As I’ve mentioned before, the best thing about working in the break between Christmas and New Year is the flexible dress code. After I picked up this sassy Twenty Seven Names number via my old friend Recycle Boutique, I obviously wanted to wear it immediately (well, after washing it. Wash all your new clothes team, not just the ones from second hand shops). However, while I’ll gladly wear bright yellow, cropped, wide leg pants or a full length satin formal skirt to work at any time of the year, I will not wear a skirt that sits this high above the knee in the summertime. Turns out, deep inside, I am a strangely conservative dresser who can only wear miniskirts with extremely thick tights.
Also turns out, though, that my childlike impatience is stronger than my conservative feelings vis a vis that bit of leg above my knee. So in the spirit of “this doesn’t count because we’re all in secret agreement that despite being in the office we’re not really at work-work this week”, I cracked it out tights-free on 28 December 2016. I mention the date because it’s obviously now an auspicious date that my future biographer will need to know.
I almost always like the outfits I wear, which makes sense considering my philosophy of getting dressed and the fact that I dress myself, but this one was a particular success. I loved the prissiness of the pinafore style dress and the bow from my blouse against the short hemline (yes, I mentioned it again) and the high sandals. I felt like I had put on some approximation of a Swinging 60s costume – like every costume I’ve worn in my adult life, built almost entirely from whatever I could throw together from my wardrobe in the twenty minutes before I was supposed to be somewhere. As a result, my costumes are always in no way historically accurate but give the audience the basic idea of what I’m trying to achieve. Good enough.
Now, when I sat down on my chair at work I did have a slight panic, but I solved that by pulling my seat in really close to my desk (which means my arms were not at the approved angle so I basically risked developing crippling OOS or RIS or whatever it’s called now, so that I could wear a skirt I found uncomfortably short). Much like a newsreader, the clothing on the bottom half of my body was irrelevant because my upper body looked so appropriate. How far can I take this? Could I wear shorts to work and pretend that it’s all fine because I’m also wearing a shirt and a blazer?
What has this outfit revealed (apart from my upper knee)? Dressing up in something somewhat like a costume is fun. Wearing something that challenges your ideas of what is appropriate is fun. Pinafore/swing style dresses are incredibly comfortable and now I understand why so many women in New Zealand wear shift dresses and tunics like it’s their jobs. You can buy excellent, perfect condition clothes from New Zealand designers for a fraction of their original cost if you’re prepared to spend time checking second hand shops on a semi-regular basis.
Finally, I almost never get complimented on my outfits by men (other than my boyfriends or, occasionally, my best male friends). Women, including strangers in the street, are much nicer about how I dress/don’t think I look like a lunatic. I would report, however, that this outfit got me TWO complimentary comments from total strangers who happened to be men – one from a homeless man, who told me my shoes were great (they are great, I said thank you) and one from a man at the restaurant I went to that evening, who complimented my dress and then went on to compliment my friend’s grey tshirt and to realise my other friend was pregnant, at which point he got really excited for her. This outfit. Bringing people together.