo hard.

  54. Do a Google search for exercises that counteract curved shoulders.

    I agree that posture matters, but sometimes it's hard to know what is good posture. I used to think it was the way Marines held themselves. Apparently, that's too straight.

  55. My postie is already insanely straight. It's something I have done since I was little, when I saw what I thought to be the picture of elegance when I was 3 or so. This older woman had beautiful clothing, perfect carriage, and wore corsets, and I remember her standing straight (I was too young to realize it was likely the corset) and I emulated her. Today, it's something that is second nature to me.

    I sew in the same chair I work in: an old kitchen chair, and I spend 95% of my time in it. I drive with my car seat straight, and to be honest, the only reason I think of it is because my teenage sister has terrible posture. For me, I find that not slouching over anything is more comfortable for me and my back.

    I also have a friend who slouches saying heels make it easier to stand straight since she needs it for balance.

  56. if you're interested in learning how to carry yourself better, look into taking an Alexander Technique intro class. Aside from yoga, I've found it to be the most helpful to me in learning how my body moves and how it's supposed to (they're not always the same thing!).

  57. Go for an iPosture! I've heard great things about them and I can't wait to try one for myself. It's a little device you clip on your bra strap that vibrates when you slump to remind you to stand taller.

  58. What I love, is that as I read this, I sat up taller and taller. I am now sitting with impecible posture - thank you!!

    My mum has a system or putting yellow sticker-dots on things and everytime she sees one it reminds her to sit/stnad up with good posture. Aparently it works well for her, but it also means her house looks a bit like it have a form of fluro chicken pocks.

  59. I'm really interested not just in how our posture makes our clothes look, but also how our clothes make us stand and move, and how/if that reflects all kinds of things like gender, class etc.? I guess, Marcel Mauss (yes, the anthropologist outs herself here!) would call these 'bodily techniques' or 'habitus'.

    Clearly heels, but also things like a pencil skirt change and constrain the way we move. Presumably we wear them because we like the way we look when they do?

    Woven and/or tailored trousers also make slouching/sitting on the floor less comfortable, perhaps also because (ahem!) nice girls don't lounge on the floor (or at least we have different clothes for different occasions and kinds of behaviour associated with them?)

    Doing research in low income urban north India and I wore the baggy tunic and gathered draw-string trousers outfit, salwar kameez. These are amazingly comfortable, allowing astonishing (to some one who'd grown up wearing jeans in Britain) amounts of movement and leg rotation, sitting on the floors of people's houses, chatting. All of which while being 'modest' and respectably covered, no matter how I was sitting or slouching in my more conservative interviewee's households. Dupattas/chunnis/scarves (draped over shoulders and chests) were fun too, and could be worn in the street to say 'demure', 'sod off, I'm tired, it's the end of a long day', or draped right, be a great bust enhancer! Oh, as well as to give off public signals about religion, caste or class. On a blood curdling note, several of my interviewees saw fit to tell me they approved of my dress - because girls in jeans deserved to be raped. Arrgh! I suspect this was largely to do with what jeans revealed (physical form!) and how they make/allow us to move.

    But you vintage-wearers out there - does vintage dress change the way one feels and moves? I'd be really interested to know.

    Meantime, as a lurker of several months reading and loving this blog, thanks Gertie for such a great read. I love the combination of style, fashion and social history and intelligent chat. Oh - and as a novice sewer - seriously good advice. Your hemming a circle skirt tutorial has been brilliant. Thank you!!

  60. Yoga is what does it for me. When I am consistently practicing yoga, I am more aware of my posture! Otherwise, I'm quite a sloucher. The other thing that makes me more aware is just looking at the posture of my little kids. They stand so straight!

  61. Up to about 1965 corsets and girdles were considered essential for females to have good posture. Interesting, boys don't need these things to stand straight.

    I've worn 18 and 19 cent corsets for drama and they give you no choice, you must stand and sit straight.

    Has anyone tried the modern equivalent - the posture bra. I've have heard that they are either very uncomfortable or too loose to do any good.



Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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