Man Clothes. All you never wanted to know.

8 04 2013

Men wear clothes, generally. Most men don’t seem to wear enough around the house for their wife’s liking. I suspect that this is mostly due to the fact that women find most parts of male bodies repulsive most of the time. Much of the time I suspect we can blame the fathers of those women who are perplexed to find that the man they possibly respect most in the world looks something like this:

ugly daks dad

Needless to say it takes a long time to heal such shocking memories. For first dates, I always recommend a full suit and tie (what? you still think women think men look cool in them because of James Bond??). No, the suit covers more surface area (besides a scuba suit) than any other male outfit (with the added bonus not afforded to scuba suits of discreetly hiding what most women consider the ugliest bit!).

It is often said of men’s bodies when comparing them to women that the salient difference really boils down to function versus beauty. I think this is generally accepted as true. Think of a woman as a gleaming red ferrari and her husband as an old rusty Hilux Ute and you’ll soon understand why you really don’t want the neighbours to see it. Or him.

Nevertheless, men tend to get around the house in as little as possible (or necessary). In some cases, it is not the quantity of fabric but the quality of the fabric that wives take issue with. A bloke’s trakky dacks are sacred. I have a glorious pair that are well over 15 years old (just getting to that comfortable, worn-in phase) that my wife turned her nose up for years at. That was, until she was pregnant in a fairly cold climate and discovered the joy of ‘ol grey on cold legs. Unfortunately, she stretched ’em out a bit and I lost 15 kilos, so after a few embarrassing trips around the house with them around my ankles and my dignity in close proximity, they were laid to rest (in a box, where I can look at them occasionally or wear them if I ever become a barge-arse again!).

stryper 1

I have a theory that a man’s wardrobe is largely set around age 32. Above is a photo of the polarising band from the 90’s: Stryper. This is what they were wearing LAST WEEK!!! Ok, not true but raises another key point about never letting men near spandex nor perming machines. Whatever men we wearing then, will be their uniform for the duration, until the recession from public life at the end, where the fashion gets truly borderline, as I will discuss a few paragraphs hence. Thus, I thought that dark indigo jeans, black shirts and cargo pants were pret-ty-darn-cool (and wonderfully functional!). That was until a particular student on one particular trip to China cringed when I considered buying a pair at the markets and opted for the zip-off Columbia trouser-shorts instead. Said student nearly puked. I wouldn’t have minded but she was right next to my groovy shorts and they were brand new!

Some people get too fussy about things too. Like socks. I have two kinds:

  • ‘White-ish’ Socks
  • ‘Black-ish’ Socks

White-ish socks include all sports socks, or socks not dark enough to be considered Black-ish. It is fairly simple. So White-ish socks go with sports shoes, hiking boots or, if necessary, sandals. Black-ish socks are serious socks and are for work. I need to state right now, I am NO sock nazi, I put my socks under no undue pressure to technically ‘match’, as long as they are of the same broad type. So a black/blue is great, a blue/uncleanably greyish-ex white-ish sock is satisfactory. Don’t go looking up my trousers at work to check however, or people will think you are weird (don’t thank me, my social skills are a gift).

Don’t buy a guy a tie ever. Should be a song. Ladies, don’t do it. According to a blatantly fabricated statistic, men search through 237 ties before purchasing a single tie. Average shirts before purchase? 12.Trousers? 3. Jocks? 0.142 (men grab the first 7 pack of jocks on special with an average decision time of 13 seconds). Ties though, are personal. Maybe the feminists were right about what they represent?

Men’s shirts always fascinate me. Ok, I lied. But I do find it strange that women’s clothing stores outnumber men’s stores by about 10:1, that shirt styles are FAR less limited and yet it is rare that you run into a guy wearing exactly the same shirt. When I find a good shirt I buy it, a LOT! All guys need a ‘weekend black’. This is a smart looking black shirt that you can wear with jeans that makes a middle aged man look 5.3kg lighter than he actually is. I have a great one that is only now starting to die but had the most bizarre experience one day at the washing basket when I saw the same shirt that I had just thrown into the laundry basket not ninety seconds previous turn up clean as a whistle on the bed. Needless to say I toyed with a sacred reverence for this most magical of shirts and stood for a full five minutes staring at it wondering how the hell that it was there and clean so quickly. My wife must have been watching me for some period and, having long accepted the fact that I am perhaps not completely hinged, simply asked if I was going to get dressed anytime soon (see paragraph one for reference). Then, I mumbled something incoherent about the magic black shirt washing itself and she patiently explained to me that I had actually bought a second one at some stage because I liked it so much. To this day I have no clear recollection of this but thank my subconscious for taking care of (fashion) business. I even have a vague feeling that I got it for a bargain. I bloody LOVE those shirts!

fat guy black shirt

One night I was watching Seinfeld DVDs in bed (peak entertainment for a Wednesday night when you’re in your fifth decade) and an episode featuring Jay Peterman, the eccentric clothing entrepreneur. After a quick search, I found out two things:

  • Jay Peterman is a REAL clothing company
  • The actor that played Jay Peterman in Seinfeld ended up buying the ACTUAL Jay Peterman company. Legit.

That alone was enough for me to want to buy clothes from Peterman: clothes that have a cool story. 🙂

As it turns out, they had really nice shirts, so I waited for months for them to go to the ‘clearance’ section, which made them ‘barely affordable’ by Australian middle-aged-men standards once the exorbitant postage was added. What made it so much nicer is that I bought several of each. Now I realise that this might have a slightly concerning side effect: that people see me wearing the same shirts a lot and think that I am a complete slob that doesn’t wash much. My solution: completely nonchalance. I just don’t care what people think. I mean, I try to, I really do, but the older I get, I think this gene just switched right on that says “bugger ’em all, be comfortable man!!!”. To be honest, I am not entirely sure that my fashion-awareness-button ever really worked properly.

That brings me to my step-father for a fast-forward on what I could be like in a further 30 years. Once we were coming over for lunch, an event known about for several weeks. We rolled through the driveway to his broadly grinning face which warmed our hearts as much as his clothing contorted our minds. He was wearing pillowcases that my mother had apparently patchworked into baggy gardening pants. He wore these all afternoon and nary made so much as a comment about them. I had to admire the complete absence of embarrassment in my Dad and was still counting my blessings that his ‘old man legs’ were well and truly covered.

Ladies, be kind to your men when it comes to clothes. Firstly, look at his wardrobe space compared to yours next time you bleat about having “nothing to wear”. Secondly, consider his annual spend on clothes compared to yours (even if you don’t count shoes!). Finally, realise that the daggier he is, the less flattering his clothes, the more embarrassing his shoes are, the safer you are from ever losing him to another self-respecting woman. Of course that’s logical. I’m a man. I do logic better than accessories.