Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: A dress style you can put a label on

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

One of the primary roles of a supportive wife is to dress her man.

Every wife wakes up in the morning with the presumption that Kiwi men desire little more than putting on a pair of Stubbies, a black singlet and a pair of Jandals.

Our job, as the wife who does everything, is to create a sense of style around our man, buy clothes which suit him and tell him what to wear.

"Not that, you look ridiculous," is something most men have heard come out of the mouths of their wives on a regular basis.

"Wear that, you'll look like Johnny Depp/George Clooney/Benedict Cumberbatch," is another statement often heard.

But not from this supportive wife. Because my husband has Very Definite Tastes.

For a start, anything bought at a bargain price will never touch his body.

Then there's the rule about only wearing natural fibres such as cotton, wool, cashmere and recently alpaca. The alpaca thing started when we bought a property up north and asked our neighbours to graze their alpacas on part of it to keep the grass down.

"I'm going to ask them for some of their wool and get a jumper made out of it," he announced one day, sitting on the verandah observing the animals, which to me look like a weird cross between a sheep and a camel.

"I suppose you expect me to spin the wool and knit it for you," I said in my brave supportive wife voice.

"God no. I want to be able to wear it," he said, oblivious to the hurt he was causing me. "I'll put an ad in the local paper for someone to do it."

My husband will also not wear Jandals or sandals, will only wear jeans from certain designers which come with a hefty price tag and wouldn't be seen dead in anything even vaguely distressed or bedazzled.

In the 18 years we've been together I've never bought him one item of clothing because his specific tastes were so well defined that I had no chance of finding anything that would meet his approval. This is a man who alphabetises the book shelves.

I've often felt jealous of my friends who turn up at parties with their husbands and say "doesn't he look nice?", pointing at their man who looks just a tad uncomfortable sporting their new pink sweater teamed with their new distressed jeans and Vans footwear.

I've never been able to whisper to my husband, "I told you not to wear that shirt, I meant the other one. The one with the bits of sparkle over the front."

I've felt I was missing out on a basic tenet of being a wife. The ability to control your husband's image, as you did your children until they turned five and took no notice of you.

Over the years my husband's unique style has drawn much comment. For a while, when he grew his hair long, was still smoking and thus reed thin he was compared to Keith Richards. When he got his hair cut and stopped smoking he became more of a George Clooney. And now, thanks to an article in a British newspaper over the weekend I know he is a J. Crew guy.

J.Crew is an American label which has recently launched internationally and is very popular with Michelle Obama.

He ticked all of the 15 requirements on a J. Crew-man checklist.

Included were preferences I had thought belonged only to his weird tastes such as "couldn't give a stuff about sports kit", "cares about his hair but not so much he would dye it" and "has flip flops but can't walk in them".

"Oh my God, listen to this - you are a J. Crew man!" I said with delight reading out the list.

Ten minutes later my iPad beeped with an email my husband had sent from the other room. It was a link to the J.Crew website where he had found an alpaca shawl-necked sweater (he never wears polo necks).

Finally I can buy clothes for my hubby.

- NZ Herald

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