Lodo Grdzak: And what is the sound of one hand clapping?
So, that's like, what, seven?
My relationship with fashion has been very casual. In elementary school, I liked to wear t-shirts and underoos with my favorite cartoon characters on them. When I was in a church play in 5th grade, and all of the guys in the play went into the church locker room to change into our costumes--and I realized that I was the only person with the Tazmanian Devil on his underwear--I abruptly changed my style, and began to wear button up shirts more often, and plain old boxer shorts.
Then I read Jurassic Park in 6th grade, fell in love with the character of Ian Malcolm, and because of the following snippet of text, I decided to adopt his fashion philosophy:
"Ellie said, "Isn't it a little warm for black?"
You're extremely pretty, Dr. Sattler," he said. "I could look at your legs all day. But no, as a matter of fact, black is an excellent color for heat. If you remember your black-body radiation, black is actually best in heat. Efficient radiation. In any case, I wear only two colors, black and gray."
Ellie was staring at him, her mouth open. "These colors are appropriate for any occasion," Malcolm continued, and they go well together, should I mistakenly put on a pair of gray socks with my black trousers."
But don't you find it boring to wear only two colors?"
Not at all. I find it liberating. I believe my life has value, and I don't want to waste it thinking about clothing," Malcolm said. "I don't want to think about what I will wear in the morning. Truly, can you imagine anything more boring than fashion? Professional sports, perhaps. Grown men swatting little balls, while the rest of the world pays money to applaud. But, on the whole, I find fashion even more tedious than sports."
Dr. Malcolm," Hammond explained, "is a man of strong opinions."
And mad as a hatter," Malcolm said cheerfully. "But you must admit, these are nontrivial issues. We live in a world of frightful givens. It is given that you will behave like this, given that you will care about that. No one thinks about the givens. Isn't it amazing? In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought."
Wearing all black and gray in middle school was both a boon and a curse: It was a boon in the sense that my decision to wear all black made it easier to make due with only a couple of pair of pants, t-shirts, and big black boots, and because (I thought) it made me look mysterious. My fashion choice also coincided with the rise of Goth-rock, so I became a de-facto member of that clique for awhile (until they realized that I was really just a big, happy-go-lucky nerd, and promplty ejected me).
My next conscious fashion decision came around mid-high school. There was a guy a year or two older than me named Dan Puckett that I thought was profoundly cool: he liked good music, and yet was popular. He had a distinct style of his own, and yet wasn't shunned by the herd. On top of all of these things, he seemed to like me, which was exceedingly rare among the cool kids. He liked to wear crazy, shiny shirts, and--hero-worshipper that I was--I decided to copy him. I don't know how much he minded being copycatted. I distinctly remember asking him one day whether or not he was going to change his style now that a handful of kids (I wasn't the only one) were copying him. His response: 'What, am I going to wear a fucking toga?'
I was still in the end stages of this style when I met my wife. She was a manager at a movie theater that I was working at. I purposefully made sure to wear each one of my five or six shiny shirts each time I came in to watch a free movie in the evenings that she worked, just to display my stylish versatility. She liked them--or at least she said she did because she liked me--and it encouraged me to buy more.
After we got married at the age of 19, I decided my attire needed to grow up a little bit. I began wearing white t-shirts and khakis a lot, and a lot of button up department store shirts. I was also--in an attempt to both elevate myself above other folks and find some kind of workable life philosophy--reading up on buddhism and aesthetic christianity, and thought the more plan look suited this more contemplative lifestyle. What we read and talk about is also part of our personal fashion.
Then I went to college, and stopped really paying attention to how I dressed too much. Function was key. I wore whatever clothes were in my closet, and didn't think too much about it. I stayed in the fashion desert for about 8 years; that's how long it took me to graduate.
Now, I'm graduated, and I find myself thinking about clothes more. I bought a derby, and have recently acquired a pretty nice trench coat and a nice pair of leather gloves. I wear vests, button up shirts and ties, and blue jeans a lot. My favorite footwear is a big, brown pair of wolverine boots. This ensemble may sound like it clashes, but I think it works for me.
I am paying more attention to the way I dress as I grow older. I don't think it's because I'm becoming shallower (although that could be the case), but I think it's because I'm feeling calmer. And more confident. I'm only twenty-nine. The frontal lobes are finished developing somewhere around the twenty-fifth year, so I'm only recently in possession of a complete brain. The hormones have calmed down, and most of the bodies that they left on the battlefield of my late teens and early twenties have been swept up and either buried, or ground up into decent summer sausages. Clothing is fun. Wearing a suit is fun. Because I am still a subversive at heart, the more dressed up I get, the more iconoclastic I feel: I am not someone who should be dressed respectably. Putting on a tie is like going undercover.
So, who knows how many hats a person should own? My guess is that you should either own none, or quite a few.
But that could just be my demon talking.