10.19 Wardrobe Consultant

Many years ago, I was not dressing myself very good. I think I do okay now, but back then? Back then you might’ve caught me wearing sandals with socks. And the socks might’ve had holes in the heels. Finally, a friend said, “Look, you’ve gotta do something about all this.” And she made a circular motion with her hand that seemed to encompass my entire ‘look’.

I’ve tried different things over the years. Shirts that looked like a bold choice in the store remained unworn in my closet for years. Pants that I thought I could pull off, I most certainly could not. I have a rule - if I don’t wear something at all during the season it is appropriate, the next year I donate it. This has worked to keep my closet relatively sparse.

I care about what I wear and how I look. Not to the extent of being remotely interested in name brands or anything like that. As I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve settled into, well, some kind of look that’s my own. Who could know?

This being said, it was time for a change. The store Frank and Oak kept coming up in conversation, so I checked it out online. A notice popped up that you could book a one hour wardrobe consultation. Without much thought, I made an appointment.

I was strangely anxious heading to the appointment. I was sure that the consultant would take one look at me and figure I’m a lost cause and not worth their time. Let me tell you, Patrick and Arvin took great care of me. It was actually kind of fun and I spent almost two hours there.

The first thing Arvin told me was that my look was a little devious. He meant this as a compliment. I had never been called devious before. I loved it. Before the appointment, I told a fashion designer friend about it and she said, “You should tell them - maybe not so much black!” Patrick and Arvin found this hilarious.

They told me that I could incorporate subtle colours to bring out my eyes. I know they’re supposed to be all complimentary and stuff. Honestly, I find this very difficult. I don’t have many good things to say about my looks or my body. It’s hard to hear and actually accept from someone else.

Here is a short list of SOME of my failings, both physical and otherwise, according to me:

  • My nose is way too big.

  • Weird eyes.

  • In over 40 years, I have yet to figure out my hair.

  • I’m too short.

  • Ears stick out.

  • My lips are a weird angle.

  • Teeth stick out in all sorts of directions.

  • My voice is boring.

  • I nervous sweat a lot.

Also, I am very self-conscious of my weight, which fluctuates. Not a lot, but in ways that are noticeable to me. Coming out of the winter, I always gain weight in two distinct places - around my neck, under my jawbone and my tummy. It all comes off as I’m way more active in the summer months. And yet, I still try and fit into my jeans that are clearly for Summer Paul. Even though it makes me feel a little bloated and constantly trying to hide it, I keep going with the pants.


Patrick and Arvin were right. Within a week, several people, unprompted, commented on how I looked. One person I just met even said, “You have very interesting eyes. It’s like you’re thinking with your eyes.” The compliments are nice, but I do feel comfortable in these clothes. I want to care about myself and what I’m wearing. It strangely helps me develop something that has been missing as of late - the self-respect of being comfortable with myself. I even bought a pair of pre-ripped jeans, which before this felt morally wrong for a new pair of pants to be damaged. Things change, people change.

Shoes are another story entirely. Shoes are my nemesis. I fear I might live my entire life and never find a pair of suitable shoes. So, I won this battle, but the war is ongoing.

Paul Dore