Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

What happens when one pair of jeans turns into six? A guest post by Ciara Norton

It started when a friend noted, when getting ready for a night out a million years ago, that I had good legs. (We do that, don’t we? Compliment each other’s body parts when squeezing into something glittery in front of …

Fri, Aug 31, 2012, 13:30


It started when a friend noted, when getting ready for a night out a million years ago, that I had good legs. (We do that, don’t we? Compliment each other’s body parts when squeezing into something glittery in front of a shared mirror. It’s what I like most about us.)

So I mainly wore dresses and skirts from there on in. The lesson learned: compliment me and I’m yours. It then got to a point where I didn’t own trousers or jeans, just two drawers full of tights and a share in Penneys’ 80 denier black. Yet underneath the printed dresses and habit of toughening up flowers with leather (sigh) was a girl who yearned to don a T-shirt and jeans and call it a day. You know that girl – the one who can move an ensemble from casual to smart-casual by donning a blazer and letting down her hair, the one with a wardrobe full of what fashion folk call “neutral separates”, whatever they are. I wanted so badly to be her but I stuck with my skirts; the occasional time I put on a pair of jeans my nearest and dearest would act like they didn’t recognise this monster with two fully visible legs.

The real problem was finding jeans that fit, my body’s shape and size would not compute. It got so I stopped trying, having an occasional success in Topshop and crying in the changing rooms of every other denim emporium in Ireland. Then, in May, I began buying pairs of Marks & Spencer’s Five-Pocket Jeggings, wonderful jean-like things – they have zips and for the life of me I don’t know why they call them jeggings – that fit and come in various colours (I own SIX pairs). Suddenly the vision of me as jean and T-shirt girl was a real possibility! In H&M I bought two cotton T-shirts in black and grey and there I was: the most stylish version of myself I could ever hope to be.

Or so I thought. Y’see, I got lazy. I wore through one pair of jeggings in black (actual crotch ripping occurred) because I took them everywhere with me. On nights out I had sparkly tops to complement my black jeans. I added flouncy blouses for work and the grey T-shirt for play. Day to day I alternated the T-shirts with their denim partners; one was always in the wash while the other was on my back. On holidays in Portugal I wore my black jeans at night more times than I’m proud to admit. 30-odd degrees and there I am: sweatin’ in my jeggings.

Stuck in an elevator with my mum recently she gave me a once-over – red jeans and grey T-shirt day –  and asked if “this sloppy look was going to continue?” She was right, dammit. The look WAS sloppy and, honestly, doing me no favours. So engrossed was I in the act of being able to wear jeans and a T-shirt that I forgot about accessorising. About colour, about fabrics, about brushing my hair, wearing bronzer on my cheeks. One night, for shame, I slept in the black T-shirt and, thinking I had nothing else to wear, WORE IT OUT AND ABOUT THE NEXT DAY. I hadn’t so much given up as pressed pause on any sense of myself and my style.

So thank you, Marks & Spencer, and your wondrous jeans, but I need a break. This week I moved the dresses and skirts back to prime position, front and centre in my neglected wardrobe. I bought new tights (Penneys! I’m back!) and wore a necklace. I can’t say I won’t be seen in my beloved six pairs again but I am also looking forward to relegating the T-shirts to pyjama duty and remembering what it is about fashion I like, remembering what looks good on me and discovering what I’ve been missing in the summer days I sartorially lost to a my denim uniform.

Ciara works in radio and publishing and occasionally tweets about Breaking Bad @ciaralnorton

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