The wrong trousers

September 1, 2023 2 Comments
The wrong trousers 1: Wallace

Buying things is something I’ve got out of the habit of doing.  I make an exception for essentials like food, of course, and for books (though really books are just as essential for the mind as food is for the body).  It’s partly because consuming more and getting more things seem morally and ecologically dubious.  I don’t need an ethical high horse to ride on, though, it’s really just that most acquirable things no longer hold much appeal.  I just don’t feel I need to own them.

This aversion applies to new clothes.  On the whole I’m happy wearing old ones.  They might look faded.  In fact, the colours of many clothes seem to lose their colour after just a few washes – thanks to their cheapness rather than the ferocity of our washing machine.  But they’re not ragged, they’ve taken on the shape of my rather bottom-heavy body, and above all they always feel comfortable.

Eventually, though, in the case of trousers, I’m left with no pair in which I look anything other than a builder’s labourer.  (Except that no one, after a quick look at my biceps and pectoral muscles, would take me for a builder’s labourer.)  There’s nothing for it but to buy some new ones. 

I reached this point a couple of weeks ago.  In the words of Lenin’s pamphlet of 1902, I asked myself, ‘What is to be done?’  I know he was referring to a larger matter, overthrowing the state, but buying clothes, for me, also requires revolutionary thinking.  The last time I went through this agony, I ordered several pairs online – speculatively, because waist and inside leg measurements tend to be theoretical for trouser manufacturers, and ‘slimline’ could be fine, or it could mean that I’ve no hope of dragging them over my tree-trunk-like legs.  Then, if they don’t fit, you’ve the bother of sending them back and getting a refund, or a replacement.

The Scythian’s trousers

So this time it was trouser-buying the old way, by going to a shop.  C. came with me, and helped me choose.  Festooned with several pairs, I disappeared into the changing rooms, tried each pair in turn, and re-emerged each time for inspection.  The second of these operations was the most depressing.  To hit on the right combination of waist size and inside leg size is a severe challenge in itself.  Even if you succeed with that, there’s a danger that the trousers will turn out to be over-baggy, like the ones the old Scythians wore on horseback, or as thin as your little finger.  Then there’s the material they’re made out of.  Do you really want to spend a lot of time in close contact with a textile that irritates your skin?  Or a velvety cloth that seems to slide about over your skin like a piece of seaweed?  All this before you pay attention to the zip.   I’ve complained about zips before.  The point here is that the skinflints who design trousers these days install the shortest zips they can get away with, so that you have to undress each time you want to empty your bladder.

The wrong trousers, 2: Rishi Sunak

The second time I sprang into view from the changing room I was wearing trousers that were way too short on the leg.  They were for the reject pile straight away, I knew: I’d no wish to follow the dubious trend set by Rishi Sunak.  This time C. wasn’t the only trouser critic present.  There was another woman standing beside her.  Her own husband was clearly going through the same torments as me in a nearby cubicle.  I could tell from the smile on her face that on my last exile in the changing rooms the two women had been exchanging thoughts, on trouser-buying and quite possibly husbands.  I hurried back to try on the next pair.

The old trousers

After several goes round, I finally hit on three pairs of trousers to buy.  I felt no instant love for any of them.  Though probably, in the course of time, I’ll grow to be so fond of them that I’ll have to be dragged reluctantly to another clothes shop to buy their replacements.  But at least the torture was over for now, we could leave the shop, and do something more interesting.

As we left, I thought how pleasant it would be to be Wallace, of Wallace and Gromit, who was delivered into his ‘techno trousers’ each morning by a mechanical device, and never needed to worry about going clothes shopping. 

Comments (2)

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  1. Well, in the photo you look really happy.

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