|My father, John Ruskin, 1940|
It's too bad my parents didn't live together long. They divorced when I was ten. Certainly they had one thread in common— they both liked to dress. Perhaps it was the times (the '40s) when dressing appropriately was taken for granted.
My father Dressed, whether for gardening, going to the beach, or the one-and-only time he played tennis on the neighborhood courts. He had many business suits, shirts, ties and handkerchiefs— somewhat to my mother's consternation. She was a stay-at-home mom and buying something new for herself was an epic battle or a sneak attack on the grocery money. Like I said, they weren't together long.
Although only 5'5", he was wiry and wore clothes well. Perhaps he was trying to "stand out" in a sea of taller men (including his father and brothers). He had a thorough knowledge of cuts and fabrics and was quite fond of showing off new purchases to me, his mystified younger daughter.
But I must have absorbed...
Though one would think my mother would be my greatest fashion influence, I don't underestimate that of my father. It affected how I "judged" my suitors. I spurned one who dressed like a dork, even after he let me take him shopping. I swooned over one who wore a pink button-down Brooks Brothers shirt with plaid madras Bermudas despite the fact he wasn't interested in me. And I first thought my husband (now of 46 years) dressed weird because he was from Brooklyn and wore cowboy boots.
Men of the world— listen to this:
> Clothes do make the man, but you shouldn't dress better than your lady.
> You never want to suggest she dress as your fantasy woman.*
> You never want to underestimate the importance of fashion in her life.
> You may as well accept she will always care about what you wear.
* The only fantasy woman she should know about is her.