Birthday suit

My work suit no longer fits, and my birthday suit isn’t what it was. What can I do before I return to the office?

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During lockdown my body shape has changed. Even my birthday suit no longer fits me like it did, and sags in all the wrong places. Now I’m being asked to go back out into the world and return to the office. What can I do to squeeze some extra years of life from my suit collection and save myself the embarrassment?

Yours, Ms L Egoham

Ask Marvin
Ask for advice from Marvin

Marvin’s answer:

It’s been a tough time for all of us. Working from home and being locked down next to the biscuit barrel has given us all challenges we never thought we’d have.

Cup of tea and cake can be more tempting than a poor birthday suit
Tea making temptation been tough to fight?

As we emerge blinking into the sunlight, many of us are finding we’re not the person we once were.

We’ve all changed…

I’m a greyer, slightly flabbier version of the person I was twelve months ago. I’m finding my t-shirts now resemble sports bras and I have a belly that doubles up as a coffee table. Despite many attempts to maintain those glutes of iron, the endless sitting has made them like squashed soft, slightly shabby cushions. If you were to squeeze them now you’d lose your fingers in mush.

My birthday suit isn't what is was, but it still has character
My birthday suit isn’t what is was, but it still has character

However, there’s no need to despair.

I’m sure things are not quite as bad as you imagine. After all, middle age is in the mind, and your body has character if no six pack. As you head back to your office most people will be in the same boat, so there’s still some things you can do to keep ahead of the game

I’m not suggesting you start running miles or squeezing into lycra and cycling. If you haven’t done that during the most boring 12 months of your life, you’re not going to find the motivation to do that now. I’m working on the basis you’re like me, struggling with the idea of going an hour without a snack.

Dressing down is the way forward

So let’s start with those work suits.

Tell your boss you want to work in a dynamic organisation with a casual dress code. Say suits constrain your thinking (rather than your body) and you want to feel motivated to go the extra mile. If they don’t agree, start dressing down anyway. Everyone else will quickly follow, relieved that you were the first to break the mould.

Don't squeeze into clothing that just doesn't fit
Don’t squeeze into something that doesn’t fit

Then dress head to toe in black. Black can hide a multitude of sins and be quite cool at the same time. Obviously people may think you’re in mourning for Prince Phillip, so be prepared for those awkward conversations.

I also find elasticated waistbands work wonders, especially when you’re adventuring out to the pub garden. Not only can they accommodate large meals and a few lagers, but can help with storage if you need to carry a wallet (in) or a glass (out).

Birthday suit blues

As for your birthday suit, unfortunately I can’t judge without a photo or two. Obviously if you have any photos I’d be happy to pass an opinion, especially if they’re beach related.

Birthday suits can be difficult to judge without seeing
Birthday suits can be difficult to judge

Sorry, my mind wandered a bit there.

Anyway my recommendation is to buy a good bottle of red wine, turn off the lights and tell anyone in the vicinity it’s more fun with their eyes shut. Obviously that doesn’t work in an office.

Of course it does it depend on what we actually mean by a birthday suit.

Why “birthday suit”?

No one knows quite where the phrase “birthday suit” comes from. The common assumption is that it refers to what you were wearing when you were born, i.e. nothing. However it’s been in use since the 1700s (slightly before my time) and was sometimes used to reference what royalty wore on their birthdays, which often set the trend in fashion.

So the choice is yours. Go naked or dress up in something special. Wear that birthday suit with pride. Stop worrying what anyone else thinks, you only need to please yourself.

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