After finishing my last column (i’m ok. you’re ok. we’re a mess), in which I waxed philosophic on some of the things I’ve learned over the years about relationships, I began to wonder if there were other little gems of wisdom I could impart to you, the reader. To continue decanting the obvious, I decided on an unlikely topic: fashion.
Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I simply didn’t get the fashion gene. I have no gift for putting together a fabulous outfit, for choosing clothes that accent my physique, or really for dressing to draw attention to myself (in any kind of positive way.)
My style, if you can call it that, is very casual. Most of my wardrobe consists of two things: jeans, and things that Ibelieve can be worn with jeans. I wear jeans to work, jeans when I go out at night, and jeans when I’m hanging out on the weekends. In fact, if I wear khaki pants and a button-down shirt to work, people ask me if I have a date or a job interview.
This is not to say that I don’t have nice clothes, or that I never get dressed up, but let me put it this way: if I’m wearing a suit, you can rest assured that either someone has died, someone is getting married, or the tickets cost over $50 each. If something really looks good on me, it was probably a gift.
So why do I feel even slightly qualified to give pointers on fashion? Because, in a culture obsessed with youth and beauty, where people will classify and categorize you based solely on your appearance, there are some fundamental rules that even the most fashion-impaired can apply. With the help of my personal image consultant (translation: gay friend with highly evolved fashion sense, and a vendetta against my closet and all it contains), I can present the following simple fashion truths:
This one is simple. Your belt should match your shoes. Black shoes, black belt. Brown shoes, brown belt. If you’re wearing white shoes, your belt should probably be white as well — but frankly, if you’re wearing white shoes, you have bigger fashion fish to fry.
This one changes every so often, but right now the rule seems to be that the socks should match the shoes. If you feel compelled to wear them new-fangled fancy patterned socks, well, you’re only complicating matters, but try to have the predominant color match your shoes. White socks are the rule with sneakers. And please no black shoes/socks with shorts. That look is reserved for tourists in foreign countries.
Sandals and Socks?
One word: no. I’m afraid not. I don’t care how much granola you eat, or how long you’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, if it’s cold enough for socks, it’s cold enough for shoes. End of story.
This one is for the ladies. Unless you are a nurse, in which case I assume you have no choice, do not wear white stockings. White is not slimming. While your dining room table may look wonderful supported on alabaster columns, your ass probably doesn’t.
Remember when only athletes wore sweatsuits? I miss that. These days they’re being worn by anyone who can’t fit into clothes that have buttons and zippers. Come on people, make some kind of effort. Let’s give the athletic wear back to the athletes.
(There is one exception: if you’ve worked hard all of your life and have finally retired to Florida, wear whatever the hell you want; you’ve earned it. Besides, all your friends are doing it.)
Although you can’t tell by some of the things people are wearing these days, there are some rules that have have always been around, and will always continue to be. A perfect example is the old Stripe rule. Vertical stripes make you look longer and thinner, horizontal stripes make you look wider or broader. Don’t try to convince yourself that you’re exempt. This is math. You will lose. Speaking of math, think about this for a second: black and white checkered cloth looks a lot like graph paper. If you stretch it across your butt, it’s going to follow every contour, revealing the butt’s exact size and shape. Do you really want to do this?
Of course, these are just general rules for mainstream America. Maybe that’s not you. Maybe you’re a club kid or a circuit boy, an alternative rocker or flower child. Maybe you’re a power-tie-packing corporate animal. In any case, the rules may be different and more complex. Just remember, like all rules, half the fun is in bending, stretching and breaking them.