Manhattan has been invaded by the Japanese schoolgirl look. Little denim skirts with Ugg boots; pleats and knee-socks; corduroy and sneakers. My knee-length skirts looked prim and tired, no longer sleek. So I gave in and forked out for my first garment in months. I bought a miniskirt at Urban Outfitters. It cost $38. It’s black, made out of a kind of sweatshirty material, and is exactly the kind of thing I lived in when I was nineteen. I thought I’d wear it with the flat Miu-Miu boots I’d rescued from storage.
It looked good.
It looked ridiculous.
My legs are my best feature, in my own vain and unreliable estimation. Only because I live in the first century in which western humans ignore good evolutionary sense and exalt slim and knobbly over dimpled knees. Fine by me. Legs are a good long-term investment. Patella and femur and achilles tendons don’t betray women over the long haul like other body bits, and better yet, they don’t come with a bimbo tag, which can’t be guaranteed if you suffer from fine hooters or a button nose. I almost always wear trousers, in case I have to escape, but a well-turned ankle is a reserve weapon.
In spite of faith in my limbs, as soon as I got the skirtlet on I had an attack of mutton-dressed-as-lamb panic. An A-line skirt with flat boots makes us all look short and squat, and I wasn’t sure all this thigh was really necessary. The skirt was overt, and I’m not. But I remembered when the Prada shoes I later coveted looked ugly to me, and hoped my style eye just hadn’t adjusted yet.
I launched my new look on the fashion-forward 2 train. Immediately the old man opposite hunched forward and muttered lasciviously until I had to move. On the street men stare at minis like toddlers stare at Teletubbies, especially after a decade of deprivation. It’s not that short skirts look better, or sexier–they don’t–but they are unmistakable signifiers. I felt like Paris Hilton. Not in a good way. I wanted to crawl back into my Kedey Island boilersuit. Instead I changed into age-appropriate sweatpants and pensioned off the overt skirt.