GIRL ABOUT TOWN: What my wardrobe emergencies taught me

Thursday September 20 2018

I stopped in my tracks and my hands moved swiftly to the zip at the back. PHOTO | FILE


I was walking down the street with the confidence of someone dressed to kill.

I had finally bought that hot skirt I had been admiring for months on end. I had saved enough to buy it after denying myself so many things for months. And I knew I looked good.

“Excuse me, excuse me,” I heard someone say. But I was getting late for my hot date and I decided to ignore the man.

“Excuse me!” the tone was more urgent this time, prompting me to turn around. I saw a scruffy looking man. Hmmm, no time for him. I was looking forward to my hot date.

“Please madam, your skirt,” he whispered.

I smiled, knowing too well how this skirt accentuated my African figure.


“Thank you,” I said, turning to continue walking.

“Madam, your skirt; I mean, your zip…” he said, voice fading away.


I stopped in my tracks, looked back at him and he just looked down, embarrassed. My hands moved swiftly to the zip at the back and I gasped in horror as I realised that my zip was not only open, but it was also jammed!

I looked around desperately looking for a clothes shop and I couldn’t see any. But I could hear ‘Fifty fifty ! Mia mia!’ a short distance away. My eyes searched and landed on a hawker selling scarfs. I rushed there, picked up the first scarf asking how much it was as I tied it round my waist, removed money from my bag…Long story short, I paid Sh500 for a scarf that was probably being sold for Sh100, bought a new pair of jeans and I was more than an hour late for my date.

Fast forward to a few years later as I was alighting from a matatu early morning, and I just heard ‘crrrrrrrrr’! I knew my beautiful pencil skirt had ripped in a very bad place and I wasn’t sure how to react. I just took out a scarf from my bag — I had started carrying one around since the first unfortunate incident — and wrapped it around my waist.

Now, at 6.30am, where does one get a tailor in town? And especially when you need to be presentable for a meeting at 7.30am in Westlands? I called my sister and I was enlightened about some fabric shops in a certain part of town that open pretty early. I rushed there, bought a needle and thread, dashed to the office and went straight into the bathroom, took off that skirt and began reminding myself of my primary school Home Science lessons.

Oh boy, I pricked my fingers so many times I thought I’d have holes in them, cut thread with my teeth and when I was done sewing the seam from the zip to the tiny slit at the back, I could tell it was crooked. But it would have to do. And what a long day that was. Since that day, I carry a sewing kit in my handbag for wardrobe emergencies.


And just the other month, I was heading to my in-laws for a visit and as is custom in my place, I needed decent and modest clothes. So I went shopping for a few more decent skirts and dresses to supplement the ones I had. I went to a shop where I buy my ankara clothes from and found beautiful dresses and two skirts.

On travel day I wore one of my new skirts — neat and long; it was just right. I knew I would turn heads but also be quite modest.

When we were almost home, I alighted from the vehicle to walk a short distance because the driver had to manoeuvre around a ditch. Then someone whispered in my ear: “Your zip has unfastened.” I stopped in my tracks, touched my back and my hands felt my panties, but I could not find my zip. I moved my hands upwards and the zip was still fastened in place but the zipper teeth were ripped open. All I could do was pull up my skirt slightly and pull down my stretchy top to cover the zip as my in-laws came to greet me.

After prayers and the welcome, there was suddenly food on the table, then tea and then guests streaming in. It was difficult to get away and I was truly uncomfortable until evening when I was able to get a few minutes to take a bath and change.

When I was buying that particular skirt, I was unable to pull the zip up properly when I was fitting it and I had to ask a shop attendant to help. It also wasn’t sewed in properly and it was the last skirt of that design, so the in-house tailor made the adjustments and apparently fixed the zip as I waited.

I was doubtful, but well, it would serve the purpose, I thought. But after this incident, I will surely trust my instincts more – after all, I could have chosen a different skirt design and still slayed.


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