DUFFER.......... Aging and becoming more fashion challenged

May 09, 2017
At what age should a man stop worrying about his wardrobe, what’s in style and whether or not his shirt and pants match?

Is this a rite of passage that comes once he retires and is living on a fixed income?

I wonder about this because I see a lot of guys not that much older than me who have absolutely no fashion sense whatsoever. Did they never have such a sense in the first place, or does it become lost forever upon reaching a certain age?

Here I am in my mid-50s starting to ponder such things as failing eyesight, hearing loss, memory loss, shingles, baldness, arthritis and a slew of other setbacks associated with advanced age, but should I be paying equal attention to what I wear everyday? I try to exercise regularly and watch what I eat to keep my health in check, but I’m not sure how best to stave off an impaired sense of fashion.

I have acquaintances not much older than me who, like me, enjoy wearing jeans. Blue jeans have been a popular choice of clothing for a couple of centuries now, and they continue to be worn by men and women of all ages. The trick is to know how to wear them properly. For example, if the leg is too long, you don’t turn the bottom up and create a six-inch cuff. You might as well pin a sign to your back that says, “Fashion challenged old guy.”

Why would anyone buy jeans with a 34-inch waist and a 40-inch length unless they play professional basketball? If this is all that’s available in your price range, then for heaven’s sake get them altered so that they fit. This isn’t the 1950s when turned-up cuffs might have been the style.

When picking out a pair of socks from your drawer, keep in mind the pants you plan to wear that day. If you’re going to wear black pants, don’t wear white socks. If you’re going to wear socks, don’t wear sandals or Crocs. I don’t know who invented Crocs, but they have to be the ugliest-looking piece of footwear on the planet. I figure they were made especially for lazy people who can’t be bothered to stoop down to tie up their laces and don’t care about gaudy colours like orange or green.

Socks and sandals have always been the epitome of being fashion challenged. There is absolutely no logic to wearing both items together. Sandals were invented so that feet can breathe on warm days while still affording the soles of your feet ample protection from hot pavement, sharp pebbles, dog crap and other undesirables. Wearing socks with sandals defeats the purpose. You’re simply wearing another pair of shoes with a little less leather. Your feet aren’t breathing any easier and your socks – especially if they’re white – are going to be filthy with all the dust you’ll kick up going to and fro.

If your pants are striped, don’t wear a plaid shirt with it.

If it’s July, don’t wear corduroy pants.

If you’re wearing shorts, don’t wear knee socks. Like the socks and sandals example, there is no logic to wearing shorts with knee socks if the goal is to be cooler. And when I say cooler, I don’t mean the want to be fashionably attractive because knee socks aren’t going to do it, trust me. The reason we wear shorts is to cool off our legs during warmer weather. Adding knee socks to your attire cools off perhaps three inches of kneecap. Do that everyday for a week or so and then visit the beach. You’ll be showing off the most bizarre tan line anyone has ever seen.

I’ve seen many a septuagenarian or octogenarian wearing pants whose beltline is worn midway between the navel and sternum. Where do they find these pants? The fly would have to be at least 14 inches long to serve its purpose. Imagine urgently having to use the bathroom and then wrestling with half your shirt that’s tucked in behind the fly of your pants.

Even though I’m well into my 50s, I still take some pride in the way I dress. At the very least, I make sure I’m colour co-ordinated, that seasonal clothing isn’t worn out of season, that my wardrobe fits properly and that there is a sense of logic to my attire. I don’t keep abreast of the latest fashion trends because that’s more of a younger man’s thing.

Still, I’m not quite ready to look like some of these older guys I see every day in my travels. Maybe the time comes in some men’s lives when they are just so out of touch with fashion that they simply don’t care anymore. That must be the answer because I’ve never seen an old guy’s section before in any department store.

“Look, Agnes. They have a sale on knee socks. Won’t these look peachy with those flowered shorts you gave me for my birthday? I can wear them with my green striped shirt and my new sandals. I’ll be the hit at the seniors’ centre shuffleboard tournament. While we’re here, perhaps I should pick up some sunscreen for my kneecaps.”


Rod Perry, aka Duffer, is a Niagara-based freelance writer.

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