16 February 2008

Not all there

I've been pondering a question all summer, which I now feel compelled to share after observing my fellow commuters on the way to work yesterday morning.

Are three-quarter length pants ever a good idea?

The thought struck me yet again as I walked behind a well groomed woman on her way to work. Her clothes were nicely tailored, in attractive colours, and she wore a smart cropped jacket. She had paired the jacket with neatly fitting capri pants and espadrilles - the kind that tie up above the ankle. From behind, all those cropped clothes and high shoes made her look like she'd had had an unfortunate encounter with the hot wash cycle, or that she had accidently put on clothes belonging to someone who was a foot shorter than her.

In her defence, she wasn't wearing the horrendous kind of three-quarter length pants pictured here, which flatter no one. These are the kind of pants that people wear when they've decided that they need to dress middle-aged (no matter what age they actually are).

They're the equivalent of the apalling ribbed crimpolene pants stocked in the women's department in Myer Perth when I worked there on my Saturday job in the early 1980s. Loads of people bought those dreadful pants, just as they buy these three-quarter numbers in murky pale colours now.

But clearly, choosing to wear tailored three quarter length pants is minefield too. Invariably it looks like you've run out of fabric or that your good pants have shrunk in the wash.
Finding the right shoes to go with them seems to be a big dilemma too, especially if you're wearing them to work. Heels don't work, and neither does anything remotely clunky, and ballet slippers can look too casual for work when paired with the cropped pant. (Although ballet slippers work well at work with full length pants and skirts, so go figure.)

Of course, there are exceptions. Yesterday, I also saw a woman in head-to-toe black. She had a gorgeous top on, wide cropped pants and glossy black ballet slippers. She looked smart and professional.

And I think that there is definitely a time and a place for good old three-quarter length pants. Like in the supermarket or a barbecue or on holiday, and with qualifications. They must fit around your bottom properly (there's nothing worse than a saggy, fabric swathered rear end), and you have to be careful with shoes and the proportion of what else you're wearing.

Personally, I can't do without my three-quarter length jeans - in fact, I'm wearing them right now. It's just that I don't think I should ever wear them to work, even on casual clothes day.

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