'You really suit that pink shirt," said a good friend the other day. "Zaineb, pink is definitely your colour," said another, joining our post-work game of cards barely five minutes later. Passing comments for them both, I'm sure, but ones that resonated deeply within my sartorially challenged soul.
Me? Fashionable? Had they been privy to any of my many past fashion faux pas, they were comments that might otherwise not have been handed out that readily.
Looking back at photos of me as a young child, it has not passed my notice that, despite their ability to furnish our family home stylishly, my parents spent a good proportion of my childhood dressing me up like a tramp with exceedingly bad taste. Pink denim shirt, red necktie, and red jeans? Oh yes, they did. Thinking nothing of dragging me around Venice, one past holiday, wearing what appears to be an orange jumpsuit? Thank you, dearest parents of mine, for presenting me to the public as your very own child felon.
Unfortunately for me, however, the hanger did not fall far from the closet, resulting in me spending most of my teens in the most unfortunate and unappealing of outfits. From an unlimited supply of baggy and shapeless jeans (I blame the crop of bands that I loved, at the time, who popularised the look) to the copper-coloured crochet top I wore to every school party for a whole year. Coco Chanel I was not.
And let's not even begin discussing my makeup preferences - the lime-green eyeshadow phase, still too painful to discuss.
Looking back now, my favourite fashion mishap has to be the baby pink, imitation snakeskin skirt I happened upon one weekend while out shopping, complete with a zip that went all the way up the front. Horrible, no doubt about it, but it had its uses - particularly when I went to my friend's 16th birthday party and had a sugary drink spilled over me within five minutes of making my grand entrance. A lesser (well, far more fashion-conscious) person might have wilted, but thanks to the indestructible and plastic-like material of my skirt, I survived unscathed. Unfortunately, so did the skirt.
It took a caring friend dragging me aside one day, after years of pleading with me to ditch the baggy jeans, and insisting she supervise me on a lengthy shopping trip the following weekend, before something finally clicked.
Eight years on, and if my two friends' recent comments are anything to go by, it looks like I've finally hit my fashion stride.
So long as I remove all traces of the incriminating evidence that says otherwise, that is. I wonder, how flammable that ancient pink skirt is? Hypothetically speaking, of course...