Wardrobe malfunction

November 19, 2014

I bought some new clothes the other day. Well, actually, Blossom bought me some new clothes. And it wasn’t half bad.

Back in the UK, I used to dress quite nicely, I thought. Decent leather shoes, French cuffs and cufflinks on my Jermyn Street shirts, flamboyant silk squares peeping out of my jacket pocket, and so on. But since moving to Cambodia, things have gone a little, er, downhill.

For a start, it is far too hot to wear a jacket, so my handmade linen suits sit hopelessly in the wardrobe. It is also too hot to wear cufflinks.

Secondly, this country is filthy. For much of the year, it is incredibly dusty, chokingly turbid. I used to think that travelling on the Tube in London was bad for leaving a ring of grime around your collar: Cambodia trumps that. I can’t go to the shop on the corner without coming back without a patina of sandy orange dust caked into my pores. Most public surfaces are caked in crap: you pretty quickly learn to wash your hands if you touch any surface in this country, unless you want to die of leprosy.

So at the end of the day, my once lovely shirts are stained and unappetising. We have a washing machine, brand new, but it doesn’t seem to use hot water, so shirts and trousers come out looking only marginally better than when they went in. Which isn’t great. Weird grey stripes seem to flourish on sleeves, and collars – well, the less said the better. And then added to this is the recent addition to our household of the Brindled Beast of Chaos, or Harley, who delights in swinging off sleeves and taking random high-speed chunks out of passing trouser legs. Then there’s our former maid, who liked to wash clothes in bleach, and the fact that the country seems to be full of random sticking-out nails. Oh, and you can wear flip-flops to the office? Hell, yeah! Anyway, it all makes for an eventually pitiful wardrobe.

But, as I say, Blossom prevailed upon me to buy some new clothes. And it was great. I hadn’t found anything to wear in the shops here: not being the size of an anorexic 12-year-old, sadly. I’d had a few shirts made here, from tailors who really weren’t all that inspiring, with sleeves that came down to my knees and wonky collars. But Blossom took me to a shop called Ambre, which was fantastic.

Housed in a beautiful old colonial villa, it’s run by Cambodia’s best-known fashion designer, a woman called Romyda Keth. Most of the shop is women’s clothes: dramatic gowns and blouses and that kind of stuff, but there is a men’s section, and I could have bought practically everything. Of course, none of the stuff on the racks would have fitted anyone larger than Peter Dinklage, as far as I could see, but they offered to make anything I liked in my size, Normal Human, for no extra cost. It was the last time I can remember enjoying shopping.

So I had a fitting, and two days later picked up a couple of shirts and a couple of pairs of trousers, which fitted perfectly, all for the same cost as a single one of my shirts from London. And they are all things of extreme beauty, beautifully cut and stitched, in vivid colours and wildly stylish. So now I’m getting back to a reasonable level of sartorial elegance, I think. Or will be, if I ever actually unpack them, Because they’re almost too beautiful to wear. Ah, more problems.


10 Responses to “Wardrobe malfunction”

  1. David Hayhurst said

    Ah, how I do miss your waistcoats from the 90s, a decade during which your sartorial taste might, overall, best be described as “peccable”. (And no, you can’t blame it ALL on the Decade that Fashion Forgot.)

    I clearly remember an outstanding example that put me in mind of one of those optical illusion posters popular at the time that would reveal a pod of dolphins or some such if you stared long and hard enough. Used to wonder if taking the same approach, your waistcoat would magically transcend into being tasteful.

  2. Tess Davis said

    Can’t wait to see! Coming back on December 9!


  3. “Peccable: liable to sin; susceptible to temptation.” Sounds about right.

  4. David Hayhurst said

    Peccable actually exists as a stand-alone word? I thought it was one of those things that only existed in the negative. You never hear about gruntled employees or some gusting odour.

  5. gruntled (ˈɡrʌntəld )


    (informal) happy or contented; satisfied

    • David Hayhurst said

      I can rapidly see this bandinage turning defatigable.

      Anyway, good to hear your appearance is now more shevelled..

  6. philipcoggan said

    Rupert, thanks for telling me about this place. Just one little thing, the link you give doesn’t work, not for me anyway. I found this one instead: http://www.lamaisondambre.com/

    There’s also a website about the lady who runs it (it’s in French): http://www.romydaketh.net/

  7. Thanks for that Philip.

  8. Found you again – sorry your posts were not coming through as I have changed my email address – but now back on track so catching up – only thing missing from this post is of course the photos so we can see if we agree with you – please send or post a shot on FB – thanks miss you xxxx

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