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Comment: From suits to gumboots, smart casual to home comforts; clothes – Whanganui Chronicle

Kicking off the formal wear, Rob Rattenbury much prefers trackies and baggy tops. Photo / 123rf

Many reading this will no doubt have done the same thing and will understand this. I spent a working life either in uniform or in suit, collar and tie and other “corporate” wear. Others dictated what dress standards I needed to observe to be employed. In some ways it was fine as one did not have to think too much about what to put on each morning, just a clean shirt and a different tie, changing the suits or jacket and pants periodically.
But it was stifling at times and often brought my slightly rebellious streak out. When working for ACC I used to often visit farmers and farm workers, factories and other outdoors workplaces. No suits and silly city shoes appropriate. I contacted the CEO at the time and sought a dispensation to at least remove the need for the tie; I’ll provide the gumboots free of charge.
Fronting up to a milking shed in the middle of winter to talk about return to work plans with a farmer or worker dressed for the wet, cold weather in thermals, gumboots and overalls while dressed up like a Queen St office worker was just so wrong. I knew I looked ridiculous and I would see that little smile on my client’s face as he was hosing the yard out. Maybe it was crossing his mind to give me a splash.
The boss came back and agreed. Never wore a tie again, smart casual with appropriate footwear was the order of the day from then on.
The wonderful day that we all looked forward to arrived – retirement. One of my first actions as a newly-minted non-working person was to throw all my corporate clothing in the skip. I kept one old suit, circa 1995, for that next big day, hopefully many years away. No need to get a new one just for that. I won’t care.
I have not worn a suit and tie for many years. I even got a dispensation from son and daughter-in-law to go tie-less and suit-less at the wedding. I rock up to funerals smart casual. It’s not a lack of respect, it’s just that I live my life by my rules now and wearing uncomfortable clothes is not in the rule book any longer.
Amazingly since retirement I’ve acquired more comfy clothes than ever before. I like comfortable, baggy, roomy clothes. The days of tight jeans and boots with slim-fitting tops are long gone although I still have the boots. The body seems to have changed.
Nowadays one wears comfy clothes all day. On the rare occasion one has to go out one has the “going-out jeans and shirt” hanging on the bedroom door with the one pair of shoes one uses nowadays parked permanently underneath. On the return home it’s immediately off with them and back into the trackies and baggy tops or shorts and T-shirt, depending on the season.
I actually have heaps of footwear but stick to Jesus-boots in summer and runners in winter, job done, otherwise I’m barefoot or, in cold weather, in home-knitted multi-coloured socks made with love by my bride.
Two pairs of shoes suffice. The others are gathering dust in the bottom of the wardrobe. I get the boots out now and again to amuse my children with. Those old Beatle boots, Spanish heels, cowboy leather-etching, zipped sides. Goodness, I looked sharp in them way back. Now I would probably dislocate one of the false hips trying to wear them.
Bit of a crisis this week. One of my flash bath towels is so old and stretched by my muscular shoulders and arms it’s almost ripped in half and, somehow, I made a hole in my bottom fitted sheet on the scratcher.
The darling bride had to go out and buy more sheets and towels. We got the best, they’ll see us out.
To top the week off somehow one of my expensive comfy roomy PJ trunks split down the back. Bugger, only had them a few years. Just coming right too.
I do like to buy New Zealand-made clothes wherever possible if I can. They certainly fit better and last a lot longer than the overseas imports flooding our clothing chain stores nowadays.
The big problem with our wonderful New Zealand clothing manufacturers is cost. I guess labour costs contribute to this.
It is hard to do the right thing, do I buy really good-quality New Zealand made goods, supporting a business-owner and workers to provide for their families or do I just buy cheaply-made and lesser-quality clothes from a market that perhaps does not value its workers as much as New Zealand does?
I go with a bit of both to salve my conscience and wallet.




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