Warning: this clothing may cause injury

Who’d have thought that a humble piece of clothing could be dangerous?
High heeled shoes, sure – have you ever tried walking in heels on cobbles?
But trousers? Surely they’re fairly safe?

A few years back I developed a penchant for very wide legged trousers, the sort that’s made out of floaty fabric and are perfect on hot summer days with flip-flops. Problem was, it was a lethal combination…

Countless times I’d trip on the hems, or catch my toes in the opposite leg, then came a near catastrophe:
One day, while performing the simple task of crossing a friend’s living room floor to fetch cutlery, I caught one toe in the hem of the opposite leg and went flying. I’d gathered enough momentum to send me skidding along the carpet a good long way – resulting in hugely attractive carpet burns on my arms and grazes on my legs. As I lay on the floor holding back my sobs, my friend stood over me and evaluated the situation with one comment: “if you’d gone a couple more inches, you’d have landed on top of the TV – and I’d have made you pay for any damage”. Such sympathy.

I think that was the point at which I realised that perhaps this style of clothing was to be avoided. I tried blaming my ineptitude upon inherited mild dyspraxia, but really, it was simply a case of clumsiness and big feet.

Over time, I forgot this particularly stupid episode in my life, until yesterday. Last week a miracle occurred – while on a spontaneous shopping trip, I found a pair of black trousers that fitted perfectly (always a rare occurrence, I find trousers hugely tricky to buy), plus, they were high waisted and wide legged -what I most look for in a trouser. In fact, they are very wide legged, practically culottes and rather 1930’s esque.

Wearing them yesterday was joyous, until I reached the tube station. There, I had to dodge round a gaggle of teenage school pupils (for some reason, they always intimidate me, even though my school days are long behind me). Having politely said “excuse me” and made eye contact with their teacher, I negotiated my way round them. As I did, my foot caught in the fabric on my opposite leg and it was all I could do to stop myself landing flat on the platform floor. Actually, I didn’t stop my fall – the seats along the platform edge did – ouch.

I regained my poise rather red faced and shuffled along the platform sheepishly, all the while cursing my choice of trouser. I’m now rather paranoid about them, especially on my office’s marble spiral staircase – I’m sure one day either my trousers or my shoes (or a combination of both) will send me flying to an almost certain death. [Or at least a major injury, which could be fairly useful, depending upon when it occurred…]

It seems I really have learnt nothing from life’s lessons.

Impersonation is the highest form of flattery?

For about a year, I’ve lusted after a friend’s favourite pair of shoes. This year, a new and updated pair appeared and I decided I had to have them, and thus, last night we ended up shoe twins. [Yes, Twitter followers, these are the ‘new boots’ whose progress I kept you tediously appraised of throughout last week. Apologies for being so dull and shoe obsessed.]

I was a little concerned that she’d be upset that I’d effectively copied her. After all, when sororal telepathy kicks in, I have a tendency to be rather narked. I became even more concerned yesterday lunch time when I realised that my skirt was not dissimilar to a style she wears and that I was toting a canvas bag from our mutual second favourite bookstore (that would be Foyles; Daunts is our favourite), albeit a different one to her favourite tote, but still, the similarities were there.

It should be noted that I wasn’t intentionally imitating her; that quite frankly there are significantly worse people to imitate; and that she has a fantastic yet simple sense of style which is fairly easy to emulate accidentally. Plus, we have similar tastes – it’s probably why we’re friends. All the same, I was still a little anxious when she arrived.

Fortunately, I needn’t have worried. Firstly, her pair are on their last legs and she was contemplating getting the new version – seeing mine has simply confirmed that decision. Secondly, seeing them on someone else made her realise just how great they are. I don’t intend to sound big-headed (or make her sound it) when I repeat her comment that “wow, those boots really do look great with tights, I mean, people have told me they looked good, but now I can see it for myself!”.

Is impersonation the highest form of flattery? Should we worry if we dress the same as friends – why is it that once you’re past being a teenager this stops being appealing? Is it simply a passion for not conforming and breaking free from years of enforced school uniform wearing?

Most importantly though, I love new shoes…
Plus, I’m pleased that with this purchase I am making a determined effort to make myself wear heels more regularly. These are comfortable ones, so I have no excuse (other than the occasional moment of tottering unsteadily and reducing my walking pace fractionally) not to wear them.

Besides, I like what walking in heels does to my hips – sashaying really is quite the appropriate expression. You know why women like heels (apart from the height thing)? It makes them feel downright womanly.

Cultural norms and regional differences

I’m loathe to admit it, but in all probability I am most definitely a softy-southerner. (I used to use six months living in Leeds aged 1 as proof that I had a little bit of northern in me, but it really doesn’t wash.)

As I mentioned yesterday, I made some amazing (well, possibly not so amazing) discoveries while in the north-east at the weekend, the final of which was that women didn’t seem to be able to get tights up there – or at least, I presume they can’t, given as no one was wearing any despite the chilly late September temperature. It’s well known that northern women are far hardier than their southern sisters – shunning tights and coats throughout the cold winter nights.

On Saturday night I stuck out like a sore thumb. Not only was I wearing tights, they were of an obvious, black-opaque variety. I left my coat at home but still had a cardi to protect my arms – I must have looked like a total wuss. Plus, I appeared not to have received the ‘when going out in Durham on a Saturday really push the boat out with your outfit’ memo….

I was distinctly over-dressed in my (smart) shorts over tights and a (low cut) shirt combo – an outfit that in London would be quite acceptable in most contexts. Don’t think of me as a snob – it’s not so much a class thing as a regional difference. My host (Morven, of Greenbelt video ‘fame’) has grown used to the expectations of local society and gently suggested I borrow a pair of her heels and some bling to dress my outfit up a bit. It’s not like I don’t enjoy dressing up – I just hadn’t thought that dinner & drinks in Durham would be such a big deal. Besides, even if I had planned ahead, I’m more inclined towards 1950’s tea-dresses than skin-tight creations, so would still have looked a bit wrong.

What really amused me was how out of place I managed to make myself feel owing to my clothing in two separate contexts, in the space of 12 hours. On Saturday night I clearly appeared to be making a poor effort and was pretty much invisible to local men. On Sunday morning, wearing a similar outfit (well, the shorts & opaque tights combo) to church, I felt distinctly sluttish.

Those that know me will know (surely?!) that I don’t really do sluttish. The odd low-cut top – yes (and purely accidental bra flashing), but outright whore? Not so much. It simply comes down to cultural norms and regional differences:

In the north-east, the cultural norm is to dress up for a night out on the ‘Toon’.
In London, the regional difference is that ‘dressing up’ could (and does) mean a wide variety of things.

At the church I visited on Sunday morning, the cultural norm is to dress in hoodies and jeans and generally not be too bothered with one’s appearance. [Incidentally, that is not intended as a slight on anyone!]
At my church, the regional difference (or cultural norm) is to dress up. There’s a huge amount of pressure to fit in with the creatives and fashionistas.

On Sunday morning I had the most leg showing of any member of the (300 strong) congregation – I kept my coat on. Six hours later and safely ensconced in a pew of my central London church, no one batted an eyelid and I felt slightly overdressed thanks to my jumper.

Why is so important to fit in? To wear the right clothes and in the right contexts? Should it matter as long as we feel comfortable? I felt fine on Saturday night and was reasonably confident on Sunday (getting the legs out – albeit in the safety of black tights – is still a bit of a novelty), but comparing oneself to others, it’s easy to get a complex.

What are the morals of this tale?
1. If you’re up north of a weekend and fancy a couple of drinks, take a very short dress & some heels with you – leaving your tights and jacket at home. [Men, I believe, have different rules – you can wear trousers I hear.]
2. If you’re at church and it’s not your usual trendy evangelical congregation in London, err on the side of demure rather than slut.
3. Most of all, ignore conventions, society and the glances of others and just wear what feels comfortable and makes you happy…

The ultimate in nerd fashion

I’d usually reserve this for a Friday, but honestly, it made me laugh out loud and as I’ve had a truly awful, frustrating and generally dispiriting day, that is definitely a good thing.

Nerdy fashion is always generally amusing – like these ridiculous t-shirts I shared last year – but this ought to win some kind of award, both for its amazing nerdiness and the fact that its genius lies in its design.

When I saw mention of a ‘Vulcan Hoodie’ on Twitter, I suspected it would be amusing. Then I saw the image emblazoned across the hoodie, and I was confused:

Then I saw the hoodie in situ and almost choked on the banana I was eating at the time:

That, my friends, is true fashion genius…

Godly garb

Last week, when basically comparing the Christian world to Rowling’s wizarding world, I mentioned some of the quirky clothing sported by some people of faith. It’s taken me a while to accumulate enough evidence for a full post on this topic, but the results are (I think) amusing enough for Friday fun.

Firstly, a disclaimer. I am not mocking those who wear or design these t-shirts. In fact, good on the people who choose to wear them for putting their faith out there for all to see. In a lot of cases I’m actually quite amused at the way in which secular graphics have been manipulated to include a Christian dimension and most of the examples below made me laugh out loud and impressed me.

So, first off we have a selection of familiar designs that have been tweaked, just a tad:

See – actually quite clever. I think Abreadcrumb & Fish might be my personal favourite.

Then we have the movie versions. Sadly, nowhere could I find the Lord of the Kings tee I’d spotted the other week, but I did discover these:

Have to say, I’m quite keen on the Star Wars reference. 

And finally, some t-shirts that I actually love and could almost be persuaded to buy…

For religious grammar pedants:
A little bit of irony (from here):
(Incidentally, love that this is on a man’s t-shirt!)
This one was specially created by this guy and as soon as I spotted it I had to send it to C – too, too amusing:
And last, but by no means least, there are (of course) a whole host of relationship related t-shirts, because as we know, that’s what Christians are most obsessed with. (Remember the Jesus loves you…but I fancy you t-shirt?) There are various variations on the I ♥ theme, but this was a favourite: 
Cos you know what? I do. (From here.)
And you may also appreciate the Bible reference. 2 Corinthians 6:14 reads: ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?’

But perhaps, after all these examples, maybe the strange person who declared “I don’t do t-shirts with words on” had a point…