You can pretty much count on me becoming extremely irritable and frustrated if you combine consumer culture with hip fashion, and those two things came to a head two weekends ago when I went Shopping (with a capital S) for the first time in almost 8 years.
In my adult life I’ve managed to cultivate an extremely economic sense of fashion: old sweaters, cast-off polo shirts, bow ties, pants (occasionally funky, most often utilitarian), and whatever pair of shoes is lying around and, more importantly, creates the illusion of fitting properly. For the longest time, in my mind, clothes merely covered my body to avoid public nudity and shame, and even after I gradually came to accept the fact that Clothes Make The Man (and, sadly, they do say a lot more about you than you actually do), I settled on a look that did not appear too pretentious, overly flashy, and more to the point, seemed to speak to who I am. When all is said and done, I am a bookish awkward kind of guy, and so the pocket protectors and clunky, ill-fitting shoes were all just an extension of that.
However, now I have some Clothes (with a capital C, with the help of The Judge who has a sense for these kinds of things), and in some cases, they are even sort of hip in a, “well, that was really cool a few years back,” kinda way. Now, supplementing my Freaks & Geeks ensembles, I have a fair amount of stuff that makes me look like I’m auditioning for a part on Life On Mars, minus the tough guy cop accents, and focusing more on the background characters who haven’t yet earned their SAG Cards. (Full Disclosure: I have never seen the show, but my sister – a big fan – keeps me abreast of all things TV, and this one actually sounds kinda funny in a really terrible kinda way. Thoughts?)
There was already a heavy 70’s influence on my wardrobe, but now it is completely unavoidable. What used to be just a hint of mid-’70’s teenage suburban youth creeping into my look has now transformed into hip-older-brother of mid-’70’s teenage suburban youth, who not only spends most of his time, on the weekends, in “The City,” but occasionally comes back with a Cheap Trick record and dilated pupils.
I don’t know what is weirder to me: the fact that I bought clothes that I actually think are kinda cool (despite the fact that I’m still out of synch with even the more recent retro trends), or the fact that I now have this incredible urge to go shopping for clothes again for the first time in my life.
What can I say? “I can’t keep up / I can’t keep up / I can’t keep up / Out of step with the world.”