Lost in London

A look at London and life in general through the eyes of someone who sometimes can't bear to watch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ribbed for my pleasure

Corduroy. A band. A material. Something I hadn't considered for years.

I've been getting a little sick of the monopoly jeans have over my lower half. Sure they come in different colours and go with pretty much anything, but as anyone caught in the pouring rain on Saturday will tell you, the feel of wet denim clinging to your nether regions is neither pleasurable nor practical.

Although I've avoided corduroy for quite a while now, being told that for a new job I couldn't wear blue jeans in the office posed a bit of a problem. Sure I could wear my aubergine or grey skinnies, but they're a little bit 'nightclub' and not so much 'I am a responsible person and you were right to give me this contract'. I went into central London yesterday with the idea of buying black jeans to solve my problem, but only encountered more difficulties.

Black jeans only seem to exist in two distinct types. First of all you have your superdark, never-washed black jeans. They're not unfashionable, but look ever so slightly like formal trousers hanging loose at the weekend. You know the type, the 'cool, up-for-it dad' who wears a suit at work all week but really likes to chill out in his immaculately ironed ebony denim. Then you've got your distressed/ faded side of the family. Unless you're buying them from quite an expensive retailer, they just never look right. Either they've been so distressed that they look like you accidentally spilled bleach on them or they are so ridiculously faded they appear to have been hanging in a shop window since Prince William's christening. What can look so good on blue jeans can look so bad on their darker cousins.

So the avenue of black jeans was a cul de sac. I wandered around the shops dolefully, bemoaning not only my lack of imagination when it comes to buying trousers but also the stupidity of clothing manufacturers unable to read my mind and run me up a little something that would be ready by the time I stepped off the tube. Just as I was about to admit defeat, I spotted out of the corner of my eye some cords. Cords to me always conjure up memories of a particularly unlovely pair I had when I was eight. They were aubergine-coloured and were made out of really jumbo corduroy material. I had a growth spurt soon after their purchase but was forced by my mother to wear them anyway: a look that now graces almost every street corner in London, yes, but half-mast trousers was social death when I was growing up.

I picked the cords up and looked at them. They were a very nice grey colour. A kind of mid-grey with a touch of silver. Could I? Should I? I resolved to try them on. I then spotted their neighbour, another pair of cords but this time blue. Navy blue. Slim fitting. Navy blue cords? Really? I picked them up and then picked the next size up as well, just in case I had put on weight thanks to that dark cherry mocha I'd had earlier.

I tried on the grey pair first. You have to be careful with cords at my age. Jeans, for most people, have an air of cool. They're the rebel's uniform, look better ripped and tugged and beaten. They're wild nights out in scuzzy bars, crumpled fivers and triple vodkas. Cords to me evoke buzzwords like 'geography teacher', 'reformed sex offender', 'just one more cup of Ovaltine' and 'comfy'. I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked good. Next came the navy pair. Also good. I turned round. Ass looked good. All seemed to be in order. Reader, I bought both pairs.

Today was my first day in corduroy for about seven years, when I finally threw away two pairs of bootcut monstrosities (one black, one brown) that I'd worn for work, an act which came two years after throwing out more brown and black pairs (skinny fit this time) for being too vile for words. Teaming them with a pair of desert boots and a polo shirt in a fetching shade of aubergine I made my way to work and I have to say, I kinda liked it. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I felt very much my age but, even if I do say so myself, still looked OK. Pretty good in fact. I'm fine with that.

The pipe and slippers, though, will have to wait.

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