Lockdown has unleashed my inner fashion criminal – and I’m not sorry

I’ve been wearing a bum bag daily since March. I’ve been dying to confess to this fashion sin, since I believe that I’m not alone in committing heinous crimes against tasteful dressing.

I’m hardly your Chanel tweed suit-wearing, helmet-haired fashionista as a rule, but I can definitely combine a vintage designer with some trainers and a slick of lipstick to stylish effect.

The bum bag is convenient despite being daggy.Credit:Getty

Before last March, I’ve only ever worn a bum bag (or fanny pack, if you must) when travelling, and I referred to it – suitably – as a “travel belt”. It was particularly handy to keep my euros, ID and hotel keys close to my waist and under my shirt when walking down Las Ramblas in Barcelona, a notorious pick-pocketing site.

Alas, I can no longer fool myself I’m wearing a travel belt. This garishly patent black, gold-zippered accoutrement is most definitely of the bum bag variety.

Since the pandemic closed my workplace, I’ve had no need to fill a handbag with a purse, snacks, my laptop, iPad, phone charger and a handful of pens I’ll probably never need.

The humble bum bag gets a fashionable makeover.

My routine of dog-walking, followed by Zoom meetings and writing from my living room has meant I’ve only really needed money, keys, a phone and some bobby pins. Plus not having to tote a handbag around on my shoulder, forgetting it under tables or burdening myself with a bunch of unnecessary items, has been a godsend.

In fairness, I haven’t lost all sense of pre-pandemic style sense. Black on black on black is my Melbournian approach. Of all the pandemic styles to inflict upon the public though, a bum bag has nothing on other crimes. Let me put my case. Have you seen the proliferation of Crocs? These are the only shoes that should rightfully be living underwater in Darwin and never viewed outside a restaurant kitchen area. Crocs with socks, no less? If not Crocs, then slides – the sort of shoes that belong on hip hop stars hanging out by their pool, cigar in one hand and a glass of Cristal in the other.

Crocs: a fashion crime.

Then, there’s the ubiquitous “mullet look”: business on top, party below. I’ve seen innumerable women in full faces of makeup, hair perfectly styled, wearing a pair of trackpants with more holes than a cheesegrater; or cologne-scented men in pressed white shirts and cufflinks, whose waist-down look of pineapple print board shorts and thongs says “off-duty”.

What will survive into 2021 as workplaces reopen – if we’re lucky – and we contemplate travel, socialising and job interviews once more?

I can’t speak for my fellow pandemic-dressing offenders, but I’ll be ditching the handbag in favour of this comfy bum bag. It may not impress Vogue readers, but perhaps I’m just ahead of my time.

Cat Woods is a Melbourne writer.

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