OPINION: Oh, of corset matters

"PHOOEY to female fashion," this woman said to me. "It's not for us girls of ample size and mature vintage. It's for frothy little things who want to titillate teenage blokes."

I made clucking noises of sympathy.

She went on: "Whatever happened to women's good old plain clothes that were serviceable, sensible, comfortable and not flimsy floozie see-throughs?"

Gamely I asked if she wanted to get back to the days of women wearing hoops of wire in their skirts and being laced up into whalebone corsets by someone with a foot in the middle of their back.

It was her turn to be sympathetic. "What rock have you been hiding under, you poor ignorant man? Today they have bones up the inside of the waist of strapless dresses and wire in their bras so they can wear the strapless dresses. How the hell do you think they keep them up?"

I had to admit I was not well informed on such things. I'd thought that perhaps the law of gravity had changed since Newton's day.

The mention of the modern bra had her telling me about one she'd bought after rejecting lace and silk spit-through affairs that would have difficulty supporting a couple of stewed prunes.

This bra was substantial and built to take care of the dual attractions of a real woman.

"It cost me enough, but when I went back to the shop a year later the price of the same bra had nearly doubled," she said. "Those of us with old fashioned tastes for our bras are being ripped off."

It crossed my mind that if the bra she bought was as substantial as she says, it would take some ripping off.

She wound up her views on women's fashion with a last-minute barb. "Today every girl wants to look like a stringbean."

Somehow I'm always reminded of stringbeans when I see unsmiling, knock-kneed models on the catwalk, so skinny you'd think they'd been though a famine.

Just the same, I don't think I'd be in favour of a return to the whalebone corset. The whales wouldn't like it, either.

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