So profits have plummeted at Marks and Spencer, former underwear holy of holies, fallen from grace and no longer a Mecca for women on a budget who want to look nicely turned out. Heads have rolled, hands are being wrung and people want to know WHYEEE?! I'm no delphic oracle but even I can answer that one.
Yesterday, I went looking for a bra. Nothing fancy, just something plain and black that keeps my bosoms from their downward trajectory. They're not huge — I've never tripped over them yet — and there are only two of them so you'd think the search would be straight forward.
Lingering in lingerie, I reckon 80 per cent of the acres of bras on display were of the horrible "preformed cup" variety, looking like they were modelled on Imelda Marcos's armoured tit-slings. You can rap out morse code on these things and be heard in the next postal district. Why do sistahs buy them? They give your bosoms a huge matronly udder shape, not the pert upward tilt of Hollywood starlets and Modesty Blaise cartoons which is the look I am broadly going for. The preform, on the udder hand, is an ageing look, one that fits with the frump-dump of dresses on the ground floor.
I want my nipples pointing skyward even if I have to resurrect Howard Hughes and his aeroplane technology to do it: I want maximum lift and thrust in a full-cup underwired bra. In black.
In Debenhams it was almost as bad but at least they had Playtex, still lifting and separating after all these years. Perfect fit, but only in cotton so the contraption gradually shrinks with every handwash and you end up with the dreaded breast quartet to go with your VPL and camel-toe. Mmmm, attractive. (Please, Playtex, make your lovely nylon model in black and I promise not to complain about the static shock.)
Then there are the Palazzo pants as championed by fashionistas such as Gok Wan, lovely comfortable wide legged pants that made me look long and lean. A year on from buying my first pair at M&S, I tried to replace them only to find some designer had had a fit and incorporated a myriad of pleats at the waistband, making them balloon out at the hip and making you look twice your size, totally defeating the object.
In the meantime, I'm saving up for the beautiful Rigby and Peller lacy black number that gives me the chesticles of a 14 year old — and she's not getting them back.
OK, 'nuff of the fripperies. We return you to politics and your usual service.