I have resolved to get the full benefit of the WordPress blogging experience. This means that every now and then, I will step out of my comfort zone and try a new type of post. So far, I have done a deep and meaningful poetry post (People wept. Marriages were saved. Complicated teenagers selected the choicest lines to write in their journals.), and a rather technical photography post (this one was more for the experts than the common people, but I have noticed a subtle improvement in the quality of the pictures on WordPress since then. Coincidence? You decide).
Now it’s time to try something new. A fashion post. I have noticed that there is an entire subculture out there in WordPress-land who love to tell the world what sort of pants they are wearing. I feel left out. None of you have ever known what sort of pants I’ve been wearing. Mercifully, that is about to change.
Those who know me may be a little curious that I should embark on such an enterprise, but the truth is that I am eminently qualified. I, you see, came of age in the 80’s. Most of the people I see blogging about fashion are far too young to remember the 80’s. This is a good thing. Sure, they can pick up some old magazines and have a bit of a smile, even throw in the odd 80’s reference to their own style.
But they weren’t there. They don’t know what it was like. All those people who look so funny in those old magazines were models. The best looking people of the age. You can’t even begin to imagine what us ordinary people looked like. But you’re going to have to. We’ve hidden all the photographs. It was war. It was hell. It was the apocalypse, but we were all too blinded by our own clothes to see it.
Like any war, the 80’s fashion war had its casualties. Before I start on my own fashion journey, I’d like to acknowledge our fallen. The world looks the way it does today due, in no small part, to their sacrifices. There was Matthew Sims, inventor of what later came to be known as Hammer pants. He made the ultimate sacrifice when the voluminous crotch of his trousers became entangled in the chain of his BMX just as a truck came over a blind rise.
There was Betty-Sue Hollander, who succumbed to third degree burns when she tried to blow out the candles of her 18th birthday cake immediately after using seven cans of hairspray.
There was the fondly remembered Ellen Bathurst, inventor of the fitness tape, who died in a freak accident when a jealous zebra kicked her into a swimming pool, where she succumbed to the weight of her patented Velcro wrist weights.
There was Mike Sims, who tragically took his own life after blinding seventeen underprivileged schoolchildren on their first trip to the beach with his mirror sunglasses.
There were others, too. The list is too long and too important for a mere blog. Thank you guys. You will never be forgotten.
It was not just the fallen who suffered. An entire generation has had their lives blighted by the collective madness of that decade. We hide it now, sneaking quick peeks at hidden albums while our children sleep. But we must bear our pain in silence. How could you ever explain something like this to those who were not there.
It was not our fault. It was the Russians. They were putting something in our water. We’ve never worked out what it was. But it was pretty bloody strong. Strong enough that none of us ever questioned that these guys were straight.
Yes. I came through that. I am older now. And wiser. And ready to dazzle you with my sartorial splendour. I didn’t want to rush into things bald-headed, so I decided to discuss my plans with my wife. It didn’t go well.
When I told her I was doing a fashion blog, she made a strange gurgling sound, and some coffee shot out of her nose. I think she might be coming down with something. It’s no great loss though. She’s a snappy little dresser, but everyone who knows us knows that when it comes to fashion, I wear the pants round here (did you see what I did there?). I decided to soldier on alone.
To celebrate the coming of summer, I planned to greet the day dressed in a pair of brogues, crushed linen pants, and a worsted cagoule. I got as far as my cupboard before realising that I didn’t know what any of those things were. I decided to risk asking my wife again. Mistake. She pulled a blanket over her head and wept. At least I think she was weeping- the blanket was shaking and she let out a weird shrieking noise. She really isn’t very well at all. It looks like my fashion day might be interrupted by a visit to the doctor. Oh well! I’m just going to have to be methodical and work with what I’ve got.
Let’s start with the shoes. Any good outfit needs a strong foundation. I have some shoes. At least five pairs of them are wearable. (Three if you listen to my wife- She keeps hiding my crocs and claims that my hiking boots give her allergies. I think it’s just jealousy.) I decided to go casual. I pulled out my stylish white canvas plimsolls. They’re a timeless classic- casual enough for the boardwalk, but stylish enough to grace the deck of a private yacht. They were a little too clean when I got them, but ever since I reversed over them on the way to school one morning, they have looked comfortably worn in. There’s a slight problem though. I’m sure that they’re supposed to look like this.
They don’t. They look like this.
The vengeful little bugger who put them together in China obviously decided to act out his resentment of the west but supplying each shoe with two and a half metres of shoelace. I could cut them, I suppose, but then I would lose the aglets (it’s a fashion term- Google it). Even when laced up, they’re a law suit waiting to happen.
Don’t worry- as a fashion pioneer, I’ve invented my own special knot to gather in the extra metre or so.
Fashion is all about detail. I decided to wear socks. At first I thought I would stick with the private yacht theme, and wear my “secret” socks, cunningly designed to give the illusion of sockless European sophistication. They are, however, so secret that I have only been able to find them once in the last two years. I think that the lady who does our ironing thinks they are some form of women’s’ underwear. My wife is still behaving a little strangely, and if she catches me going through her smalls, I’m not sure how she’ll react. Especially if I say I’m looking for secret socks. A quality, elasticated pair of tube socks will have to do. These are, however, no ordinary tube socks. They have apparently been designed with some sort of special “memory technology fabric” that has stretched out over the years, allowing the ankles to “breath”. Sorted!
On to the pants. I didn’t even need to check with my other half to know that pants were a must. When you’ve been dressing yourself for years, some things become instinctive. I thought that this was one of those “unwritten rules” of fashion that only us insiders know, but the one time that I broke it (we had a new baby and I hadn’t slept for days) a rather mean-spirited policeman told me that it was actually a written rule. When I tried to explain that I was being “fashion forward”, he shouted something about indecent exposure and threatened to Tase me. We live and learn.
Choosing pants isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve never actually bought any, but I have hundreds of pairs of pants. People keep giving them to me. I try not to read anything into it. Maybe they’re just trying to keep me out of trouble with the police. It’s nice to know they care.
I decided to follow a process of elimination. The first step was easy. No cargo pants. My cargo pants have nineteen pockets. They even have smaller pockets on top of the larger ones. I like wearing them. Nineteen is a good number of pockets. I’ve stopped wearing them outside the house, though, because, as luck would have it, the same bloody policemen pulled me over the other day, and refused to see the funny side when it took me twenty five minutes to find my driver’s license.
Next, chinos. An easy decision. These are just silly pants. They sound like the sort of thing you should wear while leaning against a wall in downtown LA, chewing a toothpick and calling people “Essay”. They look like you should wear them to the green maintenance committee meeting down at the country club. Chinos are the wearable equivalent of a mullet. Eliminated!
Jeans it is then. I pulled out a likely looking pair and laid it out on the bed. Just in time, I spotted something that saved me from making a major fashion faux pas. They had a huge label on the back that said “Jeep”. South Africa has a major problem with cheap Chinese knock-offs. Sometimes, the imitations are so good that even the experts can’t spot the difference, but these guys were just phoning it in. Hello, China! Jeep makes cars. Not pants.
Luckily, I managed to find a backup pair. These were the real deal. Polo. Fashion is all about labels, and Polo is a name to conjure with. Those of you who don’t know fashion like I do may think you don’t know Polo, but you do. They’re the guys who make those golf shirts with the little alligator on the chest. I was a little disappointed that the jeans had no alligators on them, but there was a little label on the pocket. Pants sorted.
I went over to the cupboard to pick out some underpants. My wife, in her delirium, threw a coffee mug at me and threatened to divorce me if I wrote about my underpants. The mug really hurt, so out of respect for her condition, I won’t. I will say one thing though. After seven years of service, they breathe too. Good god, do they breathe!
Let’s keep heading north. I found a magazine while waiting for a haircut the other day that said this winter’s look was all about layers. It is, of course summer down here in the South, but what the hell. I can do layers.
I said before that fashion was all about labels, and this time I’ve nailed it. I have a limited edition long-sleeved thermal vest that is positively covered with the labels of exclusive fashion magazines. Golf Digest, Men’s Health, Fit Pregnancy. They’re all there.
The only problem I foresee is that all these cool labels will be on the bottom layer. Luckily, the labels are all on the sleeve, so all I have to do is roll up the sleeves on the outer layer. Speaking of which……
Choosing a shirt was easy. Polo pants- Polo shirt. And I just happen to have one. Or at least a cheap knockoff of one. And not a good one. Not only is it missing the little alligator; the damn Chinese have replaced it with a guy swinging an enormous hammer around on the back of a horse.
Fail! Luckily, the hammer guy label is on the inside, so I can push ahead. We’re nearly there.
One thing us fashionistas know is that you can never fake quality. For my outer layer, I sought out the most expensive item in my cupboard. My Drizabone. It’s a classic.
Unfortunately, it was mainly designed to keep Australians dry as they rode horses through driving storms, shouting things like “Strewth, Mate! It’s pissing down hard enough to make a wallaby think it’s a wobbegong!” It’s not raining. Its 35 degrees centigrade outside. Oh well. Fashion is art, and one must suffer for one’s art. To round of the look, I got out my Akubra hat. Also Australian.
I was ready to rock! One last thing- accessories. Thank god we live in a time when a man can carry around a handbag without having small boys throw things at you in the street. I wish I could say that I had a tooled leather shoulder-bag, but I don’t. I have a cheap nylon camping bag that I use to carry around my netbook. Oh, well.
I threw my man bag over my shoulder and prepared to set forth. I was ready. I was fabulous. I had forgotten how ill my wife was. When I went to say goodbye, she called me Bruce, and asked me to pop another shrimp on the barby. Looks like my fashion outing is going to consist mainly of trying to convince a pharmacist to give me tranquilisers without a prescription. On the plus side, I don’t think that should be a problem for someone looking this good.
So off I set, nurturing a faint hope that I would be discovered by a talent scout. It went quite well. I wasn’t discovered by a talent scout, I was discovered by the local security company. It may have been 35 degrees outside, but in my car it was about fifty. Apparently I only managed to get out of the gate before passing out from heatstroke. The security guys called my wife to tell her that there were some small boys throwing stones at a Hobo in a Land Rover outside her gate.
She may not know much about fashion, but she’s a quick little thinker, and as strong as an ox. She managed to remove my entire outfit before heading off to the doctor with me in the back seat. For my visit to the doctor, she chose this stylish but casual pair of charcoal sweat-pants, and a trendy, fashion- forward optical illusion t-shirt.
You never know- talent scouts have to go to the doctor too.