Like anyone interested in style, I can smugly recall my proudest fashion moment. It took place in the idyllic, quintessentially English-countryside town of Shere, where scenes from The Holiday, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason were filmed. But Shere's charming, oft-photographed “cottages” aren’t so quaint once you explore the local real-estate market. There are lots of vintage Land Rovers and classic cars rambling about. Men nodding hellos in tweed driving caps and so forth.
It was July 2017 and I was in the county for a friend’s wedding. I was wandering down the narrow main street to the minimart when a shiny black Range Rover with tinted windows roared up behind me, before braking right at my shoulder. Wondering if I was about to be kidnapped (LOL, no ransom potential here), the driver’s window inched down to reveal a fabulous middle-aged woman with a honey-blond beehive, toned arms and enormous sunglasses (actually, please kidnap me).
She leaned out and pointed downwards. “Your pants. They’re absolutely terrific. Where are they from?”
Huzzah! Admired in the heartland of lords and ladies, and all their sartorial rules and regulations, no less. I said, “Um … Australia”, and she drove off, fairly swiftly.
Back to the pants. They were wide-legged, pineapple-coloured silk, decorated in a pattern of tiny cornflower blue flowers. The fabric had just the right amount of swish around the thighs and ankles. A couple of burnished brass beads embellished the drawstring waist tie, giving them an Ibiza feel, where pyjama-like ensembles are de rigeur when worn in luxe materials with loads of jewellery and a suntan. I’m very into it.
The breezy trouser is an extremely refreshing alternative to the sausage-skin styles that have dominated for so many years. To the novice they may be hard to swallow, or seem a shocking waste of great legs, but when mastered, I guarantee you will never look back. (Plus, they let the air circulate up one leg, across your crotch, and down the other – a highly desirable state of being during the sweatier months.)
Do not be deterred by fears of stumpy silhouettes, or looking like the long-lost fourth member of TLC. Like shopping for regular jeans, you never buy the first pair you try and a degree of perseverance is required before you land on The Ones. Be inspired by Coco Chanel’s yachting pants, and Katherine Hepburn’s wide-pleated cuffed trousers These heroines pioneered the then avant-garde trend.
Over the years I’ve amassed quite the collection, and seem to have a baggy-pant plan for almost any occasion.
High-waisted black Issey Mikaye Pleats Please balloon pants? Perfect evening attire with a tight top and tall heel.
Vintage Louis Vuitton silk pyjama pants covered in red love-hearts? Just add a T-shirt and chunky flats for weekends.
Garish blue polka-dotted wide-legged capris with matching belt? Pair with a demure beige knit and sneakers.
Carla Zampatti palazzo pants in navy stretch-velvet? Excellent under a black, Shanghai-style tunic top.
My most recent acquisition is from the local surf store – a ripper pair of Rip Curl linen-weave gaucho trousers in khaki. I’ve worn them all summer with a crinkly white peasant blouse and brightly coloured rubber sandals. No ironing during January, folks.
And finally, because my loin area and knees prefer high-grade ventilation, I am also eyeing off the following:
Faithfull The Brand's Bisou pants – the stuff of Slim Aarons’s dreams; these tan and white flares are just gagging for a pool party.
Zimmermann's Bayou pants in nude broderie anglaise – the ultimate island-life trouser, for balmy eves.
Dion Lee’s checked wide-legged crepe trousers – if a business slack could ever be cool, this is it.
Camilla and Marc's Lacee sunray pleated pants with metallic waistband – highly versatile, for work or pleasure.
Bella Freud's navy wide-legged cords – one of the few reasons to look forward to autumn.
Give those limbs a breather.
Michaela Davis has worked for global brands including Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy for over 10 years.