We men have garnered the reputation of being careless clothes-hangers, perhaps deservedly so. Except for our homosexual brethren, who reputedly wear slacks that actually match their shirts and shoes, men seem to dress by a method best described as “grab the first three least-smelly objects from the wardrobe.” “Wardrobe” is of course a variable term dependent on whether or not the man in question has a significant other; otherwise, it simply means the floor.
I didn’t even know how to buy clothes that fit properly until my wife (then girlfriend) bought me my first shirt that was actually the right size. As I reached adulthood, I continued to buy shirts that would have fit me — in year 9. Some part of my brain simply refused to acknowledge the fact that all these “medium” shirts refused to button all the way up. I just assumed there was some sort of weird sweatshop fiasco going on in Malaysia and I was forever doomed to wear half-buttoned shirts.
The concepts of “large” and “extra-large” eluded me for much of my young-adult life. I blamed my sartorial mistakes on cotton’s neverending propensity to shrink. Obviously, it was the fault of the fabric, not my own perceptions, that doomed me to dress like a shrink-wrapped sausage.
Ah perceptions, perceptions. I find that a tape measure can be both my best friend and worst enemy. As I approach middle age (I’m optimistically assuming that I will live till at least 90 here, otherwise “middle-age” is a misnomer that’s already in my rearview mirror), I have discovered that no matter what my brain believes my clothing size to be, my body continuously begs to differ. My waist is a fickle contrarian that believes bacon must be savoured and saved, stored away in love-handles for future use.
We all know how necessary it is to incorporate dieting and exercise into our daily lives in order to combat the ever creeping spread of middle age. I am fully aware of how many calories my body actually needs on a daily basis, and yet I am quite content to regularly ignore those numbers. So, like many people, I keep clothing of various sizes on hand, seasonal wardrobes as it were. I tend to put on a few kilos during the winter and so I buy jumpers that are large enough for my wife to use as a sleeping bag.
For men, the secret to shopping is versatility. As a man, it’s essential to be able to defend the usefulness of a purchase. My wife’s predilection for buying shoes whose sole functionality might be “evening wear with red dress,” is a specificity that just won’t fly in a man’s world. When we buy power tools, we want multiple functions and interchangeable bits and pieces so that a single tool can serve a variety of uses, at least that’s what we say on the rare occasions we actually take it out of the drawer. Men think that specialisation is for insects and high heels: we want a pair of pants that we can wear to a funeral and wax the car in.
Due to my seasonal fluctuations, I need different winter and summer pants to meet these multi-function qualifications. During the winter, as my motivation to exercise becomes somewhat diminished, my wardrobe must adapt to meet the season’s extra insulation. Let’s face it though, we all buy our best clothes with our ideal body weight in mind. So if somebody has the gall to die in January, I might end up delivering their eulogy in my trakkies. If you’re somebody I know, do yourself a favour and die during the warm months. I know you want me looking suave at your service.