The Orange Shirt of Adulthood.


I have a pretty good arse.

It’s okay to say it. And, if that sentence makes you uncomfortable, here is a picture of a puppy. You can just stare at that while I keep writing.


As a teenager (like, the short time before I went full motherhood) I liked to wear an assortment of clothing that was not really clothing. Fortunately I burned nearly all the really bad photographic evidence. Some of you may remember it. I’m sorry.

To paint a picture: If it was material that was either fluffy, vinyl, pink, or curtains (true story) I would ‘sew’ it together (read : pin) and call it a skirt/dress/caftan.

Because I hated all my teachers that tried to teach me ‘sewing’ at school, I never really cared for ‘finishing’ garments (zippers, buttons, fabric meeting in the middle)

Ok, let’s be honest, ‘parts’ would be exposed. Not the really biblical parts, just, you know… what my mother might refer to as ‘an excess of skin’.  She would mask her disapproval by saying things like “I’m worried you might get cold”. Bless my mother. She is an artist. Perhaps she thought it would lead to a lucrative career in fashion.


It should be noted that whilst this was a dress-up party, these were my regular clothes. 

She was the antithesis of judgey.

I had crooked teeth and very bleached hair as an adolescent. I think I tried to highlight the good bits (arse, excellent midriff) to detract from what I was highly self conscious of.

But then I was pregnant. (Do NOT blame the pink toweling skirts, and purple petticoats, or I will have to throat punch you. I’m pretty tough). And I was young.

It became apparent to me that the sense of ‘style’ that I had adopted would not fly.

I stood staring at my wardrobe; contents that personified youth (and chilled skin) and in one fell swoop, I had a sacrificial burning of anything polyester or overly mesh.

(Ok, I didn’t really burn it all. I donated most of it to charity. You know, so that other 15 year old girls could reduce the attention given to their teeth and hair.)

After I gave birth to my daughter, in fact on the way home from the hospital, I told S to please take me into the mall. I needed adult clothes. I needed real ADULT clothes.

Ironically an old woman noticed my newborn daughter in her carry car seat and disapprovingly told me I should not have brought her into a mall at such a young age (I think she was referring to the baby, not me). “She might catch something”. Yeah lady.. she might catch some of your judgement.

My daughter’s father worked in a menswear store at the time, so we went in to say hello and be congratulated etc. This is when I noticed the men’s shirts.

‘Those look baggy and comfortable’ I thought.’ They will cover all of the evidence that I have had a baby and am a child bride. I will have 9 thanks.’

I exaggerate,  we were way too poor to afford 9. I bought 1 and stole one of his when we got home. It was orange.

I figured if I was to be taken seriously, I needed to wear a large shirt, and ‘work pants.’ (for those of you who can’t picture work pants, they are anything that is black and made with conservative material. They are not made out of thermally lined curtain fabric.)

The orange shirt was incidentally very useful for breastfeeding. I wasn’t really allowed to breastfeed in public anyway (LONG story) but if it was an apocalyptic emergency there was enough fabric to tent the baby completely.

The orange shirt (and the many others like it) allowed me to look ‘appropriate’ in the way that my A line mini tartan skirt (circa. Clueless) did not .

It was all about being appropriate, you see. And I was not really all that appropriate. You know, on a fundamental level. But I needed something. Something to signal that I was not your average teenage mother. I was mature. I had an orange f**king shirt. I was responsible.

But when you are so short that your feet don’t touch the floor, and they swing aimlessly from side to side, like a 5 year old watching the wiggles, on your in-law’s couch while you are breastfeeding your very small human…You want an orange shirt. You really don’t want your curtain pants. Because you have something to prove to the world. Or at least I did. I was all about proving it.

Now I am 34 (and people still give me a running commentary that I can’t be the mother, I look too young) I wear what I want.

I have a good arse.

I have well and truly earned the right to wear vinyl pants. So I do.

Except maybe on parent teacher nights.


The one and only photo I have of being pregnant with my daughter. This outfit was swiftly put at the back of the cupboard. Shame really, those pants were great….




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