Dress to Obsess

My initial title for this post was “What (Not) To Wear Today,” but then I realized that made me sound like I was contemplating being a nudist. Excuse me…naturist. And based on a guy I saw in a park the other day with his junk hanging out…I’m never going down that route.

So, I have a certain way of dressing myself. I don’t just roll out of bed in the morning and throw on whatever doesn’t smell bad, like one of my classmates did once because she overslept (actually, she came to class in her pajama top and jeans…and she was giving a presentation). I usually walk out of the house looking like a million bucks. Actually, not really, I probably look really terrible most of the time. No one usually ever comments on what I wear, so it must not be too spectacular, or too tragic, for that matter.

As I was picking out clothes to wear this morning, I had a flashback from Pop Culture class, junior year of high school, when we talked about what clothes we felt comfortable in and why we wore them. Everyone else kinda gave a lame, noncommittal answer, but when it was my turn, I started talking about “dressing for my emotions,” which is probably one of the reasons I never had any friends in high school.

But anyway. I have certain unwritten rules about what I dress myself in each day. Well, actually after today they’ll be written rules, but here goes:

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part I: General Rules

1. No wearing of the same color two days in a row. I have no idea why I do this. Maybe it’s so I’ll confuse potential attackers who are looking for the same guy in the same color shirt. Exceptions to this are on same-outfit days, which usually occur on weekends where I’ll spend so little time in real clothes on Saturday that I will deem them wearable on Sunday.

2. TSJ Tznius: cover those arms and legs. I have never owned nor worn a tank top or wife beater in my life, so why start now? Also, who really wants to see that? T-shirts have worked fine for me so far. With shorts, the secondary reason I don’t wear them is because I don’t feel the world needs to see my legs, even if it is a hot day, unless I am going swimming or doing some sort of water activity. The primary reason is because I don’t like the way my legs look, and shorts lengths change yearly, meaning my shorts are always too long or too short.

3. Casual at all times, except when doing something academic-y. I am not the guy who dresses up for class every day in a suit and tie. I don’t even wear nice sweaters or anything. I’m always in a t-shirt, usually a fun one because I only wear awesome fun clothes, and sometimes a polo, and that’s usually when I’m meeting with a professor or have a presentation to do. Otherwise, I’m in the classroom in my stained UMass hoodie and jeans, looking completely out of place. And I like it that way. Well, not always, but fortunately I now live in a place where dressing for comfort rather than style is perfectly acceptable. My dislike of collared shirts comes from high school, when we were forced to wear them for reasons unknown – so what, you can see a tiny bit less of my neck? So my itching will keep me awake in class? So I can look preppy even when I’m not feeling it?

4. Matchy-matchy? That’s me. Okay, this is where it gets weird. I blame my mother, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I love to match my clothing with my day. For example, I wore a blue shirt today, and I had a mini-crisis when I couldn’t find either of my blue jackets to leave the house in. Red hoodie + blue shirt = bad news bears. I must match all my layers with similar or opposite colors. And though all-black is OK, blue shirts never go with blue jeans. Also, my accessories must match: in the winter, if I wear my green jacket or anything red, I must wear my red scarf. If I wear my blue fleece, my blue jacket, or my alpaca jacket, I must wear my blue scarf. Same goes for hats: green hat goes with green coat, black hat goes with the others. And no conflicting patterns, ever. When my mom picked out my clothes as a child, she had no concept of color: if you gave her a bright red shirt with a tiny blue dot in the middle and a pair of blue shorts, she’d hold them up and say “see, they match.” I also accessorize: I have canvas bags in just about every color, so I always match my bag with my attire. I need a hobby.

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part II: Types of Clothing

1. Shirts. I am a t-shirt person. I think I will always be a t-shirt person simply because I have so many, and they’re all awesome. The one I’m wearing right now, my blue Film Fest t-shirt, is not the best example of this, but at least it’ll go in the hamper. Polo shirts, as stated above, on special occasions. I will, from time to time, do the Jared Leto in My So-Called Life and wear a patterned short-sleeve Oxford over a t-shirt. But NO HATS with that combo, or else I’ll look like either a crazy rainforest explorer or someone’s dad at the beach. Also, as stated above, some sort of sleeve. I have a few v-neck shirts, but I don’t usually wear them, because who wants to see that? Being a hipster is inner, not outer.

2. Pants. For awhile, I only wore khakis. Mostly because jeans were against school dress code, but also because I was never wearing the right pair at the right time. I got teased in elementary school for wearing skinny jeans; this was the 90s, when the “sagging look” was in. My mom refused to buy me too-big jeans, and I didn’t have any interest in showing the world my underwear, anyway. Jeans and I made up during college, when I realized that I was beyond that high school crap. Black dress pants are nice for fancy occasions like Shabbat or the theatre. For the gym, black track pants are my only option. I also own one pair of black non-dress pants which hang at the back of the closet and I always say I’ll wear them the next time I wear a black shirt but I don’t because they are stupid and itchy.

3. Shorts. No thanks. Especially not patterned shorts or anything in pastel.

4. Socks. Shamefully, I wear white ankle socks almost every day. Granted, I wear them with real shoes, not anything open-toed like that horrible picture of Adam Sandler walking through LA, and also, it’s too cold in Wisconsin for dress socks every day. Some of those are practically pantyhose; let’s hope I never have to wait outside for something in them.

5. Shoes. Tennis shoes, same pair, everywhere, until they’re falling apart. Some people have gym tennis shoes and regular tennis shoes; I should probably be one of them. Dress shoes are for dinner and dancing. I own sandals, but unless I am going to the beach, they don’t leave the closet. Feeling like I needed a pair of “grown up” shoes, I bought a pair of black loafers, which haven’t left the box, because “I’m not ready to grow up yet,” says me. I used to hate boots because they are messy and hard to get on/off, but now that I live in Snow-Land, I see their usefulness. My boots are brown and pretty and I got them at Marshalls. I salute you, boots; you kept my feet from freezing through many a storm. I still hate getting my feet in and out of you though. Rain boots? No, because I have never tried macarons, used Burt’s Bees, or done anything in Claire’s other than fetch my sister so that Mom could take us home from the mall.

6. Hats. I think hats are cool. Not baseball caps though; I already look like a twelve-year-old. In fact, when I played a dad character in a play (that I wrote) during my senior year of undergrad, I put the cap on backwards, to which my castmates said that I looked like I was going down to the video arcade. I’m no John Goodman. Even when I wear it forward, I still look like I’m on my way to day camp. I like winter hats, they are fluffy and wonderful. Ever since I’ve had my green winter hat with the puff-ball on top, my dad has called it silly, but accedes to the fact that it keeps the head warm during frigid times. I was heartbroken when the puff-ball fell off; I think he was secretly pleased.

7. Scarves. I really, really like scarves, though I only have two at the moment. Maybe that’s what I’ll do tomorrow, buy some scarves. No. Bad idea, Jacob. I wish that the “warm weather scarf” was more socially acceptable because I’d totally do that. Unfortunately, it’s in the same pretentious family as sweaters tied around the neck (what’s wrong with that?!) so in conclusion, I do not wear them in warm weather. At least not without a jacket.

'We're indoors, lose the scarf!'

8. Sweaters/sweatshirts. Hoodies are like a gift to the freezing. They are so functional and wonderful, and warm the hands and head too. I own five, though I keep only about four in my rotation (the black one is a little too depressing; sorry, black hoodie). And before you ask, the white stains on my UMass hoodie are from paint, specifically when I painted the walls of the community arts center I worked on with DAT in Quilotoa, Ecuador, so those are badges of honor. It’s nice that sweaters came back into fashion recently, and have been looking nice on the shelves at Kohl’s, especially patterned ones. I actually own two sweaters, and neither have Christmas trees or cats playing with balls of yarn.

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part III: Colors

1. White. I’m way too messy to wear white. Sad but true fact. Every time I get a nice white shirt, I try so hard to keep it clean. When the moment something stains it occurs, I’m like…aww, man. Seriously. It’s like God does not want me to wear white. When I wear white, I can usually even remember the type of stain: pizza grease, peanut butter, lying on a dirty floor. Also, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a white Oxford, aka the Chabad penguin suit. I would totally be Chabad if I didn’t have to wear white every day of my life. I’d be like, that one Chabad guy who wears funky colors and patterns. Somehow, I don’t think that would go over that well.

2. Grey. The only good time to wear a grey t-shirt is at the gym, because in public, it gives the impression of either a) I really messed up my white shirt, or b) I’m so bad at laundry I faded my black shirt. Exception: gray Oxford shirt. Surprisingly elegant addition to a suit.

3. Black. Ahh, black. The go-to for the artsy or the ones who are too messy for colors. In middle/high school, I totally went through a black phase. It didn’t have anything to do with my depression; I just thought it looked nice. Of course, my sister called me a goth and made me change into a colored shirt for school, but I didn’t have painted nails, a dog collar, or a constant cloud of metal music around me, so you owe me an apology. Nowadays, I still like black but use it sparingly. Wearing black all the time is boring. Also – fun fact – remember Platinum, from like six months ago? One year he was quoted in the yearbook, about whether we should have school uniforms, he said “No, I like freedom of choice.” This coming from the kid who came to school in a black turtleneck and chinos every single day because that’s what rich people wear.

4. Pink. I currently don’t own anything pink. I used to have tons of pink in my closet as a kid, but then elementary school happened and it didn’t go over well on the playground. I find it amusing that it’s coming back into style for men now. One day I will try it, but today is not that day.

5. Brown. Brown and tan are two color that are way underused in fashion, in my opinion. They look great with jeans and khakis. I own a few brown t-shirts and a tan sweater, but nothing that’s the exact tone of my skin nor a UPS uniform.

6. Purple. Growing up with a sister who loved all things purple (never pink), I wanted to be like her. Eventually it evaporated from my wardrobe. Before it did though, I remember wearing this purple t-shirt all the time that said “New York Deli Potato Chips.” I guess I always thought that shirts with cool words or brand names made you sophisticated. I have a purple Oxford that I wear all the time, but no purple t-shirts…yet.

7. Blue. Usually a safe bet. Navy was super popular in the 1990s, so you couldn’t go wrong there. For some reason, I have no blue hoodies but 2 blue jackets (three if you count my alpaca jacket) and no red jackets but 2 red hoodies and 2 red sweaters. Blue presents a problem with some jeans, as you don’t want to have contrasting shades of blue or else you’ll risk looking like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at some teen awards show.

8. Green. Another relatively safe color. Neon green = No go for me…that color makes my skin crawl. Dark or light, please. I currently don’t have a lot of green items in my closet at the moment. Maybe that should be my next color choice when offered a free t-shirt from somewhere.

9. Yellow. Yellow was my favorite color, until one day when I wore a yellow shirt to school and someone told me I looked like Big Bird. Kids are mean. No offense to Mr. Bird, but you’re not exactly a fashion icon. Maybe for Lady Gaga, but not for me. I have been noticing yellow making a comeback on the streets though. Wear with caution, though, it has been known to cause stares in the chest area, especially when paired with dark pants.

10. Orange. Huh? I think I have only ever owned one orange shirt, and that was a polo I wore sometimes in middle school. Orange died a slow death in my wardrobe and in fashion in general, and I don’t see it coming back anytime soon, at least for men.

11. Finally, there’s Red. Red is my go-to color. I started liking red in high school after my green-yellow-black phrase, and must’ve reallly liked it, because all the colleges I’ve attended for more than one semester have some variation of red in their logos/school colors. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get into NYU (undergrad) or Northwestern (grad); I should probably write them a thank-you note for not accepting me and subsequently becoming a Purple People Eater. But back to red, you really can’t go wrong with red. Fire engine red, blood red, red apple red, light red, dark red, maroon, crimson, scarlet, primrose, poinsettia: they’re all great. When I redid my room upon becoming a Real Person (aka my bar mitzvah), I ditched the baby blue paint with the soccer ball print border and painstakingly selected a very pale yellow with a red-and-brown Chinese symbol border wallpaper, which I thought looked awesome at the time (and I actually kinda still do…for a teenager’s color choices, it’s not awful) and found a matching bed set with a dark red duvet printed with bamboo in brown and gold. It went rather nicely with my light brown furniture and dark-brown carpeting, formerly an ugly swamp under a bright blue sky, but now transformed into an unobtrusive carpet that was still kind of ugly, but was at least less noticeable in a room of red, yellow, and brown things. The whole room has kind of a 1970s vibe to it. I should totally market that concept to hotel chains.

In completely unrelated news, when I when crossing the street, I walked past a woman who was doing the same thing, only she was knitting and walking at the same time. Is that like, future-cat-lady material? Or did I manage to time-slip into medieval Denmark?

 

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