Every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp-dressed man.
— ZZ Top
They say that clothes make the man. Of course, they say a lot of things, and just as often as not they are full of Shinola.
This is one of those cases.
Clothes can make a man look professional. Clothes can make a man look slovenly. And clothes can make a man more appealing than he might be without said clothes. But it’s the mind, heart, intelligence, soul and integrity that make up the essence of a man.
(I might quote that brilliant modern-day philosopher Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski here: “That and a set of t…” but we don’t want to push the family-publication boundaries too far.”)
Now, I know what a lot of you $2,000-suit, $150-haircut, fresh-dipped-in-$500-cologne dandies are saying right about now: “This coming from someone whose basic wardrobe consists of a worn Albany State (Go Rams!) sweatshirt, a half-dozen faded Allman Brothers/Who/Bob Dylan/Page and Plant/Pink Floyd/Sevendust T-shirts, three or four pairs of holey jeans, flip-flops and that new pair of canvas shoes that’ll be threadbare in a month or two.”
To which I reply: “Damned right.”
(Incidentally, my long-suffering wife has bought me any number of really nice outfits — They actually match, and some have what I’m told are famous designer logos on them! — which I wear on occasion, especially when we’re going out anywhere with the 12-year-old, who’s taken to picking out what clothes I should wear to keep the parental embarrassment factor at a minimum.)
See, some people have the woefully mistaken impression that putting on a piece of clothing that has somebody else’s name on it somehow elevates them to a loftier position, that it magically makes them smarter, more handsome, a real man of the world. Sadly, many of them will never quite get that they are still just stuffing for a more expensive shirt.
Heck, I’ll admit it. When it comes to wardrobe, I’m more Ralph Kramden than Ralph Lauren, more Jimmy Buffett than Jimmy Choo, more Bill Murray than Bill Blass, more Michael Meyers than Michael Kors, more Tommy Go-Figure than Tommy Hilfiger.
As I told one city official who semi-good-naturedly offered a “Nice to see you all dressed up for the meeting” when I recently wore a T-shirt and jeans to an Albany City Commission meeting (which everyone knows is a place where good manners, decorum and fine breeding are requirements): “Ummm … I’m pretty sure you guys haven’t imposed a dress code for these meetings. Until you do, I don’t give a rat’s (heinie) what you or anyone else here thinks about what I’m wearing. Let me hear from you when I screw up my story about the meeting.”
At least this guy directed his comments at me. He could have gone the route of one of his colleagues who chose to make snide remarks about my wardrobe to someone who has too big a mouth to keep quiet. I have two things I’ll probably tell that lady one day: 1) Is your job really so boring, so meaningless and so simple that you need to take the time to worry about — and later comment on — what some yahoo from the newspaper is wearing? And 2) Perhaps before you cast such aspersions, you might spend a little more time in front of your own mirror.
Catty, I know, but I never claimed to have a whole lot of couth.
So I’ll lean more toward Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” (“Yo, that’s $50 for a (Gucci) T-shirt. … I call that gettin’ tricked by a business.”) and you keep rocking Jay Z’s Rocawear. If it makes you feel like you’re a better person than me or others who choose comfort over style, good for you.
Just remember, when you go home at night and take those fancy clothes off, you’re left to contend with the real person underneath the trappings. Good luck with that.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.