Posted by: justawriter | March 10, 2010

Far Afield – Lord preserve me from being fashionable

To say that I am not a slave to fashion is an understatement.
I generally have two colors of shirt for work – plaid and not plaid. It’s pretty much the same for pants where the two flavors are jeans and not jeans. I’m thankful that, on the rare occasions I really have to dress up, suit coats haven’t changed much in decades so it isn’t obvious that the coat has been hanging in my closet for the last 10 years.
I wasn’t totally immune from the fickle winds of fashion. I did live through the disco era of the 1970s. I don’t think there is a person who was alive in those days who doesn’t hope that all the pictures from 1976 to 1980 all disappear into a black hole. But for the most part, my choices in attire have been built for comfort and not for flash.
When I was little my outfit of choice was a good set of bib overalls. I’m told my mom once bought me a pair of overalls with sleeves and I tried to cut them off. Even at 4 years old, I knew what I liked and stuck with it.
What gets my goat about fashion is that it never knows when to leave well enough alone. Take ties for example. In the staid world of business the neutral colored suit is nearly a uniform. The only avenue to personal expression allowed is the tie, and the fashion industry has responded with a plenitude of choices of fabric, color and patterns. But then they go a step too far and start messing with the widths. Every few years we see the industry go overboard and ties are either so thin you could braid them into rope or so wide you could substitute them for the bibs at a barbecue rib joint.
Then comes the attitude. When the ties are narrow, the guy with the wide tie is laughed at. When ties get so wide you can use them for a hammock, the pencil thin ties are ridiculed. It’s like there is a nationwide case of amnesia that makes people unaware that they are only a year or two from being laughed at themselves.
Occasionally the fashion gods will get something right. But even then they can’t leave well enough alone. Blue jeans are a good example. They’re durable, cheap and after a few months of wear and washes just about the most comfortable pants you can find. But then about 30 years ago someone discovered brand labels. The idea that a 10 cent label on a $20 pair of jeans was worth $100 was marketing genius, I must admit.
After that came the idea that worn out jeans were better so they started selling new jeans that were prewashed, preworn and now even preripped and charged even more money. Now you can buy jeans that are so tattered they look like they’ve been driven over by coal trucks for a couple of years. It seems that the less fabric remains, the more expensive the jeans.
But my biggest beef with fashion is the idea of being “out of fashion.” If the lords and ladies of fashion do come up with something good and don’t ruin it, then they abandon it. I have a score to settle on a couple of fronts here. I am hard to please when it comes to colognes and aftershaves. I think it goes back to all those long car rides as a kid before they put air conditioners in cars. Mom loved a certain aftershave from Avon and bought my dad a lot of it. And he used a lot of it.
I was not the best car passenger as a kid because I could get motion sickness on a teeter-totter. My dad didn’t like the windows rolled down when we were traveling so the car would get hot and stuffy and the aftershave would be so thick in the air you could almost see it. I guess I associated that smell with my queasiness for the rest of my life. I’ve found that in my case, most men’s colognes share a base scent with my dad’s cologne. After searching for nearly 30 years I finally found a scent I liked that didn’t share that noxious base note.
Within a year, the producer quit making it.
Because of some lingering foot problems, I’m also sort of fussy about my shoes. I found a style I liked back in the ’70s, but when disco died, the shoes gradually disappeared. They were really comfortable and fairly attractive. I rejoiced about two years ago when I found they had miraculously come back into style. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Yep, after 18 months the manufacturer had moved on and that style is no longer available.
So maybe we need a fashion rebellion. People should dress for their own comfort and pleasure and not care what outfits their neighbors wear or what the neighbors think of their outfits. Except for plaid golf pants. We still need some standards, don’t we?

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