The Blouse Man vs The Dress Man

Posted on October 9, 2017


The Blouse Man (1999) was a film set in 1969, about an unfulfilled housewife (Diane Lane) who spends the summer in the Catskills, along with tons of other women and their kids. Her husband, like all the other working spouses, arrives each weekend, for the sole purpose of reminding her how boring her marriage has gotten.

Enter The Blouse Man, a hunky travelling salesman (Viggo Mortensen) who sells blouses to the vacationing wives, out of his van. If you are guessing that sparks fly, you’d be correct. If, on the other hand, you are wondering if The Blouse Man’s blouses were worth buying, LBL hasn’t a clue, since The Blouse Man’s main goal seemed to be to take the housewife’s clothing off, rather than to put it on.

The point here, is that The Blouse Man was a mighty popular figure among the vacationing wives.  

LBL hadn’t thought about that film until she visited one of her favorite spots along the Bodrum peninsula in Turkey: the weekly Turgutreis flea market. Readers now have a choice: spend the next five minutes trying to pronouce Turgutreis, or admit defeat, and finish reading this blog post.

The Turgutreis flea market is the Big Daddy of local fleas. It’s where real, working class Turks go to buy anything that can be carried home. It’s huge, it’s overwhelming, it’s amusing, it’s confusing, it’s cheap, it’s unforgettable. Take your pick. But the absolute #1 draw is always the same: The Dress Man. 

The Dress Man doesn’t look anything like Viggo Mortensen, but the women buying his dresses don’t care. That’s because The Dress Man’s dresses cost five lira, which is $1.25.  The Dress Man is, hands down, the hottest guy at Turgutreis.

Dresses are all the exact same style, basically a tube of stretchy cotton knit fabric held up with two spaghetti straps. Random stitching at the top creates some vague place for breasts.  Colors and patterns vary, as does quality of the product. Only the price never changes.

LBL saw the mayhem at the stall and wondered what all the fuss was about. She had no idea, but, being a devotee of mayhem, she wanted in. It took only a few seconds before she, like everyone else, was flinging dresses into the air and searching through the piles for the perfect one. She scored a black and white striped dress, figuring she’d never actually wear it, but would use it to tell her friends that she bought a dress in Turkey for $1.25.

She brought the dress back to Now Husband’s cousin’s condo, where she was staying. That night, she wore it to bed. It was perfect. the next day, she wore it as a beach cover up. It was perfect. The day after, she wore it to stroll around one of the impossibly charming towns along the coast. It was perfect. She realized she was in danger of wearing it all the time and neglecting the adorable clothes she had packed for the trip.

Oya, Now Husband’s cousin, is, herself, a devotee of The Dress Man’s wares. She showed LBL her collection. They were actually great and much better quality than the 24/7 number LBL was, at that moment, of course wearing. Oya explained that The Dress Man starts with a huge inventory at the beginning of the spring selling season. By September, when LBL was there, the season was about to end. What he had left was the dregs.

LBL is delighted that her next trip to Turkey will be in May. She has her sights set on a visit to The Dress Man’s stall, when he will have the best selection. The Dress Man may not be the hunk that The Blouse Man is, but he services LBL in a much more satisfying way.