Thursday, March 15, 2012

A man of style I am not


There is not one personality trait or characteristic about me that even hints at the tiniest microscopic particle of what can be described as style when it comes to clothes. After years of observation, it would seem that I suffer the same fate as the common moose, a creature said to be put together with spare parts from other animals and designed by a dysfunctional committee. I have never been one to be all that concerned with clothes to begin with but on the rare occasion where I am required to dress up the results are usually a disaster of comic proportions. To save what small sliver of dignity I possess I avoid the whole problem of clothes by staying with my tried and true attire of surfer t-shirts and cargo shorts during the summer and exchange those for blue jeans in the winter, which brings me to my first issue.

While many have commented over the years saying how much they think it is cool that I am so tall, I stand nearly six foot-six inches, I tell them try finding clothes that fit someone my height. Searching for something as simple as Wrangler blue jeans that meet my waist and length requirements can become an epic quest. Just recently I spent the better part of a Friday morning searching three different Walmarts, two Targets, and a really out of the way Kmart for jeans and coming up with a huge goose egg. Since in the best of times shopping for me can be compared to someone shoving bamboo sticks under my finger nails going to the huge corporate chains with policies that hurt their own workers and those of their suppliers make it even worse.

The problem is not that I am excessively fat along with tall; I found plenty of Wrangler jean waist sizes ranging up to forty-six inches. I am forced to assume that my thirty-eight waist and thirty-four length is either not produced that much or there are a bunch of tall goofy looking guys like me I just never see.

At each of my visits to the monolithic and uncaring corporate examples of American hyper-commercialism that day I tore through the blue jean stacks looking for my size. It must have been quite the sight because at each store I had frequents visits by the salesperson in charge of that particular area. They were all young ladies who seemed a combination of both curiosity and fear at someone making a mess of their area. On the other hand, if I was earning little better than minimum wage and dealing with spoiled Americans who generally believe all creation revolves around them I would not be very motivated to assist some giant troll-like creature tearing through piles of blue jeans. 

The problem was finally solved after I returned home and finally decided to order the jeans I needed over the internet. Once again, the corporate lackeys of Walmart under cut even the home website of Wrangler blue jeans itself on the price of their products by several dollars. How they did that boggles my mind but I am sure it is far from a good thing for the workers. Adding insult to injury, Walmart charges less than a dollar for shipping for even the smallest orders.

The second problem I have with clothes are the rare occasions whenever I have to formally dress up for some event. While it is difficult for me to buy jeans for everyday use finding a suit that fits me with all my oversized appendages requires a formal fitting that pushes the cost into a range reserved for those for more upwardly mobile than me.

Way back in 1993 when Dragonwife and I were dating, she was invited to the wedding of one of her college sorority sisters up in Washington DC. It was going to be one of those high-class shindigs and since I was also invited, we had to travel down to Charleston to one of the formal wear stores for men where I picked out a nice suit.

For an hour or two, I stood on a raised platform while a tailor made measurements on the pants and coat so he could adjust them to my height. At the time, I was still taking classes at the coastal community college where I got my ever-nifty associates degree from so I used a chunk of my GI bill to pay for the suit, which was cool since I wore that bad boy to my graduation.

For the most part I paid no attention to the little tailor dude who mumbled to himself as he used a chalk-like substance to make reference marks on first the pants then the coat. After the fact, I realized the twit had made some backhanded comments about my long legs and what I admit are gorilla-like arms. I have no idea why I rubbed the little fellow the wrong way but he was damn good at how he adjusted the suit. Not only did it fit perfectly giving me an unheard of sense of professional style, over the intervening years I was able to let both the pants and the coat out as I expanded laterally.

It was not until last year right before the Disney cruise that I had finally exhausted the suit’s ability to compensate for my physical expansion. Since two evenings on the Disney Magic would be formal dinner nights, I had to scramble for something to take its place. In a honesty I simply did not have the funds or desire to try and buy a new suit so I settled on just purchasing a basic sports coat.

That proved problematic, all my odd lengths and widths made buying a modest sports coat a huge pain. At one place a blazer that fitted me perfectly cost four-hundred dollars, which on the Disney cruise was a couple of nights of drinking at a bar so I gave the jacket back to the salesman and walked out laughing. Eventually I found a cheap black sports coat at a big and tall shop that even had a piecemeal service so it could be somewhat adjusted to my arms and torso.

We picked up the jacket a week before the cruise and it was a total disaster. Standing in front of the full-length mirror at the store the coat looked like something I might have borrowed from television’s Herman Munster. It fit so badly I actually felt mentally and physically uncomfortable. For the most part I do not care what people think about me but more often than not the first question a new person usually asks after seeing how tall I am is do I play basketball. When I answer with my noticeable Southern drawl "not since high school" I am usually classified along the lines of the fictional Forrest Gump. As false stereotypes go it is not the worst someone can be labeled with but it is still irritating and something I would rather avoid.

Looking in the mirror and seeing how that awkward sports coat seemed to be draped over my shoulders the cliches about "clothes making the man" and "you never get another chance at making a first impression echoed inside my head. As much as I wanted to have it correctly tailored, we did not have time so I just stuffed it into a garment bag and tried to forgot about it.

The cruise, as expected, was a fantastic trip where there were so many activities my family hardly knew if we were coming or going. Some nights we stumbled into our cabin so exhausted we collapsed on our beds and were asleep in mere minutes.We were so caught up in all the events I totally forgot about the ill-fitting jacket and when the formal nights came I donned it without caring how it looked.

On the cruise professional photographers constantly roam the ship taking pictures of the passengers having fun and on formal nights somehow there are even more. So, Dragonwife, Darth Wiggles, and myself had our pictures taken many times on both of the nights I had to wear the jacket. I realized that my sports coat looked like crap but by then I was resigned to the fact.

Making matters worse Dragonwife was able to make reservations at the very formal and adults only restaurant on the Disney Magic named “Palo”. Both Dragonwife and I ate at the swanky Palo’s on previous Disney cruises so I was familiar with how all the other patrons would look, of course back then I still had my trusty well tailored suit. At least I had the ability to take off the new sports coat once we are at our table. I just wish I had taken a closer look at the jacket before we left our cabin during the nights I wore the thing.

While sorting through boxes of pictures Dragonwife found the professional photos taken during the cruise last year. Wanting to relive the memories I soon joined her on the family room floor and began cringing at the site of me wearing the sports coat. On several of the pictures I had my arm around Dragonwife, a couple of Disney princess, and another with Captain Jack Sparrow I hope no one asks about nor will I openly discuss. On each of those pictures, I saw a tag dangling on the underside of the left sleeve of the cheap and accursed blazer.

Like I said at the first, I realize I will never be a stylish person but I am truly okay with that, it is just I do not want to embarrass myself anymore than I have to. Something about that tag hanging down about two inches from my sleeve just screamed illiterate country bumpkin/redneck far more than I am comfortable. Sure enough, I went downstairs and dug the coat out of my closet and there was the tag still attached. Somehow, before the next formal occasion I will cough up the money to get that damn thing fitted.

18 comments:

Sarge said...

Do they have one of those Big and Tall stores in Myrtle Beach? My problem isn't with pants - I have a 27" inseam and a 42" waist. The bitch is getting dress shirts - 18
and a half neck and short friggin arms - 32". Turtle necks work well in winter but not now. A Lands End knit sometimes is too casual.
And, I hate fucking ties...


Sarge

Suzan said...

Joseph Banks? "I know you're gonna like it!"

I used to date guys 6'5" and 6'6" (earlier days when there was more choice, obviously), but I do remember going into Big and Tall stores and making sure that the tailors did a good job.

Neiman Marcus, Saks - great tailors for those "special" occasions (like Ms. Wiggles wedding day?). You'll have time to save up!

Great essay, as usual.

Love ya,

S

Randal Graves said...

If the kids can have the tag dangling from their brand new MLB cap, why can't you do the same? You're ahead of the game, strike a pose.

Akelamalu said...

I'm surprised Dragonwife didn't notice the tag. ;)

Windsmoke. said...

I was gunna say the same as AKELAMALU'S comment :-).

Pixel Peeper said...

Were you my brother in a former life? I totally understand your shopping phobia! I'm wardrobe illiterate. If I were Queen, we'd all be wearing the kind of clothes they wore on Star Trek, seven days a week.

When I got married to my first husband, I wore maternity pants. Before my second wedding, I walked into a clothing store and started looking. When the sales person approached me, wondering if he could help, I said: "I need a dress, I'm going to a wedding."

Fancy, frilly clothing makes me twitchy. I consider khaki pants "dressed up." If I were to get fired from my job, I'd be in trouble...the thought of having to shop for "interview clothes" makes me more nervous than the interview.

John Myste said...

I have a 37 inch sleeve and a size 15 shoe.

If anyone reading this has an extra shoe or an extra sleeve, please contact me and we can work out a trade.

Beach Bum said...

Sarge: Yeah, we have all sorts of big and tall but the main problem there is the quality of the products. Stuff like the sports coat is usually crap and for the jeans they have do not have the usual brands.

Suzan: The main problem was how rushed we ended up with the cruise approaching. Once we got back I sort of just blew the whole thing off since I never do formal events here at home.

Randal: Good point, did not think of that.

Akelamalu and Windsmoke: It was the nature of the cruise and how caught up we were. On those formal nights I had to get back down to the cabin and clean up since I spent 99% of the rest of the time in my bathing suit, t-shirt, and sandals. It was something that neither of us noticed.

And as long as the sleeves of the coat were down you could not see the tag.

Pixel: Exactly! Like I wrote I actually found a very nice sports coat but the damn thing was $250 dollars and I was not going to pay that price.

John: Tell me about it, I'd like to find a trade like that myself.

Ranch Chimp said...

I have heard also Bum like the other's who comment about the Big/ Tall type place's, ... I know locally here (they got a few different type's around Dallas) that many pro- athelete's go there. As far as assuming your a basketball player if I met you face to face ... my first thought would be surely not to piss you off ... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh : ) I'm 5'11" myself. We ALL have a "style", unless of course you run around butt naked : ) right now as I write this I'm wearing my silk Addida's long pant's (baggy) and my old Miami Beach T- shirt and slipper's ... which I will also wear out on the street later today, without the slipper's though : ) ... my hair is past my shoulder's and I rarely ever run a comb through it ... so it's all over the place (thick). I have more damn clothes than I can shake a stick at frankly, alot as gift's from like my daughter's, wife, etc ... so I wont donate them to charity store's, because it would be somewhat insulting, I can wear them while out with familia or whatever ... but I sure as Hell wouldnt wear them to a nightclub/ music venue, or to work on the car heh, heh, heh, heh, heh : ) I have a couple decent suit's, etc ... but you can also dress with just a sport jacket and jean's and still be presentable without wearing a tie or anything or matching slack's ... and be stylish, yet low key, so a person dont have to overdo it. Being a lover of art though ... I am also a fan of style and fashion, especially for women. If you were to dress anything like in the pic in above post ... that "IS" a style! : ) In my opinion Bum ... spending time searching these mega store's like you mentioned, is like wasting time and pissing in the wimd, plus the gas you spend ... they I would guess strictly deal in "volume" and have lil selection as far as big/ tall, being limited. My wife has been with Target for like over 15 year's, so I "do" get alot from there (I get 10% off), as far as my daily wear, and finding fit's for me is easy.

Later Bum ... Oh, and by the way ... Good Morning! : )

Ranch Chimp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soulsearcher said...

Beach Bum, thanks for looking so hard for Wrangler Five Star jeans. As a member of the team at Wrangler that works closely with the retailers you mentioned, I can feel your pain. Unfortunately, sizes in certain shades don't get restocked in local retail locations as perfectly as we'd like. While I can't guarantee what will be in store today, I did some digging this morning and discovered size 38 x 34 is available on Walmart.com in some of the Wrangler Regular Fit Five Star finishes. 38 x 34 is available in Regular and Relaxed Fit on Wrangler.com. If you have any further questions, you can always give us Wrangler a call directly at 1-888-784-8571, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm EST. Or you can email us at wranglerweb@vfc.com. Thanks again for being a loyal customer -- we're proud you're a Wrangler guy.

Life As I Know It Now said...

This story you told about yourself made me laugh! We all do something to embarrass ourselves of course and you are brave enough to share yours with us, thanks! :)

goatman said...

I have one suit and dress shoes which you will see me in if you get married or die -- well, not if you die.

Collin Hinds said...

In my line of work, I am frequently required to wear suit and tie. I pretty much do my fancy clothes shopping at Jos. A. Banks. They always have great deals (2 for 1), and I always get fitted right, but I am 6'1". Funny post. You kept me guessing what the end twist would be.

Jenny Woolf said...

It's strange isn't it how despite the Big and Tall stores being quite easy to find, they tend to mean, really, Big, in all ways. My other half has a similar problem to you, not so tall though and only a 34 inch waist. I'll have to persuade him into a tailor's I suppose, we have a big event coming up soon.

lime said...

i have hated shopping since i was 11 and suddenly developed all sorts of curves. i'm short and curvy in a world full of clothing for tall and willowy women. i'm comfortable with who i am but shopping is a pain in the ass so i feel your pain.

mr. lime is only 6ft tall and his inseam is a 34. i am sort of shocked you're a 34 as well being half a foot taller than he is. as for men's clothes in this house the issue is keeping my son clothed at all. he was 6-2 before he was 16 and still putting on height. the growth spurt that pushed him to 6-2 though was outrageous. every 2 or three months his pants were too short and too tight. and the shoes....lordy, the shoes.....

don't worry too much about the price tag though. i'm sure every one of us has gone out in public with some similar goof of some sort. returning from restroom with back of skirt tucked into pantyhose? check

icyhighs said...

WHAT! Is that Soulsearcher guy real? If so, I'm completely impressed. Always thought Wrangler was a bit redneck, computer-illiterate type brand (no offence to anyone hopefully) but of course it makes perfect sense that a big corporation would monitor the internet I suppose.
And you, Parrothead,you should hop a flight and take off to Laos or Cambodia or something. At 6 feet 6, they'll build a temple for you and offer you goats and stuff. I'm sure America's great, but imagine starting over...as GOD!

Red Nomad OZ said...

HHHMMMmmm... of course I don't understand your problem seeing as Australia leads the world in style. I mean, no one would dream of going into a bar down here without thongs (aka flip-flops/haviainas etc). Or at least putting on a shirt ...