Thoughts on New Zealand

Words by: Andrew Williams


New Zealand is a country with so much to offer, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you visit it at least once. Indeed, my recent second visit left just as profound a mark as my first.

However, for all my admiration I think if I lived there I would go off my rocker. Firstly, I didn’t see one attractive woman – other than the one I took with me. Secondly, and most importantly, Kiwi men are utterly unrepentant in their desire to dress badly. Indeed, they almost revel in it.

Any kind of interest in clothing is viewed as effeminate. It was as though the last forty years in male clothing and grooming hadn’t happened. Something as common place in Europe as a pink shirt is viewed with the very greatest suspicion. I was even pilloried for deck shoes. It was considered great sport by my girlfriend’s family to get me to wear a pair of jandals (read flip-flops).

So what do I mean by badly dressed? For the most part I’m talking about a complete a lack of flair, care, quality and above all effort. The antipodean stereotype of stubbies (short short), singlet and work boots was all too common. But even going out to dinner it was not uncommon to see men in flip-flops. At best you’d see an excess of the purely mundane – poorly tailored jeans and uninspiring tops and trainers or work boots.

In some ways this is a factor of the outdoorsy, active lifestyle New Zealand provides. You’re not going to wear a linen suit on the beach, but there are ways to dress well and comfortably. Well tailored shorts and polo provides both comfort and, depending on colour and pattern, a degree of relaxed elegance, if done right. For the most part all I saw were men throwing on cheap, scruffy clothes without effort or care. Harmony of pattern and colour was for the most part absent.

Of course every country has its poorly dressed contingent, even in metropolitan centres. But for all the country’s natural beauty, even in the most cosmopolitan of NZ’s cities, I still couldn’t claim to have seen anyone I regarded as well dressed.