More Embroidered Flowers

Here are some more embroidered flowers from Unicorn. I think they were on a black jersey. I urge you to click on the photo and let it fill your screen. On a proper computer, not a phone. The effect is stunning.

embroidered flowers

Let's look at variations on a theme of flowers. Here are the above compared with flowers from two earlier posts: one lot also embroidered, and one lot woven.

If Only Prince Charles Had Given Him Permission

I've experienced some odd conversations. I was once walking on the banks of a river in a nature reserve on the outskirts of Eindhoven, when a man came up to me, started chatting, admired my tan, and asked whether it continued under my shorts. Maybe this is a popular chat-up line in Noord-Brabants culture: if so, I'm very happy to donate it to anybody elsewhere who can use it. But the oddest was when I walked into an Oxford charity bookshop. The volunteer at the till admired the Moroccan clothes I was wearing, and then said "I wish Prince Charles had given me permission to wear exotic things". Another customer came into the shop, so we had to cut the conversation short. But the gist was that Prince Charles had been on TV recently, at some theatrical event where he and others were flamboyantly dressed, and the volunteer wanted to be able to dress as flamboyantly without people thinking he was odd. Charles proclaiming "OK, you can wear these in the street" would have been sufficient justification. I did offer to tell the volunteer where he could buy Moroccan clothes, but he said it wasn't his style.

Wallis Brightly Striped Linen Blazer

This light linen blazer from Unicorn is one that I've worn a lot this summer, when I've needed to take the chill off mornings and evenings. I like its cheerful colours.

Wallis striped linen blazer

Wallis striped linen blazer, showing yellow stripe

Wallis striped linen blazer, showing stripes

Wallis striped linen blazer, showing label and purple lining

Wallis striped linen blazer, showing purple lining

Wallis striped linen blazer, showing purple button

Wallis still exist, but they don't make such colourful clothes any more. I know this, and I know the blazer is 24 years old, because yesterday, someone told me how nostalgic it made her feel. She'd bought such a jacket, exactly the same style and size, when her now 25-year-old daughter was one year old. She'd loved it — but somewhere along the line between multiple house moves, it got lost. And Wallis discontinued the line.

Which is a shame, because I'm sure people would buy it. A few weeks ago, the owner of a stall in the local market told me that a lady saw me shopping there the previous week. A few minutes after I'd left, she asked him, should he see me again, to ask me whether I'd sell her the blazer.

Black and Gold Brocade

Here's a black and brocade jacket that I bought from Unicorn. Like my Chinese green silk top, it's difficult to photograph, because the pattern looks washed out in strong light. The first three photos hint at the bright shimmer that I get on the gold, but the effect is stronger in the library photo. An odd thing is that the pattern fuzzes out if I look at it straight on, becoming more distinct away from my line of gaze.

Black and gold brocade jacket

Black and gold brocade jacket

Black and gold brocade jacket, showing detail of design

Black and gold brocade jacket, showing detail of design

Black and gold brocade jacket

Black and gold brocade jacket


I've added a gallery page to this site. Technically speaking, it works by randomly choosing from my photos, using a PHP script and a list of attributes stored as YAML, and then arranging the results by running David DeSandro's masonry program. You probably didn't want to know that, though if anyone's interested, I'm happy to pass on the code. But web programming aside, the gallery shows off some of the diverse designs and patterns I've come across. If you make clothes, or are looking for something different to buy, use them for inspiration. And it has another purpose, related to my Grayson Perry quote about the buttons.

Some of the jackets are women's. This pink silk, for instance. So as is the custom, they have buttons attached on the left rather than the right. In my experience though, and in contrast to Grayson Perry's fears, most men don't notice, or at least don't care enough to comment. Some women friends have, but none of them care. Of course, the shape of the jacket has to be suitable, which rules out ones curved to fit a bust. But that still leaves a lot that a man can wear, such as this smart linen blazer by Wallis.

So that's one way of finding vivid colours and interesting designs. Clothes from outside Europe are another: see the Chinese silk tops and all my Moroccan clothes. And a third is those vintage clothes that were made for men and that do happen to be colourful or otherwise interesting, such as my Falabella velvet jacket and Oakland velvet waistcoat.

So that's why my gallery page has two buttons on it:

The second button selects only the clothes that I myself wear. And if I can carry them off, anyone can.

The Buttons on the Other Side

Cover of Grayson Perry's book 'The Descent of Man'

I don't know exactly when C.O. wrote "Neck or Nothing", but it must have been 1925 or earlier. Ninety years later, and attitudes are much the same. Here's an extract from Grayson Perry's book The Descent of Man, in which he tells how he ruined a jacket his mother gave him, because he didn't want it to be seen to be a woman's.

Watching a men’s haute couture fashion show, one might easily be fooled into thinking that next season, all blokes will be wearing calf-length floral culottes and a neon string vest under oversized silver foil parkas. But go to the high street and what’s on offer will be a tiny shift in what was available last season, maybe with some slight nod to emerging trends, a "daring" colour or change in width of lapel or trouser leg. Most of the time the racks are a sea of black, grey, navy and khaki. Men are becoming more clothes-conscious, but few stray out of the territory of well-established masculine classics. To wear anything not approved by the Department of Masculinity is to bump into that gay electric fence.

During my later years at school, I was the proud owner of a camouflage army-issue combat jacket, which I teamed with a skinhead haircut. When I came home with my surprise crop, my mother said I looked like I had lice, which was nice. I think I adopted this very masculine uniform as a counterpoint to my rebellious sexuality that wanted flowery frills, heels and make-up. Perhaps I sensed one of the attractive qualities of uniforms — that they imply a public role rather than an individual private identity. They distract from the individual body as object, and I certainly wanted distraction from my body as a teenager. After the camo came a donkey jacket, the tough workman’s garment with leather shoulder patches, teamed with 18-hole Dr Marten boots. I was protecting my softie self with the hooligan armour of the mid-Seventies. When I bought my first motorcycle, my mother gave me her old sheepskin jacket to wear while I rode it. I ruined the jacket by attempting to swap the buttons and buttonholes over, so paranoid was I of being seen wearing a woman’s jacket.