“I was looking at some old family photographs the other day when I realised to my horror that Jude, my husband still wears the same revolting danshiki with matching trousers that he wore 12 years ago! Moaned Jesicca, a 49-year-old medical doctor married to Jude, 53 and the owner of a computer consultancy firm.
“He could just about get away with them at 40, but at 53 he looks as if he’s completely given up caring about how he looks. I feel angry and resentful that he doesn’t take more pride in his appearance. This usually leads to my being engulfed by shame over being so horrible to him just because he wears clothes I find repulsive.
“I fell for Jude when we were at the university. Back then, he was a trendy pace-setter and had well-groomed hair. I stayed very fashion-conscious, but he started to let himself go in his early 40s – and has now development a permanent frown to complement his boring wardrobe.
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He tends to buy his clothes from people in his office and buys the same things over and over again, namely shirts and caftans. Having no colour sense at all, he recently bought some hideous bright-orange complete native gear and wore them everywhere – to parties, dinners out with our friends – even to his official end-of-year party! I was so embarrassed I hid them before giving them away!”
“How Jude dresses has started to cause arguments. I would love him to understand that how he looks is important to me, and that he should make more of an effort.”
Jude doesn’t agree with his wife. “I don’t think I’ve let myself go at all,” he protested. “I wasn’t really interested in fashion in the first place. I’m smart at work but when I get home, I pull on a pair of native trousers and top – I want to feel relaxed.
My wife has her own glamorous style, and I like most of what she wears, but she is rather overdressed for some occasions. Like most men, I just get out of bed in the morning and put on the nearest clothes that come to hand. I hate buying new clothes. Besides, whatever I choose, I come home to a chorus from my wife and children of: ‘what on earth is that?’
“I suppose once I got to 50, I thought my appearance didn’t matter any more. But I see now it’s important, especially to my wife. If I’d known how fed up she was, I would have done something about it before now.”
Lizzy is a 43 year old company secretary of a telecoms company. Her husband Dapo, is a university professor. “Dapo has always been old fashioned in the way he dresses,” says Lizzy, “but it has really started to bother me recently. We were out with friends a few days ago when I suddenly noticed he was wearing shoe so old they were actually falling apart. I’d made an effort to look really smart yet my husband thought it was ok to come out with me in footwear that belonged in the dustbin.
“I feel insulted that Dapo has taken me for granted just because I’m his wife. Afterall, I still do my best to look stylist and attractive for him. So why can’t he do the same for me? I don’t follow fashion obsessively but I as a make-up artiste whilst I was in the university, so I know what I need to do to make myself look good.
Even though Dapo has loads of good quality clothes he’s bought for himself over the years, he chooses not to wear them. He likes to slob around in old stuff instead. He’s good on shirts (he’s got dozens) but he always wears them with scruffy denim trousers (which he thinks are stylish) or dreadful old shorts. His shoes are particularly bad, and always very old.
I think it’s arrogant of him not to care how I feel when he lets us both down by wearing horrible old outfits. Clothes do matter and being conscious of your appearance is a sign of respect – both for yourself and those you love.”
But Dapo doesn’t see eye to eye with his wife on fashion. He says: “I have my own style, which I have worked on very carefully over the years – I like to think of it as classic, timeless elegance that doesn’t need constant update. In fact, I still have a pair of really expensive denim and black Italian shoes I bought when I was at university!
I know Lizzy thinks I dress like a slob but it doesn’t bother me. Besides, although she generally dresses up well, she takes for ever to get ready for functions leaving me frustrated when we arrive late yet again. Maybe she should take a leaf from my own dressing time which I’ve got to a T. There’s more to life than prancing all over the place like an old model trying to be with – it!”