Today I went on a quest for work-smart trousers. The sort of trousers I can wear with any of my plain skinny-tops or neat three-quarter-sleeve jumpers, and it will immediately look moderately smart and not unsexy. Comfortable trousers which don't make any particular statement about my identity.
You see, the tops were easy enough to find; on Saturday I spent £15 in charity shops and came away with six assorted tops, mostly from well-known high street shops (as if I cared), in black, purple and navy. All machine-washable, all sufficiently unmemorable that nobody will notice if I wear them on a 6-day rotation. I hoped that the trousers would be equally simple; and besides, one needs fewer pairs of trousers than tops. Not being able to face another trawl through charity shops, I thought I'd have a look through the sales in Miss Selfridge, New Look, et al.
I'm sure I remember a time, not so long ago, when trousers covered one's knickers. When one pulled on a pair of trousers and the waistband settled, as its name would suggest, around one's waist. You see, I am not a flat-stomached 17-year-old, I do not wear hot pink thongs, and I do not particularly want to reveal my comfortable Big Pants to the world at large -- both for my sake and the world's.
What I want should be simple enough: black trousers. Just plain black, with pockets, covering the area from waist to ankles. Beyond that I don't care whether they're button-fly, zip-fly, side-zip, drawstring, elastic-waisted, clasp-fastened, cotton, polycotton, wool, synthetic, faux moleskin, crimplene, combats, cords, boot-cut, stretch-fit, straight-cut, or even bloody bell-bottoms.
What I do not want is distressed-satin hipster pedal-pushers with gathered or ruched turn-ups. I do not want shiny PVC plus-fours -- at least, not for work. I do not particularly want my trousers pre-faded: the washing machine does that for me quite nicely, thank you. I do not want my trousers ripped, frayed, coming apart at the seams, with unfinished edges: time and wear will deal with all of that. I do not want the trousers to be made of four different types of material, all of which will inevitably shrink at slightly different rates. I do not want every seam to be embellished with smocking, studs, patches, gauze, ribbons, buttons, press-studs, chains, strings, D-rings, and all manner of other trailing bits and bobs; and above all I do not want the word "angel" emblazoned in rhinestones across my goddamned ARSE.
In the end, I resorted to charity-shop sifting again, and eventually bought two skirts: one straight-sided, charcoal grey, almost-fleecy mostly-cotton Pepe Jeans skirt (£6); and one slightly more full and flowing Laura Ashley skirt, in soft black synthetic material (£5). Both fulfil all my criteria of sensibleness, leg-covering, and washability (though whether I can cycle in them remains to be seen). The only point where they fall down is the regrettable absence of pockets; but having moved from trousers to skirts, perhaps the next logical step is (whisper it!) a handbag. That should be easy enough, though: I just want something black and sensible...