In her bid to find personal style, the intrepid Sadie Hasler decided to get her boyfriend Matt involved. What could possibly go wrong?
Illustration by Louise Boulter
It’s been a good week, style-wise. Not because I was particularly successful in achieving it, but because I had a thought. YES! A THOUGHT! I had more thoughts, but they’re not particularly relevant to this piece. Like, for instance, just now I thought how clever our bodies are: food in at the top, bit of business, hole at the bottom. Brilliant. But I’m sure you’d agree that’s not a totally necessary thing to share here. Oh. Already done it. Sorry. (Bums though, right? *slow hand clap of appreciation*).
After last time’s effort where I stood before my own wardrobe with a ridiculing finger, rifling through the tightly packed layers of the cheap and cheerful to get to the core of my current style persona (conclusion: Shitfest), I decided to invite the comment of the man I live with, internationally renowned arms dealer and occasional murderer… KIDDING – my gentle musician boyfriend Matthew. I figured as he has to look at me everyday he might have some thoughts on what I should wear versus what I actually do wear (aforementioned Shitfest).
I took him to TK Maxx, a place where I personally have an attention span of 30 seconds before I stalk out again (unless I head to the silicon spatulas, where I could dawdle for hours – it’s like my Fifty Shades down there – if a bossy man came and spanked me with one I’d probably let him for a bit before I laid him out) but where I thought Matt might be less daunted by the pot-luck ‘anything goes’ array. As we entered I watched his face shift from, “Here I am, ambling happily along with my woman and my beard” to “Right. Let’s get this done.” I felt bad for taking up his time with my aesthetic neediness and dedication to deadline.
A bit about Matt: He is probably the nicest chap you’ll ever meet. He compliments me when I am feeling my shittest, will stare at my face when it is covered in spots and I have just been typing for 12 hours straight, have the puffy eyes of a strange bottom-dwelling fish and am on the verge of crying, and with a conviction that would defy every lie detector in the land say, “You look pretty”. He patiently sits watching YouTube videos of fancy guitar work while I am upstairs trying to find something that makes me feel nice on a night out and if he minds that I make us half an hour late with my faffing, he never says. Then when I scoff at his appraisal he takes it with good grace and says things like, “Girls are at their prettiest when they least know it.” and makes me wish I had spent less time ‘getting ready’ and more time with him watching clips of Captain Beefheart being weird.
In short, he’s a bit of a keeper. But what the fuck is he like when I inflict a shopping challenge on him, and command him do the exact opposite of what men usually want: ‘DRESS ME.”
Here’s how that went.
This was a sort of shirt dress thing. Now I can’t wear shirts as a rule, unless I get really fucking flukey with the fit. My shoulder are too big, the buttons gape at the boobs, I hate my arms and generally want to kill myself, (even with my pretty strict “never kill yourself unless it’s really urgent” policy). Yet here was my ‘nice’ boyfriend hauling my arse straight down into the pit of shit. I posed nicely, didn’t swear at him, then pulled it off quicker than a schoolboy wanking in the stationary cupboard at break.
Then there was this. I’m not sure you can tell from this picture, but I had more electricity flowing over my body than the national grid. Static-tastic. Even if it hadn’t looked shit I couldn’t have worn it out without people coming up to me and plugging their iPhones into my holes for a top-up, and no girl wants that. Not really.
Then he chose a dress that he thought would be nice for going out, which I ruined with a grungy big black cardigan like I was Kurt Cobain, because the thought of baring my arms is even more unthinkable than me coming up with a definitive quantum theory that shits all over Einstein and Hawking et al.
Now, this I didn’t actually mind. My friend Deborah would have been proud actually. She has been saying for ages that I need to act like I have a waist instead of constantly drowning my-self in potato sacks, and here you can see a slight ‘going in’ type scenario going on just above my chub and below the tits, where I am informed should be ‘the waist’. I promised myself I would explore this area further another day, but for now just hung around the edges like a pussy.
Up last is Matt’s favourite. The ‘jeans and checked shirt’ combo, which could have gone worse than it did. I quite liked it, but not enough to buy it.
I got to the end of the Matt selection, saw his face fall into relaxed repose and realised he had been excruciatingly shy hanging around outside a ladies changing room taking pictures of his idiotic girlfriend. I waited for some sort of verdict, but it never came. I assumed he just thought it all looked shit on me and that he had nothing positive to say. Then as we left TK Maxx he said, “Did any of it make you feel nice?” and I answered honestly. No.
And his response is the best I could have hoped for. I thought I wanted him to launch into a detailed articulation of what he thought looked good and bad on me, what he thought suited my shape and personality, what he thought ‘my style’ was. But instead he waited patiently, blushing, did his duty, and then asked perhaps the only important question; not “are you going to buy anything?”, or “did you not like the dress?”, but “did any of it make you happy?” And though the answer was not inspiring (“no”), the heart of the man who dressed me for an hour was. Perhaps every girl just needs a man who thinks she looks prettiest when she’s happiest; in absent-minded disarray, typing, not thinking about clothes.
Sadie is a playwright, actor, columnist, artistic director of Old Trunk theatre company, and frequently discombobulated multi-tasker.