Friday, November 11, 2011


I used to dress well. I had a look. Clean, conservative, but with splashy accessories. What happened?

Should I blame Vancouver? The city is not known for fashion. Plaid is always in style. People dress for hiking even when headed to work or dinner. No, it can’t be Vancouver’s fault. I never bought into the outdoorsy look. I can’t fake it as a hiker. I don’t like mud. Hiking boots are too bulky. And I still don’t know if I’m supposed make some noise or play dead if I stumble upon a bear.

So then my rural home setting of the past six years must be a factor in my fashion slide. Last weekend I went on another quest for the latest issue of GQ. The guy at the gas station stared back blankly. Seems I was spouting random letters. GQ, SB, LMNOP. I didn’t even bother to ask at the drug store. I’m still peeved that they only get a shipment of Entertainment Weekly every other week. Read the cover—it’s not Entertainment Biweekly! But I digress. Must stop scratching old wounds. I suppose local retailers are just being practical. Retirees and mill workers aren’t seeking out an article about “how to brave the cold in style”. The John Deere cap and hockey jersey are all-season wear.

Fashion has no place here. Case in point. On Saturday, I saw two people nonchalantly walk into caf├ęs in town wearing flannel pajama bottoms. Where’s the sign?! No real pants, no service. I will never step foot in Mark’s Wearhouse, the only men’s clothing retailer, but I am guessing they had a 50% off sale of loungewear. Irresistible, eh? Why wait for bedtime?

But no. I am certain that the blue collar, multi-paint-stained jean look has not influenced my wardrobe. Basically, my fall from fashion can be attributed to shingles and logs. As a homeowner, anything I had in savings—and then some—rests on the new roof that I have to climb up a hill to even see. Okay, it’s not just the roof. There’s the new flooring, new lighting, new ceilings, new heating, new drywall, new paint. The NEW IMPROVED house is most impressive…even if my dog fails to comment. The “For Sale” sign still isn’t on the front lawn as more fix-ups arise. Sadly, I won’t recoup any of the expenditures. I’m just trying to minimize my losses.

And then there are the logs. I’ve walked by them countless times and they never seem to notice my $120 designer hoodie, my Michael Kors jeans and my perfectly matched belt, socks and shoes. Those damn logs just sit there like, well, logs. I can’t think of anyone or anything else to try to impress. Here’s the hard truth—oh, I can’t believe I am saying this: Fashion doesn’t matter. Not here, not now. Maybe I really have hit rock bottom!

At work today, I dressed up. I reached into the back of my closet and pulled out a classic suit. I found the shirt and tie I’d bought specifically for the suit. I polished my shoes and put on my ultrasoft olive Hugo Boss topcoat. And the kids loved it! Especially the coat. “I like your cape,” one of them said. Sigh. He meant well. Another commented, “You look like a mystery solver.” Yes, she likened me to Sherlock Holmes, that incredibly popular fictional dude from the nineteenth century. Not sure how to take that.

I’m weeding my collection, bidding sad adieus to Armani sweaters that belong on “The Cosby Show” and faded Ralph Lauren dress shirts and frayed Hilfiger slacks. I am sure there are designers and styles to replace my old favorites, but I would need to consult a current issue of GQ. Something tells me I’m not going to learn the right things watching “The Big Bang Theory.”

If I ever do move, here’s hoping I can regain some fashion flair. I fear that beer tees, knee-high black socks and Dockers khaki shorts are hovering above, ready to swoop down and curse me for life in fashion hell. Makes me want to don my ripped, balsamic-vinegar-stained, too short pajama bottoms and curl up in bed. Damn, I need new sheets too.


Rick Modien said...

Well written and humorous as always.

I'm not into fashion much these days--not like I was when I was much younger--because I guess I don't care. For me, it's about getting older, wanting to be comfortable, and not giving a damn whether or not I impress. I don't have a job out in public either, so who needs to spend a bunch of money unnecessarily?

When I had to do the suit and tie thing, working in a bank for twenty-eight years, I HATED it. I never got used to a tie. I think the concept of a tie was invented by a woman who was bitter about something and wanted to get back at men (probably because a man invented the bra). Anyway, if I never have to wear a tie again...

Want to know something funny? I fantasize. Let's say I someday write a novel that wins the GG Award (I said it was a fantasy). And I have to fly to Toronto to accept my cheque and award. I'd be expected to wear a suit and tie, wouldn't I?

Maybe I don't want to win the GG Award as badly as I thought. I don't really care to fly these days (passing through airport security is...well, you know), and I have no intention of buying a suit for a single occasion.

Of course, my ninety-three-year-old grandmother can't live forever. So I wonder if I can still fit in one of my old bank suits to attend her funeral. Do I want to fit in one of my old bank suits? Too many bad memories of feeling uncomfortable.

No, my days of concerning myself with fashion are long gone. And you know what? That may not be such a bad thing. Everything has its season, and that season is long over, never to return again. I'm free.

Rural Gay said...

Yes, if fashion rules us, as in the business world, it's an imposition rather than a personal statement. Last year, I began work with a new employer and we'd have these big meetings with the head honchos once a month. Of the sixty men in the room, only two of us dared not wear a suit. (I will admit to wearing a tie.) Does that mean I won't move up? Who knows? I don't want to move up. It's nice when you don't have to play the game. I don't follow rules unless I believe in the reason behind them.

I wear a tie to work about three days out of five. Some of my dress shirts are too tight in the collar and, since I don't put on the tie until I get to work, I forget whether it's going to be a day of choking myself or not. That said, I love the way a tie can really make the the right ribbon on a gift-wrapped package. (Although most of the time, I'd rather not deal with wrapping either.)

For me, the right fashion makes me feel more confident. I've always been keenly aware of color and texture so, yes, it still matters to me. I find pleasure in wearing outfits I've pieced together. Now, however, I do not have the time, money or the stores to exercise my fashion sense/cents. With a major career change looming, looking stylish may become even more challenging!

Jack A Urquhart said...

Hello James. Just completed two of your posts, both beautifully written (and intimately familiar). It strikes me that you've no reason ever to feel second-string, much less out of fashion, as intelligence and a delicious sense of humor are always top tier, never out of vogue (that is, of course, unless you're running for U.S. President on the Republican ticket :-).