Structure has returned to my life, in the form of my black work trousers. (I hold my breath; they still fasten, despite the litre of Baileys Irish Cream I imbibed over Christmas). I belong firmly in the black-trousers-and-floaty-top, long-black-cardigan school of office dressing. It's like uniform for a sartorially challenged woman such as me, who has never been able to dress smartly with any conviction.
I grew up in the 1980s in Manchester; naturally I was an indie kid. Everyone I knew wore doc martens, old army jackets and ripped 501 jeans. Every day. Those clothes would last for years; a 5-year-old pair of 'docs' might be inherited from an older brother who had passed into the world of work, (which to us then, made him a reviled 'yuppie'). Although I didn't quite conform at the time, being enamoured of the black-leggings-and-floaty-top look, I was most definitely into the punky ethos. There was absolutely no way I would ever have worn anything on my feet but a pair of black boots (come summer or winter), and power dressing (anyone remember huge 1980s shoulder pads?) was out of the question.
As time moved on, I couldn't say that I resisted the lure of cheap new clothing which started to flood into the high street, instead of those indestructible threads from the Army and Navy Stores, but I always held true to my shoe ethos. I just couldn't get my head around cheap shoes, colourful shoes, different shoes for different outfits, neither could I get on with shoes that were dainty in any way. My only variations on the black boot theme were doc marten sandals, and more recently converse trainers. This has always thrown up some challenges in relation to dressing smartly, and is another reason why I stick with the black trouser look. Black boots and black trousers are fine together; black trousers teamed with doc marten sandals creates an interesting look. It basically says: 'I am not fully committed to this dress code, nor to this job', which is pretty much how I have always felt at work.
Shoe changes began to take place outside of work. First, I unwisely bought a pair of tan leather, 3 inch heeled boots (which promptly landed me in physiotherapy). I loved how TALL they made me. They were responsible for delaying the realisation that I only come up to my husband's waist, until some weeks after I first met him. I continued venturing into this new world of colourful, clippety (as opposed to clompy) shoes until I went too far with the purchase of a pair of bright red platform boots which I could not walk more than two steps in, though I did manage to stand in a bar wearing them for 20 minutes once.
At my wedding, I actually wore WHITE STILETTOS. My 17-year-old self would have fainted to see it.
All shoe taboos broken, it seems that there is no turning back for me. It started with the purchase of a pair of blue trousers, although still with the obligatory floaty top, followed by a pair of light tan coloured slipper-type shoes, which I loved, a fawn coloured mac with a belt...there was no stopping me now. In preparation for my new job, I actually bought a dress.
I wore it today. I tried it on with every pair of shoes I had; dainty slippers, ballet pumps...er, well that's about it. These are the shoes I now wear to the office. I almost made it out of the door, but at the last minute I ran back and changed. Into my black boots.
It seems I'm still not totally committed....
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