I typically stay away from the topic of fashion in any form at any time with any audience – except perhaps when my inseam is being measured by some 85-year-old Italian tailor at Brooks Brothers in New York. Or maybe when I give my monthly critique, in private, to my wife about her employer’s latest issue.
But when you come across a quote like the following, one is simply compelled to find a way to share it with others. So here it is:
“A garment that squeezes the testicles makes a man think differently.”
Yes, God bless you, Umberto Eco, for those immortal words. (By the way, shouldn’t that be the motto of GQ magazine?)
It’s not that I’ve ever given this topic much thought. Sure, periodically, I wonder if the “Wear By” date of my clothes has expired. And, the truth is, I can’t help this nagging suspicion that, while I’m pretty sure my brain is metrosexual from at least 2009, my style of clothing may very well be firmly rooted in 1978.
But it’s not my fault. I’ve tried to explain to my wife many times that American men are simply, genuinely, and genetically predisposed to be unfashionable. It’s our curse. It’s God’s little revenge for us having too much of everything else.
Sure there are exceptions in America. But most of them are rappers, basketball players, or actors we’ve never heard of, most of whom are playing the role of one vampire or another on TV. Few of us wake up in the morning, go to our closet and think: “I wonder what Donald Trump will be wearing today.”
And though this handicap lingers, it’s not for lack of trying. There are scores of publications that try to show us what to do. The New York Times fashion section alone pleads with us at least twice a year to open our minds and open our wallets, as its editors attempt to reassure us that a slim pair of pants does not necessarily mean we want to move to Milan and marry Bradley Cooper.
Indeed, this was the lede from its latest, not-very-subtle attempt just a month ago: “Designer fashion is no longer just for gay men and Europeans. Welcome to the age of sartorial enlightenment, in which the average male has shed schlumpiness for style.”
To which I respond, isn’t schlumpiness itself a perfectly good style? Do I really want to fall prey to what has been ingeniously (and hilariously) termed “manorexia?”
What that New York Times story does do, however, is inadvertently raise a very good point – when combined with the observations of Mr. Eco. Because now that I think about it, perhaps it’s past time that we American men – we of drab oversized shirts, forgettable dark ties, and loose sagging pants – share some advice. Maybe, just maybe, torn boxer shorts and low inseams are the secret to our success.
Don’t think so? Well let’s hear again from Mr. Eco:
“For people in my profession it is normal to walk along with your mind on other things: the article you have to write, the lecture you must give, the relationship between the One and the Many, the Andreotti government, how to deal with the problem of the Redemption, whether there is life on Mars, the latest song of Celentano, the paradox of Epimenides. In our line this is called ‘the interior life.’ Well, with my new jeans my life was entirely exterior. I thought about the relationship between me and my pants, and the relationship between my pants and me and the society we lived in. I had achieved heteroconsciousness, that is to say, an epidermic self-awareness.”
For those of you who are convinced, but might need some reminders, here are three little words, from the very same page as that lovely quote above, I suggest you pin to the door of your closet.
“Thought abhors tights.”
Yes, my male friends, the key to success gets no simpler than that.