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Touching Cloth: A Middle Aged Man’s Apparel Journey

Mirror, Mirror

It comes to us all eventually. It usually starts with a few grey hairs on the temples, and before you know it you are standing in a changing room in a high street store gazing at the reflection in the mirror; looking for all the world like a snake that has swallowed a pig. There’s a bit of spread around the middle, so tailored fit shirts are in danger of popping their buttons. You look like John Hurt just before the alien bursts out. Stuffing yourself into skinny jeans is like trying to push marshmallow twists into a shotgun breech.

It dawns on you that River Island, Top Man and H&M are no longer your friends, and that to be truthful, you wouldn’t be seen dead in half of what they sell anyway. Well, congratulations, you are middle aged. It isn’t a number. It’s an attitude and a body shape.

A New Hope

At this realisation, you can either retire from clothes shopping and resign yourself to wearing ASDA joggers and a replica football shirt for the rest of your days, or you could find out what’s on offer out there for dad bods. I am happy to report that there’s life beyond the high street chains and supermarkets.

As I shape shifted through the years from a skinny lath with a 28″ waist to a fifty something 13 stoner with receding hair and a slight pot, I realised I had to seek out new brands and new manufacturers and boldly go to independent shops and small online enterprises.

Quality Is Your New Best Friend

As well as irreversible changes to the body, something else can happen in middle age. You begin to to turn to quality. Quality fits better and lasts longer. Any old shit only looks good on colts. The older clothes horse needs to be more discerning. The good news is that quality doesn’t necessarily mean expense, as I will demonstrate in future posts.

My Rules Of Engagement

Quality is often associated with provenance too. I began to care about how and where my clothes were made. I re-read Naomi Klein’s No Logo and I resolved never to knowingly buy clothes associated with sweat shops, modern slavery and exploitative practices that ruin lives and the environment. I set myself some rules and criteria:

It Began From The Bottom Up

No, not my arse. My feet. For my fiftieth birthday I decided to buy a pair of classic, timeless brogues; just like the ones I used to polish for my Dad for pocket money when I was a kid. Getting the foundations right is all important is it not? Start right from the ground up. As designer Christian Louboutin said, “Shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically and emotionally.” It’s so true, and I will tell you about that next time.

1 reply »

  1. Hi Chris,

    I really enjoyed reading through this post, a lot of it resonates with my thoughts on consumerism. I love charity shops. I need to do a re read.

    Love your style of writing.

    Middle age is inevitable but the spread isn’t, disregard the NHS advice of the 80s, high carb / low fat. The evidence is all around, 40 years later we have an obesity crisis. Fat does not make you fat, carbs is the devil. I cut back drastically on bread, pasta, rice and spuds. It worked for me.

    I’ve got to agree with you on goods from China but it is very difficult, the western world has backed itself into a corner.

    Liked by 1 person

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Originally a blog about photography, I write about vintage cameras, the environment, clothes and anything else I feel moved to type about.

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