Once I began learning about fashion and style—two very different things—I stumbled into conversations about clothing much more.
The entire experience has been surreal. I avoid talking about women’s clothing because I know nothing about women’s clothing. I also think it is a bad idea for me to tell any woman how to dress for various reasons.
But, almost everyone I talk to about clothes are women.
The conversation starts with a compliment on my outfit, then segues into a solicitation for advice on how to get their husband or boyfriend to dress better.
I’ve had a hard time answering. It isn’t my place to tell anyone how to dress. But, I think everyone needs to cultivate their own sense of style. Like it or not, what we wear and how we dress projects an image into the world.
My only real advice is to get them to encourage them to control that image.
Own Your Reason
Everything we do has a reason.
We can decide the reason for ourselves, or we can let others decide for us.
I find I am more satisfied with my life when I decide for myself.
The way I dress extends that philosophy.
Human beings are superficial. We are judged by the people around us based on how we present ourselves. Clothing is part of that.
I have made an active decision on how I wish to appear to the world. I call it my “professional adult cosplay.” I wear a dress shirt, tie, and suspenders to work because they project confidence and maturity—two things I don’t always have in abundance.
When I am not at work, I slide back into nice jeans and geeky t-shirts. I think it projects more of who I am. I still care about how I look, but I want to show off part of my personality.
My next style goal is to collect more geeky socks so I can mix the two. My socks are my way to add my geekdom to my professional outfit.
The approach is new and evolving. I can’t say I’ll be dressing the same in six months or a year. But, I will decide based on what I want.
The World Has a Say
As a fat guy, I spent most of my life dressing to circumstance. Stores don’t carry as much diversity in my sizes and more than one designer has said they don’t want me (a fat person) wearing their clothes.
I was resigned, like many of us are, to wearing whatever clothes I could find. As a result, my typical outfit left me looking like a Burning Crusades era World of Warcraft character. My clothes didn’t match, but they were the best I could find.
If I was granted the ability to make any one thing happen with an absolute guarantee of success, it would be global domination.
If I was granted a half-dozen tasks, one of them would cut pre-conceived notions on clothing from the planet.
Because, I’m still caving to social rules.
I wear a tie to project professionalism and confidence, but I wasn’t the person who decided a tie was the best garment for the job.
If I could just change reality around the clothing industry and the world’s sense of style, I’d be able to go to the store right now and buy a Nehru-collar shirt and a lapelled waistcoat with multiple pockets long enough to hang to my knees. And, the shirt would have 3/4 length sleeves. I don’t want my elbows showing, but I also don’t want anything around my wrist.
I would wear them both with classic-fit black jeans and a pair of comfortable sneakers, preferably black-on-black Chuck Taylors.
This outfit says, “This guy knows how to swing a sword and write a marketing plan.” If I added sunglasses and my winter overcoat, it would also scream, “I know Kung Fu.”
But, until I learn to sew better than I can now or fashion changes, I’m not going to pull off that outfit.
I’m stuck living in this world and playing by its rules. For now.
So, I’m passing the question on to you.
If cost wasn’t an issue and every article of clothing you bought fit perfectly, how would you dress? What message are you sending?
Would you continue to follow current social norms or would you invent something new?
Am I the only person who thinks we need to bring back sleeveless garments long enough to cover our knees?