‘By the way, it’s a black tie event,’ said my best beloved as he headed off to somewhere in Bulgaria leaving me with a very busy week – and nothing appropriate to wear.
I had just sold on eBay the only dress I had which could have passed muster at a black tie event and now had three days before the event and really no time to go shopping.
As you may recall, dear reader, I am a dedicated charity shopper and the thought of paying money for a posh new frock I would not have just cause to wear for the next ten years, seemed just silly.
But one of the first rules of charity shopping is that you cannot go looking for something specific, in your size, in your style, and available on that day – it just doesn’t work like that.
But, optimist that I am, I thought I would find something.
As I mentioned, I did not have a lot of time – book sorting, dog walking, refugee good cause meetings etc etc take up time, even for a Sussex Housewife.
So, I raced around the charity shops of Petersfield and took stock, as it were.
That looked nice, but not on me. That was nice too, but sadly wouldn’t go over my shoulders or pulled the other way, past my bum. That was a nice colour, but that was all that was nice about it. That looked like something my gran would have thought nice. And so on.
In the end I went back to my wardrobe and rootled out a rather lovely garment that I had worn for a friend’s wedding evening do.
It is a bright green turquoise with yellow embroidery – bear with me, dear reader, it is striking, but not garish. It is long and has what we used to call, in my youth, a Mandarin collar – do they still call it that?
Anyway, it is long with buttons from throat to nearly the floor but it also had slits up the side from nearly the floor to nearly the hips. I am not Elizabeth Hurley.
On the previous occasion, I had worn it with jeans and rather liked that jeans-with-posh look but even I know that jeans at a black tie occasion at an Oxford College celebrating its bicentennial was probably a step too outrageous for me to carry off.
Never mind, I thought, as a speed-dash around the charity shops again failed to provide me with navy skinny trousers, we can get to Oxford in good time and I will find something there.
I guess you have an inkling where this is heading.
I could not find navy skinny trousers in Oxford for love nor money.
Well actually, in panic, I did find them, for (a lot of) money.
Suffice it to say, L K Bennett, not even in a sale.
And they are glorified leggings.
( Very, very good leggings and a delight to wear but even so, dear god, what a price shock to the person not used to paying more than £5.50 for a good-label item.
I am now wearing them at every possible opportunity. There’s that thing that if you wear them more often then each wear has cost you less, and eventually they feel like a bargain – I am not, dear reader, at that stage yet.)
That night, I put them on and my striking Mandarin collared ‘dress’ and went down to the pre-dinner drinks.
I did a head count to find fewer than ten other women in the room and not one was wearing anything different than you would wear to an office meeting with your immediate boss. I have dresses like that!
Was I gutted? well yes and no. I did feel the best dressed woman there – and though was wearing bloody expensive posh leggings I needn’t have bought, I also had a very stylish charity shop find on too – and I will bet no one else in that room could have said that.