In 2011, a crack tester was sent to fashion prison by a military court for a crime he didn’t commit. This man promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Seattle underground. Today, still wanted by the government, he survives as a soldier of fashion. If you have a fashion problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire… The fAshion-Team.
Well, ok, just me.
My friend Jason back in 2011 had a problem. Actually, he had 3 problems and those problems were his busted ass corduroy pants, some god awful shorts, and another pair of pants that were awful, but not memorably so. Like most intractable problems, these pants had a way a reappearing again and again. Despite Betsy’s efforts to convince him that, like an old lion past it’s prime, that they were ready to be taken down by younger, healthier pants, they’d always hang around. Brief interludes of pantlessness were pleasant, but temporary, and she always secretly hoped that he would never get back into them. Finally, in the spring of 2011 she had a breakthrough and Jason acceded to her wish for him to go on a “man-shopping date” to serve as shopping expedition to, “test the waters” so to speak, in regards to him accepting my advice. You see, Jason was pretty resistant to much of her requests, which to him sounded vague. Which she admitted was totally true, but despite her limited knowledge of men’s clothing, she had arrived at the unshakable notion that something was wrong, even if she was baffled how to fix it. And my clothes commentary sounded suspiciously like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” type of chatter.
Still though, with a promise of fun man food and beer at the end of the shopping trip, and Jason not minding my company too much when I wasn’t discussing clothes, he accepted the idea of the initial shopping trip. We canvassed downtown Seattle, hitting up various stores and outlets, trying on clothes and just seeing what he’d be ok with. The list could be counted on 1 hand, and in despair I spent almost the entire afternoon coaxing and cajoling to get him to try on a pair of jeans, which aside from some shirts, was the main prize of the evening. Despite his misgivings, I flat out ordered him to buy the pants with assurances that the fabric would soften and shape to his form as he work them.
When we got home with the jeans, Betsy promptly told him that he looked “damn sexy” when he tried them on. In the biz, this is called “positive reinforcement”.
Even though we’d only purchased a single pair of pants, the seed of better fashion sense was planted and my position as fashion czar was assured. Over the summer the seed grew into an unstoppable crop of hate for his current clothes. Hence:
So no asteroids appear in the post, but for entertainment purposes, you can think of the people in the following roles:
- Betsy = Billy Bob Thornton: Critical to the mission, but is doomed not to be able to participate. Knows there is a problem but doesn’t have specific tactical knowledge to destroy antagonist.
- Me = “Roughnecks”, or if you want to be more specific, Ben Affleck: Performs the dirty work. Has specific knowledge to defeat the primary antagonist. Sort of cuddly, but sort of irritating in a “know-it-all” kind of way. Likes “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver.
- Jason = Liv Tyler: Needs saving. Has inexplicable relationship with Ben Affleck, and love/hate relationship with Bruce Willis. Has a thing for cute animals.
- Pants = Bruce Willis: Annoying. Been around for too long. Critical to and dies for the story (in this case the blog post).
Heretofore, Jason, in an effort to reduce his contact with sales people mostly interested in selling him something, tended to purchase clothes in bulk. Call it the “Costco” shopping approach. He’d get several identical items except for color, and wear them…what’s the phrase? Oh right, he wore them right into the fucking ground. And that’s putting it politely. Among other issues, one problem with buying all your clothes at the same time is that they wear out at the same time. Pantsageddon was a perfect storm of desire for nice things and all his pants falling apart. See below for a sample of what his pants were like. And he was wearing them everyday like this!
Since it was summer time when this happened, Jason also expressed a desire to pickup some shorts. Preferably a pair that didn’t have an elastic waistband…and cargo pockets…
Before heading out, Jason and I met and established some ground rules and goals of the shopping trip:
- Pants first and foremost was the goal
- We wanted some variety in the pants. He’d accept khaki’s if they were actually twill and not colored khaki.
- We’d not worry too much about price, but we didn’t need crazy expensive pants, we wanted pants that would move the boundaries of his comfort zone slightly, but were still wearable everyday.
- He liked solids, but subtle patterns were ok.
So with these rules, I decided we should go to Macy’s. Why Macy’s? Some of you might be thinking they are pricey. Some of you might be thinking they are cheap. What you should be thinking is that we needed to try on a whole bunch of clothes, in a whole bunch of styles, and do it without spending a whole bunch of money or waste a whole bunch of hours going from store to store. During our first time shopping, we had tried out a variety of stores including Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Banana Republic, Express, and Macy’s. And at the time it was a giant time sink wandering from store to store. But it was ok, because we were trying to figure out what stores Jason had an affinity for. More so now than before, a part of the purpose of the excursion was to expand his sartorial horizons – and Macy’s already has plenty of things capable of pushing his boundaries. Knowing this, I decided it was more important for him to try out different kinds of pants rather than focusing on a particular brands (Express style vs Banana et cetera) kind of pants. And while I love Nordstrom, it’s pretty pricey for bedrock fashion closet stuff, and The Rack is just too hit or miss depending on size, availability, and location. Knowing our destination, we plotted our course to Macy’s.
We tried on a bunch of pants – it’s more exciting to try on clothes than to hear about it, but it was a rather hilarious picture of me pacing around the changing area waiting for Jason to come out and do his catwalk. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure all the salespeople thought we were gay. Doh!
The first clothes that Jason settled on were some chino’s in solid colors. Not too far of a move away from his old corduroy’s, but definitely a change, and much cooler for the summer. These were also pretty much the same color palette as the corduroy’s as well. This was the “safe” choice that he’d be happy with no matter what. One of the things that is nice about Macy’s is that they have an ungodly large section devoted to Dockers chinos. You’ll want to steer yourself away from the pleated pant section, and in general the D3 and D2 sections have this fabric that tends to have this shiny sheen to them that screams “I sell cell-phones for a living”, but if you poke around, they also usually have the more trendy pants prominently displayed near the aisle so look for those displays. I don’t think they had the Dockers Alpha Line at the time, but they did have their soft khaki line which is thankfully matte and comes in plenty of nice colors. I’ve tried to steer my clothes collection away from too many cotton twill pant pieces, but I admit these pants make me doubt my resolve sometimes. Jason picked out an olive pair (left) and a cargo pant (right) in a dark gray.
As mentioned before, these are the safe choice pants and these pants are really important because they act like a safety blanket. After buying these pants, Jason has goten what he wants, so it’s easier to get him to try things out subsequent items that are out of his comfort zone. This is an important point because, ultimately, we want him to be happy with his pants AND we want him to feel comfortable with the process of selecting clothes.
Since we’d gotten the safety pants out of the way, I started changing gears and selected some pants safely in his color palette, but somewhat out of his fabric zone – streaked gray five-packet pants.
“What about these five-pocket pants?” I asked.
“What’s a five-pocket pant?” he replied.
“They are like jeans, but not. And you can wear them anywhere you’d wear the khaki’s we already picked.”
“Ummmmm….alright. I guess. You are the fashion expert.”
“Damn right I am. Now get your ass into the changing room.”
He emerged a changed man. I liked these pants on him because they match his build a little better. You’ll see it later when he tries on the shorts, but Jason is a little bow-legged and he needs a good ratio between the waist and pant leg size to maximize his leg profile. He doesn’t really have big thighs to fill out the pant leg on pants that have a looser cut, but if it’s too slim, it accentuates his natural slimness. He really dug these pants, and afterwards we were able to try out something really far from his normal pant choices: glen-plaid cotton pants!
He actually liked the pants SO much that he changed into a fancier shirt to show off when we were taking pictures. These pants are really great for Jason. They expand his color palette out of the dark shades that he’s been wearing for years. They are light and summery for the warm weather. The glen-plaid pattern is very light so they aren’t plain and wash out against his fairer complexion. And most importantly he loves the pants! These are the pants that launch a thousand outfits so to speak – once he fell in love with the pants it was so much easier to get him to see the quality in a piece of clothing.
Okay, so we’re not quite done yet. We made a quick pit stop over at J. Crew to find some shorts. I can’t remember 100%, but I seemed to remember finding the short selection at Macy’s somewhat lacking. Too many cargo pockets, not enough colors, too long. Basically Tommy Bahama hell. I won’t digress much more, but I feel like Tommy Bahama might be the worst thing they sell at Nordstrom. They’re certainly the worst shirts they sell by FAR.
We picked up a nice pair of light blue shorts. No elastic, no cargo pockets. Just the right length down the thigh. JFK-esque. Check ‘em out yourself:
I could’ve standed for them to be a smidgen higher up the thigh, but other than that they were fine. Past knee length shorts and really short shorts require specific body types to look good. They also require specific situations to look good. These kind of shorts will flatter many body types, and are a great all-around short type to buy.
Making the Grade
We took everything home and Betsy promptly sat down for her fashion show. Her approval meant everything, and she was pleased with the booty. Both meanings. No longer buried in a quagmire of worn out corduroy, Jason’s ass was freed from bondage. A happy ending for everyone at all ends.
Okay, okay, I’m done with the puns.
So what did we learn here? We learned that no one had to sacrifice themselves to make the giant pile of worn-out pants destroy your wardrobe. You just need some patience and the ability to understand people. Not everyone is going to wear $200 jeans around everyday. But everyone likes to look good, and given sufficient motivation, and the proper affirmation, everyone can find reasonable clothes that flatters them. I think it was a great success all around and Jason continues to work on his wardrobe. He was really happen with the pants. I got a free meal and a chance to mock Jason as he pranced around in clothes for me. I also got some great material for a blog post. And of course, Betsy got a sexy man-husband to keep on her arm.
I love it when a plan comes together.