Wifesy and I have one particular on-going brawl that all started with a “Grandma” sweater. I’m a pretty snappy dresser, but I will admit, I like a grandma sweater or two. I’m sorry, but I really like those Irish / Scottish sweaters that look like St. Patrick himself just took a fine razor to a lamb out the backyard of the church.
You know them, they look like this…
I love these warm, wooly, things. They remind me of hot tea and beer and warm duvets, while the wind blows over the crags. I like these memories.
But, Wifesy hates the “Granny” sweaters as she calls them. I also have a particular shirt or two that she despises. She thinks they look too ‘old’ and I get it, but on the other hand we ARE old. And every now and again, I like my old-looking things.
I like to think of my personal style as, “corporate punk.” This is a term that I have coined and it means wearing a power suit with some spiky heels and a leather jacket. Something like that. Or a trouser pant with a mean boot and a ruffled shirt. I like contrasts. I like the ultra-femmy with a touch of the masculine.
But, alas, I’ve got me some curves. So, I have to find just the right mix of funky and cover-me-up and it is a struggle. If I’m even one degree off, I go right into “soccer mom” territory. It’s amazing to me that – here – in America, we still can’t get our cute womens’ clothing cut in a bigger feckin’ size. It’s like a conspiracy – a conspiracy causing us to hate ourselves.
I digress. What I’m trying to say is that I think personal style needs to develop and grow over time. Your style should grow with you, so to speak. I remember as a little kid, when my parents had very little money, I fantasized about how I would dress as an adult. Amazingly, I think I’ve mostly accomplished it. I also used to daydream about my adult ‘rooms.’ Because when you’re a kid, you don’t realize that you’ll have apartments and houses, you only think of how you would re-model your room if given every possibility. I always pictured Michael J. Fox’s room from the original Back to the Future while growing up. Yep, that was my ultimate goal room. In the opening of the film, right before Michael skateboards to school (another longing of mine) the camera lingers on the star’s adolescent room. There’s a big bed, posters everywhere, a bit of a mess, and one of those old digital alarm clocks. There were guitars and skateboards, as I remember it.
I wanted my room to be like that. Oddly, I sometimes feel I have the adult equivalent, only in a loft space and a bit more girly.
But, you can also get stuck in a decade. I remember watching a talk show, once, where they talked about people who dressed only from a certain time period. The show hypothesized that people most often got stuck when that decade was their most successful one. For example, if you were really successful in the 80’s, you may never get out of your “members only” jackets and parachute pants. It reminds me of a writing teacher of mine. He wore converse sneakers AND cargo pants. He was a lovely guy, but he always looked like an aging “greaser” to me. He seemed as if he was waiting for his ‘gang’ to get out of high school and he was like 65 years of age. It’s not that you can’t wear cool clothes when you’re older. It’s that you need to pick and choose. Maybe a grandma sweater here and there, along with your cool jeans and boots. Or maybe keep the converse sneaks, but wear ‘em with an age appropriate blazer. I’m not sure, I’m not an expert, but I know it when I see it. With age comes the fact that you must grow and change, even when it comes to your wardrobe.
Now, the other day, when I posted all of my gay pride pics there was a commenter who said something to the effect of (and I’m paraphrasing), “Why must they dress like that?” The comment wasn’t mean, just sort of curious, which brings me to…
Style as self expression.
I DO believe that during a gay pride parade, gay men dress as flamboyant as possible as a form of protest. It’s a bit “in your face” on purpose. The point is to say, “here’s your worst fear…” now enjoy an entire parade of it, bare ass and all. Because we’re here (gay people) and we’re not going anywhere. That makes sense to me. Now, of course, most of the flamboyant parade marchers have jobs. Jobs in which people may not even know they are gay. My guess is that they don’t dress to go to work in ass-less chaps or it would be a bit of an HR issue. So, I think to dress like a wild, gay, maniac or angel or fairy or priestess, a couple of times a year, is perfectly appropriate.
I think we have to let people express themselves this way. Of course, if you have a friend who is dressing a little too whorish – TELL HER. But, maybe, privately. What I don’t think you should do is wait until she’s attacked and then say, “Well, what was she wearing? Why was she dressed like that?”
Because the next natural sentence is…maybe she deserved it. For some reason these two concepts – gay men as flamboyant or showy and woman as whores – are very parallel ideas for me. Perhaps, those particular people that you find either too flamboyant or too whorish are simply expressing themselves in a particular moment in time. Yes, of course, if you are the boss and they show up to work like that – say something. Tell them it’s not appropriate. But, if they’re dressing like that at Gay Pride parade or for a Halloween event or god forbid an S & M party, well, then it’s none of your business. And if you don’t like it, simply change the channel.
We judge each other so much, it’s amazing. And I am not exempt from that disease, though I really try to do it minimally. We hear an accent and we judge social class and breeding. We hear a word used incorrectly or see it misspelled and we make a harsh decision about a person. We see someone dressed a certain way and because it makes us uncomfortable, we forget to step in that person’s shoes for a moment. We forget to see there may be a reason they’re dressing that way or holding on to their grandma sweater. We fail to see their hearts. We only see the shell.
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