Recently my bosses have made some pretty stark observations about my character.
One of the most accurate came today as I told my employer about listening to Sweet Caroline on Local ABC Radio and singing along like a grinning fool in traffc. “Yes, they play some fairly daggy music on Local Radio,” my boss tells me. “I usually switch off when the songs come on.”
“Maybe you’re a bit of a dag, deep down,” he adds, for good measure.
Personally, I don’t think you have to scratch very far beyond the surface to find my inner dag. It is usually lurking at the edges of my consciousness. “Wear those jeans with joggers,” the voice urges me.
For years at school and university I was that fool walking along, terribly pleased with myself for no good reason, oblivious to being such a walking fashion disaster.
What am I wearing here!!
The best part was that I never knew. It did not matter how many times my well-meaning, baffled flatmates told me that no, you cannot wear flowers with flowers or stripes with flowers, or to just throw out anything with flowers on, still I would end up drawing people’s gazes for all the wrong reasons.
Partly to blame is my childhood, and formative teen years in a little country microcosm on the New South Wales’ Northern Rivers. I don’t want to point the finger, but my mum did not always set the best example. Exhibit a:
My mum bought this coat for me when I lived in Armidale. I used to leave it in the cloak room, hoping madly that somebody would steal it. One night I thought luck had sailed into town. The coat had disappeared during a particularly vigorous dance-off at the uni night club. I did not even mind walking home coat-less in sub-zero temperatures, such was the delight at being rid of the eyesore.
Of course, the next morning my next door neighbour bought it back to me. They thought I had forgotten it, bless them.
Some things have not changed after six years in the city.
My flatmates still remark when I come home from work: “get dressed up for the office today, did we, Pen,” in a beautifully sarcastic tone. I look down at my cargo pants and singlet and wonder how I thought it was acceptable office attire.
Hindsight is a killer for daggy people. There are always photos, waiting, lurking and ready to mock.
I still spend an average of two hours getting ready for a night out – most of which is deciding whether the purple flowery pants are too lary or whether my plain green jacket goes with the white singlet and plain jeans. I have no answers for these truly terrific questions. Make-up is still limited to tinted moisturiser and mascara.
Often I am told by bus drivers that I “probably shouldn’t be running in that dress on a main road.”
But there is a slight silver lining in my struggle against dagginess. I have some great pals who have shed some of their more fashionable clothes to the Penny’s-wardrobe-needs-a-makeover charity. My best garments are cast-offs from people with a slightly less developed inner dag.
The second beacon of hope is much more fulfilling.
I’m not so concerned these days when I get it wrong. I’ll tack my errors under a banner of individuality and I revel in not looking the same as all of those well-heeled folk. It was not an attitude I had planned when I was trying on my mothers stilettos as a child. Back then I believed I’d look like Jackie Onassis when I grew up.
In reality, compliments on my attire set me on edge. “Are you taking the piss,” I demand of anyone nice enough to tell me my botched outfit looks good.
This predicament begs the question, who says what’s daggy and what’s not. Shorn Lowry wonders what people will think of me when I move to the outback later this year.
Perhaps I will come across as a city slicker. Or maybe they will see through my high-qua;ity cast-offs to the inner dag.
One things is certain. I doubt I will be blending in.