If your cottage wardrobe is anything like mine, never buy a cottage without closets. Mine has huge doubles in every bedroom, more space than I have in the city. When the wife claimed several for herself, I couldn’t conceive of anyone filling that space. I hadn’t counted on cottage clothes.
Initially we carried clothes back and forth each weekend in suitcases. So our cottage apparel was city apparel with creases. The novelty of sorting, folding and packing, then unpacking, unfolding and unsorting, followed by bunching, wadding, cramming for the return trip wore off the fourth time I forgot underwear.
It was either left in the city or didn’t make it back from the cottage. Sometimes both. Either way, I had to buy a new supply every week. The wife suggested an investment in jockey short futures. Instead, I terminated the great suitcase shuffle…
I reasoned that a basic cottage wardrobe should rely on function, not fashion. This segregated our clothes into city and cottage. New and used. In style and out of date. Mended and not so. Our cottage became the repository of every embarrassing stitch I’d ever owned but wouldn’t part with. A parade of eras and memories and solo socks. Many were rescued from the cleaning ragbag and others smelled of mothballs. The wife said they were claiming refugee status at the cottage. More like escape from persecution.
Overnight my cottage style deteriorated from fashionable yuppie to recycled Sally Ann. From clothes cleaned regularly to those having no room for more dirt. Our lake neighbours wondered if I’d lost my job. The wife said no, just his mind.
My cottage clothes are casual, comfortable and careful. The care is over loose seams, worn knees and frayed edges. Buttons are missing. Pockets bottomless. Zippers broken. Elastic isn’t and crotches are air-conditioned. I’ve learned to sit with my legs crossed, wear suspenders and carry an emergency roll of duct tape. I go out with the expectation that what I’m wearing may not return with me. I’m always shugging and tugging and rearranging and clutching. If clothes make the man, then I’m closer to the Emperor and his new ones.
The Ragman Cometh…
Layering is my anti-nudity insurance; I try to make holes overlap. The wife says I should always carry a fig leaf, just in case. I never have to dress down into work clothes because I’m already there. I try to keep stuff handy on hooks, doorknobs, rafters, chair arms, nails and the floor – so I can change on the go.
But the wife is always tidying up. Shifting things around. Putting things away. Throwing things away. I can never find my wood chopping pants or painting shirt or digging shoes or chimney cleaning hat when I need them. The wife can’t understand that although my clothes all look the same, they represent different headspaces to me. So eventually everything became worn, loose and mismatched, but also torn, spattered, stained and sooted. The wife says I look like a ragman. I bet they are denied dedicated wardrobing too.
As dilapidated and scattered about as my knock-about apparel may be, my closet space bulges with dedicated sports wear. High price, high tech, specialty gear for all seasons. Knickers and sweaters; snowmobile suits and helmets; hiking shorts and boots; spandex cycling togs; PWC stuff; wear for hunting, fishing, sailing, tennis, golf, jogging, walking, swimming, diving and lying around.
As a jock, I’m only as good as my image. The wife says wearing anything more than once would help, but I’m still trying to capture that perfect look. Like the one the wife shot me last weekend when suggesting it was time for my annual wardrobe review. This is my opportunity to reassemble, resort and restock. It’s her licence to dispose, dump and demand. It’s the one time each year that everything I own is back in a closet. It’s either that or the dump and that’s what cottage closets are for.
This article was originally published as part of the syndicated “Intrepid Cottager” column in many Ontario newspapers.