Home Opinion and Features In praise of sartorial savvy of yore

In praise of sartorial savvy of yore


The arrangement was for my father and me to drive to the theatre after the show and bring the ladies home

Picture: Amiee White Beazley/The Washington Post

My late father was one of the most respected – and thrifty – farmers in the district. He was so highly regarded by the bank manager that he was presented with a pair of gold cufflinks after being a client for 20 years. Well, they looked like gold, anyway.

Once or twice a year Dad would arrange a meeting with the bank manager in Noupoort (which was then officially called Naauwpoort) to discuss his financial affairs.

It was always a big day in the family. “Dad’s going to see the bank manager,” we whispered in awe.

Before setting off for his meeting he put on his suit and tie and my mother would flick imaginary specks from his collar and run a comb through what was left of his hair.

Years after leaving home to create my own financial tragedies I asked my father why he dressed up to see the bank manager when he was so obviously a star client.

“Out of respect,” he said shortly.

Some years later my parents were on holiday in the Cape and my mother went to the ballet with my sister.

The arrangement was for my father and me to drive to the theatre after the show and bring the ladies home.

Before setting off my dad put on a tie and smart jacket. I said, “It’s not necessary to get suited up. We’ll just be sitting in the car until the show ends.” “I know,” he said, “but I like to look my best when I meet your mother.” They’d been married for more than 30 years.


Dress codes have changed over the years. In Victorian times people wore morning clothes and evening clothes and definitely changed out of working clothes for dinner. There don’t seem to be many rules about dress any more.

A Kalk Bay clothing shop has a sign in the window saying: “Forget the rules. Wear what you like.”

A stroll along Main Road in Kalk Bay will tell you this is definitely the dress code of the area.

I’m pleased the strict rules of dress have been relaxed, but I enjoy a little formality at times. Dressing to go to the theatre does add a bit of glamour to the evening – no need to wear a suit and tie, but a smart jacket adds to the occasion and a pair of jeans just shows disrespect for the event.

I’m usually slightly puzzled when I see the words “smart casual” on an invitation, but maybe that’s the new formal.

I like to be smart casual when the event demands.

One of my drinking buddies looked me over at a recent gathering and commented: “Hey, man, you scrub up quite nice.” I was pleased.

Last Laugh

Two lions were walking along a path in the Kruger Park and the one at the back kept licking the bottom of the one in front.

Eventually the lion in front turned round and roared: “Will you stop that! It’s very irritating.”

“Sorry,” said the other one, “but I just ate a politician and I’m trying to get the disgusting taste out of my mouth.”