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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 12:22 GMT
No going Dutch for white socks man
White socks
Too cheesy? A Dutch civil servant says white socks are not decent
The fashion capital of the white socks world has been rocked by claims that the town's favourite garment is not decent enough for Dutch government workers.

Stores in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, sell more white socks than any other town in the UK - and it is also the home town of international clothes designer Julien Macdonald.

But that is not enough to stop a senior official in the Dutch finance ministry saying staff should not wear white socks because they "transgress the limits of decent dress behaviour".

The comments, in a civil service staff magazine, are described as the personal opinion of a high-level officer and not Dutch government policy.

What's good enough for the people of Merthyr is good enough for the Dutch finance ministry
Gordon Caldecott
But they were seized upon by the world's media, forcing the finance ministry to deny that it had declared a war on white socks in its staff dress code.

And the remarks have caused howls of outrage in the Valleys town which is proud of its sartorial sense and contribution to the fashion world.

The Merthyr Express newspaper has contacted the Dutch Embassy in London to register its protest that no-one, not even a Dutch civil servant, is too posh to wear white socks.

The paper's news editor, Gordon Caldecott, said: "We take great offence about this from a nation that wears clogs.

"We have embraced the white sock wholeheartedly. We are proud of our "white sockness".

Julien Macdonald and Naomi Campbell
Julien Macdonald is Merthyr's other contribution to great fashion

"You can wear white socks with anything - sportswear, formal wear, casual wear - they are the all-round foot accessory.

"If Merthyr Tydfil is good enough to produce Julien Macdonald, it's enough to wear white socks.

"We are proud to display them on washing lines up and down the borough.

"I would say it is a slur on the people of Merthyr. What's good enough for the people of Merthyr is good enough for the Dutch finance ministry."

It is not the first time the weekly publication has taken up the cause of its readers' favourite footwear.

Last year it ran a competition offering a year's supply of white socks to the reader who wrote the most eloquently about his love of the lily-white cotton garments.

It was won by an 81-year-old.

In January 2003, the superstore Asda revealed its Merthyr Tydfil outlet had sold 73,000 pairs in the previous 12 months - an average of a pair every four minutes.

Dutch deny 'war on white socks'
14 Jan 04  |  Europe
In pictures: Julien Macdonald
20 Feb 03  |  Photo Gallery
Designer's dresses go for 50p
26 Jun 01  |  Wales


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