“What’s wrong with my outfit?” I asked my colleague, who had been giving me nasty up and down looks.
“Well, for a start, your pants are at least 5 cm too high.”
“Too high for what?” I asked, shocked.
My gripe about pants is usually that the rise is far too low (if the fly doesn’t clear the belly button at least they are not high-waisted in my eyes).
I wear everything high, skirts, shorts, bikinis, jeans… I find it more elegant, more flattering, no that’s not the reason. I think of high waists as timeless.
I love the look of dresses cinched at the waist, cropped jackets, skirts that nip in and then fall in folds.
Ever since I saw a book of black and white photographs of Marlene Dietrich posing in her man-style suit and suspenders, I got rid of my jeans with the cut off waistbands and made the switch. It is nowadays mercifully easy to find high-waisted bottoms, except for trousers – it’s hard to find just the right shape.
I figure a cut that has been around for women since the late 19th century (except for a brief and ill-advised hiatus in the late-90s) must be pretty much foolproof, so it never ceases to amaze me how hard it is to find a pair of trousers with an enticingly long zip. I was over the moon to find these Dress Up pants – super high rise, pleated at the front, tapered and slightly cropped – the ones my colleague was so rude about.
He must have been mistaken when he made the above comment. Surely what he meant to say was,
“Your pants are just the right height. The shape balances a ladylike silhouette with plenty of androgynous charm. You look partly 1940s war heroine, partly gamine, partly 90s R’n’B chic. You clever thing you’ll never have to worry about exposing your underwear to the world, your tramp stamp will never be on display, and you won’t have to worry your neatly tucked in shirt is poking out at the back. Praise the day high waists made a comeback!”
I think I was too young to truly appreciate Europe.
Fuelled by the notion of romantic love and the desire to have mind-blowing experiences, I packed up a suitcase and said goodbye to my cramped, messy three bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.
Moving to France had been a rather easy decision to make. New York had failed to offer up the rock and roll dreamland of Patti Smith and Jimi Hendrix and had instead delivered a 50 hour work week for almost minimum wage, by the end of which I was too tired to make it out to local music haunts such as Barbès and Southpaw. The whole time I lived in New York I only went to see one play – a haphazard and entertaining show by Bread and Puppet at Theatre for a New City.
I was weary, and France offered herself up to me with a warm bed, warm soup and piles of cheese. But very quickly my time there became full of foreboding, a relationship that couldn’t last, employers unwilling to take me on without a work visa, a dwindling savings account. Coming back dejected from another job interview and a day of hot sun, I’d climb the cobbled staircase to our little flat with a heavy heart, thinking each time that it would be the last time I’d make that journey.
Escape came in the idea of returning home to the Pacific, where people would speak my language and life would be easier.
But as I sit in a café with the urge to write down these recollections, I must remind myself of my new escape plan. Nostalgia shakes me.
Life is not so easy when all you want is more.
My new shoes are a pair of black wedges.
They are made of suede, leather, rubber and have metal buckles.
They danced a tango across a wooden floor as others looked on admiringly.
I love bringing them together sharply in the eighth step, sliding them across the floor in an ocho, pirouetting them in a million circles.
They smell of raw hide, squeaky new shop smell, plastic, wet grass and earth that got stuck to them when I went walking in the park, chemical protector spray.
They are chewy on top, brittle like hard toffees in the middle, with spongy soles like fresh pikelets.
I use them as a flotation device; when I’m sinking and need to be uplifted, they transport me across oceans.
The old lady lived in one of them with all her hungry children, they were not very comfortable due to the rain getting in. They had to huddle under the ankle strap.
Mary Magdalene wore them. They were called wanton wedges as the heel rose higher than your average women’s sandal, but she didn’t care because she knew she looked damn fine.
I was unsure about the flatform at first, but they have grown on me.