Well, you might look at me now and suggest that the ill-fitting jeans and scruffy black jumper (with holes in the elbows) which I’m currently wearing would be good contenders – and you’d be right – but at least I’m under no illusion that they look any good. What I’ve been thinking about today, however, is some of those clothes I’ve had and actually believed were decent at the time, but later realised to be the worst things I’ve ever worn. The worst things anyone could have worn. I know it’s subjective, but I feel sure we can be unanimous about some items.
Maybe the seventies threw up the best (worst?) examples, and I use the phrase ‘threw up’ without irony. I’m not talking about my punk/DIY clothes – I’ll always look back at them fondly no matter what anyone says. But there was that time between being a kid and being a punk, and it really was a pubescent fashion wasteland. For instance, I had a pair of white flares. White. Flares. And with my thighs! I chose to wear these frequently with a fetching, knitted, collared, zip-up cardigan in cream with a black zig-zag pattern. This woolly monstrosity was loosely based on something I had seen David Starsky wearing in ‘Starsky and Hutch’. ‘Nuff said.
Then there were those wedgy platform shoes I dared to wear for the walk home from school. They were too high to be permitted in school (a place where the height of heels was actually measured by a teacher if they looked to be above one and a half inches, and thus a major breach of uniform rules). So at the 4.15pm bell, I’d change into this pair of brown, lace-up shoes that were attached, somewhat incongruously, to high wedge soles which were covered with some kind of woven, beige, hessian type stuff. They were like some strange hybrid of footwear and flooring. The toe area must have been raised off the ground by about two inches and the heel roughly four. I hobbled and wobbled home in these stupid shoes, and found I had great difficulty getting up hills. This was unfortunate as I lived at the top of quite a steep one. In order to make it all the way to my front door I had to compensate for the gradient in the shoe with every step, which meant leaning forward from the ankle joint in a most unnatural manner. Perhaps I should have tried walking backwards?
Some years later I discovered the joy of buying my clothes from charity shops and I got some wondeful items – big old coats, the occasional fifties dress and little suede ankle boots, all of which were a thrill to find and a bargain too. I couldn’t believe my eyes one day when I saw a pair of black PVC trousers in my size hanging on the rail in Oxfam. I’d always wanted some PVC or leather trews, but they just weren’t a viable purchase on a student budget. So, without any hesitation I bought these second-hand ones and started to wear them at the first opportunity. Only problem was, they were a bit, well, cracked, just where the shiny coating had got a little worn away. It seemed an obvious solution to simply apply a coating of Kiwi shoe polish and give them a bit of a buff with a cloth until they were nice and shiny again. Easy. It wasn’t until some time later that I realised the black smudgy marks on the furniture (and the bus seat) corresponded exactly with where I’d been sitting earlier….
Talking of charity shops and second-hand trousers, what about these, though…?
In vivid turquoise cordurouy, complete with a wide plastic multi-coloured belt, these little beauties cost me a mere £2.99 just a few months ago. How could I possibly resist? I will admit, though, that I’ve only worn them once, and that was to a fancy dress party.