‘Boer’ (noun; plural – Boere) is the Afrikaans word for ‘farmer’. Although the use of the word in its traditional sense leans more towards a reference to the white Afrikaans male farmer, I believe that the word can be applied to all manner of ‘farmer’ and is irrelevant of colour and race. Phewff…racial and cultural minefield avoided! Proceed to next level.
This post pays references the word ‘Boer’ in its more traditional sense and concentrates specifically on the clothing worn by staunch Afrikaans Boere men. If you can imagine back to caveman days, your local Truworths equivalent probably had very little in the way of choice when it came to clothes. They may have gone as far as to cater for separate departments for men and women, however there are restrictions to what can be done with a loincloth, leaves and animal fur clothing. Bearing this in mind, a caveman would probably suffer an embolism, brought about by a combination of his/her mammoth-rich diet and the advancement in clothing range and design if they were to walk into any modern-day department store.
Now, traditional boer attire can be likened somewhat to that of caveman fashion. Granted it is more functional than the basic attire of the Stone Age, with pockets built into every square inch of available cloth, but it just doesn’t scream ‘vogue’. Apart from the slight advancement in functionality, it does the basics, covering the important bits and bobs and assisting the boere in blending in with their general surroundings. Camouflage after all, is definitely top of the priority list when it comes to hiding from sheep, cattle and potbelly pigs.
The name of the game if you were to ‘design’ boer clothing is colour – Khaki is in; colour is out. The more radical clothing designers have attempted to funkify the basic baggy, button-down, short-sleeved, double-pocketed, collared shirt by adding a bib-shaped splash of colour, either a darker khaki or a sun-faded blue (the latter colour is EXTREMELY radical) to the chest and shoulder regions. Apart from slightly detracting from the boer’s boepens however, it does little to enhance the fashion appeal of shirt outside of the boer community and would never make it onto the runway at a London Fashion Week type event.
Moving southwards to the shorts, or ‘kort broek’. This item of the boer uniform can be described as ‘tight-fitting’ and little more than ‘minimalist’ in nature, displaying expansive portions of a boer’s thigh sections. It is rumoured that Alpha boer males will display more thigh flesh than their Beta male counterparts, however the statistical population which I have studied has delivered inconclusive results to confirm this fact. It is true however that the boere use thigh exposure to attract mates. To the boeremeisies dat kom van Bloemfontein af (and other similar boere strongholds), the sight of a man’s exposed (and possibly hairy) thigh is irresistible. Traditional shorts colour is again khaki, however to hide pee stains, which are extremely noticeable whilst wearing khaki, a wider variety of colours are available, ranging from forest green to navy blue. Like the shirt, boer shorts would never feature on an episode of Fashion TV.
Ankle-height boots (steel toe caps optional) are generally dark brown and depending on the dexterity of the wearer’s fingers, can either be lace-ups or slip-ons. Socks may come as a surprise to some readers. Unlike every other item, including the khaki-colour cap (pet) to protect the more-often-than-not ‘pronounced’ foreheads of the boere from the sun, socks can vary drastically and be of any colour in the rainbow. The more modern boer will shush the socks down so that they bunch around the top of their boots, however can be adjusted and pulled up at a moment’s notice to just below knee-height to protect the boer’s calves during a cold snap (‘jean’ may be worn during extremely cold weather). . Traditionalists will always wear their khaki socks in the ‘up’ position so that they are never caught unawares and have both their hands free (one to hold their beer and the other to sheer an unruly sheep).
One might ask where you might be able to purchase such attire in a South African metropolis such as Jo’burg or Pretoria for your next fancy-dress party outfit? Be warned though; the abovementioned attire is close to any boer’s heart and politically incorrect use of such clothes would land you in hot water faster than you can sing the first verse to “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (South Africa’s national anthem to the uneducated!). Jeep clothing and Cape Union Mart are two major high-street brands where you can source the latest in boer fashion, however both these shops boast considerable mark-ups on their stock items. Take it from me and rather visit a winkelsentrum in ‘n klein dorpie where you can ‘dress the boer best, for less’.