Clothing is Easy for Guys

clip_image002A few days ago, my wife found a dry cleaning ticket in her purse. She warned me that “you might have a sports jacket at the cleaner.” I said that I would “take inventory” but I really couldn’t tell what might be missing. I found two Navy Blue jackets, but I wasn’t sure if one of them was the one my new jacket was meant to replace – as in I never put it in the Salvation Army box – as in I can’t be trusted with an entire closet full of clothes, especially clothes that are basically all the same.

Guy’s clothes are easy. I tend to buy shirts, shoes, slacks and suits that go reasonably well together, and then I just take the next thing in line off the rack. I can count the times that I’ve really thought about what I was going to wear on one hand and maybe a few fingers from the other. My wife or a coworker might ask me “what are you wearing to (some event)?” and my answer is usually “pants and my (gray or blue) jacket” or if the event is less formal, “just the stuff I wear to work” – we’re “business casual” now so that means Docker’s and a dress shirt. It isn’t a very difficult decision. The pants are black, gray, blue or khaki and most of my shirts go with all color variations, so it’s basically one pair of pants and one shirt. I could probably get dressed in the dark.

During the 80’s, when I worked for two different large consulting companies, getting dressed was even easier. Both firms required men to wear suits. I had gray suits and I had and blue suits. I had white and blue dress shirts and my ties went with everything. Back then, when someone would ask “what are you going to wear to…?” the answer was always “a suit.” The odd wardrobe item for me was a khaki colored suit. I didn’t wear that suit that often, because I always seemed to spill something on it the first day it came back from the cleaner. The cleaner joked that “this suit is putting my kids through college.”

One time, as I sat down in a restaurant, I hooked the sleeve over a full bottle of beer, pouring the contents into my arm. I remember standing up and pointing to a nearby plant so that the beer had somewhere to go.

Shoes are even easier. For most of my working life, I have gotten by with no more than two pairs of shoes, a black pair and a brown pair. When our office changed to business casual, I bought a pair of Docker’s brand black and brown loafers. They look more like boat shoes than dress shoes, but they are comfortable and they go with everything. I was so happy with those shoes that when I had to replace them, I bought two pairs. My wife and my daughter, and the sales woman at Sears (yes, I bought shoes at Sears) yelled at me for buying two pairs of the same shoes. I didn’t see the problem, “these are the shoes I like, I need a new pair and I’ll need another new pair at some point.” When my daughter went with me to a 3-day meeting in Florida, she took 7 pairs of shoes!

Speaking of my daughter, nothing highlighted the difference between men’s and women’s clothing for me than a crisis-mode shopping trip in New York City when she was in her early teens. We were going to be in New York for almost a week. I had told Faith that I would take her to a Broadway play. When we got to the city; Faith realized that she hadn’t brought anything to wear to a play. She needed “a pair of khakis” – OK, I thought, how hard can that be. I stood in Macy’s forever, while she tried on pants. A size 4 was too big, but a size 2 was too small. Well, if there isn’t a size 3, there’s either a problem with the way they make women’s clothes, or with the way they make women. Pants finally in hand, she also had to buy shoes. She agreed to buy cheap shoes, from one of those outlet-like places. We walked to the part of the store where her size was, and I started handing her shoes. “Here, these are your size…how about these..these? How about these? These are shoes.” Eventually, the sales lady asked Faith: “do you want me to chain him up outside?

Back to the sports coat, when I was leaving for work the next day, I offered to swing by the dry cleaner on my way home to see if my jacket was there. I was in a hurry and my wife couldn’t find the ticket. She apologized, but I wasn’t worried. I knew that it wouldn’t matter. A woman at the head of the line had the ticket for the stuff she was picking up and dutifully filed the ticket she received for the shirts she had dropped off. The two guys in front of me had no ticket. I had no ticket and I wasn’t really sure I had a jacket to pick up. All three of us were served with a smile. Everything about clothing is just easier when you’re a guy.

23 thoughts on “Clothing is Easy for Guys

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  1. My wife loves to buy me really nice combinations of shirts and ties that look terrific together. Then, after the first wearing, the tie goes in the closet and the shirt in the laundry — never to be paired again.

    I like your way better.

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    1. My way is also better because I am somewhat color blind. If everything doesn’t go together, I can look pretty silly. Even with a simplistic wardrobe, I get sent back to the closet from time to time because “oh no, that shirt and those pants, no, no no no”

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  2. “I tend to buy shirts, shoes, slacks and suits that go reasonably well together, and then I just take the next thing in line off the rack. I can count the times that I’ve really thought about what I was going to wear on one hand and maybe a few fingers from the other.”

    Francine Jay wrote a book called The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life. She gives a really good argument on why women and men should plan their wardrobe this way and how any task can be made easier by simplifying.

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  3. I had a black Polo lightweight, zippered jacket. About 2 months ago, mu wife asked me where the jacket was. I looked around the house to no avail and replied that I did not know. I was immediately accused of losing the jacket. I replied to this accusation with ” If it’s lost, it’s lost. there is nothing that I can do. Recently, my wife sheepishly came to me. She had brought the jacket to the dry cleaners an forgot that she did so. Exoneration!!!

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  4. It sorta disgusts me, how easily men can dress. First, just the part where I can walk into any shop in the entire city, pick up a pair of pants 36×30 and how they will inevitably fit my husband disgusts me. Never mind the dress shirts, shoulder, neck and sleeve. It just kills me. No bust to get in the way. No odd fitting, loose here, tight here stuff.
    The only thing I can purchase without tryin on is hosiery.
    Yes, Dan, you would think finding a pair of khakis would be a cinch. You’d think it should take 10 minutes, tops. After an hour of trying on pants, I am unashamedly a person who will buy two pair, or three, depending on colors offered. Just like you with your shoes. When will I not need pants? When will you not need shoes?
    I have pants in my closet from 10-14. I have shirts in my closet from M-2X.
    Every woman, regardless of her size or shape, has the same variation. All the bodies have needs. One avoids buttons, or pockets, another avoids boatnecks or v-necks or tapered trousers — It.Is.A.Nightmare.

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    1. It’s OK, I get the disgusted comments, sighs and groans at home all the time. “Did you try those on?” “I don’t have to, they are my size.” …Groan. I also couldn’t believe how many brands of pants Macy’s had. I used to buy my wife clothing for gifts. If I found something I thought she would like, I’d ask a saleswoman who was about my wife’s size if I had the right size. Even buying women’s clothing ie easier for guys :) Thanks for the comment and…sorry.

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  5. Marvelous. I’m glad you included the link to this one Dan — it was before I became acquainted with your blog. “Everything about clothing is just easier when you’re a guy.” I have to agree, but lately for me, that might be the kind of “rat hole” you mentioned. More men complain to me that they don’t get as many choices for fashion as women. But with your comment here, I wonder just how much they’d like it if they did have all those choices! There’s something for me to toss back at them! :D

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  6. Clothing IS easier for men, no question. You have less of it, for starters, which means you don’t need as much space for it, and making a selection is therefore simpler. For another, our dry-cleaning bill is lower. (Doesn’t seem fair to me either, why a man’s shirt costs less to launder, but hey, I don’t set the rules.) You save time as well when dressing is simply a matter of, say, putting on the black shoes or the brown shoes (and yes, that’s precisely what I have when it comes to dress shoes as well). We’re not thrown for a loop when we don’t have the right color purse to go with a particular outfit.

    The list goes on — but I’d better not. Good piece, Dan!

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