It’s eight pm on Wednesday 11 April, just moments before the start of A Scholars’ Affair. Visibly dishevelled, and bearing the undeniable fragrance of post-Pantry Service, I consult my wardrobe. Swiftly, I choose a pair of geometrically patterned, navy, silk pants; a seemingly inconsequential decision. Armed with a black top, red lipstick and shampoo I rush for the Picken A showers, subsequently arriving at A Scholars’ Affair fresh, clothed, and fashionably late.
Upon reflection, my choice to wear pants was an unusual one, though, incidentally, I was outnumbered by an unusually large assembly of dress-clad boys. My only female partner in pants was the perennially indie (but irrefutably elegant) Scout Boxall.
But, does my decision warrant analysis?
Today, the term “wearing the pants” inevitably conjures macho-feminist connotations: women breaking glass ceilings, subverting binaries, and defending their rights left, right and centre (and looking suitably suave in the process). Was this my contrived, middle-class attempt to flout stereotypical ideas about what is gender appropriate?
While it certainly reflected an act of rebellion against my own disposition to wear stripes, I can’t say that I felt empowered as a beacon of what Vargas deems the “transsexual performative vernacular that breaks heteromasculinist constructions of [the woman]”. While daring in its own protected-middle-class-child-who-usually-dresses-very-conservatively kind of way, my decision to wear pants should not be over-intellectualised.
On the other hand, I had never felt so comfortable, sexy and confident at an equivalent event at Ormond. I was warm, demure and in perfect apparel to tear up the chaotic (and increasingly dangerous) dance floor.
In the end, it was the observations of French actress Catherine Deneuve that resonated most closely with my experiences at A Scholars’ Affair. A staunch proponent of “natural allure,” Deneuve believes that comfort is the key to confidence. A sexy, emancipated woman is one who is comfortable to express her style regardless of whether it’s a low cut neckline, floral jumpsuit or infamous kitten heels. Yes – while Deneuve may approve of my preference for comfort over conformity when it comes to pants – she may not be so enthralled with my penchant for what she deems the “twisted…aberration” of women in high heels.
Vargas, D. 2010. “Rita’s pants: The charro traje and trans-sensuality.” Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, 20 (1) 3 – 14.