Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fashion Police

"We have spotted a white male, 6-foot tall, thinning brown hair.  He is wearing a bolo tie.  I repeat, he is wearing a bolo tie."
I was five.  I came into the kitchen, dressed and ready to go.

Mom barely looked up. "No, Crorey.  That doesn't match."


"No, Crorey.  You can't combine plaid pants and a striped shirt."

So started my lifelong intimidation by fashion.  It isn't that I don't like looking good.  It is simply that I don't understand the rules.

So if you look at all of my school pictures - every single one - you will see a kid in what he knew as 'fashion safe' clothes.  Khakis.  Blue jeans.  Solid shirt.  What you see is a kid who does not understand the rules, and sits in a fashion place he knows is safe.

Before I heard about the 'no-stripes-with-plaid' rule.

Especially when the rules don't make any sense.

During her high school years, my sister, by sheer force of will, wore a lovely red Chinese dress (cheongsam?) with her black combat boots.  Astonishingly, in defiance of every rule that fashion has to offer, she pulled it off. You can't do that.  It simply isn't done.

I even asked my mom about it at that point.  "How does she make that work?"

Mom: "You can do just about anything if you wear it with enough confidence."

Ugh.  So not only do I not understand the rules, am afraid of breaking the rules, and so I have no confidence taking a chance at all, suddenly I find out that the rules simply don't apply if you don't want them to.

The five-year-old me is incensed.

Over time, I began to play with different things.  My safe wardrobe is still a light blue button down and khakis.  Or blue jeans and a khaki shirt.  And although I do not ever choose plaid of my own accord (those rules are still too fuzzy for me), I will experiment a little with color and fabric.  And a  few years ago, I bought a bow tie.

The first time I wore it with total trepidation.  (And a fair amount of anger directed at the walls that were clearly responsible for my difficulties tying the danged thing).  I just was terrified.  Nobody else wears bow ties.  I really want to be cool, and this is SO not cool.  I want to fit in, and this makes me different.

Few places carry batwing bow ties.
Every voice in my head was doing the opposite of giving me confidence.  I trusted the people I was traveling with, though, and so I wore it.  And then wore it again the next Friday.  When we were allowed to dress down just a bit, I wore blue jeans, a collared shirt, and a bow tie.

And it became my thing.

Not a cool thing.  But definitely mine.

Since then, I have collected both vintage and new bow ties, and "Bow Tie Friday" is now a thing for me.  I am still convinced I look silly in them, but I don't care.  I wear them with confidence, because I like doing it. It is fun.

I also started using different tie knots on my regular ties.  From being a Windsor-knot-only sort of guy, I am now a Trinity, Eldredge, Cape, and (more rarely), Merovingian knot guy.  I even created my own knot that I haven't seen anywhere else.

I feel like I am starting to get that confidence that Mom talked about.

And yet when I got a bolo tie in the mail yesterday, I felt all of that old angst.  Nobody wears bolos.  It looks silly.  I love the stone, but I'll never be able to pull it off.  What will people think?  

Silly me.  I honestly thought that at some point I would leave my high-school insecurities - fed by that five-year-old wearing green-and-red plaid pants with a green-and-blue striped shirt - behind.  I felt that the 'safe' fashion guy would have taken a back seat. That I would be able to wear whatever I want, without fearing that the fashion police will stop and tell me I am doing it all wrong.

Yet I still listen to that insecure voice in my head.

But I also still try things out.

This bolo tie was made from a piece of petrified wood that I found in a stream in Mississippi.  It has lovely, curly grain that I have seldom seen in a piece of petrified wood.  The setting was done by Whit McMillan, who the Director of Education for the SC Aquarium in Charleston.  On the side, he does cool jewelry.

So he turned this:

... into this:

I am not pulling it off.  I mean that literally.  I will wear it today, with all of my insecurities on my sleeve (well, metaphorically speaking.)  I will take the teasing, if it comes.  I will listen to the suggestions (I have already been told that a darker shirt would be a help to set it off).  But mostly, I will not pull it off until I can.

Because it is fun.  And I have enough stuff that is not fun around me.  I need to make sure that the fun stuff comes in.

Even if I am running afoul of the fashion laws.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Henderson said...

Stacy wears bolo ties - I think they are cool! And yours is very nice indeed!!