I am having a terrible time finding a new top. All I want is a glitzy looking evening top, one of those with that ever-mentionable day-to-night versatility, so I could just throw it on over tight jeans and boots and look suddenly glamorous and wildly elegant, and not like I’ve been sitting a desk for eight hours, as I indeed have. Easy, right?

When I was eighteen these were all the rage. Everyone wore jeans and boots and a nice top. Only muppets wore dresses to town! Muppets who had been dressed by their mothers! We were far too casual for dresses, too cool to try so hard, and primarily, too cold. But sadly, the times have changed, now being some seven years later. How I yearn sometimes for the mid naughties and their jean-ridden winter nights.

Now, when I enter a store looking simply for a flattering, fitting black singlet with the right amount of perfectly designed draping that clings in the right places and casually skips over the wrong places, I find myself besieged by flirty, tiny dresses. All manner of sequined dresses, cutesy pastel dresses, cut-out-so-that-the-diamond-of-skin-below-your-breasts-is-visible dresses!

‘It’s freezing!’ I want to wail at the racks. ‘I don’t want to wear a fecking dress! My knees will be cold!’

So I was driven online. Now I know that they rant and rave about how terrible it is that people shop online, that the average Jane Bloggs shopkeeper just can’t compete, that she can’t keep up with all of her rent and overheads and the old man she employs out the back to hand sew on all of the buttons. I know this. I know it’s better to shop locally and not to support ‘the man’.

But it’s so much easier! And free shipping! To New Zealand! A few years ago this was unheard of! Or only available with orders over $1,567 US dollars or suchlike. And there are categories, listed simply down the side! Which means that I don’t accidentally end up in the men’s section, holding a hot pink T-shirt and wondering if it would fit me, and that it looks far too big to be a small. There are no burdened sales racks, creaking under the weight of years and years of stashed clothes, the hangers so tightly stacked that to pull out one surely means that five others will come crashing down with it, and you’ll have to pick them all up, bobbing up and down awkwardly and apologising repeatedly to the shop assistant who is watching you contemptuously from behind the counter.

No trudging through hoards of last years gold hotpants in XS that an over-exuberant manager ordered in a fit of Kylie-nostalgia. No fourteen year old sales assistants calling you ‘bub’ and swinging open the curtains to eye your half dressed figure beadily before proclaiming loudly, ‘That’s too small. I’ll get the next size up, if we have it…’ and swishing off, leaving the curtain open so that a skinny cluster of heavily eye-lined teenage girls are treated to a lasting look of your greying polka dot underwear.

So yes. I went online.

I went to, selected Tops, and prepared to be wowed by the dazzling array of perfect, flattering, edgy singlets and flowing evening tops. But, horror! Even worse! Crop tops! Acres and acres of midriff on display! And huge, oversized jerseys, like David Bain’s except with pandas and flowers on them, and cute phrases like Love, and No Photos Please. When did we all turn into eight year olds again?

I filtered my search and gratefully selected Evening Tops, hoping to end the madness. But again! When did it become okay to wear a leotard, even if they’re calling it a body-suit? Is this how acrobatic dancing is becoming these days? That you need your top to be attached to your undies? Why on earth would you need that? Unwanted visions of frenzied dance floors scenes fill my head at this thought.

Or what’s this, a see-though black lace number with a bra beneath? Well, don’t mind if I do… I may star as an extra in a remake of The Matrix one day, you never know! Another one just looks like a run of the mill black polo neck. Warm, decent, sturdy. The type I used to wear to school, except that mine was a hideous yellow and was still in possession of it’s bottom half, so that my stomach wasn’t naked below the bra – like this model’s is.

And these are the bestsellers! I am utterly lost, and I feel about eighty years old, peering at the screen in pompous disbelief. Everything is either skin-tight and completely revealing, or shapeless and unflattering, the type that only the truly thin and fabulous can pull off.

Maybe I should just buy a dress and some tights…


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