Someone is going to make fun of me for referencing another older post, but it seems to be a running trend with the prompt nowadays. The post in question is this one, in which I discussed the important of humor not only in my dating life but in my socialization and in how I view the connected experiences of humanity. I know, heavy stuff Doc.
Today’s prompt was ‘stylish’, which brought up thoughts of another aspect of my personality that I practically personally tailored (bad puns) to fit my dating life once more. I didn’t just use cheesy humor to get a girl’s attention. In the immortal words of ZZ Top, ‘every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man’. I learned the myriad benefits of realizing that a guy’s outfit could be more than jeans and a t-shirt.
When I was in the first grade I had to wear this shiny gold vest for Easter Sunday. I thought I looked so cool with it on and everyone was saying how handsome I looked. There was a girl in my class who I had a huge crush on. Her father owned the local bakery and I used to go with my parents when they wanted to pick up some bread and biscotti. She was usually hanging out at the store on weekends, coloring or running outside. I was always too shy to approach her or let alone talk to her. But if I could show her my cool new vest…well she’d have to…uh…I don’t know…my first grade self didn’t know what you were supposed to do with a girl you had a crush on. Maybe she’ll hold my hand. Hahah.
On Monday morning I stuffed that gold vest into my backpack so my mother wouldn’t know I had it with me. As soon as she dropped me off at school I asked my teacher if I could use the restroom. Inside, I slipped on this very shiny very sparkly golden vest over my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt. I was a 6 year old little boy in Power Rangers sneakers, blue jeans, a TMNT shirt, and a gold Easter vest. I thought I was the bomb. As I strutted my walk back into class with that runway look I very quickly realized otherwise. My guy friends were confused and dumbfounded. They stared and poked at the vest and wondered why I was wearing it. I could hear the girls in class looking and giggling at me. (See, making them laugh since day one.)
My teacher came over to me and in her teacherly way simply said, ‘Why Man, that’s a very nice vest. Why are you wearing that to school today?’
‘I don’t know,’ I wanted to say. ‘Love makes you do stupid things?!’
‘I…I have a party to go to after school,’ I lied.
Obviously, or well maybe not obviously but hopefully, my fashion sense, much like my comedic timing, has improved over the years. It was, after all, something I actually wanted to study and know more about and get better at.
I went through phases, just like anyone else growing up. Later on in elementary school I
got into the skater look. Long sleeve shirt with a short sleeve on top. I got so lazy I just started buying shirts that just looked like it was two layers. In middle school I was very into the Asian motif so a lot of dragons and flames and ninja designs. It was bad. In high school I would change almost weekly. One week I’d try out the Seattle grunge look. Ripped jeans, plaid lumberjack shirts. Another time I’d be uncomfortably, unnaturally preppy. Polo shirts with the collar popped and a stupid jacket tied around my shoulders. I’d wear the jerseys of teams I didn’t follow whose players I didn’t recognize. I am so eternally grateful that my mother put a very quick and definite end to any possibility of me getting some obnoxiously long black trenchcoat like I saw in The Matrix because my dumb impressionable self was convinced this was the coolest jacket in the world. I would have even walked around with my arms folded behind me like Morpheus. I was most comfortable in jeans and a button up with the sleeves rolled. That’s what carried over mainly into college. College was also where I started to really want to dress smartly, dress like a guy who knew what the hell he was doing. Threw out all the skulls and dragons. Threw out the skater shirts. (Donated to Salvation Army, don’t worry.)
I started buying jeans that I realized didn’t always have to come in bright blue. Khakis. Chinos. Short-sleeve polo shirts, long-sleeve button ups, three-button henleys. I loved my assorted blazers and suit jackets. I learned to dress for the season and dress with variety. And you know what, girls did notice throughout all the years. If you show up over-dressed, like say a gold vest to homeroom, you’ll stick out for all the wrong reasons. But if you just do enough to be the best dressed guy in the room, you stick out for the right ones.
Say what you will about anything else, but I can at least say for certain that the women I’ve dated were sure of two things. 1) I was funny. And 2) I dressed well. Who wouldn’t take a little extra time to notice and appreciate when a guy shows up at your door and it looks like he spent more than five minutes deciding what to wear.
There are so many benefits to a well-stocked and versatile wardrobe. Functionality is of course still the most important thing. I would never support a fashion choice simply for its aesthetic versus practical use. A good wardrobe and a good sense of how to use it means you’ll never be caught unprepared. You’ll have the right clothes for each season and every weather type. You’ll be able to dress well for any occasion, from the most casual to the most formal. You can sell with much more confidence any image you wish to portray. A good outfit can also help a man hide some flaws and accentuate some strengths. I have particularly broad shoulders, so I like to wear clothes that accentuate that. This may sound weird but I am also a big fan of my forearms, which is why I very rarely wear sleeves to the wrist. I usually roll sleeves on my button ups or pull them up on sweaters and the like. Since I am tall,especially for a Filipino, I am very particular about my pant length. Too short, like how a lot of Asian men (especially Korean) like to wear it, makes me look awkward and gangly. Too long means the pant bunches up and makes me look saggy. But a pant with just the right length that ends at my shoe makes me seem like just a tad bit more of a commanding presence. You’d think with my little extra paunch I’d want to wear oversized shirts or baggy items to hide that, but I know it just makes me look frumpy and wrinkled. So a goodfitting shirt is actually better because it can help to narrow my profile a bit by aligning closer to my pants.
As the fall season approaches in the East coast I look forward to my cold-weather wardrobe coming back into circulation. I tend to sweat easily so I don’t get too fancy in the warmer months in terms of clothing. Material is more important and I am particular though to make sure I wear things that are almost always 100% cotton. In the winter though I get to dress my smartest. Layers are my friend. Collared shirt, vest, blazer. Plain tee, sweater, scarf. Cardigans. Long manly winter coats. No marshmallow jackets here.
Honestly, I don’t know when or why or how not caring about your clothes became synonymous with ‘manliness’. I feel sad that so many guys think the best way to show off masculinity is to try really really hard to dress like a homeless person. When did knowing about the benefits of different kinds of materials and shirt styles lose its prowess in the circle of men. Why is it nowadays it’s either basketball shorts and t-shirts or fedoras and trenchcoats.
A man dressing well is manly. It speaks so much to a person’s knowledge, skills, and talents. It’s an unmistakable first impression. We don’t even need to know too much or have too much in our wardrobe. It’s not difficult for a guy to master the basics of smart dress for men. Even though I’m not actively going out and trying to find someone and telling myself I’ll find the love of my life at this particular moment I still like the fact that I learned the skill and ability to dress well enough so that no matter who looks, hopefully, if they appreciate something like that, they could still say ‘there goes a stylish man’.
Man: 60 Loneliness: 18