Tag: Clothes

Rolled-up sleeves

(I’m on a roll with this blog)

I hate long sleeves. Most of the time.

I’m almost always T-shirt Guy, wearing any number of punk-branded, black-backgrounded upper-arm-coverers, in my daily life. But when I was at school or, gods forbid, am wearing a suit, I roll up my sleeves. I don’t like the feeling of having sleeves flapping around my wrists and hands, which I’ve always associated with action, even if said ‘actions’ are just sitting on a stool at the Knights’ Templar pub and chatting with people.

But there are exceptions; a worrying number of them considering how strongly I dislike something as simple as a long-sleeved shirt. Suit jackets are fine – I don’t roll those sleeves up because it’s a bit cumbersome and inconsistency is the definition of the human condition; athletic baselayers that reach my wrists are okay because they’re snug and I’m a hypocrite; hoodies are grand because I like wearing baggy, hooded things and don’t have a coherent identity.

At the moment, however, I’m wearing a hoodie with the sleeves rolled up and, honestly, I don’t really know how to respond to this. So I wrote an incoherent blog post off the back of three hours of essay-writing. Hooray!

High-Waisted Drop-Downs Bamboozle Me

(they confuse the pants off me)

You know those high-waisted trousers you can buy, that are typically worn by women? The ones you tuck into a top to make it fashionable, but if you’re a 13-year-old guy who does it with his school uniform you’re a loser? Yeah, those ones.

The important thing to notice about these trousers is that they’re not just longer than normal trousers, but are differently-proportioned to normal trousers. While standard trousers have legs of a length x, and a crotch-holding bit between legs and waistband of y, the high-waisted species has legs of a length 0.75x, and a preposterously tall top bit of, like, 3y! I’d draw a diagram, but I thought needlessly mathematised nonsense would be more intelligible than my attempts to pick up a pencil and face the ordeal of scanning something into a computer.

And this makes sense if the high-waisted look is what you’re going for; simply pulling up a pair of standards trousers to the height of a high-waisted pair would result in the wearer being flicked between the legs by their own bottoms, which would annoy women and agonise men. As a result, the high-waisted pair of trousers is a very specialised form of leg-coverings, much like the evening gown, or that one, perpetually-tied towel you only ever wear to showers.

But I saw a pair of these most particular pantaloons being used for a new purpose the other day; as drop-downs. Much like the high-waisted trouser is a mainstay in most feminine wardrobes, the dropped-down trousers are commonplace in the filthy piles of decayed cloth rags that men wallow around in in an attempt to clothe themselves in the mornings. This isn’t to say that the male variant is any less sophisticated than the female one – you’ve not suffered for your fashion until you’ve spent hours fawning over such minute variables such as angle of elasticated waist, waistband depth, and the terrible decision of putting those waist-tightening strings inside or outside the trousers – but is simply a variant; if a woman aims for a high-waisted look, she wears high-wasted trousers, and if man shoots for drop-downs, he wears trackies.

One man has chosen to break this norm. One, heroic, man; he was wearing trousers in the style of drop-downs, but they were clearly high-waisted pants, considering the point where the legs meet the crotch was dangling close to his knees. He looked like an individual perplexingly in possession of two calves, yet a single thigh, wobbling and hobbling down the pavement, his fabulous style flying in the face of both human anatomical needs, and the practicalities of walking as a biped. I don’t understand you, nor will I imitate you, but sir, I salute you.

Mr. Ruin Your Birthday

(so in answer to your immediate question, no I’ve not had a good day)

I’m not a follower of fashion; nor am I one of those people that insists on there being definite ‘good’ and ‘bad’ looks – fashion is an art, and so is to be judged subjectively. At least most of the time.

There is one exception to this rule, one combination of clothes making up one’s outward appearance that is not just objectively unpleasant, but actively harmful against the laws of morality and culture. One set of clothes that has never looked anything other than diabolically painful on anyone, that has transcended from an outfit actual people wear to a catch-all term epitomising wardrobe malfunctions, a singular fashion faux pas to end all fashion faux pas.

And today I saw someone wearing this most heinous of outfits; a fool waiting for a train at Finsbury Park station, whose choice of attire had managed to ruin my otherwise fantastic birthday. He was wearing socks with sandals.

Not just any socks and sandals either! A pair of sleek, Nike sandals that probably cost 65 quid and have been featured in a TV advert alongside Lionel Messi for no discernible reason; a set of pristine white socks, that bore a striking resemblance to the white trim on the sandals, giving the awful impression that this attirical combination had not come about through some freak accident, but was planned. It was coordinated. It was intended. It was probably ordained by a god to ruin my day. And it did.

The wearer of this hideous ensemble even got on my train! He was following me, his path predetermined by some natural inclination to annoy me, to pester me, to remind me of his existence and that of his unfashionable footwear. He wasn’t even in the same carriage as me, but I remembered him throughout the journey, as he subjected me to some kind of horrific psychological trauma by staying far enough away that I wasn’t overcome with an urge to punch him in the face and remove the world of this problem, but close enough in my mind to prevent me forgetting about him and moving on with my life.

And he’s stayed with me. It’s four hours later and I’m still raving about him, unable to let go of his tragic artistic misstep. And I’ll probably never forget; I’ll be unable to look at a pair of sandals or even my own beloved white socks without triggering PTSD flashbacks of those few minutes at the platform, where my sanity was rocked to its very core, and my view of the world cracked into a thousand cascading pieces, warped, incomprehensible, and tumbling into the oblivion between the train and the platform.

Happy birthday indeed.

On The Absence Of Trousers

(and their relative unimportance in the company of oneself)

I like trousers, as a rule. A combination of desiring to be practically attired and bowing to gender norms that I’m much less comfortable crossing than I think I am has left me wearing warm, loose tracksuits for the entirety of the year. And, for the most part, they work perfectly (ahem) but I’m realising a drawback to these most wonderful of clothing items: in Summer, they’re bloody hot.

I’ve not discovered this before, living in a house with large openable windows instead of my single room with one suicide-proof window that only opens far enough to allow a gnat’s fart to fit through, but now that I have it’s pissing me off. And it’s not just tracksuits! I’ve tried on my pair of designated ‘adult’ trousers, and they’re too warm too, which makes me think that any item of clothing that reaches my ankles will be too hot for this frakking room.

Shorts, you say, may be the answer to keep myself cool and protect that most fragile of things, my masculinity, but I’m not really a fan of shorts. They’re useful when playing sports, sure, but using them exclusively for sports has created a link in my mind that whenever I’m waring my shorts, I ought to be running or playing handball, instead of looking for an even more lazily comfortable position to be lying in bed playing Football Manager in.

And, as hinted at by that Buzzfeed article, I (along with pretty much every other cis man on the planet) am still afraid of femininity, subconsciously linking it with weakness and an obsession with material trinketry, to suck it up and buy a skirt. Also, that would require shaving my legs, because I’m not a fan of leg hair, and that would do nothing to protect that already-cracked façade of masculinity.

Therefore, I have stumbled across a solution that manages to keep my masculinity intact, at the mere expense of looking like an overgrown man-baby with no comprehension of the importance of clothes: I sit around in my underwear. This way, my legs are free and cool, and I don’t need to buy any additional clothing. The unshaved-legs problem still exists, and sometimes I will peer under my desk to behold a pair of patchily-haired appendages that I-wouldn’t-want-to-sleep-with-in-a-million-years-so-why-should-someone-else-be-subjected-to-that-kind-of-torture, but this is a compromise that works, at least for the time being.

And if you’re still not convinced that I’m not talking out of may arse, at least I’ve moved on from writing these things naked.

I’ll Never Compliment Your Looks, So Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

(me versus fashion, round three?)

Okay. This isn’t personal. That title is just a fact. If you’re fishing for compliments on your new top by telling me you like how my hoodie matches my trainers, piss off and lurk around Primark, waiting to be told by employees that the jeans you just picked out look so good on you, then revel in your apparent validity as a fashionista like their kind word wasn’t a contractual obligation.

But there’s a more serious point here, a discussion about to what extent fashion is a thing. Bear with me on this.

Take a particularly detailed blog post of mine; it’s not unreasonable to assume that I have put a lot of work into it, and would like people to read it and tell me what’s good and what’s not. It’s not narcissism, nor fishing for compliments, it’s just a pretty average response for a creator who has just created something. But it’s harder to impose that model onto fashion. While not everyone writes blog posts, and so those that do and would like to discuss them are obvious, everyone has to engage with fashion on some level. Even I must pick out one black t-shirt with things written on it instead of another black t-shirt with things written on it. But I don’t engage with fashion as much as I engage with posts I write, so I’ll always be more comfortable talking about things I’ve written, not things I’m wearing; it’s just a personal preference.

And because we all have to engage with fashion, it’s hard to see where a lot of people fall on this divide that separates people who care about it and want to be engaged in a discussion on it, from people who are wearing a shirt because otherwise they’d get chilly nipples and an ASBO.

Because all of us have things we’d like to talk about, and not like to talk about; and I don’t want to assume that a person wants to talk about their outfit, even in an entirely positive manner, just because they happen to not be naked. I’m uncomfortable complimenting people on things that they might not themselves have paid attention to.

As far as I can tell, assuming in this way opens all kinds of cans of worms in your relationship with that person: in discussing a thing they might not care about, but that you assume they have, has emphasised your role in your relationship, and that what you want to discuss is the thing that will be discussed. There’s also the ever-annoying existence of gender here, where our idiotic and generalised to the point of obsoletion idea that women care more about their appearance than men has led to awkward situations: I’ve seen women be innocently complimented on their looks, only to be told that actually they didn’t care what they wore that morning, and men who did make an effort totally ignored, the world unappreciative of their matching jean hems and shoelaces.

I like talking to people about things they like; normally this criteria is filled, but if it’s not, then by extension I’m abjectly ignoring one of their interests in favour of my assumption of those interests. As far as I can tell, talking to a person about their hair means not talking to them about their favourite TV show, or their stance in the Mass Effect 2 vs Last Of Us debate, or whether they remember any of the songs from Charlie McDonnell’s album This Is Me. Making this mistake is already a bad thing, but when it comes to clothes, and bringing with them all their connotations of superficiality and, especially, gender roles, I worry that every time I say ‘your outfit is nice’ I’m judging them as a human mannequin and not as the collection of ideas and mannerisms they are.

Equally, I’m not part of the ‘shut up and take a compliment’ hoard of folks over on Men’s Rights sites; I don’t want an oppressive, simple solution to my own insecurities, confusion and awkwardness in conversation, I want those problems to be thought about, and discussed.

The best part of coming to uni has been that I’m interacting with people I genuinely care about on a near-daily basis, so I’m less arrogant than I was back in the ‘I’ll say what I like and if you get offended it’s your fault’ days of a few years ago. I like my friends because they’re smart, and have interesting ideas and the ability to discuss them, and a few of them even get the references on my t-shirts; I don’t want to discredit that personal connection we have by introducing superficial pleasantries to our discussions, that are boring and generic at best, and presumptuous and offensive at worst.

So I won’t tell you that you look nice today, even if you do and you put loads of effort into your outfit and such a compliment would literally make your day. It’s hard to tell whether someone cares and wants to talk about their looks, but we can’t deny that we all want to talk about the thoughts we have, and the words we say; so I’ll play it safe and talk to you about those things.

Why Fashion Doesn’t Suck!

(not that I’m gonna start brushing my hair of matching my shoes to my shirts any time soon)

Having pussied out of writing a post yesterday, I thought I should change things up a bit on this fine Redux Week by taking an old post and updating it, not by furthering the argument presented, but flipping it entirely, arguing the opposite in some sort of weirdly one-sided time-frakkery, having a discussion that Past James can’t hope to defend himself against. Because he is dead. So without delay, here’s the updated, and inverted, version of my old post Why Fashion Sucks.

I still stand by my old criticisms – that it’s expensive, a passive form of self-expression, and ‘beauty’ is fast becoming an objective trait rather than a subjective judgement – but I feel I didn’t give the valid counter-arguments, that I now appreciate to a greater extent, their due weight. For instance, it is, ultimately, a form of self-expression; I honestly didn’t realise this until the last few weeks, when I watched an old Vlogbrothers video in which Hank made the point that we can express ourselves through our clothes – I’d always seen it as an exercise in conformity, to fit into the world around us as part of the increasingly objective definition of beauty. But if I choose to wear a Bad Religion shirt over a Stephenvlog shirt on any particular day, that’s a decision affecting my looks and nothing else, so I can’t really sit here and claim to be totally disinterested in fashion, as a means of reflecting ideas and beliefs through the medium of t-shirts.

Indeed, I create characters – anyone from literary figures to Sims – and spend as much time clothing their bodies as I do crafting their personalities; the point here is that if fictional characters exist as representations of ideas (which I think they do), their appearances and their mindsets are equally useful to the writer in determining those – by extension, if a real-life person is a realisation of ideas and concepts (which I reckon we are), my clothes are as much an indicator of those concepts as the ideas I silently and individually nurture in my head.

I’d argued last time that clothes are also superficial, and by extension temporary, but I then blasted tattoos for being unremovable, and too permanent: now that I possess a number of shirts with confrontational messages on them – the Bad Religion Crossbuster isn’t something I’d wear around the UCL Christian Union, and the Anti-Flag F*ck Police Brutality shirt would probably be a bit much unless I was at a punk gig – I’m realising that I don’t want to be a pushy liberal twat all the time; there are days where I want a nice, ‘OMG I get that reference’ response to my YuGiOh Abridged shirt.

I still don’t care too much about fashion, or my appearance; some days I think it’d be nice to have pink hair, or those cool fishnet gloves alternative singers wear, or a Courage My Love tanktop, but most days I don’t, and such things would impede my ability to play football or run for a bus at the drop of a hat, which is still the most important factor to me in choosing an outfit. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only factor; sure, I wear t-shirts and tracksuits all the time, but there is a decision-making process behind the grey trackies with black stripes, or the grey trackies with bright green stripes, that I now realise doesn’t mean I’m a total rejecter of fashion. As long as it’s cheap, and practical enough to play a sport in, I’ll wear it, and happily engage in a discussion about which Nike running top goes with which pair of leggings. And this probably means I’m caught between sucking it up and actually appreciating fashion, and wearing a straight-up burlap sack with arm-holes, but I don’t care; fashion is annoying, but it certainly doesn’t outright suck.

I Got Thrown Out Of A Bar

(at least the title of this post alone makes me seem cooler than I am)

I am a moron. This is a well-known fact about my life, that I’ll happily admit at any point, whether I’ve done anything particularly idiotic recently; but last night I did something very idiotic indeed – I was thrown out of a bar for wearing trackies.

For those of you who are unaware, I wear Lonsdale tracksuit trousers constantly; what started out as a genuine desire for practical legwear – they’re more comfortable, easy to take off in case of sudden toilet breaks, and cheaper than jeans – has become a bit of a ‘thing’, because I realise that jeans really aren’t that bad, but kinda continue relentlessly looking like a participant in the 2011 London Riots because I’m more comfortable with that as a ‘look’. And yes, I’m aware of the irony of wearing clothes that I originally liked as a rejection of appearance, for the sake of appearance – I did say I’m a moron.

And so last night, I went to a bar that I won’t name because the bar itself was honestly wonderful and I’d like to spend a whole day there instead of a frakking hour, walked in at eight, hung out with friends for a bit, then left to get chips and return, because chips. When I got back, however, there was a bouncer who wasn’t there before, and I was promptly told to piss off (which I did because I’m not quite enough of a moron to pick a fight with a bouncer).

Initially, I was pissed off – not at the bouncer themselves, because that’d be like getting angry at a BT call centre worker because you don’t like Jake Humphrey’s hosting of the Premier League, which is ineffectual and just leaves everybody involved feeling upset – and formulated several authority-undermining, bar-destroying plans while listening to Minor Threat, and went to see a different group of friends, while I felt like shit. But a few hours, and a surprisingly enjoyable watching of 10 Things I Hate About You, later, I felt fine again, and realised that if a bar wants to attract a certain ‘kind’ of people (those who make an effort not to look like they’re about to burn the place down), those are their rules, which might be a bit naff, but I still have to play by them if I’m going to use their facility. And I’d like to still be pissed off, that I should be free to wear what I like, where I like, and not be thrown out of places, but I’m honestly too disinterested in my appearance for it; I said that I liked my look of a hoodie and tracksuit, which I do, but I like my friends more, and am honestly more pissed off I threw a bit of a spanner in the works of their party – they were sad and accepting of the situation, but I’m sure none of them imagined this would happen – than I personally didn’t get to hang out in a bar.

Happily though, said party will resume tonight – because why spend one night celebrating a birthday when you can spend two? – at different late-night establishments with things like bouncers and a burning sense of superficial judgements and a lack of personal value and worth based on arbitrary choice of clothes, and I have learned my lesson to wear some ‘nicer’ trousers, Hell maybe even the jumper I wore on work experience instead of my hoodie with a hole torn open in the front!

But if anyone tries to take my trainers away they can frak off – I must draw the line somewhere.