Last week, Shani James turned up to the Primary Wave pre-grammy party wearing this all-red latex outfit:
It’s a stunning ensemble, made up of a Knee Frill Dress and Cape from Jane Doe latex. But when pictured at other events, Shani James is usually all smiles – what gives? Is she just playing the vamp here? Let’s find out…
Uh oh, it seems Shani was rather less than enamoured with her choice of outfit for the evening!
Photographer: Is that comfortable?
Shani James: Not at all.
Coupled with some other colourful complaints and it seemed Shani was regretting her outfit as soon as she arrived. I have a feeling we won’t be seeing her in any more latex dresses anytime soon, which is a pity because she did look great despite how she might have felt. So where did it go wrong? Was the outfit picked for her? Or maybe some latex dress wearing celebrity caught her eye and she similarly wanted to impress? Understandable, but hold it right there. Wearing latex shouldn’t be a decision taken lightly; it’s not just any fabric to be rushed into. It requires a certain set of expectations and preparations in order to dress right and feel comfortable. Latex has a learning curve. How often can we say that about clothing?
I mean, no wonder people are dying to get into latex: It looks amazing, and when worn correctly feels amazing too. But let’s just temper that excitement with some cool-headed precautions and you’ll end up feeling just as incredible as you look, all evening:
Take time getting dressed
If you rush this process you’re going to get hot and bothered before you even get into your latex, so take your time. It’s a slow, careful process which will demand less time the more you are used to putting on latex, but to begin with you need patience. A helping pair of hands may also make the process easier. Latex designers usually include a leaflet with instructions how to dress, so follow them carefully.
Use plenty of dressing aid
This could be either talc or a water-based lubricant. Each has their pros and cons and each their own sensation which you can experiment with. Whatever you use, be liberal, especially around tighter areas like sleeves. Put the dressing aid both on the inside of the garment and on your body just to be sure. As you become accustomed to dressing in latex you will come to know the exact amounts needed, but if you are an unsure newbie remember it’s very hard to use too much dressing aid and very easy to use too little. You might think you are using just enough to get into your garments, but soon after wearing them they can start to pinch, and you’ll have to strip and start again. Avoid that: don’t scrimp. With the right amount of dressing aid even tight latex should slide on quite easily and will remain comfortable to wear for hours.
Rinse your latex with shining product
Of course, you’ll want a shining product anyway to make your latex sparkle. But besides this visual benefit, latex which is well treated with a shining product can make the rubber more supple and therefore easier to put on and more comfortable to wear. There are various sprays that are easy to apply when you’re already wearing your latex, but for the softest, most flexible and in my opinion comfiest rubber you are better off mixing the shiner with some water and rinsing your clothes in the solution before hanging up to dry and then wearing. Not only will your latex come out looking fabulously shiny, but it will feel so much nicer on the skin.
The correct ambient temperature
This one might be less subject to your control, but it’s important to wear latex in the correct environment, i.e. the temperature should neither be too hot nor too cold because latex amplifies whatever the ambient temperature may be. Besides this, be mindful of the activities you are going to get up to while wearing your latex, avoiding anything too strenuous. If you have to keep to a schedule give yourself plenty of time because the last thing you want is having to rush about getting flustered in latex. And if you’re going to dance, just accept that you will sweat, and a lot.
The correct size
Of course, any clothing which is too small is uncomfortable, but since latex is often skin-tight getting the correct size is doubly important. For this reason, almost every latex clothing designer offers a made-to-measure service and you should seriously consider it if you’re wearing something form fitting. The end result will also look a lot better. Skin-tight latex which is too small will pinch or even make you numb in especially tight areas. No amount of dressing aid will prevent that, so get the right size and don’t be tempted to size down.
Wear it for increasingly longer periods later
Latex is an unusual material for clothing, and you will be mindful of how strange it feels when wearing it. It will be tight and it doesn’t breathe. People who love latex accept these things because it offers a unique sensation no other clothing can offer: the sexy, sensuous and transformative feeling of a “second skin”. Still, at times your body might object to the unusual feeling, fluctuating from feeling empowered and sexy to simply being uncomfortable. The more you wear latex the more this feeling of discomfort will diminish. If you’re planning to wear your first latex outfit to a party which might last several hours, you should have a ‘trial run’ at home where you can wear your latex for a shorter period to get used to it, and gradually increase the length of time you’re in latex.
Accept latex is not made for comfort
I like to be comfortable but I don’t always take it into consideration. I really like latex clothes, for example. But latex dresses… people come up to me and go: “Are you comfortable in that?” And I’m like: “I don’t care. How does it look? It looks good? All right, cool.” -Rita Ora
Of course, you shouldn’t be uncomfortable in your latex outfit, and this post is to help avoid that. But when all’s said and done, we simply have to recognise as a fact of life that latex will not be as comfortable as some other clothing, and fans of latex find the sacrifice worthwhile. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about this. Every day we make decisions where we weigh up comfort versus looks. I guess that’s why people aren’t roaming around town in their PJs.
With latex, however, it isn’t so simple as a comfort-looks sliding scale because wearing latex offers a sensual pleasure all of its own. The feel of it next to the skin, hugging tightly; a sensation of constriction which is curiously empowering at the same time. Its smoothness to the touch, stretchiness and ability to mould to your shape and movement; wearers often describe the sensation of having been transformed into a superhero. As well as its visual qualities, latex opens a whole new tactile world not offered by any other clothing. It is all of these feelings that are taken into consideration – comfort just one of them – when choosing to wear latex, and the person who goes in accepting this and ready for it might just make themselves a fan of latex for life.