Down the wrong leg …

Terry Pratchett uses the term The Trouser Legs of Time in a couple of his novels to denote an aspect of Time Travel.

One reaches the point of bifurcation and it’s a case of one leg or the other.While this tale of tailoring woe is not strictly about time travel it does  speak of another era.

Yesterday was Father’s Day in South Africa. I qualify, being a father and a resident of South Africa.

My son was away for the long weekend, fishing at St. Lucia, where he saw rhino, hippo, deer and various other types of buck and countless birds and even managed to catch a grand total of three fish.  He also mentioned seeing plenty of crocs which, he claimed, were much more fun than spending time with the Old Crock … moi! Cheeky bugger. But I forgave him.

So the duties of Father’s Day were left to Ems.

I was taken shopping for ”New Clothes”.
I loathe shopping. This is the main  reason why the itinerary bordered on being classified a state secret and why the only info I was able to winkle out of Ems or my wife was the phrase, ”It’s a surprise! ”

So, bundled into the car it was Off to The Mall.

On the way the purpose of the outing was announced and being as it was Father’s Day and I was being taken for a treat (sic) I felt it would be a poor show to voice my well-known aversion to shopping.

Oh, well. It cannot be denied that I needed some new gear, and being the Worst Shopper In the World this was definitely a case of  having to Visit the Mountain ‘cos it sure ain’t ever coming to visit me!

On the menu. Trousers. Good. And if I found something I liked, a couple of shirts too.

After visiting such stores as Woolies ( Somewhat like Marks and Spencer in the UK ),  Mr Price, Edgars, Stuttafords and a couple other places we found nothing even remotely worthy of the name Trousers.
All I wanted was an ordinary pair of chinos and an ordinary  shirt. Even Woolworths, which has, in the past , been my Clothes Mainstay Store for practically everything in my wardrobe, and especially underwear and trousers, let me down.
The quality was shocking, the fit dreadful, from everything from 200 bucks up to 500.
It was so bad that I was politely asked: “Maybe we could look at pants with elastic!”

What! I have enough sweat-pants thank you very much and I am not that old and still in pretty good shape!

Numerous inquiries of Woolies sales staff and endless scouring of racks upon racks turned up nothing, and I mean nothing  but Made In China labels.

With one exception – Made in Swaziland, which at least is almost local. But it was a single pair and not my size!!

It seems obvious that Chinese models must be anorexic men with pipe-cleaner legs, a non existent crotch region, and a backside flatter than a billiard table.

What happened to Woolies?

I gave up, and we came home. I was fuming.

But I know we have a clothes industry somewhere. I think? ‘We do, don’t we,’ I asked. A shrug and a blank look was all I received.

There was still some daylight remaining and being fully intent on not ending Father’s Day Trouserless, I was determined to find somewhere I could buy an ordinary pair of pants.

I had an idea! Ha! Why didn’t I think of this before? Ah … yes … they didn’t tell me why we were going shopping, of course. Oh well. Easily remedied.

On arriving back home I marched into my bedroom and pulled out my favorite pair of comfortable chinos that are goodness knows how old and were almost like a friend. They fitted like a glove and even though I’ve put on a pound or two, are forgiving enough to remain comfortable to wear. These days, though, they are torn and although patched up here and there are not really suitable for anywhere but bumming around in the garden.
They were bought by the wife many, many moons ago and she couldn’t remember from where.

Looking at the faded label I was mortified to just make out the words: Woolworths. Fine Tailoring. Made in South Africa.

It’s the end of the civilized world I tell you!




  1. Woolies ain’t what it used to be. M&S is much better. Anyway, your old patched and torn chinos would cost a fortune in a boutique. Haven’t you noticed all the youngsters are walking around in very distressed, holey, faded and fraying jeans? It’s so cool. 😆


    • They used to wear Mohican Haircuts too but this doesn’t mean I have to follow that trend either!
      But,yes, I did notice a display table full of Holey Jeans just inside the entrance of Woolies.
      I am not old-fashioned, just plain and ordinary and that’s all I require in a pair of trousers.
      As Jeremy Clarkson would say: ”How hard can it be?”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Haven’t been in a clothing store in years. Took my own measurements and buy my clothes on eBay. Able to get very well-made clothes, that are a few years old or basically new for a very small fraction of what they originally cost. If they don’t fit, I donate them to a local charity as they cost not a lot. Average cost still low and … no malls, no clothing stores, no “try this, try that” for hour after hour …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Ark! Your story rings so true! I’m still wearing clothes from 25+ years ago primarily because I can’t find anything on the racks that is worth SH__! And now they’re saying on-line shopping is bringing the demise of such U.S. stores as Macy, Sears, and Penney’s. What’s a better-to-be-clad-than-naked person to do? I’ve successfully shopped one online store (Lands End), but I admit I pay a premium. And buying shoes online? Fuggedaboutit!

    Unfortunately, Steve’s suggestion may not work for everyone since we all have our physically structural failings. But I suppose it’s worth a try when all else fails!

    BTW, Happy Belated Father’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, I’ve got 3E to 4E feet. I was able to buy Allen Edmonds shoes for one-tenth of their original cost. Also, I wear 50L to 52L jackets … and I get designer jackets for less than 15% of original cost. All you need is your own measurements. Most clothing sellers on eBay list the measurements of the garments (eBay has a guide for just this purpose). Often, the bigger problem is the lack of quality in the photos, but when you have bought a $1200 suit for $85 and no alterations are needed, well, is is the archetype of a cheap high!

      Liked by 2 people

    • It is definitely the Chinese imports that are killing(killed?) our clothing industry.
      But it is a global trend.

      I discovered China is the biggest exporter in the world of … garlic!
      And it is ”nuked” , apparently, to stop any spread of bugs and thus, cannot be successfully replanted.

      China even exports frozen chicken for the gods sake!
      However, my BIL tells me that several Chinese run stores where he lives in Portugal have recently closed because of lack of support as the quality of goods is so poor.
      May such closures be a trend that continues!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I was taken shopping for ”New Clothes”.” – I’m glad they weren’t billed as ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ or you’d have got arrested before tea-time. Hahahahaha. Happy father’s day to you dearie, I have a suspicion you are a brilliant one. x

    – Esme nodding upon the Cloud


  5. You cetainly have a way with words, Ark, and sure made me laugh here 🙂 Just glad you didn’t get the wrong trousers, although I think that was from an animated film starring Wallace and Gromit 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know the feeling. Also used to get a lot of things from Woolies. Also given up. Now, the only solution is to visit UK where the Carroty Chops are stacked with best-brand clothes in perfect order which either fit perfectly or are capable of being made to do so by Much Better Half.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a pair of half-lined wool Christian Dior trousers I bought from a shop in Eloff Street. They too didn’t fit perfectly but my MIL( the gods rest her soul) tailored them to fit perfectly and they lasted for years … until the housekeeper chucked them in the washing machine.

      We have a client, Brian, who had a clothing factory but was forced to close down because of Chinese imports.
      This story and others one hears all too frequently, so I’m guessing it has pretty much wrecked our home grown clothes manufacturing trade. Surely it can’t continue like this and must implode at some stage?


      • I realize we’re talking another country here, but your comment … but was forced to close down because of Chinese imports reminded me of the Great White Promise made by our fearless (and Russian-tainted) leader that he was going to take care of this sort of thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I make every effort not to buy anything Chinese if I can help, primarily in support of local businesses who are basically under the Kosh.
          But I have not seen a made in South Africa label on a single piece of clothing in any of the bigger Mall Stores for quite some time.


  7. Might look up Farah trousers- not Chinese but made in Ireland. Well I think they still are. There used to be a factory here in my small town. Quite fashionable apparently but more classic styles than the modern rubbish. I do like the tailor idea. My dream of winning the lottery would involve hand tailored shoes…


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