Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Undressed for success

When I was a child, I always used to enjoy the lessons where we imagined what we were going to be when we grew up. Given that I was raised in a fairly depressed area of South Yorkshire, it never came as much of a surprise when half the kids in my class proudly proclaimed they wanted to “Go on the dole, like me Dad.”

As for me, when I wasn’t busy watching my teacher surreptitiously rolling her eyes at the lack of ambition in my peer group, I had a number of career aspirations, most of which sadly went unfulfilled. Apparently, at one point I had two clear goals – to be an ambulance driver or a priest. In retrospect, I could have merged the two, tending to accident victims and administering last rites if their status was a little dicey.

The thing is, those fanciful imaginings about achieving one’s true potential don’t get put away with all the other trappings of childhood. Bogged down in the daily grind, we still harbour those coulda-woulda-shoulda feelings about what we should really be doing. And secretly, I reckon a lot of us would like to be strippers.

How else would you explain the sudden proliferation of pole-dancing and burlesque classes? Stripping used to be the reserve of women with too many stilettos and too few inhibitions. Not anymore. Now, great hordes of yummy mummies are throwing off the papoose and wrapping themselves around poles in an effort to shake off the baby-weight.

Hen nights are the same – instead of waiting for Sergeant Feelgood to show up and take down their particulars, it’s the brides-to-be who’re whipping off their kit and thrusting all over the glittered runway.

In the States, one dance studio has even managed to combine ‘exotic dancing’ with spiritual cleansing, in a class called Pole Fitness for Jesus. Because he’s a big fan of any woman who can pull off the Fireman Spin.

Although she claims that she doesn’t teach women to be strippers, instructor Crystal Deans (seriously) does incorporate some of her moves from her previous life as a dancer. But she also offers empowerment, exercise, and a chance for people to get several things done at once: “On Sundays, we do pole fitness for Jesus. We do the upbeat contemporary Christian music because people have to bring their church program to get into the class, so we basically are just continuing the whole worship thing here.” I’m guessing there’s no collection plate at the end of the class, but people can tuck a donation into Crystal’s G-string.

The good news is that men don’t need to feel too left out either. Fashion brand Bonobos has launched a range of Chinos that come with a line of hidden snaps, for that ‘easy tear-away action’. Despite their conservative grey appearance, they promise “a curved waist band for better fit and no bunching of fabric… with some magic in the seat to be comfortable but not frumpy.”

According to the review at, the Chinos simply facilitate a quicker change at the gym. But let’s be honest, the only place these are getting a workout is in the bedroom of a very forgiving partner. At least you’ll no longer have to shuffle across the room with your jeans bunched around your ankles, trying to unpeel a sock with the toe of your other foot. Just grab the groin, yank downwards and you’ll be naked quicker than Kelly Brook on a ‘tasteful’ photo shoot.

Admittedly, chinos with a plaid lining and matching pocket detail aren’t going to be appearing at Paris Fashion Week any time soon. Then again, if you’re seriously considering tear-away trousers, that horse has already bolted. And it’s still better dressed than you are.

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