After decades of wearing the trousers, why I'm finally dressing up

Theresa May, in trousers, with Nicola Sturgeon, in a skirt
There's no longer a need to take sides in the trousers vs skirts debate Credit: Getty Images/ WPA Pool

Some women out there, reading this, will be skirt people. Owners of more than two pairs of tights and dresses that aren’t just for weddings and special occasions. The rest will be trouser women. We’re the ones who almost always wear trousers, partly because we think we suit them best, partly for ease, and also because somewhere deep in our psyche we think the wearing of trousers (mostly jeans) denotes a certain type. 

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If you had to summarise this type, it’s a bit more wash 'n go than the other one. The opposite end of the princess scale to Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift. In surveys, trouser types (I’m making this up but still, grain of truth) are sportier, less high maintenance and more rock 'n roll.

Clearly there are many exceptions to the rule – Nicola Sturgeon to name one. Stevie Nicks to name another. But never mind that, because it’s all about to change anyway. Now, at the start of 2017 we may be looking at a 360 degree reappraisal of trousers v skirts: where modern and gutsy equals not jeans and leather but a nice pretty dress. 

Taylor Swift is at the princess end of the fashion scale Credit:  Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

I know this because I have bought two dresses in the space of a month, having bought zero dresses since my wedding ten years ago. I’m urgently femming up (the female version of manning up) after decades of wearing trousers to work and to parties, and thinking that had the edge, modernity wise. Probably, in the months to come, someone will connect this mood change to the election of Trump, or Brexit. For now I’m firmly pointing the finger at La La Land, already the film of the year, the star of which wears breezy dresses throughout.

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Why are we going mad for this film now? A yearning for some prettiness and romance, the opposite of sweat-pants, tattoos, bad news and horrible manners, that’s why. Cue sunshine yellow dresses and tap shoes. The same goes for The Halcyon on ITV. Not much interested in the plot, but quite in the mood to watch platinum blondes with bippity boppity hats, cinched waists and seamed stockings. 

Meanwhile we’ve reached saturation point trousers wise. And how. Even committed skirt women now wear jeans or athleisure wear in their downtime. The most elegant women you can think of have been seduced by trainers and smart track pants. Unless you’re a Hollywood actress or a model with an Instagram agenda you are never popping on a frock to head to the park or the pub.

Even the Duchess of Cambridge chose to wear jeans on the cover of Vogue Credit: Vogue/Conde Nast

It has gotten to the point where if you found a female friend watching TV at home in a dress you’d think they were being filmed for a fly on the wall documentary. Or still up from the party the night before. Even Kate Middleton,  given her pick of designers for that cover shoot in Vogue magazine, chose to wear not a crowd wowing day dress, or an iconic skirt suit, but jeans and a Breton T shirt. The only person who doesn’t spend the large part of their existence in some form of trousers is the Queen.

Her Majesty, The Queen: rarely seen in a trouser Credit: Royal Collection Trust

Peak trousers is where this urge to fem up and get into a dress is coming from. That and the feeling that most of us look more or less the same from New York to Milton Keynes, and that look is not exactly thrilling. We won’t look back at pictures of ourselves and say Ohmigod Look At Us, that’s for sure.

I’m not suggesting we’re ready to abandon our jeans completely. Just that I have a yen to claim my total clothing rights (better late than never) and resist the slow slide into navy fashion track pants and comfy trainers, 24/7. Also, if I’m honest, I’m getting tired of men saying: Going for a run? Or, alternatively, being mistaken for my stepson (in a parka, with the hood up, obviously).