Thursday, February 16, 2006

Schlubbyman's Quarterly

Okay, don't laugh: I subscribe to two men’s magazines: Esquire and GQ. Esquire (which I love) is more of a catch-all men’s mag, with sartorial issues being just a part of its editorial focus. GQ, however, is almost all about fashion, and that’s why I have no idea why I subscribe (aside from the ultra cheap rate). I hate fashion. I don’t own a suit. I’ve made life choices that reject the suit lifestyle. I hate suits. And usually, am not too keen on the guys who wear them. Oh, I can look presentable at a funeral or a wedding (two rituals on which I also have strong opinions, but not now). But my pants and my jacket will not be of the exact same material.

This is not to say that I don’t care about STYLE. Style, for me, has nothing whatsoever to do with fashion. Fashion is following trends, wearing what you’re supposed to wear, more about money and status than personal expression. Fuck fashion.

Style, on the other hand, is about finding a way to present your personality externally. I think I have a style. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m STYLISH (which, ironically, refers more to fashion), and I’m certainly not saying that my style is hip.... at ALL. In fact, certains aspects of my style are as unhip as a mullet (which I did once sport, thank you very much, although in my defense, it was more of the John Cougar Mellencamp variety.... not short on top, but my ears WERE cut out, so it does fall into that regrettable category).

My style can be summed up in an esthetic that carries through to my visual preference in most other areas: Less is More. I like to keep it simple. I don’t like flashy. I don’t like to stand out in a crowd. I almost NEVER wear patterns of any kind, nor any bright colors. It’s all blue, black, white, gray and green for me. And comfortable. And cropped fairly close. This is the most unhip of my sartorial preferences. I can’t stand jeans that open wide at the ankle. If I buy a pair of pants that are cut too loose, I take them to the tailor and have them peg those fuckers. Not to the extreme I did in the ‘80s and into the ‘90s, where I’d have to struggle to get my foot through the opening of the pants, but.... my cuffs are pretty unhip. I don’t care. I like ‘em that way.

While we’re down there, I despise sneakers. It’s tough to find a decent pair of sneaks if you’re of the Less is More bent. They’re either simple in design with absolutely no support, or they feel good but look like you should be using them to walk on the moon. With almost no middle ground. Besides, I have big feet, and shoes like Converse (which I used to wear 365 back when I was in my 20s) tend to look like clown shoes on me.

So, normally, you will find me clad in jeans with a simple black belt, a plain shirt, tee or button down and black shoes or boots. In the oppressive months of summer, I’ll bow to comfort and wear shorts (military in some fashion) with sneakers (whatever I can find that work) and a t-shirt. One of the reasons that I love fall and winter is that I can toss on the layers (I do love jackets) and keep on the boots. The more of me that’s covered up the better. Trust me.

My “style” has driven some of my girfriends a little crazy. One in particular, I’m convinced, broke up with me partially because of my lack of fashion sense. Others have subtly tried to liven me up a bit by giving me shirts with patterns or a splash of color. I appreciate the effort, but it’s honestly as lost a cause as hoping that I’ll someday stop buying Superman action figures. Another curse, I guess.

I have, however, recently begun adding just a tiny bit of color to my wardrobe in one particular item of clothing: Socks. I kinda like just a bit of orange or red to peek out if people happen to glance down when I’m sitting or engaged in some activity that exposes them (like fighting crime). Still, the odds that this teensy fluorish is going to lead to blazing orange blazers is slim. Hell, even my underwear is gray.

Now, the irony here is that I simultaneously have pretty strong opinions on what women wear. Not that I’d ever be so choosy as to reject a woman based on her sense of style (I can’t afford to), but how she dresses does affect how attracted I am. I’m not going to go into detail here, it would cross a line into creepy / pathetic, but just lemme say that my Less-is-More preference usually applies here as well. Show me a woman in beat up jeans with a strappy top (do they still say "top?") and clunky shoes.... whoooo......

But show me a woman who’s wearing the same thing as every other fashion victim clacking down Washington Street on a Saturday night.... zzzzzzz. C’mon ladies. Quit looking at TV or magazines or your hot friends for fashion tips. Fuck the Desperate Housewives. They’re all middle aged, anyway! (Okay, so am I, but even I wouldn’t go there). Find your OWN style!

I have a female acquaintance who is a stylistic chameleon. One night she came into my bar dressed like Daisy Mae.... and it worked. Because she has a sense of self and a sense of humor, she looked hot rather than silly. That’s what we need: More Sarah Silverman, less Sarah Jessica Parker. Please.


Anonymous said...

Funny. I too subscribe to both Esquire and GQ. To sum it up, I feel just as you do regarding these two periodicals. This month's Esquire is in my little messenger bag right now for those long train rides that in the am & pm. My GQ, however, resides among a stack of similar reading in my bathroom (yes...that's right. It's in "the crapper")where it awaits in the proverbial "on-deck circle" of potential Charmin' pinch hitters.
I would like to apologize to you for the recent KH roast in which I was the MC for. I hope you accept my peace offering.

ps. the anonymity will be erased when I ask you for a Woodford Reserve on the rocks and ask for a match to light my cigarette.

lysa with a "y" said...

I bet your Daisy Mae 'acquaintance' is just really hot in general!

Miss Tanya said...

Some people don't have their own style. Kind of like people who don't really care about music, etc. Just remember, they make the rest of us look better.

the hanged man said...

One of the things that impressed me in Italy, particularly Rome, ws how well dressed the Italians were. Not fancy or fashionable, but with simple attractive clothes that put the schlubby tourists around them to shame. They were the epitome of style.

Steve said...

Boy, I know what you're saying about jean cuffs. I hate those huge openings that make me feel like I'm wearing bell bottoms. (Almost as much as I hate that fake fade wear and those filthy looking washes that are trendy.)

I needed a new pair of jeans last fall and tried on every available style at three different stores and they were all cut wide at the ankle. Even the ones that claimed to be tapered were closer to what I think of as straight legs. I ended up having to order custom from Lands End.

Pops Gustav said...

Can't believe I forgot to mention one of the biggest problems I have in shopping for clothes... Most stores don't carry my pants size! I wear a 36 / 36," which ISN'T freakishly tall, it's just TALL! Luckilly, a few shoppes of the Old Navy / Gap bent are starting to carry more 36" length pants.