Monday, November 7, 2011

A-dressing the Man

What is this man wearing around his neck?

Fortunately for the serpent in the Garden of Eden, that apple ploy worked. But what if Eve had been really hungry and didn't feel like offering Adam a bite? The serpent could just as easily have lured Eve with a shopping trip to buy Adam some fig leaves.

Women love to dress their men. Or shall I say re-dress them. Most men are reluctant to be made over sartorially, if not downright adamant. Whether it's a "lucky shirt" that's seen better days or an out-and-out refusal to wear turtlenecks, even men who claim they care nothing about fashion care a lot about being tampered with.

I've learned to tread lightly around my husband, Alan. Now that he's retired from the corporate world his wardrobe needs have changed. It was fairly easy to get rid of the suits (seeing as they were New York weight and not Texas light-weight), but we have forty years of ties and a veritable rainbow collection of dress shirts in the closet. The strangest thing has happened too. Those shirts have shrunk while hanging, especially at the neck. But still they hang, taking up valuable space that could be mine.

My biggest challenge is getting him out of shorts— even Texas has some chilly days and blue knees look ridiculous. He knows by now that I won't go to the movies or to dinner with him in a t-shirt (thank goodness for Hawaiian shirts— really). He also knows that "big boy pants" and sandals do not work together. And he has finally given up trying to get away with a Speedo at the beach (thank goodness for Hawaiian-print surfer trunks— really).

Early in our life together I attempted making him over. It had worked with other boyfriends, but this one was different. He rejected the suggestion of button-down collar shirts. I bought him a crew neck sweater. He tried it on and looked like a bear. Over time the "making over" ended, but the vigilance goes on. Perhaps this is the nature of Man— to get back to the Garden... and fig leaves.

The gentleman pictured above is Al Golden, football coach of the University of Miami. He is one of a small number of coaches who "honor the game" by dressing for success on the field. And it seems Miami fans are now imitating him in the stands. He credits his mother with instilling in him the difference between practice and The Game. She told him, "Game day is different than practice. Don't look like you do in practice and the team will follow suit." Cherchez la femme!

Similarly my very laid-back-fashion-wise husband taught me a valuable lesson. When we travel by air he always dresses impeccably. Once that would have meant a suit and tie. Now it's more likely a polo shirt, blazer, dark denim and ancient python cowboy boots (broken-in python being more admired than new). The reason for this is calculated: A) Boots and blazers don't pack well and B) you can argue with the airlines more effectively when you look like you might sit on the board.  
Stewart Granger as Beau Brummel aka Perfection
A word about dandies, peacocks or Beau Brummel. He knows fashion, he's up on the latest looks, he can name-drop designers you never heard of, and he knows what he likes. Should you find yourself dealing with one, save yourself the effort. Just be thankful he doesn't start dressing you.

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