“Oh, God, no,” I said. “I might as well wear shorts.”
The look of my coworkers face said it all. I’m a madman and she was trying to decide if I was dangerous or not.
Why? Because I am a madman. I might be dangerous.
But, today, it was because of my outrage over the mere concept of short pants.
I follow some important fashion rules. Not the ones handed down from on high like, “never wear white after Labor Day.” Those rules are stupid and make little sense. My fashion rules are founded in experimentation. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years and figured out what works for me. I use them as guideposts to keep myself from making the same mistakes I made my youth.
I’ve listed out my top rules for faculty fashion before but one of them didn’t make it onto the list. Not because I don’t believe in it as much as the others. I do. I think it applies to all men, not necessarily more important to fat guys than any other guys.
Adult men wear full-length pants*.
Once upon a time, the length of garment covering your lower body was a sign of your age. There was a rite of passage involved in moving from short pants to trousers. Once you made that leap, you never went back.
Culturally, we’ve evolved since then. Mostly for the better, but I think this is one situation where we took a giant leap backwards.
When I stopped to examine the things in my life that leave me unsatisfied, I find almost all of them are tied to a state of perpetual adolescence. That #adulting is a thing troubles me. Worse, I understand it. The improvements I’ve made have all been away from my own Peter Pan syndrome. I am trying to grow up. I’m 33. It’s time.
And, when I look around myself at my friends and peers, I see a lot of us struggling with the same things. Despite being in our early to mid 30s, we still act like ignorant teenagers.
Shorts are a symptom of this disease.
I work in an industry that requires our customers to have a certain amount of faith and our professionalism. I also work in an office environment. It is a full on cube farm. There is an established uniform. We might not enforce artificial dress code, but there is a level of decorum associated with our work.
Mostly, business casual is fine. The majority of us can get away with full on casual attire. This is especially true for the workers in my field — website stuff. Web professionals were anointed by business culture as a key group allowed to wear pretty much whatever they want. If hoodies and flip-flops are good enough for Mark Zuckerberg, they are good enough for us. It is just the way of web pros.
So, I try not to judge anyone’s clothing choices. I try hard. I’m not always good at it.
There are only a few things capable of triggering my fashion elitism. Flip-flops are one of them. Mark Zuckerberg, if you’re reading this, put on some damn shoes. Fortunately, they don’t come up that often. But, my other major peeve is almost omnipresent. Men in my office wear shorts to work.
I can’t stop myself from judging them. I feel guilty afterwards, but it doesn’t stop me next time.
“Why the hate on shorts?” My coworker asked.
“Because, short pants are like short sleeves of the dress shirt. Dress shirt sleeves should always be full-length and if you need to expose your arms you should roll them up. Correctly.” I waved my arms in the air to show what I meant.
I didn’t comprehend my motives. When someone probes my opinions I take it as an opportunity to be as entertaining as possible. I am not comfortable with the idea of speaking with authority, yet. I don’t like it if someone refers to me as an expert. They’re worth less than used toilet paper.
I have 10 to 15 of these conversations every day*. Normally, I let my gibberish roll forth and move on to the next one. This one stuck with me though. Something about it tickled the back of my mind. Some little wiggling notion kept slithering across the surface of my brain. It’s been eight hours since the conversation and I’ve figured out why these things bother me.
They are signs of immaturity. Not in the person wearing shorts or short sleeve dress shirt, I don’t know them well enough to make judgments on their maturity. These signs are reflections of my insecurity in my adulthood. I don’t believe in my ability to be responsible and functional enough to indulge myself in something childish. I need my tie to prove I am an adult.
I don’t like when my coworkers wear shorts because on some level it makes me feel like I am 15 years old again, wearing my father’s suit.
It is much too deep of an emotion for a Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, my coworker saved me from experiencing it in public.
“What about women?” She asked.
I only hesitated for a moment before answering. “I think it is better for me to not even attempt to tell a woman what she should wear. It might make me a hypocrite, but I feel like they get enough of that already.”
My coworker approved.
I have toyed with hunting down advice for gals who might read this blog. I have little experience with women’s clothing first-hand, but, I feel confident in my Google-Fu. I could curate some resources. But, I also think there are so many of those resources out there I wouldn’t be able to tell which ones are the best. With fat guy fashion, I can at least speak about what has worked for me.
I have opinions on women wearing shorts. I don’t see how he could be constructive for me to share them with anyone.
I will say this, I think everyone in the world should wear a frock coat and vest every day. I’ve done the research. It looks awesome on every body shape and skin tone.
Seriously. We would live in the dapper-est of dapper worlds.
I won’t win my battle against short pants, short sleeves, or even flip-flops. But, if I can reach one fat guy with my simple message of pants acceptance, it will be worth it.
If you are a shorts-wearing person, I implore you to consider wearing full-length pants for a month. You will feel more professional. And, when you feel more professional people treat you more professionally.
Why not be as boss as possible?
*Note: Professional basketball players and a few other athletes are the exception. Even then, have you seen how they dress off the court? Stylish suits.
*I still get work done, somehow. If scientists researched my productivity, they’d find it defies the laws of physics.”