For the duration of my time on this earth, I have struggled both publicly and privately with how to dress myself in a way that conveys competence, fashion, and a sense of personal style. Flummoxed by the options and unwilling to spend a billion dollars on quietly expensive basics, I retreated to the safety of jeans and whatever top—sweatshirt, t-shirt, sometimes a “blouse”—I could find and called it a night.
Jeans are casual, which is okay, because I am casual. Pants—trousers, “slacks,” “dress pants”—are not. However, a fitful afternoon with nothing better to do found me in the dressing room of Everlane, wedging my body into a pair of pants that, much to my surprise, fit me well and did not make me feel like I was on my way to a job interview or a professional mixer. They’re a shade lighter than Carhartt’s, stylistically similar to Dickies, and do something magical to my waist that makes it look, as the children say, snatched. I bought the pants because it is nice to have another option. They toot the caboose up in a way that makes it look like there’s something going on back there. They are comfortable and hit above my ankle bone, which is where I prefer. Emboldened by this choice, I bought another pair of pants on sale at Madewell—corduroy, forest green, wide-legged like a Jnco, but not as exaggerated—and then yet another from Urban Outfitters in a fugue state. These pants are the most bold yet—a sprightly gingham in pattern, fashioned to look, somewhat, unfortunately, like the boot-cut jazz pants I wore in dance class in high school. If memory serves, those jazz pants were insanely flattering, though I was too insecure to realize that. Of the latter, which are arguably “too young” for me, my sister told me that I looked like Emma Chamberlain. Rude, but fair.
My fear of pants boils down to my fear of my body and the way it looks, which is, of course, what any “fear” about clothing choices other than that which render the wearer invisible really is. The psychological damage wrought by What Not To Wear runs deeper than I realize. Just when I least expect it, a deep-seated body image issue produced specifically by that program will rear its ugly head, leaving me confused as to why I am suddenly crying in a fitting room holding houndstooth trousers. But pants—patterned or otherwise—are fine. They are fine for my body as it is now, and how it will be in the future. They were probably fine for my body ten years ago, but I was too busy feeling bad about my body to get out of my own fucking head and try on some polka-dot bell bottoms. Thank god I’ve learned my lesson.