Anyone who knows me, has come in contact with me, or who even has seen me from a distance cannot help but admit that I’m a fashion plate.
A glamazon. A fashionista. A clothes horse. A slave to <my very own> fashion.
I love clothes. I always have. To this day, beginning when I was 10 years old, my dream still exists to become a fashion designer of haute couture.
Since, decades on, I’m still only dreaming, I consider the ENTIRE world my own personal fashion runway.
If I had to guess, I would spitball that my fashion passion germinated with me watching distant relatives and having seen vintage 1940s photos of them in their A-line skirts, finger-curled hair, fire engine-red lipstick, and back-seamed stockings.
The Golden Age of movies and fashion are – to my notion – days regrettably gone by, for they represented an era of flowing silken gowns, sharp hand-tailored double-breasted suits, snappy tilted fedoras, and blinding jewels.
Those years stood for self-respect, about the importance of clothing, understanding our own self images, and a time when standards and expectations rang in so much higher than they do now.
Those days are looooong gone.
Having thankfully missed the 1970s’ bell bottomed jeans, platform boots, and rainbow headbands, I sailed through the 1980s as a teenager donning leg warmers and anything neon.
At some stage in the fashion timeline, similar styles will begin to repeat themselves once 20 years or so have passed.
That trend seems also to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Recent generations have embraced social, emotional, and physical surrender with their insistent slovenliness and in doing so, have reduced themselves to intellectual slobs.
Knowing full well that I possess a singular fashion sense unlike anyone in existence, I cut a little slack to any individual who, for example, digs out their “best pair of denim jeans” for a night out.
But not much…
Having lived and traveled across the globe, I find that little changes when it comes to humans jumping on the latest fashion trend bandwagon with only subtle differences in nods to their individual cultures.
Those trends, I’ve noticed, are more quickly embraced by people living in the United States. Perhaps it’s due to the overwhelming need to fit in. Perhaps people dress out of pure apathy, laziness, or even defiance.
Whatever excuses people have, the overall result is abysmal.
I step out frequently in my little area of Texas and I consider it an event each time I do, that worth dressing up for, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
Life is short. Wear your shiny shoes. More people in the world should embrace that attitude.
Being the voyeur that I am, I’ve always found people watching a fascinating past time and I watch – not closely – what people are wearing.
What people wear is directly related to that individual’s personality and how they feel about and perceive themselves. Trashy people wear trashy clothes. Simple people wear simple things. Defiant people wear black – flashy people? Well, you never can tell.
Regardless of where I have been, whom I have watched, and at that which I have cringed, I have noticed repeated patterns of dress here in Texas that generate an exasperated gasp, an exaggerated head shake, or a jaw drop when I see them.
I should be accustomed to the behavior by now, but permitted behavior is accepted behavior…and I just can’t.
Let’s compile the list of those frequent Texas fashion mishaps that have made me go “hmmm”:
The racer-back tank top
Everywhere, always in black, and more apparent in – yet not exclusively relegated to – the sweltering Texas summers.
Best left as an undergarment or as gym wear, this inexcusable fashion faux pas is nearly always accompanied by straight-strap bras.
Ladies – if you insist upon this disaster, at least go out and buy yourself a t-strap bra to align with the cut of the tank top. They are out there. I promise.
Cowboy boots with dresses
This is definitely a geographical practice. Coming originally from the upper Midwest where this combination was the instant indication of white trash, I have yet to embrace that “this IS Texas, after all”. I appreciate that cowboy boots are a wardrobe staple of those in urban Texas areas and a necessity on the outer-lying ranches.
Hell, I even own a pair of boots. Just one. And they’re cheap. I wear them seldomly. But I own a pair, nonetheless.
I just see it as such a shame to ruin the flow of a lovely spaghetti strap summer dress, and frequently on a svelte figure, with such clunky, manly, grungy footwear.
Ladies – embrace your assets and show off those legs with a sexy pair of stilettos or strappy sandals.
Hell, even a pair of Chucks would get a nod over the shit-kickers.
Less is not always necessarily more
Hello, 6th Street Austin! Whoa. I appreciate that this one strip of concrete has been Austin’s pride and joy attraction for longer than most of its patrons have been on this planet.
It is lined with bars, restaurants, clubs, dives, food trucks, and some of the best-known music venues in the area.
If you don’t “see it all” during a Saturday night on 6th Street in Austin, you are really not looking. You’re probably dead.
It’s a young-uns’ playground; a Texas-style clubbing experience that draws all shapes and sizes…and those sizes tend to be several more than the clothing covering them.
Younger generations have become fatter and lumpier than ever, and yet they still insist upon squeezing every roll and dimple into nothing more than a sausage casing…leaving very little to the imagination.
Ladies – if the dress, crop top, Daisy Dukes, or teeny tiny skirt you intend to wear out in public equate to little more than a Band-Aid, PLEASE rethink your fashion selection for the evening.
That’s an oxymoron. Spandex NEVER suits all purposes. In fact, it fits very few. Maybe just one – THE GYM.
There’s never been one instance I’ve had out in public that I’ve not noticed at least one woman walking around in yoga or workout pants, running shoes, and those previously-mentioned ubiquitous tank tops.
Just…stop…please. If you’ve just come out of your goat yoga class, Gold’s Gym, or whatever fitness activity you pursue, have a little respect for yourself (and the rest of us) to go smarten up before stepping out.
University of Texas orange
Anything – t-shirts, polo shirts, sweatpants, baseball caps – you name it, UT has put their longhorn cow logo on whatever you can imagine.
Now, many people pay homage to their favorite amateur or professional sports team or individual with their image or logo. Fair enough.
Here’s why this one makes me cringe – I’ve learned the far-reaching and die-hard impact and effect that this institution has had on millions of matriculants. I get it. There is passion for alma maters. UT takes it to a spectacularly cult-like level. Supporters, donors, and graduates of that university bleed orange and vow to take the life of anyone who would dare suggest that UT is not the greatest school ever in existence.
But I must admit that those individuals that I’ve directly encountered – and I’ve documented the pattern – who have been somehow associated with the University of Texas are not very pleasant. The professors’ focus and indoctrination is downright frightening. Attendees’ and graduates’ maniacal loyalty boarders on insanity.
Once on social media I noted an individual – ironically enough, a UT fan – who stated, “I just know that anyone that I see with a Confederate flag is not someone who I want to be around or be associated with”.
I feel the same way about orange and horns.
For anyone outside of Texas, HEB may be a completely foreign set of letters thrown together randomly. All over the Lone Star state, however, “HEB” are the initials of the massive grocery store chain’s founder – Howard E. Butt.
Poor man, rest his soul.
Within nearly all of these stores is a small section set aside for men’s and women’s clothing, not entirely dissimilar to the inventory of a Goodwill store.
Yes. Smack dab in the middle of a grocery store.
Loudly-printed sundresses, sadly drooped shoulder-less women’s blouses, a drab attempt at workout active wear, and a handful of white cotton socks.
Out of morbid curiosity, I’ll occasionally blow through the racks to see if there’s any chance I’d find something remotely interesting that I’d be compelled to buy.
In the four years of perusing HEB’s clothing, I have yet to walk away with anything more than a white tank top. And it wasn’t a racer back.
What I have found is that HEB is SO close to having some cute clothes, but inevitably they always JUST miss the mark of achieving some level of fashion status.
Perhaps I’ll find a beautifully colored maxi dress, only to find that it has fringe at the hem or an elastic midsection. Maybe a decent plaid shirt that is just a bit too western for my taste.
Regardless of my pedantic scoffing at HEB’s merchandise selection, I am always able to spot at least one of their pieces of clothing on someone I see out in public. Always. HEB’s clothing is that distinct…and weird.
No, I’m not mean. I’m honest. When it comes to clothing, I am fussy and I have learned to dress well by watching those dressing…not so well…and then doing the exact opposite.
On very rare occasion, I will happen to spot an individual whose dress impresses me. Rare in that I can count on about two fingers the times when that has occurred.
One of those instances was just a few days ago. I happened to be in a Texas dance hall. Those are venues to behold. Sitting outside in a wooden lounge chair on the deck was an old, haggard cowboy.
What he wore was nothing interesting; nothing out of the ordinary and substantially downright boring.
But it was HOW he wore it that immediately caught my eye.
On his head of snow white hair and covering his tanned and wrinkled face was a very handsome white cowboy hat.
He wore a long sleeved denim shirt with pearl snaps, a pair of denim Wrangler jeans, and a pair of cowboy boots.
All the usual expected wear.
But here’s how he stood out and here is how he differed: earlier in the evening, I saw the gentleman standing from behind and I immediately noticed the creases down the back of the legs of his Wrangler jeans.
They were perfectly aligned, intentionally put there, and done with meticulous care.
His denim shirt, though he’d sat most of the night, had not a wrinkle to be found.
His clothing, as simple as it could be, reflected great care and attention to detail.
Not being able to pass by such a sight, I complimented the gentleman on having noticed the creases in his pants and how dignified he looked.
In true cowboy gentleman fashion, he took off his hat as a sign of appreciation and respect. Talking with the cowboy, we learned that he was 72 years old; a military veteran once serving in the Marine Corps and a life servant to his attention to detail.
The humility and almost awkwardness with which he accepted the compliment lent to his obvious charm. He thought nothing of the care he gave to his appearance and his clothing: “I’ve just always done it. I like it and it makes me feel good”.
His words solidified what I’ve always thought about my own clothing and style of dress: I like this. It makes me feel good.
That level of care and attention reflects that which we are willing to put forth in ourselves and the world around us.
Though each person on this earth has their own personality and quirks, and though we learn those through multiple senses in speech and sight, how people dress is just as powerful – if not more – of a language that speaks.
In some people like me, it screams. The language that our style of dress speaks to our own respect – for ourselves, for the world around us, for humankind.
People may say clothing doesn’t matter, that it’s a waste of money, and that none of us should be judged upon what we wear.
However, culture is defined by our clothes. They signify who we are and where we came from, and they pay homage to our ancestors before us.
Fashion is not simply about throwing something on our frames so as not to offend the public senses or to avoid getting arrested for indecent exposure.
What we wear is akin to telling others the story of us – and the quality of me – before the book itself is even open to be read.