Annie from Cottage by the Sea wrote about of my Sunday Stealing response to How often do you buy clothes? I said, “Almost never unless they wear out. My wife buys me clothes because my criterion for ‘worn out’ and hers are not the same.”
Annie noted: “I started laughing so hard at ‘my criterion for worn out and hers are not the same.’ You should write a piece about that!”
I thought the topic was a little narrow. But it got me thinking more broadly about clothes and my relationship with same.
I’ve never cared much about clothes beyond their ability to provide sufficient covering for the particular season. A knit hat for the winter, a cap in the summer. It’d have to be extremely cold to wear a scarf. Conversely, I might wear gloves at 5C/41F, especially if I were riding my bicycle.
I almost never caed about “style,” in part because, even early on, I thought “fashion” was an artifice. It was also true that as a fat kid, trying on clothes was torturous. “I guess we’ll need a bigger size,” the sales clerk, stating the obvious, would say.
Now, sometimes people would bring me clothes I took a particular liking to. I think one of my sisters got me a couple of Guatamalan work shirts before I went to college, and I wore them until they fell apart.
I always thought that ties were stupid. A noose; how on the nose is that? My whole nuclear family was down in Charlotte, NC, when I was in my early 20s. My father and I were barely speaking to each other, for reasons. At one of those Olin Mills photo shoots, my father said to my mother, in earshot of me, “Wouldn’t Roger want to put on a tie?” Well, MAYBE, if he had asked me directly, but, under those circumstances, hell no.
In fact, I never even knew how to tie one of those things until I was 44, when a very patient coworker taught me. I was a clip-on guy before then.
My sister Leslie, who lives in Southern California, bought me a pair of white or off-white slacks in the late 1980s. “Don’t they look good?” Well, okay, in SoCal they did, but when I got back to the Northeast, they soon looked gray and dingy. That’s why I always wear pants that are black, dark blue, dark gray, or occasionally brown.
I wore a pair of red Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers for the longest time. They were so much “my brand” that someone got me a Christmas ornament with that design.
During my JEOPARDY warmups in Boston in 1998, I wore the red Chucks, which seemed to fascinate the WTEN Albany cameraman who followed me around. I made the tactical error of changing into new dress shoes for the actual episodes. It was probably a mistake because wearing those hard-soled shoes was exhausting.
My wife tends to buy my shirts from L.L. Bean. (L.L. Bean won me a trip to Barbados.)
To Annie’s point: if the pants are frayed at the end, that’s why God invented scissors. Who would know if there’s a hole in my T-shirt’s armpit if I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt over ith? And I usually do wear long sleeves, even in summer, because of my vitiligo. Actually, I have capitulated on this point, in deference to not only my wife but my daughter, who has been known to purloin my tees.