I think I was watching an episode of Project Runway a ways back, and one of the guest judges made a comment about his philosophy in designing clothing. He said something like (I’m paraphrasing) “You never design clothing based on an “in” trend. All that means is that one day, it’ll be out. I always try to come up with designs that are timeless.” Which, although it is something pretty tough to do (ask Kanye West or Beyonce), the concept is refreshingly simple and logical. It also strikes me as patently impractical.
I can’t speak for high-end fashion because it would never occur to me to wear a $5,000 suit or any other piece of clothing in a similar price range, so I don’t really have any kind of information about that world. However, my job affords me considerable contact with teenagers (obviously, specifically males), and since it wasn’t so long ago that I was a young male myself, I like to think that I understand youth fashion, and youth fashion is invariably affected by trends. In fact, I would go so far as to say that that’s all youth fashion is. The reason is because the youth never stay young. And the truth is other than incredibly wealthy adults in the know, teenagers and young adults are the only demographic who can afford to give a shit about fashion. It doesn’t really matter if something is timeless or not because consumers have to consider it timeless. So far, the list of truly timeless articles of clothing reads something like this: Blue jeans, t-shirts, tank-tops, the little black dress, and crotchless panties. And that’s it. Everything else is subject to the arbitrary whims of time and public perception.
But I stopped caring.
Don’t get me wrong, I still care a great deal about my personal appearance, it’s just that my situation only allows to care about it so far. My job affords me constant contact with youth culture, and that contact tells me that that skinny jeans (on guys!), Vans skate shoes, plaid (again!), and $50 baseball caps are in. Of course since we’re in Hawaii, the Quiksilver t-shirt (I suppose that’s RVCA or Hurley, now) and boardshorts style are still in, but that’s more of a default fashion position. Anyway, I’m sure if I had disposable income, I’d still be buying ridiculously priced baseball caps (so long as they prominently featured the Mets logo) and shoes (though not the kind that cost $200). I don’t though, and honestly, the current options for youth fashion don’t appeal to me. The saddest possible explanation is that I am no longer a “youth.” Which is probably true, and truly depressing.
But what’s more depressing are the real reasons why I can’t be hip to these particular fashion trends: my body simply won’t let me. Now before you and I both start dropping jokes about weight gain, what I mean to say is that my body would never have let me. I have been given many wonderful gifts – including the ability to turn anything into a dirty joke – but a typical body is not one of them. Even when I graduated high school at 135 pounds (seriously), I couldn’t wear whatever I wanted, though I didn’t understand why at the time. It took me a while to figure out why I couldn’t rock it like the mannequin, but now that I have, it’s kind of liberating.
1) I have short crooked legs. The bones between my knees and ankles aren’t straight. They bow outward from under the knee, then curve back toward the foot. For you visual learners- I’ve never been able to stand upright and have my knees touch each other, and it isn’t close. As a result, any time I’ve worn form-fitting pants (baseball, OLGC), it didn’t quite look right because the pant legs wouldn’t just fall, they’d kind of wind down to my shoes. This isn’t even the most horrible by-product of this condition: when I used to play baseball, I’d cleat myself in the ankles all the time.
2) I have disproportionately sized legs in terms of mass distribution. I have always had far thicker thighs than shins/calves. As sexy as women find that, it always made finding a nice pair of pants somewhat difficult. Often times, the pants would appear snug through the waist and thigh, but loose past the knees. If I loosened up at the waist and thigh, then the area past the knees made it look like it A) it was Halloween, and B) I was trying to emulate MC Hammer. Looking back, the most obvious decision I made to counter these features was to wear my baseball pants high, showing socks up to the knees. I figured people could look at my crooked shins or my ill-fitting pants. It was a no-brainer. Wasn’t it?
3) I had/have an ass that wouldn’t/won’t/will probably never quit. I don’t even know what that base cliche means. Quit what? But I’ve always assumed that whatever “wouldn’t quit” was fucking awesome. And if you want to use awesome in the strictest sense (inspiring awe), then yes, my ass is awesome. You see, I’m an Asian man. Genetically, I’m not supposed to have a large ass or penis. And if I was going to defy the odds, I would have hoped for the latter, but I’m not lucky like that. So I have a huge ass. The thing is, though, I’ve always had a pretty curvy backside. In fact, I remember a specific moment in 7th grade where I was standing next to my desk and one of my female classmates said “You have a nice butt.” I fought the immediate urge to try to look at it over my left shoulder, but I was shocked. I had barely even started thinking those things about them and at least one of them was thinking those things about me. Shit! This whole “getting a girlfriend thing” is going to be easy! I would learn that it wasn’t easy, and finding navy blue dress pants for a catholic school was just as difficult.
What I mean to say is that my body, both now and then, never would have allowed me to be up on the modern fashion trends. Personally, I don’t like forcing my testicles to have to make a decision as to which side of the inseam they want to reside on when I sit down. That’s just silly. I suppose it makes it easy to deal with since I just can’t. The weight gain hasn’t helped, since all of the weight I’ve added seems to be limited to the space from my knees to just below my chest, and in my face and neck. At the risk of sounding overly emotional and hater-ish about this, the one thing that kills me is whenever I see the 97-pound Filipino boys rocking the skinny jeans and sagging them past their ass cheeks. I know that it is common, but it’s not common for me. There has never been a time in my life when I’ve been able to sag my pants to that extent. If it isn’t firmly secured in that area between the bulge of my stomach and the twin bulges of my ass, then it’s off. That’s that. I am glad, though that the meaty regions of my backside are still on the high side, there hasn’t been a landslide yet. It’s more like one of those cliffs you’d love to throw your Ulua pole off of if you were fishing. Just like Saturday/Friday night waitresses vs. the Tuesday shift: it’s a pretty steep drop off.
All this is insecurity, and it’s all meaningless, really. Whenever I go out, I just throw on a t-shirt and jeans. When I really want to impress people, I’ll throw on the polo shirt. And when I’m trying to sow the seeds of amorousness, then I’ll iron a button-down dress shirt, roll up the sleeves and spray cologne, then walk through it. Wait- that sounds exactly like what I wear to work, except for the tie. It is. And that’s it. I’m a grown-up. Not in the emotional sense, but time and society (the only opinions that matter) have deemed that it is time I grow up. If I wear a baseball cap, I will curve the bill. If I wear shoes, they will not be outlandishly bright. Buying clothing is nowhere near as fun as it used to be, but well, I guess that’s getting older.
I don’t like to toss around too many promises because they’re like records, hearts, and will-power: meant to be broken. But I’ll be damned if I ever start wearing Crazy Shirts. There’s no way I’ll ever feature Bike shorts as proudly (or carelessly) as my father once did. I pray to Allah that I never start tucking in my t-shirts. Those things seem unfathomable to me. But I’m 29, once upon a time that seemed ridiculous, too. So did being married and having a child. So in 6 years, if you come upon me and I’m wearing a tank top or t-shirt with a rather large likeness of a fish, just do us both a favor, look away, baby, look away (don’t look at me, I don’t want you to see me that way).