Part 1: Who exactly was the last owner of this coat?

Written by Bert Plomp
Translated by Helena Clarkson

In my teenage years I truly enjoyed dressing up like some of my favourite rock stars, but Imitating others is a thing of the past and certainly not something I normally do these days. Still if you opened my wardrobes now, you would find clothes that I wore 25 years or even longer ago. Whether you could actually get away wearing these rather vintage type clothes still in public today is a good question of course. My old clothes are still in super condition I can still slip into the clothes rather easily for they practically fit me l like a glove as I managed to keep my body in good shape and thus still wear the same size clothing that I wore as a young man. Every now and then I may buy me a new outfit these days however I usually will have finished with my shopping in record time. I must mention that I do not really pay attention to the price. If I see a piece of clothing that I like and it fits well, I prefer to buy two pair. After a successful purchase, I rush directly to a cosy terrace and, while enjoying my favourite beer in a pleasant out door restaurant or bistro. I wait patiently for the end result of my partner’s somewhat more time-consuming shopping spree. My lovely wife’s serious shopping expeditions take considerably longer time wise, than mine.
My wife often sees a fabulous clothing-item on display in the first store she visits and then marches on with great determination all the way through the entire mall on a serious mission to perhaps to conquer an even more smashing outfit! Eventually she will return to the first store extremely tired and dejected at the end of the day; to buy the much-coveted item of clothing, which caught her eye several hours before in the first place! Personally, I cannot bring up the needed energy and stamina to waste this much time on shopping. I might have the patience to follow her like a dutiful husband into the first two stores or so, but if she still has not succeeded to make a choice of purchase by visiting the second or third store then I give up following her like a puppy dog in and out of all these crowded shops. Men just do not have the same stamina like the so-called “weaker sex” possesses for shopping in general. At first, like a good boy, I continue this aimlessly stroll behind her, while my feeling of hopelessness increases proportionately with the distance we travel.
From the past I can remember that my mother and my sister Saskia were looking for a piece of textile at C & A. Meanwhile, my father and I were waiting and waiting at the escalator in the women’s section. We stood there waiting so long for the return of the ladies, that we were totally dead on our feet! Although many years later I have become more patient and like to support my wife with some of her “retail therapy” excursions but ever so often, this old nightmarish vision of poor dad and I waiting and waiting more dead than alive at that “C & A escalator” suddenly arises again. That’s why we decided eventually to go our separate ways during our shopping sprees and go our own speed, with the result that I’m done in an hour and I can comfortably relax outside at a nice little outside restaurant and enjoy a cold beer, while my wife can continue for hours at her own pace to shop the entire Mall. Once she has finished her clothes shopping, we celebrate this successful venture with another cool refreshment together before we hit the road and happily and satisfied return home.
Getting back to the period that I tried to dress like my music idols however, I like to think it was in my favour that I was one of the first to do so. I fancied myself to be a bit of trendsetter and immediately looked and dressed the part of my music idol on day one. I think I showed a bit originality on my part and did not resemble the rest of the pack animals that looked like total carbon copies of each other; in other words, I like to run way ahead of the herd! Of course, this did involve a few problems, especially if you did not have the financial means to quickly pop into a fashion store to buy a modern hip piece of clothing, as definitely was the case in my situation.
When I was ready for a “new jacket” or “new trousers”, or both, I went to the flea market first to see if I could get hold of the desired clothing items without breaking the bank. In those days it meant that I rummaged everywhere in the whole family in search of discarded clothing for items that might fit in within the newly fangled dangled wardrobe.
At the time, we really wore everything that was available in your size. Old fur coats, jabots and waistcoats from uncles, aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers. In short, all clothing that lay in the mothballs from family members in the attic was inspected, fitted and combined. These kinds of clothes would be described as rather funky vintage today especially combined with the sickening smell mothballs, Clothing, found at a flea market had perhaps a rather more serious and obscure history, still that did not keep us from happily trying them on. For example, when trying these items on for size, the question did never come up in our head “Who owned this garment and who wore it last?”.
Questions such as: “Was the former owner actually a clean person” Did the former possessor suffer from a serious illness like consumption or the bubonic plague perhaps? Even worse yet had the poor slob that owned it possibly died in this garment?” And “Was the item of clothing not full of unpleasant itchy critters with fleas, lice and crabs that can jump higher than a toilet seat perhaps? Such serious questions absolutely never came up, nor deterred us from buying these much coveted as well as questionable clothing items!


For all parts click: Beatle jackets and bell bottom trousers 

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