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Category: fashion

things to do with clothes, hair, shoes and makeup

monkey arms

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I suffer from the generally unrecognized malady of monkey arms. It is a condition that renders me unable to wear long-sleeved shirts that fit. One of two things generally happens: Either a long sleeved shirt will fit perfectly in the body, and the sleeves end 2 inches before my wrist – or else the sleeves are wonderfully long, and I end up swimming in the rest of the shirt, appearing to be horribly ashamed of my body and trying to hide it.

I have some oversized sweatshirts that I love, but I end up looking a little frumpy. Best case, I look like I’m wearing my husband’s clothes – worst case, I look like I’m wearing my husband’s clothes. There really is nothing flattering about wearing clothes that are too big, though with pigtails, it can, on occasion, be a cute look.

The savior to the monkey-armed is the 3/4 sleeve shirt. It ends up being a little closer to the elbow than the wrist (instead of right in the middle, as 3/4 suggests) but that’s perfectly acceptable. The misplacement of the end of a 3/4 sleeve does not offend the eye, as does a full sleeve that is one inch away from its intended target.

I found a suit jacket a year or so ago, made just for the monkey armed. It fits as if it was tailored just for me by the good folks at J. Crew. Luckily, I found it on the clearance rack at the outlet store, so it only set me back $75. (Because, well, I probably wouldn’t have forked over the dough for a $200 jacket. Yes, I really am that cheap.) One other benefit of J. Crew: they are under the impression that I’m a size 2. Guess if you spend the cash, you can be any size you want to be… Though, it does make one wonder what J. Crew expects people who really are a size 2 to wear.

I am on a quest to find reasonably priced clothing for the monkey-armed. In the meantime, though, I will just have to settle for 3/4 sleeves and the occasional trip to J. Crew to balk at the idea of a $68 shirt.

It’s that dreaded time of year again. Bathing suit season. It’s so dreaded, in fact that I have entirely skipped it for the last 4 years, instead relying on the bathing suit from the season before. But, as all spandex things eventually do, my bathing suit has lost its elasticity. Which is a vital part of any good bathing suit. And so begins the search.

I actually have a rather unexpected problem when it comes to finding a bathing suit. My problem lies in the fact that I am small. And because I am small, that means one thing to the fashion industry: I MUST want a bikini. It’s the ONLY logical conclusion.

I can choose from string bikinis, halter-top bikinis, bust-boosting bikinis, boy-short bikinis and bandeau bikinis. I can even choose from tankinis that only show a little bit of tummy. The truth is, I would probably look good in a body-baring suit. But I don’t want to put my entire body on display. I don’t think badly of women who do choose to wear bikinis. On the contrary, I think they should feel free to flaunt it while they got it. I, on the other hand, am a relatively reserved person, and like to reflect that in my wardrobe. Plus, I totally hate it when men check me out. (Deep-rooted psychological issue. Still working on that one with my therapist.)

One piece bathing suits are styled for grandmas. Or they have 17 layers of spandex meant to slim and smooth the body. Or – they have cutouts, which places them squarely in that whole body-display category. And generally, one-piece bathing suits either start out one size higher than I am, or they are for a much shorter-torsoed person than myself. When in the market for a bathing suit, it is very important that it fits as close-to-perfectly as possible. Panels of fabric flapping in the breeze, or the constant tug of war between yanking up and down, really defeat the purpose of getting a one-piece in the first place.

My current suit is a two-piece: a boy-short tankini, where the top actually overlaps with the bottom. And I have loved it! It took me two years to find it, a tankini top that was small but LONG, with a bottom that didn’t bare my whole, well, bottom.

When I was in high school, I participated in a Japanese-exchange student program, opening my house to a girl from Japan. On one occasion, all the students went swimming – and the Japanese girls all had absolutely adorable one-piece bathing suits with skirts. Now, I know that sounds hideous, because the only things on the market in the US that approximate that are designed for 50-year-old women. But these were cute little sundress-styled bathing suits, designed with the teenage girl in mind. So – I KNOW it’s possible to design a flattering, one-piece, cute bathing suit with the teenage-to-thirties size-2-to-6 crowd in mind.

I am not ashamed of my body. As it stands, I rather like my body. It is something I am proud of, but it is also something that I don’t want to share with the world. Is it so much to ask that I can find a modest bathing suit that wasn’t designed for my grandma? I still have a few months before the summer hits, and I really can’t wear my old suit anymore. So here’s hoping that this won’t have to be a swim-less summer.

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