Am I the Only One Dressing Around My Period?

Turns out, in a battle between Aunt Flo and your #OOTD, who wins is up to you

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A woman wearing a red dress and a straw hat standing in a field of red flowers

A few weeks back I was tapping through my Insta stories, as one does, when I came across something that stopped me cold. It was a post by Franchesca Ramsey, AKA @chescaleigh, the comedian, writer and social media star whose first book, Well, That Escalated Quickly, came out in May. In it, Ramsey made a tipsy proclamation: She called her day an “an absolute triumph” because she completed a book signing while wearing white pants on her “fucking period.” (The moment has since been logged in her Highlights reel under BTS, for your viewing pleasure.)

Ramsey obviously deserves a round of applause for posting this gem in the first place—the road to normalizing periods needs serious work. How and why we need to treat the fact that half the population does their biological thang EVERY month (and for half a lifetime!) as a dirty little secret is an onion with many layers. But rather than give her a virtual high five, my response was an immediate and audible, “As if!” Yup, I made it all about me.

Because there is no way that I would ever attempt such a feat. Never, ever, ever-ever. And that’s because history has taught me to approach my period with the same motto as The X Files: Trust no one. Every month is a throw down between me and the plushest of Super Plus options. Even after decades of handling this menses business, the tricky minx will toss out a curve ball. Let’s just say there’s a reason the sight of a white couch strikes fear in my heart, okay?

Black straight-leg jeans from Levis
The everywoman staple, in a pitch-perfect shade complete with cool frayed hems. Levi’s Wedgie Fit Straight, $108.

Considering all the factors, getting dressed while on your period can definitely be a drag. Past experience has forced me to get real logistical about maneuvering heavy flow days. Unlike Ramsey and her freewheeling white-pants ways, when Aunt Flo is in town, my wardrobe becomes limited. Light and sheer clothing gets pushed to the back of my closet, while dark colours and thick fabrics dominate. Black jeans are a go-to, satisfying both requirements at once. And hello roomy tunics! The concealing benefit of voluminous shapes have strong appeal at this time of the month, while a snug-fitting shirt that’s tucked in to a high waistband just isn’t likely to make an appearance.

A loose-fitting black top with a green floral pattern from H&M
A loose cut top in an eye-catching print makes bloating suck a little bit less. H&M Patterned Jersey Top, $20.

Ramsey’s post compelled me to reflect on my own habits, but it also piqued my curiosity. Days later, I found myself still wondering whether I was the only one dressing around my period. A poll of my friends revealed the answer: No. One acquaintance purposefully seeks out looser waistbands to accommodate an achy, bloated middle. And, like me, paranoia around leakage prompts several others to stick to black jeans—or at least dark bottoms—for early days. But not everyone feels the same way; with a body shape that doesn’t fluctuate and a commitment to “big, comfy underwear 365 days a year,” my most stylish friend doesn’t give her period a second thought.

A pair of paisley-printed, loose-fitting pants
Stretch waist band FTW! And a graphic so lively no one will know you want to crawl back in bed. LOFT Border Floral Wide Leg Pants, $97.

My highly unscientific research revealed dressing for your period is all very personal. As it should be—we should all make sartorial choices that leave us comfortable, confident and ready to take on the world. If that means busting out white pants while you’re on your period, I applaud you. I’m just not going to join you. Ever.

Yes, I’m still a little annoyed this has to be a thing I think about at all. But I’m also inspired. One day, I hope to summon some of Ramsey’s courage for my own #POOTD (period outfit of the day). At the very least, I ought to do it for the ’gram.

Originally published in July 2018.

Related:

Why Women Should Get Paid Period Days at Work
#CelebratingPeriods: 5 Key Points from Meghan Markle’s Time Essay
On the Rag: The Rise of the Artisanal Period

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