diamond geezer

 Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Matching pairs

Two kinds of people go shopping for clothes - those who want to and those who have to. I'm in the latter camp. I don't buy clothes often, and I don't buy clothes for fun. When I find a garment I like I'll happily wear it and wear it and wear it and wash it and wear it and wear it over and over again. I'm no slave to changing fashions. I never update my wardrobe just because street style has moved on. I'll still wear a favourite blue shirt when the rest of the world has moved on to pastel brown cardigans, or whatever the latest trend is. I'm content to stick with my minimally acceptable wardrobe from five seasons ago. I never buy something new until circumstances decree that something needs replacing. I know what I like and I like what I know.

So I was gutted to discover yesterday that my work trousers were wearing out. The material in an intimate yet hard-to-spot location was wearing thin, and I feared that one careless lurch in the office might cause the fraying fabric to rip completely causing great embarrassment. I own two identical pairs of these trousers, for alternating weeks, but (damn!) both were exhibiting identical terminal symptoms. There was no avoiding the inevitable truth - it was time to buy some replacements.

Two kinds of people buy clothes - those who seek something innovative and those who want something familiar. I'm in the latter camp. When a favourite pair of trousers wears out, I want to buy a pair exactly the same. No matter that flare fashions and pleat styles have changed. No matter that the January sales are on and I could have bought an alternative pair far more cheaply. No, I headed straight back to the original purchasing location to buy something utterly identical.

So I was gutted to discover that the shop in Covent Garden which sold me the previous trousers had closed down. Vanished, completely, without a trace. This was not a good situation for the mildly autistic clothes shopper. I didn't want to have to make fresh decisions. I wanted to buy some new old trousers and go home. Thankfully I knew of another shop round the corner run by the same manufacturers, so I headed there. I walked in and asked the assistant for the brand of trousers I was seeking. "You what" she said. "Never heard of 'em." I had to face the grim possibility that my favourite trousers had been discontinued. This was also not a good situation for the mildly autistic clothes shopper, so I quivered slightly. Thankfully it was the assistant's first day in the job, and a colleague with a longer memory suggested an alternative purchasing location.

Two kinds of people buy clothes - those who love shopping at Selfridges and those who don't. I'm in the latter camp. To me their first floor menswear department is a scary warehouse of unnecessary fashions, laid out designer brand by designer brand, staffed by haughty models with sculpted hair dressed in flawless couture. But, apparently, my trousers were in there somewhere, so I braved this hostile retail environment to try to track them down. I felt woefully underdressed in my five year-old shirt and Next overcoat, but at least nobody could see the back of my trousers.

So I was delighted to discover, eventually, in a far-flung corner, a entire wall of potential replacements. Some were the wrong colour, which was easy to spot. Some were the wrong size, which was much harder to spot because the pairs had been piled up with their labels concealed at the back of a dark shelf. And all were of different types - "Slim", "Classic", "Regular", "Comfort", etc. I realised that I couldn't remember which style I'd bought previously, which created yet another not good situation for the mildly autistic clothes shopper. So near, and yet still the possibility of total garment inconsistency. I took my life in my hands and plumped for the only style they had in my size, paid the nice people at the till and departed.

Two kinds of people buy clothes - those who are wearing new trousers to work this morning and those who aren't. I'm in the former camp. I may have paid slightly over the odds to ensure that I look exactly the same as before, but at least I can lean over in the office this morning without fear of excessive rear ventilation. I worry, however, that I should have bought two extra pairs, just to spare myself from having to going through this whole ridiculous charade again in two years' time.

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