Last night I was introduced to a startling new concept by the Amateur Actress and her good friend Cheekbones Galore.
The Amateur Actress had told me about this once before, but I dismissed it as one of her many unique and endearing eccentricities. Something that was specific to her alone.
After all, how could something so radical be true?
Over roast mushroom and parmesan risotto – a brave choice of dish to make on a night topping 37 degrees, considering you have to stand in front of the stove and stir it for around 45 minutes, sweat dripping from your brow but hopefully not into the dinner – I was re-educated.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the concept of “work shoes”.
Work shoes, I was told as we swilled back our sauvignon blanc in an effort to dampen the effects of the heat, or at least make us oblivious to it, are the pair of shoes that a young lady buys for work purposes. Work purposes are usually office roles but sometimes include venturing out on site or client visits, so they must be comfortable.
They explained it carefully, using small words so that I might understand all the better. Fair enough, I hear you think, that makes sense.
But hold on a minute there. Let’s look carefully at that sentence. I draw your eyes specifically to the section which reads “the pair of shoes”.
That’s THE PAIR. Singular. (can a pair be singular?)
Two shoes. That is, one pair. The single pair of shoes. For work.
If I hadn’t had two live people sitting in front of me declaring that they both had a pair of “work shoes”, I would not have believed it. How is that possible?
There are five days in the week! One pair of shoes cannot be expected to perform under such a degree of astonishing pressure! It is good for neither shoe nor foot!
Cheekbones Galore went on to explain that she wished she was the sort of person who could do the full change of outfit every day etc, with shoes, but that she simply wasn’t that kind of person no matter how she tried. And so she has work shoes, which she wears each day.
It goes without saying that I am not that kind of person. Not even close.
I change shoes and handbag each day to match my outfit, because I’m obsessive about it. Colours, style, heels and toes … each has a particular role to play and I can’t imagine trying to match the same pair of shoes to different outfits in that way, I just can’t. It wouldn't work.
But as I pondered this intriguing, and yet disturbing new concept of work shoes, I wondered if there wasn’t something to it.
The simplicity of approach … the ease of assembly …. the many, many (many many many) dollars saved on shoes ….. the sense of thrift and recessionista appeal …
But then I shook myself out of it.
Without my clothes, what would I be?
Part of what I love each night is mentally preparing the look I’ll wear to work in the morning, from the outerwear through accessories and down to underwear.
I take comfort from composing the perfect outfit, hoping that it will see me through another day of “challenges”, using my clothes as armour to give me succour and protection, to steel me against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the inevitable dagger thrusts and political power dramas that play out around you when you’re a corporate slave and beholden to the wheel.
Clothes have the power to transform you, I believe. They can change your outlook, give you strength, make you faster, flirtier or smarter. Clothes are exquisite - enchanting. They're a costume and a disguise. Sometimes they project the image we wish we were, rather than what we necessarily are.
I learnt this when I was given my first dress as a child. It probably wasn’t my first ever dress, but it was so amazing that I felt like it was the first. It was certainly the first I’d ever noticed, or cared about.
It was a checked madras with a drop waist, in colours of apricot, rose, taupe, scarlet, butter and marigold. It had a little sash that tied at the side. It was so absolutely and unashamedly feminine, and it was like nothing I'd ever worn before.
It was magical. When I put it on, my head pushed through the folds of cloth and they brushed my cheek as the dress fell down across my body. I felt as though I was being reborn into it. It wasn't me that emerged, it was someone else - like a butterfly out of a chrysalis. This new person was more delicate, more graceful, more pretty and more poised. For the first time in my life, and I must have been eight or nine, I really felt as though I was a proper girl.
This dress came from St Vincent De Paul. It wasn’t new. But I became a new person inside of it, and I loved who she was.
And so began my love affair with clothes. We've argued from time to time, and we've made some bad decisions, that's true. But it's part and parcel of the evolution of our style and we try not to go to bed angry.
We're still together, after all this time.