Even as I type, four girls out of five in Halifax are wearing shirt-dresses. True, they make a slender girl look four months pregnant, while an old veteran mother like myself looks at least seven months gone. But, they are extremely cool and comfortable, versatile, easy to dress up and down, and they look nice with leggings. What more does a girl want? As I stepped out of IKA two weeks ago and looked around at the Iranian women struggling with their scarves and manteaux, I was hit by a flash of lightening: manteaux are in fact, sort of, shirt-dresses. Only nobody knew. Longish, flow-ish, lots of different patterns and designs… Yes. I decided there and then to take back a couple of manteaux with me, to wear as shirt-dresses.
Of course, traditional manteaux are too ugly to consider- too long, the material too thick, too effective at making the body look ugly. My mother had bought one for me in anticipation of my visit:
Practically all the manteaux I have worn since childhood follow this same basic version; a bastardized version of western tailoring for ladies’ coats, as befits the name manteau. Some have beads, some have gold buttons, some have embroidered edges, some have contrasting trims, some have frills, some are short, some are long, and all are ugly ugly ugly. We pretend they are not, and follow the fashions as they are are dictated: red, army-green, bright pink, tight, loose, frilled, straight… But we all know in our hearts they are ugly, and not really the cool comfy seksy shirt-dresses we would like them to be.
Today I bought a manteau which was different, the first manteau I had ever worn which seemed to be in touch with Iranian sartorial roots. No buttons, but tied around with ribbons, and made of a soft and light fabric. Not really body-concealing, but whatever.
Not really a shirt-dress, but much, much nicer. A beautful manteau, which I will take back and wear in Halifax.