Continuing my occasional “Six of the best” series of blogs, where I talk about my six favorite items in a particular category, I am pondering my favorite items of clothing. I am not particularly fashion conscious and do not have a vast selection of clothes, but I do have some firm favorites. For the most part I like to purchase quality items, which offer a long lifetime; I do not really approve of the trend towards cheap – almost throw-away – clothing.
I think that I will start at my feet and work up …
There is a clichéd view that women have a lot of shoes. To be frank, most women that I know do live up to this image. But, I have to be honest and admit that I, too, have quite a few shoes. I have not counted, but I am guessing that I have around 20 pairs. Of course, there are only a few that I wear on a frequent/regular basis. Although I have plenty of shoes that are attractive – stylish even – my favorites are pure practicality. They are a simple pair of black leather shoes, which are sturdy and waterproof. From the day I bought them, I have been able to wear them for hours at a time in perfect comfort. The shoes are over 7 years old and look like they will serve me for quite a few more years. The brand of these shoes is Hotter, which, unusually, are manufactured in the UK. They are well known as being suppliers of rather frumpy footwear favored by “older” customers. I said that I did not do fashion!
Although I like to be barefoot or wearing open toed sandals, I live in the UK, so I need socks for much of the year. My favorite shoes may be boring, but this may not be said of my socks! A couple of years ago, I saw an advert for “Goat Socks”. My first thought was “goats do not need socks” – even though I knew what it meant was socks made from goat’s wool. Although not inexpensive, knowing the suppliers were very reputable, I ordered a pair to try. I was very pleased with how comfortable they were and placed an order for a load more in a wide selection of funky colors. On a winter’s day my feet are toasty; when it is not quite so cold, my feet never seem to feel too hot. I guess goat’s wool was designed to keep a goat warm/cool, as appropriate.
I wear a T-shirt most of the time. If it is warm, it may be my only upper-body garment; if it is colder, it will just the the bottom layer. I am very selective about my T-shirts and only buy good quality ones. I have found that certain brands might cost 3X the price of a cheap shirt, but will probably last at least 10X as long. Also, cheap T-shirts have a habit of going out of shape after a few washes – they tend to get wider and shorter. I have T-shirts that have been through dozens of washes and are still the shape that they were when new. I tend to discard them when the edges fray – I think a T-shirt can be casual, but not necessarily scruffy. For a long time, I felt that the best shirts should be pure cotton and most of mine are indeed natural fiber; favorite brands are Weird Fish and Deal. Recently, I was attracted by the color of a good quality “technical” fabric T-shirt [it was gold] and thought that I would give it a try. I was skeptical about wearing very synthetic material, but I was pleasantly surprised – it is warm in colder weather, but cool when it is hot. Also, it never creases. I have since bought some more. These are a premium brand – Rohan. I have experience of other garments made by this company and they seem to last for ever.
I have a language challenge here. I am sure that there is a different word for this garment in American English, but I cannot find it. If you can shed any light on this, please comment. For most of my life, I have not worn a waistcoat. I have never owned a 3-piece suit – or seen the need for one. A few years ago, I saw a silk waistcoat in a market [in Syria actually – tragically, that market no longer exists] and thought that it might be interesting. I now have a collection of about half a dozen. I tend to wear them for the odd party or wedding or maybe to go to the theater. They are distinctive and add a touch of color.
Another language challenge. Even in UK English, whilst me might favor the French word “gilet”, this garment might also be called a jerkin or a body warmer. It is really just a thicker, more utilitarian version of a waistcoat, I suppose. Mine is made from very heavy leather, which makes it very wind-proof and it has developed a nice patina – a “used” look – over time. It was another garment that I bought on impulse. In this case, it was from the guy who made it at craft fair.
This winter, I made a new discovery, that I have become quite fond of: a snood. Although scarves are quite trendy – but they must be tied just right – I have always felt that there was much more fabric than required, so they are hard to put away. The likelihood of leaving a scarf behind in a restaurant or wherever is quite high. A snood is essentially a short tube of stretchy fleece material. All you do is pull it over your head and it goes around the neck like a scarf. If it is very cold, you can pull up the top of the snood, over the back of the head and around the face and it becomes a hood. When not in use, a snood packs up very small and can be carried in a coat pocket. The other virtue of snoods is that they are cheap, mine cost less than $5 each.