June 21, 2009

Last week I was walking past a construction site and there was a woman walking a few steps ahead of me wearing a tight skirt and stiletto heels. I was wearing a long shapeless dress, a boxy black top, and flip-flops. Essentially, I was invisible.

Even though I was only a few paces behind her, it was like we were a different species. All the wolf-whistles were aimed at her and she ate them up, flipping her hair and smiling in return.

What I couldn't figure out is, how did this make her feel good? I'm all for attention, but I want it to mean something. Anyone can get a wolf-whistle wearing five-inch heels. You're wearing shoes that say: "Look at me." What I want are a pair of shoes that say: "Listen to me." Where are the shoes that say, "I want to tell you about all my problems."

It's not that I'm puritanical but I can't get over what some women are willing to wear out in public. When I see them wearing five-inch heels, hobbling over the cobblestones I don't think it looks sexy, it looks painful.

The only area I'm comfortable revealing myself is emotionally. The way some women display cleavage, I display issues. I have no problem telling a stranger how I feel but put me in a sleeveless dress, and suddenly I'm overexposed.

"Maybe that's because you don't dress for success." My friend, Heather says. Heather has perfected the sexy secretary look. Which, after the sexy nurses outfit, seems like successful attire for a career in porn.

What does this mean anyway? Dress for success. Maybe I've never had to consider this because I work at home. I've gotten used to wearing pyjamas. That works for me. The only problem is, I can't wear this out on the street without looking crazy.

Part of the reason I don't get dressed up when I go out is because I worry it's false advertising. I don't want people thinking I look good all the time. It sets an unrealistic expectation.

I used to make an effort more when I was younger but now I can't be bothered. If I wear something that needs to be dry-cleaned I consider that being dressed up.

Also when I go to a social event, usually I'm counting the seconds before I can leave and all I want is to avoid small talk. So what kind of outfit is worthy of that?

My friend, Laura, who also works from home, feels anything beyond a T-shirt is formal. "When I have to go into the office," she says, "I'll wear something with buttons. Or maybe a little bit of a heel. If I add a scarf, people will think I'm trying to get a raise."

A few months ago I had to buy a dress for a black-tie event. The sales woman who sold it to me pointed out I could dress it up with heels for evening, or wear it with flats for a more casual look during the day. During the day? Why would I ever wear a fancy dress during the day?

On the rare occasion I do wear something other than a smock, the most exciting part is coming home and changing back into loungewear. There's nothing better than coming home, taking off a pair of high heels and putting on a pair of socks. It's like I've returned from a tour of duty.