Stuff I’ve Never Worn
By Patrick F. Cannon
I’m not too quick to adopt new styles of dress or grooming. In fact, quite a few trends have come and gone while I decided whether or not to catch the wave. Here are just a few.
I never wore a Nehru jacket. While they looked good on him, I was never convinced that the look was appropriate in America’s heartland. Besides, I owned dozens of ties and worked for a company that preferred its executives to look more like the man in the gray flannel suit. Since Nehru wasn’t hiring in Chicago at the time, I took a pass.
I’m afraid I did buy a double-knit suit and sports coat when they were in vogue in the 60s. The suit wasn’t so bad, but I remember looking in the mirror one morning and asking myself why on earth I hadn’t noticed that the sports coat was orange – maybe the lighting at Marshall Fields was deceptive. I never wore it again. As for the suit, it started pilling after a few cleanings, so I donated it to the Salvation Army, that sad repository of failed fashion. Ever after, I’ve worn only all-wool or all-cotton suits.
Apropos of plastic, I never owned either a white belt or white patent leather shoes. I rather regret this, since it’s obvious that they would have lasted forever (based on what one sees in places where senior citizens gather).
This may seem perverse, but once I grew up, I never wore jeans again. In my mind, they’re associated with cowboys, laborers and kids. Isn’t there something vaguely silly about a sixty-year-old man (or woman) wandering around in blue jeans? (I know. Wandering around in anything but jeans seems silly to the majority.)
I have never worn a tie shaped like a fish, nor one that advertises a product, or celebrates a holiday like Christmas. I am guilty of wearing a tie with shamrocks (small, discrete ones) on St. Patrick’s Day. I owned a similar pair of socks, but even my Irish heritage wouldn’t get them on my feet.
I was drafted into the Army, thank God, so I never had to wear bell-bottomed trousers. Why so many non-sailors chose to wear them in the 60s and 70s is still a mystery to me. Ditto for the tie-dyed shirts that seemed to go with them and the horrendously clunky shoes that completed the look.
Those, of course, were the days of “flower power,” a definite insult to flowers everywhere. Men took to long hair, a fashion that persists in some quarters, along with biblical beards. Aging hippies can still be spotted on the streets, their graying, thinning hair gathered by a rubber band into a lank and ancient ponytail. The parents they were rebelling against are either dead or too old to care.
The rebellious young people of today seem inclined to basic black, bare flesh and mutilation. The earrings that sprouted on young men in the 70s have been augmented (in both sexes) by more ambitious piercings. Today, one sees rings and other hardware in eyebrows, lips, navels and tongues (and, I’m told, in more naughty places). And tattoos, of course, are epidemic.
These aren’t the tattoos that sailors have sported for generations. A well-bred young lady might have a charming butterfly on her shoulder or lower back or next to her navel, all areas in plain view these days. My son, for reasons known only to him, has a smiley face on his shoulder. I rejoice in this, for some parents see lurid skulls (or worse) on the fronts and/or backs of their sons and, increasingly, daughters.
I’ve never been even faintly tempted to get a tattoo. Frankly, I’m stuck in a time warp. When I was in high school, the so-called “Ivy League” look was au courant. For me, it has never quite left. Most of my dress and casual shirts still have button-down collars. My suits have natural shoulders and I have always owned a blazer. Stripes dominate my tie rack. My dress shoes could have been made anytime in the last 50 years. You won’t be surprised to discover that I wear no jewelry. Even my watches had leather bands until I developed an allergy. And the thought of wearing one of those “skinny” suits with the short trousers and sleeves gives me the horrors
I find all this very comforting. Everything I’ve always worn is still being sold (although I have to concede that ties do seem to expand and contract a bit in width from decade to decade). So, if you see a gentleman of a certain age wearing powder blue linen slacks and a green silk shirt, with a pink sweater casually tied over his shoulders (along with Italian loafers but no socks), you can be confident it ‘s not me.
Copyright 2015, Patrick F. Cannon