Awards season is in full swing, and along with the tears, the gongs and the fixed grins, the annual frocky horror show has begun.
Cue endless discussions about who wore it best, who wore it worst, who’s got side boob/no boob/too much boob and who looks like a loo-paper dispenser, a fright or a freak.
But, while the vagaries of fashion come and go, there is one faux pas that is always guaranteed to arouse comment: whose Spanx are visible below their £10,000 couture frock?
Last month, it was the fabulous Dame Helen Mirren who fell victim to a Spanx-attack.
There they were, poking out of the side-split of her gorgeous navy sequin gown as she smiled and sparkled, unaware that everyone had caught a glimpse of her undies.
The litany of elegant ladies caught out by these supposed wonder-garments is endless — and no body type seems to be immune to their allure. From lithe pop star Taylor Swift and actress Kristen Stewart (who, Lord knows, have no need to compress any extra flesh), to the fabulously and joyously curvy Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce (who you wouldn’t think would want to) — they’re all at it.
When the Spanx brand was launched at the dawn of the new Millennium, it was almost as exciting as the Wonderbra, with a similar, uncanny power to transform your shape.
Spanx were a sort of Sex And The City, 18-hour girdle for the 21st century. The idea was that you could skip your sweaty step class, knock back another cosmo cocktail, slip on your Manolos and still look marvellous in a bandage dress.
We all fell for it in a big way; I had three or four pairs of varying colours and shapes. Some did only the bottom half, useful for high-waisted trousers or pencil skirts, and some did the whole shebang.
Nose-to-tail eating was big at the time; this was nose-to-tail support underwear, encasing me in a giant, shimmery condom from bosom to bottom.
But wearing Spanx makes you sweat in areas you would rather not.
But the worst thing about Spanx is revealed when you try to go to the loo. It takes around 45 minutes. Firstly, in order to get to the Spanx, you are required to take off all your clothes.
Secondly, while standing naked in the nightclub cubicle, you are required to keep your clothes off the widdle-covered floor, while pretending you are a snake as you try to get your underwear back on.
For, although Spanx are relatively easy to put on in the comfort of your home, they are impossible to get back into in the teeny-tiny confines of a public lavatory.
They stick, they grip, they curl and fold. I have known friends to get so fed up with this Spanx tug-of-war that they cut holes in the shorts so they didn’t have take them off at all.
And even if your svelte new look means you meet a handsome chap, nothing kills a kiss quicker than a thighful of shiny beige elastic.
I know movie stars are under intense pressure to look impossibly wonderful at all times. But I can’t be bothered to go through the hell of wearing a claustrophobic, boil-in-the-bag sheath just to make my silhouette a little more Instagram-ready.
And in this new era of female empowerment and liberation, where we call out body-shamers and champion brands who don’t retouch campaign images, I can’t help but think it might be time for the stars of the red carpet to ditch their scaffolding and go au naturel, too.
© Daily Mail