Tiger stripes—on Donald's shirt and Nancy's dress—just happen to be the motif du jour for the Featherstones; tomorrow it could be a loud Hawaiian print, his-and-her Chesterfield coats with bowler hats, or something Disney-themed. Whatever the look, one thing is certain: The Featherstones will be dressed alike, as they have been every day for the last 17 years.
And, even more remarkable, there will be no dissension chez Featherstone about what one—make that two—should wear. "Whoever gets to the closet first," says Donald, 61, co-owner of a firm that makes plastic figurines and is famous for its pink flamingos, "whatever comes out, that's what we wear."
The Featherstones started dressing as a duo around 1980. They had met at a hardware convention in Chicago in 1975 and were married the following year, but Nancy, 44, felt that, perfect as Donald seemed, there was just one flaw. "He was very prim and proper," she says, "and would only wear long-sleeved shirts, a tie and a suit. My mom said, 'Make him a shirt.' So I made Donald a couple of open-necked, short-sleeved sports."
Then Nancy remembered a tradition at Jennings Junior High School in Jennings, Mo., where couples wore matching shirts to the end-of-year dance. Soon she was making duplicate garments, one version in her size (very small) and another in Donald's (very large). Then she moved on to pants, and jackets, and suits—and the Featherstones became the couple that always matched. Donald went along with the new dress code because, he says, "I discovered it was more comfortable."
Nancy thinks it helps their marriage. "It's a way of staying connected," she says. "We're very together," chimes in Donald. "We're rarely apart, except when I go to work. And if I call the house and she doesn't answer, I come home to make sure she's all right."
He pauses and adds, "We're sort of like twins." When they're out together in public, in fact, the Featherstones often prompt remarks from strangers about their looking like twins. "We don't give a damn because we like it," says Donald.
Donald and Nancy, who have no children, manage to deal with the occasional separation, such as a convention that Donald attended two years ago. "The four days he was in Chicago," says Nancy, "he and I still dressed alike. Those were the times we'd say, 'Monday, we'll wear this, and Tuesday this.' "
Virtually every closet in the Featherstones' Victorian house is stuffed with matching outfits—they have more than 300, most made by Nancy—some even left over from Pucci, their dress-alike poodle, who died last year at age 15.
Of course no 6' man and 5'3" woman can dress absolutely identically. "She likes high heels, and I like something a little more comfortable," says Donald. "And I don't wear the lace on the underwear."
Of course, we'll have to take his word on that.
TOM DUFFY in Fitchburg