WHO’S JACKET IS THAT?
Written by Bert Plomp
In my teenage years, I often tried to dress up like one of my rock icons. While imitating others is not something I usually pursue. If you were to open my wardrobe now, you would find clothes that I wore 25 years or even longer ago. Whether I can still go unnoticed on the street with those clothes is really not a concern for me. The quality of the tailoring is still good, and I can effortlessly fit into them.
Every now and then, I buy new clothes. Unlike my lovely wife, I am quick with it. I should mention that I don’t really pay attention to the price. If I like a particular pair of trousers and they fit well, I usually buy two at a time. After a successful purchase, I head straight to a cozy terrace. There, patiently and enjoying some beers, I await the shopping results of my better half.
My wife often finds something nice in the first store she visits. Then she walks through the whole city to see if she can find something better elsewhere. Ultimately, she returns to the first store with a slightly disappointed look, where the coveted clothing item is eventually purchased. I really can’t muster that much patience. Visiting a few stores without success is manageable for me. After that, following her aimlessly becomes a challenge. The hopelessness of the mission increases proportionally with the distance covered.
I remember from the past that my mother and my sister Saskia were looking for a dress at C&A.
While all the racks were searched, and Saskia disappeared numerous times behind the fitting room curtain, my father and I stood waiting and waiting. Waiting, very decently and patiently by the escalator on the ladies’ department. We stood there waiting so long for the return of the ladies that we felt like our legs were about to give way.
You can’t really do anything as a young man on such a ladies’ department. You can’t exactly entertain yourself among the suits and dresses. Not to mention snooping around among bras and panties. Nowadays, it wouldn’t really stand out if you did that. However, back then, the security guard would be called in to kick you out of the store. Standing by the escalator, you always kept your eyes modestly downward. Fearful that a fitting room curtain might be only half closed. Afraid that the occupant of the cubicle might think you were peeping at her.
Although many years later, for a while, I could muster the patience to dutifully accompany my wife shopping, suddenly this old C&A nightmare resurfaced. Therefore, we decided in time to go our separate ways while shopping. The result is that I am done in an hour and can comfortably settle down at a terrace with a beer. My wife, on the other hand, continues to search for bargains at her own pace. Once she’s done shopping, we both have another drink and return home satisfied.
In the time when I copied the clothing style of a certain idol, it was often the case that I was one of the first. I immediately followed new interesting trends. I didn’t wait for the moment when everyone else caught on. Of course, this carried the risk of occasionally looking foolish.
It was not easy either. I did not come from a wealthy background. I usually didn’t have enough money in my pocket to casually enter a fashion store and buy a trendy piece of clothing.
When I needed a new jacket or pair of trousers, I went out to see if I could acquire the desired clothing in an economical way. In those days, that meant scouring the entire family for discarded clothing. Discarded items that fit into the newly devised outfit. If I didn’t succeed, my only option was to ask my father or mother to sit behind the sewing machine. To produce the desired piece of clothing in our own ‘studio.’
At that time, I wore anything that suited my taste. Old fur coats, stoles, jabots, and vests from uncles, aunts, grandpas, and grandmas. In short, all the clothing items that were languishing in mothballs in the family’s attic were inspected, tried on, and combined. Clothes found at a flea market and of completely unknown origin were always worth trying. When trying on such clothes, no thought was given to questions like: Who and in what circumstances last wore this garment? Questions like: Was the last owner hygienic? Did he have a serious illness? Did he perhaps die in this jacket? Is the clothing not full of nasty little creatures? Such questions played absolutely no role when trying on and adopting the respective piece of clothing.