Despite the well-tested knowledge that this path will bring me no joy, I cannot help but approach Selfridges’ denim wall with a combative nugget of hope lodged in my gut. This season, I’ll conquer all. I’ve read all the articles, pored over the latest looks; I really can overturn the prolonged and crumpled tyranny the boyfriend jean exerts in my life, and reinvent my wardrobe as an Elysian vision of edge, sex and smart.
Things do not start well. Hostile savages from the tribe of fashion, luridly painted, starved and pierced, ignore my attempts to communicate with blank, kohl-eyed disdain. Sweating, squinting at the indecipherable labels, swiping whatever I can find that looks like it might make it past my knees, I retreat, bruised but defiant, to the musk-scented changing cave.
To find the perfect jeans, I know I have to emulate Peleus, and hold on until I find the shape that suits me best – resisting the boredom, the misguided aspiration and the sheer denim blindness that will tempt me into accepting something else.
Ye Gods, it hurts.
For hours, I grapple with that constantly morphing creature that we call the Officially Fashionable Jean. I try to persuade myself that I can carry off a dove-grey drainpipe without looking like a badly-made battleship; that white straight-legs say urban-colonial Hoxton cool, not middle-aged cruisewear; that high-waisted stonewash doesn’t remind me of myself, aged thirteen, in an X-Files T-shirt and a baseball cap. The tipping point comes when I venture towards House of Holland S/S 10 and try a touch of double denim. Forget Alexa Chung chillaxing like a coltish Indiana ingenue in Vogue; I look like her obese cousin from Wisconsin who likes beef jerky and Top Gun.
Face fuchsia, thighs seam-scarred, I skulk out.
The problem is that I expect the jeans themselves to be my hero, the Peleus to my nymph, clinging onto the monstrous bulges and freakish lumps until my lycra-lashed corpse settles into the slender perfection of a goddess. Of course, they always let me down. For jeans may have an easy, casual, authentic, shallow-pocketed, deep-souled-workmen-slouching-on-a-girder, highly sexed Stanley Kowalski vibe, but they actually necessitate such a degree of fraught, frank self-examination that they could turn the most level-headed broad into a shuddering Blanche Dubois.
So, I slink out of Selfridges and down the road to Gap, where I buy my fourth consecutive pair ofankle-length indigo boyfriends. I take them home, roll the bottoms into uneven cuffs, add some heels and head out, into the February mud.
Divinity is overrated.