In an effort to keep my horizons as broad as possible, I’ve been taking correspondence courses in Women’s Fashion from the Institut Français de la Mode (IFM). To say it’s been fascinating would be understatement bordering on the obscene.

Among other positively intriguing things, I’ve been learning the differences between pencil pants, high-waist pencil pants, skinny pants, slim-fit pants, cigarette pants, ankle pants, pixie ankle pants, drainpipes, stovepipes, gas pipes, and just plain old skinnies.

The first thing I discovered in this particular line of study is that women have an almost unlimited capacity for retaining multitudinous monikers for exactly the same things — or they have senses of nuance and subtlety that far exceed the capacity of men to comprehend them. (Them in the previous sentence can refer to women’s senses of nuance and subtlety, women in general, or both. It’s the readers’s choice.)

The second thing I discovered is that many of the things one might reasonably presume to be true of pencil pants aren’t true at all — and some things you might never imagine are true. For example:

  1. Despite the fact that this is diametrically counterintuitive, you can’t actually write anything with pencil pants. I know this to be true. In fact, the one time I tried on a pair of pencil pants, I couldn’t even breathe, let alone write.
  2. Perhaps because of #1, pencil pants don’t have erasers.
  3. Consistent with #2, ankle pants don’t really have ankles.
  4. In medical emergencies, particularly those that involve hemorrhaging, high-waist pencil pants make very effective tourniquets. The one time I tried on a pair, I had no circulation at all above the level of my sternum. My upper extremities went completely numb. My eyeballs were bulging out of my head. And my EEG flat-lined.

Nevertheless, as much as I’m enjoying my studies at IFM, I’m not sure I’m cut out for the fashion world. I have trouble handling such a steady diet of glamor. And I never imagined the ways in which my health would be imperiled. So, I’m going to pack it in as soon as I complete my program in Luxury Management.

All things considered, I think I’ll stick to being a pencil pusher.

Image by HebiFot, courtesy of