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Camo Is A Neutral (And Also Makes Me Manspread)

In a surprise turn of events, I’ve become rather attached to a pair of camo-print cargo trousers. In fact I’ve barely taken them off for an entire week, wearing them with everything from cashmere jumpers to pretty blouses and cotton t-shirts. It’s a surprise turn of events because I’ve had a bit of an aversion to camo print since I got together with my husband. In 2003. When we first met he was camo mad – he wore camo trousers, a camo shirt, a camo jacket and I’m pretty sure he owned camo-print trainers too. It was like dating a giant Action Man.

Anyway, he single-handedly managed to put me off it and, other than a lovely cotton jacket I got from Hush a few years ago, I’ve more or less avoided camo in its ubiquitous “various shades of green” form. Until now.

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Is it the cut of these Me+Em cargo trousers* that I love, the way they just fall in an ever-so-relaxed way from the hip? Or have I finally realised that those many and varied muted shades of green, all jumbled together, make for a print that is hugely easy on the eye? There’s a saying that “leopard is a neutral” – and I concur – but camo is even better at blending seamlessly into the background. (Quite literally. It’s designed to be the ultimate neutral, when you think about it – so long as you’re standing in dense forest or lying in the shrubbery.)

Me + Em camo cargo trousers, here* and olive jumper, here*

I think it’s both the cut and the print that make me love them. And, maybe, a touch of nostalgia. The trousers make me feel as though I’ve gone back in time and managed to weasel my way into being the fifth member of All Saints. They give me firm belief that I can tackle any physical challenge, despite the fact I have the upper body strength of a two month-old baby. When I wear them they totally change my demeanour – I positively strode through London in them the other day, actively channeling Bruce Willis in Die Hard. I had the overwhelming urge to throw myself into a bit of parkour every time I passed a set of steps or crossed a bridge and, when my train was held on the tracks outside of Paddington with no explanation, I was more than ready to slide open the window in between carriages, commando-roll out of it and save my own skin.

Worn with Sézane tee, here*

I also found myself manspreading, which I’d say is the only downside to these cargo pants. I couldn’t sit in a chair without having my knees set apart by at least eighty centimetres, which is quite the angle I can tell you. It’s not a leg position one normally adopts unless they are doing gymnastics or something vaguely gynaecological.

Or they have a penis. Because it seems to be an unwritten rule that if you do have a penis, you must spread your legs wide to give it enough breathing room – it must not be crowded – and to allow enough cooling air to circulate around it easily and efficiently. (The ratio appears to be one cubic metre of air space for every six inches of penis, though I must admit that my scientific study in this area has quite a flawed methodology. Namely the fact I’m just guessing.)

I don’t have a penis, but still find myself man-spreading in the camo pants. Limbering up for the imaginary parkour I’m going to do, stretching out the old thigh muscles. It must be a camo-print side-effect because I just can’t seem to close my knees whilst wearing it, it’s as though they’re repelling one another.

And that’s not the only alarming development: I also find myself continually tempted to utilise the extra pockets in the cargo pants. The ones halfway down the leg. Quelle horreur! Obviously I’ve done everything within my power to resist, despite them being the perfect practical replacement for a handbag: credit cards in one knee-pocket, iPhone in the other. You could fit a paperback book in there, for crying out loud. But I mustn’t allow it – I’m not Bear Grylls. I don’t want to wake up one day to find that I’ve booked a solo bivouacking expedition to the Peruvian mountains just so that I can fill my many pockets with foil blankets, balls of twine and endless boxes of water purifying tablets.

That way madness lies.

Anyway, I really like the trousers. I instantly warm to any garment that can be worn with trainers and won’t shrink in the wash but these are something decidedly special. They have a chic cut (I mean, they’re Me+Em so of course they do) and they work beautifully with my more delicate tops as well as the ever-useful chunky knits.

Worn with MABE Apparel blouse, past season

You can find the Camo Cargo Trouser at Me+Em here* – they’ll look great in spring, with a t-shirt and little bouclé Chanel-ish jacket and will work right through the summer, on all but the hottest of days, with a sporty ribbed vest top and flip-flops. A proper all-year-round wardrobe staple. Size down one, unless you like things incredibly loose – I am wearing a UK8 here and would usually be a 10-12.

Read more fashion posts….

Worn with Arket cashmere jumper, here* and Fitflop Rally Knit trainers, here*

I think the aforementioned “character-changing garment” thing warrants further discussion: is there a certain type of clothing that makes you behave in a completely different manner? If I wear cowboy boots, for example, I definitely have more swagger when I walk. If I ever wear knee socks, I can’t help but speak in a childish voice. Please say it’s not just me…

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