Running from the Fashion Police

1 Jul

Yesterday was laundry day.  The dryers here are a little slow, so I spent the entire day wandering around the boatyard in my laundry day clothes: a red long-sleeved t-shirt, a green fleece, a pink fleece, a black fleece (it was cold, I’m telling you), and a pair of black long-winter-underwear pants.  And my formerly-white flip-flops.  I admit, it was a grim picture.  I must have talked to a dozen people over the course of the day.  But did I get a single funny look?  A raised eyebrow?  A muffled snicker?  I did not.  Because this is how cruisers look.

I always get a kick out of ads for “cruising wear”.  We limp into port after ten days at sea, smelly and tired and on a three-t-shirt rotation, and the welcome wagon appears with a guide to the area.  The first thing I see is a full page glossy of two Barbie-like models, airbrushed to within an inch of their lives, wearing whites so bright I think I might have to put my sunglasses back on.  But I can turn the page with a clear conscience – this advertisement was not meant for me.  This ad was printed for people with a) taste, b) money, and c) regular access to washing facilities.  In a phrase: charter boaters.

That’s fine.  Full-time cruising isn’t an appropriate venue for fashion-platery.  I am not here to win a beauty contest.  (By mere virtue of the fact that I am both female and under 40, I already have a rarity value in the cruising community that even multiple fleeces and long winter underwear can’t erase.)

So just how bad is the fashion situation aboard s/v Papillon?

What the man-about-town is wearing this season.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Erik wore nice dress shirts to work.  When we moved aboard, these shirts shifted to a “nice item to wear on land” status.  As they wore down further, they became work shirts once again – physical work shirts.  The good people at Brooks Brothers may be weeping into their mocha lattes to see what has become of their wares, but I think they should be proud of how well their fabric has lasted through years of sun, oil, dirt, and general gunk.


I can explain.

Your correspondent is elegantly attired in her ubiquitous black fleece, a pair of pvc overalls, and dirty flip-flops.  Cruising ladies have two hair options – short and easy to manage, or long and easy to tie back. I am a dedicated type 2.  I chose the overalls because the prospect of sitting in the gravel in my regular jeans was frankly unappealing.  Are you sensing a theme here?  Practicality is king.  (Some of you may be wondering what I am doing.  I am sewing colour-coded tabs of webbing onto the anchor chain, obviously!  It makes it easy to tell how much chain we have let out.  And I am doing it on the ground, because, when you are sewing on a boat, you take your machine to the job, and not the other way around.)

And these are my clean pants.

The kids are actually fairly fashionable, all things considered.  The problem is, they are also permanently filthy.  I swear, Indy had been wearing these pants for less than ten minutes when I took this photo.  Twenty minutes later, the purple shirt was also caked in mud.  Also not shown are her bare legs, which are mud-dipped, scabbed, and a general fright.  The girls have learned to hose off before returning aboard (thank goodness for the Hand Washers), but still.  They leave again, they get dirty again.

Mud-and-soap cupcakes, anyone?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  My dear, self-named Stylish.  Pants rolled up into a dirty, shapeless lump.  Mud splatters from head to toe.  Rapidly-fraying shirt.  At least the smile is as cute as ever.  As with Indy, this is the early-morning “clean” version of Stylish.  By the end of the day, I could have stood their clothes up in the corner.

And there we stand.  Sure, we will look a little better when we are out of the boatyard and back in the tropics, if only because it is hard to make a bathing suit look too terrible.  But that’s okay.  We’ll save our money for new seacocks, and leave the high fashion to others.


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