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...