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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

3 Wearing Warnings

While the turning of the New Year brings resolute behavior to many of us, it doesn’t seem to move the needle much when it comes to ill-advised fashion choices.  Despite the availability of well-made, stylish and flattering clothing at exceptionally reasonable prices, it seems like an impossible majority of people still look like they dress themselves without the assistance of friends, mirrors or indoor lighting.  Fashion advice abounds, in almost every conceivable medium, and yet, its like there’s been a conscious effort to avoid any employment of the same.  The only explanation that I can come up with is that the abundance of “what to wear” advice has become so overwhelming that no one’s bothered to offer a similar volume of advice of the “what not to wear” variety.  As it turns out, however, fashion is much easier to screw up than to get right, and so, in the hopes that I might be the catalyst of a cascade of criticism, here are three things you almost certainly should not be wearing:

1.  Faux-ssociation.  There have always been, and there will always been certain pastimes, hobbies and other activities with a sort of cool caché; an implicit sense of fashion forwardness that is validated solely by the activity itself.  For the west coast crowd, this mantle has traditionally been borne by skaters and surfers and, in recent years, by the mixed martial arts crowd.  Now, while I am perfectly happy to see these free souls find a way to make a living doing what they love - by selling their duds to the public - the sprawl of these styles (by way of shopping mall brands like Pac-Sun, Tillys, Zumiez, etc.) has rendered them a staple of modern dress no more remarkable than Levi’s, Old Navy or the Gap.  But what is even more troubling than the mainstreaming of this counterculture, is the almost unbelievable swagger that it seems to engender – as though simply by wearing the same clothes, these double-digit IQ mouth-breathers have adopted the carefree and well earned bravado of these modern-day cowboys.  Sure, in my day, we wore the apparel of our favorite heroes, both large and small, but I was also sure that wearing my Hulkamania t-shirt didn’t make me a wrestler, nor did my Air Jordans give me the ability to dunk a basketball.  So to be clear, your Billabong shirt doesn’t change the fact that the only things you’ve surfed are your parents’ couch and the Internet; your skate shoes don’t make you a skater, they just make you too lazy to buy grown-up shoes, and your TapOut shirt does not make you a fighter, they just make a jerk off with anger issues and a grudge against your ex-girlfriend.  The clothes don’t make the man, especially when they come with screen-printed logos.

2.  Big Timers.  As the cell phone has become more and more ubiquitous, it has come to replace any number of previously cherished personal items: our calendars, our address books, and perhaps someday soon, even our wallets.   But perhaps nothing it has replaced has been so obvious or unexpected as the wristwatch.  I truly can’t remember the last time I was compelled to wear one of these anachronistic pieces.  There is just no need, as the accurate time is always at my fingertips, just the push of a button away.  And so, the watch has ceased to function as a necessity, and is reduced to solely a fashion accessory.  You might think that, relegated to this status, the watch would become a subtle accent piece – the pocket square of jewelry, if you will.  But of course, you would be wrong.  The modern day wristwatch has grown to ludicrous proportions, both in size and "bling."  And as women have taken to wearing watch sizes previously reserved for men, men, not to be outdone, now wear watch faces that could serve double duty as drink coasters, with numbers large enough to be read from across the room.  Look, the bottom line here is simple, if the diameter of your watch face, in inches, starts with the number two or higher, there’s simply no chance that you have anything of value to offer the world, and you may as well just wear that watch into traffic – at least that way it can finally serve a useful purpose, noting the time of death of one more douche.

3.  Size Shmedium.  It’s not like I don’t get it.  I was a late bloomer.  I get that an appropriately small t-shirt can lend a measure of credibility to a torso that just doesn’t have any hope in something that actually fits.  And there is a time in a man's life when this is the sort of thing I could overlook – and that time is high school.  So unless you’re making Friday night plans to see the football game, or trying to figure out who to take to the Prom, you really need to find a shirt that actually fits you.  There is nothing more desperate and pathetic than a grown man wearing a shirt tight enough that you can count his ribs.  Seriously, who do you think you’re fooling?  Here’s a quick test, gents: raise your arms above your head – if your shirt has now produced a bare midriff it’s not the right size.  Want to know a secret?  Women can tell how big you are no matter what you wear.  That’s right, just like black stretch pants that have a better chance of hiding a chalk stain than a big butt – they’ve got us figured out – and now you just look like a five foot ten inch tall stack of self-esteem issues.  Honestly, a shirt that tight couldn’t be any less masculine if it was hot pink, bedazzled and covered in rainbow glitter.  What’s worse, they actually cut and size modern t-shirts to produce the look you're going for – so you’re only foiling the efforts of much more talented designers (and looking even dumber in the process) by refusing to size up.  Do us all a favor, ask for some size help at the store, and for the sake of all of us, get the “Large.”

* * *     

Despite all of the options out there, it’s really not that hard to figure out what not to wear.  All you need to do is put yourself in that same cruel and relentless mindset you used to take to middle school every day.  You know, that awkward time in your life where you going through so many changes that the only thing that satiated your own terror was pointing what was wrong with everyone else?  Yup, that’s the one.  Channel that inner demon child and sidle up to the closest full-length mirror and take a good long look.  If your mind begins to spin out of control with the requisite flood of mockery, it’s time to head back into the closet and try again – maybe this time with the lights on.  This process can be repeated until the only decent insult you can come up with is: “you look like a big stupid grown up” – then you’re finally ready to head out the door.  Because keeping in touch with your inner child is only a good idea if you don’t let him pick out your clothes.      


Jen and Tonic said...

I don't want to date a man who is wearing a shirt that is even smaller than one I'd own. It's just not a good look when a guy lifts up his arms and his midriff is showing. It doesn't have the same appeal as when a woman does it.

Cheryl said...

It's been so long since I've read something as funny and intelligent as your long, in fact, that I can't recall the last time! This is some seriously searing shit here. Wear that watch into traffic so it can record the precise hour of your death? Ouch. This one's a classic: "The clothes don’t make the man, especially when they come with screen-printed logos."

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