I greatly enjoyed reading Douglas Lloyd Jenkins' piece in the Listener recently titled A guy thing – or a gay thing? about New Zealand men's terrible dress sense.
Over the past couple of decades I have spent many, many hours making and acquiring clothes for a man who most certainly does "enjoy an engagement with clothes" but has had enormous difficulty finding any in New Zealand he wants to wear let alone shell out money for. For many years the only styley menswear options generally available here have been dark, deconstructed Belgian-inspired clothes.
Well, like me, the bloke who puts out the rubbish in my house loves colour and pattern. He is not the slightest bit scared of "looking like a poof" (cue knowing laugh from the sister who engineered our meeting...). Admittedly his style is unusual - and possibly to many it is appalling - but it is his own unique style and I greatly admire that.
So I have revived vintage safari suits for him and sewn him new suits from checked seersucker tablecloths and candlewick bedspreads. I've hunted for 1970s frill-fronted evening shirts and when they've expired I've made replicas of them. We've spent holidays abroad tracking down a pre-prepared list of dishy menswear labels not available in New Zealand, well at least not in Christchurch. I've mail ordered him briefcase alternatives , swimming trunks and shoes.
And I've made more loud, printed shirts from op-shop fabrics than I've kept count of. Pictured above are the fabrics of some of these shirts still in active service in his wardrobe including the fabric I bought at that London fabric market many years ago. Remnants from many of these will be for sale on my stall at Stash reHash.
These days he can actually go to a local shop and find an interesting shirt to buy. But I still enjoy the fabric hunt so much that I hope he'll keep my wardrobe assistant services on for the foreseeable future.