The Clothes Doth Maketh the Maneth

A few years ago, my college boyfriend and I went out to buy jeans. I know. I know. Such an interesting opener. Wow, tell me more. Such greatness, Hemingway better look this way.

I apologize.

We head down to the big shopping center, he grabs a pile of decently acceptable options, and we promptly spend the next two hours sorting through them all. Too small. Too big. Too weird. Too covered in that fading stuff so it looks like you bought them at Goodwill for $5 when they’re actually from H&M and cost you $40 and your dignity.

Anyone with a sense of style can tell you why I was pulled along to this adventure. I was the girl eye. I was picked specifically and entirely for my ability to tell him if those pants with that shirt would appeal to my half of the gender spectrum. He may have said it was for me and that he wanted to look nice for me, but we know the truth. Lies. Lies. Lies.

(It might actually be the truth. We were getting along alright at the time. But it being a clever rouse works better for the concept, and honestly, you’re not going to fact check me.)

He left looking infinitely better than when we walked in, and we carried on into happily ever after.

More lies. We broke up a few months later and he took his renewed sense of fashion off into parts unknown.

Add in the new boyfriend. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This one took a little more effort.

Tall, smart, handsome, and funny, this boy resigned his clothes to whatever he got for birthdays and Christmas. If holes appeared, so be it! Better ventilation. We had a few arguments that left us both mumbling discontents to ourselves. Mostly me. 90% of this was me. I have no chill.

Eventually, saner (aka more stubborn) minds prevailed, and we went shopping. Lather, rinse, repeat.

He left looking infinitely better than when we walked in, and we broke up several months later. A trend is emerging. But back to clothes.

Growing up, the saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” was tossed around a lot. It gained special traction in those years right before everyone insisted I get a suit to look professional for job and college interviews. Somehow the hiring manager missed the memo that I am more than my silk button up.

He just doesn’t get me.

To be fair, clothes aren’t everything. Taken all together, you’d get a decent idea of who I am from my wardrobe, but it wouldn’t be perfect. I don’t have any clothes that hint at how much I love to bake or my complete ridiculous love for completely worthless, but cute, knick knacks.

I have salt and pepper shakers shaped like T-rexes. They also have little bow ties because they’re dapper and refined. What I’m saying is my seasoning dispersers are better than yours.

There are a lot of things clothes can’t tell you about a person. There are important aspects of who they are and what they care about that you don’t get access to based solely on what dress they’re wearing or how beaten up their shoes are. People exist complexly. Clothes, outside of the madness of Fashion Week, generally aren’t complex. This can cause a problem.

Because what you’re wearing does say something about you. Fashion is a choice, like where you go for lunch, who your friends are, and how you carry yourself. It’s why you buy a shirt at a concert or at comic con. It’s why you wear nice clothes to a first date. It’s why everyone I know insisted I get a suit when I started job hunting.

Seriously, what was with the obsession? You all need hobbies.

Clothes are an introduction. They’re a handshake at the front door before someone decides to let you in. They’re a piece of you. A small fraction of the immense complexity of who you are, but they are a part, and they do say something.

The disconnect between what they say and what people actually hear can vary, widely and dramatically. Perception is a two-way street and outfits, like words, can get muddled in dispersal.

As much as I’d love everyone to wear suits all the time, I also live in Southern California and I’ve seen what the heat can do a nice shirt. It’s not worth it. Wear the jeans.

Just check them for holes first.

Stay classy.