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after a fashion
you can take him out, but you can't dress him up
by roger striffler
pop culture

After finishing my last column (i'm ok. you're ok. we're a mess), in which I waxed philosophic on some of the things I've learned over the years about relationships, I began to wonder if there were other little gems of wisdom I could impart to you, the reader. To continue decanting the obvious, I decided on an unlikely topic: fashion.

Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I simply didn't get the fashion gene. I have no gift for putting together a fabulous outfit, for choosing clothes that accent my physique, or really for dressing to draw attention to myself (in any kind of positive way.)

My style, if you can call it that, is very casual. Most of my wardrobe consists of two things: jeans, and things that I believe can be worn with jeans. I wear jeans to work, jeans when I go out at night, and jeans when I'm hanging out on the weekends. In fact, if I wear khaki pants and a button-down shirt to work, people ask me if I have a date or a job interview.

This is not to say that I don't have nice clothes, or that I never get dressed up, but let me put it this way: if I'm wearing a suit, you can rest assured that either someone has died, someone is getting married, or the tickets cost over $50 each. If something really looks good on me, it was probably a gift.

So why do I feel even slightly qualified to give pointers on fashion? Because, in a culture obsessed with youth and beauty, where people will classify and categorize you based solely on your appearance, there are some fundamental rules that even the most fashion-impaired can apply. With the help of my personal image consultant (translation: gay friend with highly evolved fashion sense, and a vendetta against my closet and all it contains), I can present the following simple fashion truths:

Accessorizing: belts
This one is simple. Your belt should match your shoes. Black shoes, black belt. Brown shoes, brown belt. If you're wearing white shoes, your belt should probably be white as well -- but frankly, if you're wearing white shoes, you have bigger fashion fish to fry.

This one changes every so often, but right now the rule seems to be that the socks should match the shoes. If you feel compelled to wear them new-fangled fancy patterned socks, well, you're only complicating matters, but try to have the predominant color match your shoes. White socks are the rule with sneakers. And please no black shoes/socks with shorts. That look is reserved for tourists in foreign countries.

Sandals and Socks?
One word: no. I'm afraid not. I don't care how much granola you eat, or how long you've lived in the Pacific Northwest, if it's cold enough for socks, it's cold enough for shoes. End of story.

White Stockings
This one is for the ladies. Unless you are a nurse, in which case I assume you have no choice, do not wear white stockings. White is not slimming. While your dining room table may look wonderful supported on alabaster columns, your ass probably doesn't.

Remember when only athletes wore sweatsuits? I miss that. These days they're being worn by anyone who can't fit into clothes that have buttons and zippers. Come on people, make some kind of effort. Let's give the athletic wear back to the athletes.
(There is one exception: if you've worked hard all of your life and have finally retired to Florida, wear whatever the hell you want; you've earned it. Besides, all your friends are doing it.)

Although you can't tell by some of the things people are wearing these days, there are some rules that have have always been around, and will always continue to be. A perfect example is the old Stripe rule. Vertical stripes make you look longer and thinner, horizontal stripes make you look wider or broader. Don't try to convince yourself that you're exempt. This is math. You will lose. Speaking of math, think about this for a second: black and white checkered cloth looks a lot like graph paper. If you stretch it across your butt, it's going to follow every contour, revealing the butt's exact size and shape. Do you really want to do this?

Of course, these are just general rules for mainstream America. Maybe that's not you. Maybe you're a club kid or a circuit boy, an alternative rocker or flower child. Maybe you're a power-tie-packing corporate animal. In any case, the rules may be different and more complex. Just remember, like all rules, half the fun is in bending, stretching and breaking them.


See that job title? Check it out: "Spy". How cool is that? I know, you're probably wondering what it means to be a spy for an international organization like Intrepid Media, huh? Well I'd love to tell you, but I can't. It's all part of the spy game, baby.

more about roger striffler


i'm ok. you're ok. we're a mess
the breakdown on breakups
by roger striffler
topic: pop culture
published: 5.27.01

all crap, all the time.
by roger striffler
topic: pop culture
published: 2.23.01


adam kraemer
7.20.01 @ 10:13a

I think athletic wear that doesn't include sweatpants is okay, though - athletic shorts, warm-up pants, sports bras.

roger striffler
7.20.01 @ 11:40a

Personally, Adam, I have no real need to see you in a sports bra, but ok, you're right. Shorts, sweatshirts and the like are fine. It's those matching pant/jacket combos - like you're an olympian or something...

adam kraemer
7.20.01 @ 12:10p

I miss my faux satin Adidas sweat suit from 3rd grade.

joe procopio
7.20.01 @ 12:35p

Must correct - since I hang out with a LOT of the 18-24 crowd (brilliant's demographic), I can tell you that the rule on socks with sneakers is, surpisingly, none, then BLACK, then white. Not kidding.

jael mchenry
7.20.01 @ 12:52p

Are we using "the rule" as the preferred method, or what actually happens? Cuz black socks with sneakers is a sin.

rob stark
7.20.01 @ 1:02p

Roger, have you thrown out that orange tank top? People thought you were gonna direct traffic.

joe procopio
7.20.01 @ 1:06p

No jael, for real. This is what the kids are doing today. I figure we have three months before GAP picks up on it and starts selling specifically designed black sneaker socks. "The Sneaker Sock - $6.99/pr" - or is that old navy?

jael mchenry
7.20.01 @ 1:15p

Old Navy would be "These socks cost less than my lipstick!" I love all their commercials the first three times, it's times 4 through 8350 I can't stand.

jael mchenry
7.20.01 @ 1:15p

And there's a guy at work who I mock mercilessly whenever he shows up in what I term "the graph paper shirt." So I relate to the Patterns paragraph, Roger.

adam kraemer
7.20.01 @ 1:52p

I actually refuse to shop at Old Navy on principle because I hate their commercials so much. I don't want to think that any of my money would be going toward making more.

roger striffler
7.20.01 @ 1:59p

You know, I'm glad I watch so little TV. Everyone tells me how horrible the ads are and how they now won't shop at Old Navy. I've never seen the ads and love the store. (Mostly because they sell things that go with jeans :o)

kelly keplinger
7.20.01 @ 2:03p

I'm hurt that I was not consulted for this piece!! I had the unfortunate luck of having a blind date with a guy who had on a black leather jacket and white tennis shoes.... ummm... nooooo...!

adam kraemer
7.20.01 @ 2:21p

Hey - I hear that's very trendy in Burkina Faso.

adam kraemer
7.20.01 @ 2:22p

I'd also like to just point out for the record that Ms. Kelly Keplinger is officially our 200th contributor. Let's hear it for Kelly.

jael mchenry
7.20.01 @ 2:24p


It's equally trendy in Sao Tome e Principe.

And the blind date with the leather and sneakers has got nothing on my personal second date fave, Tank Top Bob. Tank top, jacket, shorts, boots, lunch, March. Third date: none.

mike julianelle
7.20.01 @ 2:35p

"Third date: none."

That is funny.

kelly keplinger
7.20.01 @ 2:38p

I shudder to even mention another blind date fave who wore wind suit pants... everywhere... everyday... his quote: "They're very comfortable"... ugh

jael mchenry
7.20.01 @ 2:40p

And what exactly are "wind suit pants?" Definitely sounds iffy.

kelly keplinger
7.20.01 @ 2:45p

They are the pants portion of those lovely "Olympian" like matching jacket / pants combo...

roger striffler
7.20.01 @ 3:42p

Thought y'all might appreciate my mom's take on this:

"And I always thought YOU were the fashion expert! Can't think of anything you wear that isn't "in" or that I don't like (except maybe your leather pants!) Love, Mom"

My mom likes the way I dress. I rest my case.

matt morin
7.20.01 @ 4:18p

Here's the fashion trick: Never wear anything ordinary, but never wear anything extraordinary either. Find the comfortable t-shirt that's just a little different than everyone else's. Find black shoes designed in a little different manner.

Then you have no worries about going overboard (see: leather pants), but when people see what you have on, you inevitably get the "Hey, cool shoes/shirt/windbreaker" comments. People think you dress cool because you're different...just not THAT different.

rick collins
7.22.01 @ 7:17p

>>I had the unfortunate luck of having a blind date with a guy who had on a black leather jacket and white tennis shoes....<<

You had a blind date with Joey Ramone?

jael mchenry
7.23.01 @ 8:27a

Matt, you rock.

matt morin
7.23.01 @ 4:30p

Yeah, well...that's what they tell me.

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