x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Katie Trotter: Dress down, feel good

Why slobbing out is good for the soul.

I moved house this weekend and spent both days in jogging bottoms, a hooded top, a cap (I was painting) and some old trainers. I wasn't wearing any make-up and had barely brushed my hair. I felt absolutely great. Until I popped (more like lurked) across the street to my new local supermarket to buy some supplies. No one would know me anyway, was the general thought.

And that's exactly how I found myself ducking and diving around the aisles in some pretty unappealing garb trying my best to avoid three (I repeat, three) people from my workplace. I had forgotten; I was in Abu Dhabi, a place you really can't do, say or go anywhere without bumping into someone. You know, it's simply too small for anonymity.

I was irritated by my own embarrassment. Why should I care so much in the first place? I was being productive after all, getting the job done. Who cares what I looked like? Well, me, I realised.

It all boils down to the comfort over class thing, an age-old predicament and certainly one that, as an outsider, seems rather inane. Here we are, girls, running companies and countries, yet most of us can't bear to be seen at the local supermarket without make-up or some slightly uncool jeans. Instead, we choose to teeter around in high heels so prodigious we can barely make it to the taxi door. We squirm around somewhat uncomfortably on the beach in nothing but a few triangles while men frolic around in comfortable shorts down to their knees. We stuff ourselves into body shaping wear (which might be doing internal organ damage ) leaving us looking like we left part of our middle at home. And all for what? To please men, or (my guess) to please our female critics.

It doesn't have to be this way; if you are undoing zips in the lift or carrying a pair of flip-flops in your handbag for the walk from the car to your desk, there is an obvious problem that needs addressing. Let's be rational here. Think for a moment of a world free of pain, a world free of unsuitably high heels and bulging middles; a world of - dare I suggest - comfort. Surely by removing the need, or want , of fitting into a certain role that has been cruelly projected upon us, we would free ourselves from all the neurosis and a few aching muscles. Perhaps it has to do with the changing ideals of modern dress; we are much more likely to reach for casual wear than we would have done ten years ago. We fully realise that practicality is more important, yet we still struggle with wanting to look the part.

If we were smart, we would be looking for shoes that actually fit our feet. What really is comfortable is a wide toe and a narrow heel; the problem being that it makes for a fairly ugly shoe. So we either choose to crush our toes into a narrow front or slip out the back; neither, of course, are great. Instead, try experimenting with wedges as they spread the weight more evenly and cause less pressure.

Believe it or not, some of the comfortable shoe brands that focus on durability have upped their game. Take a look at Ecco or Clarks and you would be surprised at how fashion-forward they have become. Just don't trust the mid-heel. Firstly, it pretends to be comfortable and no-nonsense, when really it depends entirely on the way in which the shoe is made, not, as we think, the height of the heel.

Fashion can't, believe me, even make itself happy. My advice? For those struggling to look like they feel they ought to should relax in the knowledge that, most of the time, people are far too wrapped up in their own mini-drama to give a toss about your lack of eyeliner. Or so they will tell you anyway.