4.6 One Size Does Not Fit All
Try this on. I can't find any clothes that fit me. Yes, this is a totally lame subject to write about, but if clothes make the man, then I am still a boy.
Who do they make these pants for? I find my waist size, try them on, and the leg length goes on forever. Who are these twenty-nine inch waisted men that are six foot six? Sure, just take them to be hemmed. So wait, I have to buy a pair of pants, take them to another store, leave them there to be trimmed to the right length and have an old man uncomfortably measure my inseam? Why don't they just make pants that fit?
I stopped growing at the age of fifteen. I'm basically the same height and weight. I'm not bragging. My frame is that of a skinny pubescent school child. And the big nose does nothing to balance things out. I've just never figured out a style that properly represents my personality. I'm neither ahead or behind the trends, just completely oblivious of them. In my opinion, the 1980s got a bad reputation, when really it was the 1990s that contained a hideous sense of fashion. From the grunge aesthetic to the polar opposite of shoulder pads, the 1990s were even more disillusioned than we are now. Look at it this way: when I was a kid, you wouldn't be caught dead in sweat pants. And now?
I stopped wearing anything with a logo on it. This was not a stance against consumerism or capitalism, more of an intellectual assessment. I didn't understand why someone would not only hand over money for a shirt, but a shirt with that company's logo on it. So, you're paying for the garment and also providing a living and breathing live promotional billboard for them. They get you twice. It's not even that I don't shop at these stores, just that I don't want people to judge who I am as a person through the lens of a sweatshirt that has the letters G-A-P on it. People can judge me for other reasons. Sure, I'm totally hypocritical by still wearing clothes from these stores, but at least the signage is hidden. Plus, what am I supposed to do, make my own clothes?
My style, if you could call it one, has evolved into shades of dark blue, black and gray. And lots of jeans. I went to a Christmas party that had a prize for the most outlandish Christmas sweater. I went wearing gray - it was the biggest splash of colour I had. There's also a practical reason for the dark clothes, and it doesn't have to do with my disposition. It's quite embarrassing to talk about. I sweat a lot from anxiety and the wet spots under my arms are not as noticeable on black. This is sort of self-defeating as I'm drawing attention to the problem - the sweating - that I've spent too much time trying to hide.
I've actively avoided any jobs where you needed to wear a suit. Never my thing. I blame this trait for my inability to function in the corporate world. I recently bought a new suit - black - and decided to go a little crazy with the shirt and bought a purple one, with a tie to match. I don't even like purple. I've worn the suit only once. My partner at the time looked at my loafers and said, "You're wearing those?" The shoes had white stitching, a no-no I guess. No wonder it didn't work out between us.
My ideal job when I was younger was to be in one of those grunge bands from the awful 1990s. Although I was not a fan of flannel, the musicians got to dress comfortably. That's all I wanted in a job. One more point about bands: I never understood the rule that said you couldn't wear a band's shirt to a concert. I once wore a Pearl Jam shirt to a Pearl Jam concert and none of my friends talked to me, although they might’ve stopped talking to me for other reasons. I guess that's worse than white stitching on loafers.
At the moment, I'm moving away from jeans and into pants. Seems more grown up. I found pants that fit but the fashion world won't let me let go of my youth as they are skinny tight pants. Very uncomfortable, but I've only been wearing them for a few months. A trial period.
Shoes are a completely different story. Not really, more of the same. I had a pair of loafers in the late 1990s that were so fashion conscious yet unbelievably comfortable that I've spent a good part of the last decade looking for a similar pair. Perhaps a good pair of shoes are like a soul mate, there is only one. Matching my body frame, my feet are small and narrow. Please, no jokes about small feet. Shoe companies make shoes too wide. Again, they are ignoring a large market of men with slim-sized feet. I'm on to boots now, if only because I've found a place where I can order the size I need online. Did you ever notice that shoe stores do not carry anything under a size eight? True. But the online approach is still a crapshoot. Last year I bought a pair of boots, they arrived and were too wide. It's amazing what you can convince yourself of by looking in a mirror. They're not too wide - looking good! I walked into work the next day and one of my colleagues said, "Those boots are too wide for you, aren't they? Oh, but they look fine, really." I never wore them again.
After a few months, shoes become very uncomfortable for me. My right heel wears down faster than the left, making me stand in an awkward position, my instep stepping too inside, and shooting pain up my leg into my hip. I blame the TTC. All that standing on buses and subways wore away my heel. I know this because now that I have a car, I have no heel problems. Maybe I should sue?
My mom recommended I start an online business exclusively for guys like me. Smart woman. I'll call it 'Paul's Short and Slim". I'd make a killing. Or maybe not. I had a different idea: the kid's section.
For years, I would stop at the border between the adult and kid's section, watching forlornly at the impassable gulf. I couldn't bring myself to cross that threshold of potentially well fitting attire because I don't have any kids. I remember waiting in line at McDonald's years ago when a lone gentleman in front of me ordered a kid's meal. The server asked which toy he wanted and the man pondered over what the imaginary boy would desire and said, "I think he'd want the action figure." I ordered my food and when I sat down, there was the gentleman seated near the back by himself, eating happily from the Happy Meal, the toy unwrapped and standing beside his fries.
I don’t want to be that man, walking through the kid's section, under the scrutinizing gaze of tired-looking mothers. Or at the cash register when the checkout person's eyebrows raise awkwardly and I have to say I hope my nephew would like his birthday present. Maybe that's what I'll do - borrow a friend’s kid. I'd probably have to pay him to accompany me to the store as he follows me around bored. I'd try things on and make him wait outside the change room to get his opinion. If I look like a kid, I might as well get advice from a kid.