What a Pair of Tartan Pants Taught Me

It must’ve been at the age of seventeen when I acquired a pair of tartan pants. The kind that my fourteen year old self would clamour for, all in its punk style tartan glory. My punk rock style of dressing has toned down considerably over the three years by then, but it was still something worthy of wearing out into the city.

Look great, feel great.

Aside from the occasional leggings or denim shorts, my usual go-to were one pair of jeans or the other, which looked great with anything while still presenting my own self in the gender-neutral style I prefer. Jeans is a great looking piece in an alternative teen’s closet, and the pair of tartan pants was a good compromise in the style and functionality department.

Have you tried sitting cross-legged in a pair of jeans? They looked great but some leg nerves inevitably get squashed one way or another. Also, they make crossing your legs not comfortable at all.

The tartan pants had a striking, bold pattern which was versatile enough to go with most things in my closet while not making sitting cross-legged a pain in the thighs. I bought it with the expectation that I would be wearing it quite often. To my 14 year old self, the tartan pants was probably an expression of my teenage dreams.

There was a catch to this teenage-dreamy find.

I quickly realised those pants were actually quite loose around the hips, not in a good or remotely fashionable low-waist-like-that-kind-of-jeans way. It was in a way that pointed to the fact that it was too wide to fit me properly.

That realisation steadily devolved into my own resigned disappointment, which led to it being largely ignored in my closet.

Time slowly went by and I turned 20 and a month more as 2016 came around. The 20 year old me was as different from the 17 year old me as it was different from the 14 year old me. My mindset was firmer and more confident, less naive and more realistic in (self)comparison to the two versions of my teenage selves. By now I also prefered to adopt a cynical attitude or emotionally-distanced mindset at times, all for the greater good I would say. I  My closet’s contents had evolved by then and even though I no longer dressed youth subculturally, my closet still had hints of my punk rock roots in them every now and then.

At 20, I had learnt by then my fashion sense didn’t define me, I was now confident enough to walk out and about while looking boringly ‘normal’. Side note:  Fashion is also a pretty useful and subliminal tool for one to rebel against societal conventions through expression of style 😉 . At 20, I no longer minded so much about the level of punk rock I could attain through my assembled outfit of the day (definitely not on the #ootd bandwagon here! :D) though I still enjoy using makeup in a slightly theatrical manner at times to look unconventionally aesthetically-appealing.

About two weeks ago I was in a hurry to turn up for a meeting I was already late for and I was supposed to be at. Style was the second last thing on my mind when I put on the same tartan pants I had left in my closet for so long. Only when I had zipped it up did I realise- it finally fit me perfectly, no loose fabric or anything- after three years.

It’s just pants, of course, but it was a poignant moment for me that day in that hurried moment. There are things in life that we spend our years yearning for. They aren’t anything wrong and can even be desirable things any human would want. Frustrated resignation sets in when we realise we are probably never going to fit into what we want.

Sometimes, just like my tartan pants, what it takes for us to fit into whatever we have been desiring long-term is time itself. Time where we grow and fill into whatever it is we desire, making the things we have been yearning for a great fit for our own selves. You could say it can also be interpreted the other way around of course. A lot of things we humans yearn for follow the same trajectory.

I’m surprised such an epiphany could come out from the mundane act of putting on pants.



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