It was an outfit that whispered sophistication; that grinned naughtiness; that glanced at passing trends with a playfully unovine eye. It combined a soft, oversized white silk T-shirt mini-shift with a bright coral lip, a long sleeved grey silk shirt, a pair of camel suede Oxfords, and a sheet of mussed half-clean hair. And a lot – a lot – of leg. And… oh. Oh dear.
I peered down again, and then quickly back up, focusing brightly on my ginger mojito while trying to shuffle into a patch of shadow under the bar. On that lot of leg, there were two highly visible marks; two blatant bands of shame. Two discs that whispered nursing home; that grinned undersocialised spinster; that glanced at passing trends and ran screaming back to the hockey pitch in chagrin. Hubris utterly punctured, I stared miserably down at my shins, which were embossed with two neat, corrugated circles from too-recently abandoned socks. Yes, far from my mental picture of coltish cool, my knees looked like the lids on a couple of crimped short-crust pies.
The thing is, I love socks, even though real women really shouldn’t. Socks are for Father’s Day and mountaineers and plump thirty-something readers of chick lit who still buy four-packs of flower-print from M&S to wear with their bootcut jeans. True ladies should present at all times a sub-ankle zone of scrubbed and shining flesh, edged with a touch of toe cleavage, proffered on the altar of a Louboutin, and ever-ready to be sucked. In extreme winters gone by, we might have acceptably been allowed to resort to a wisp of sexily seamed silk; but in our peep-toe shoe-boot era, even stockings must surrender to a perennial set of bare, peach-tipped phalanges on permanent display.
Bollocks to that. When you’re a thin-skinned female and your brain shuts down the moment a mild breeze passes over your feet, a good pair of socks are more powerful, more glorious, than any twenty-tog parka. I love them all, from the self-abnegating scratch of a pair of grey wool schoolgirl knee-highs, to the condom-like cunning of pop-socks, to the snug, slightly fluffy medium-weight reliability of Gap’s men’s basics in black. A pair hand-knitted for me by a family friend, in woodsmanly charcoal and white marl, are so beloved that I’ve ruinously stretched shoes in order to squash them in.
Now, it seems cruel to play favourites with the myriad stalwart protectors of my circulation and sanity, but the new kids in the drawer – a pair of 100% silk liners from Patra – have disproportionate toasting powers for things so thin and soft and are light enough not to mark my calves. However, I’m having second thoughts about the fashion politics of imprinted tibia. In a season when Chanel are going crazy for trompe l’oeil tattoos, could body embossing be the perfect way to out-couture couture?
So. If she says she wants something special for Valentines, you know just what to get.