Fashion Notes From a Guy

I don’t like to shop for clothes. This would be obvious if you met me. It’s why most of my clothes date from the early days of the Nixon administration, when I had a girlfriend, and a mom, who shopped for me. Bellbottoms, anyone?

Actually, the bellbottoms are long gone. One was depeditated decades ago by a powerful lawnmower on a horrible summer job working for a Serbian landscape king. Don’t even ask. The rest I threw out the next day.

Why do I hate shopping for clothes? First off, I don’t know what looks good on me. Or what looks good at all. All I trust myself to buy is blue jeans, and frankly, not even that.

I read The New Yorker. I see their fashion ads featuring underweight men with no fat on their cheeks except four days of beard.

This is hip now? This is sexy?

I’ll tell you the truth: I haven’t been on a date since the last time I bought pants, but if I did go on a date, I wouldn’t do it with four days beard. I’d either grow a beard or cut it off.

OK, I’m out of touch. I know that. For instance, I shaved to prepare to write this column. Pass your hand along one of my smooth cheeks, if you dare. OK, that’s enough.

Take for another instance, my socks. I hate to shop for clothes so much that I won’t even wear my favorite socks.

Let me explain. I’m a runner. I run for my daily exercise. I used to run marathons, but now, at my advanced age, I settle for a few pottles around the block.

Yeah, pottles. A pottle is “about a half gallon of liquid.” OK? That’s about what I sweat, pottling around the block.

So naturally, what with pottling and gardening and all the other strenuous activities I can stand (vacuuming is all that comes to mind), I wear out socks pretty quickly. But not my favorite socks. These are three pairs of socks I bought years ago in Vermont. They are thick and fluffy and wonderful on the foot, and have a secret sign on top. I never wear these socks.

Why? Because I want to know I have them in the sock drawer.

I know, I know — you don’t have to tell me — I could go to another store here in Denver, 2,000 miles away from Vermont, and buy more socks. Even these exact same socks. I could buy unlimited pairs of these socks. I could buy a gross (144 pairs) of them. I could stack them in my closet, three-by-three in their plastic bags, until they overtop mine own self, and bury me in plastic-covered socks.

But I won’t even buy one more pair of these socks — that’s how much I hate to shop for clothes.

Shoes are something else. I will buy shoes, but only what we used to call tennis shoes. What do they call them now? Running shoes? Athletic shoes? “Cross-training” shoes?


Listen to me, now. I used to be a track coach. If you run for exercise, to keep yourself alive, or any other reason, you should trade in your old shoes after 300 to 500 miles. Use the old shoes to go shopping and mow the lawn and schlep around the house. Vacuum your carpets in those shoes. Walk the dog. But buy new ones after 300 to 500 miles. That’s what I do. That’s why my house is so full of old tennis shoes I’m choking on the goddam …

Excuse me. I’m sorry. I am an opinion columnist for a respected publisher of legal news. I am not a fashion columnist. Though perhaps I should be. Were I a fashion columnist, for The New Yorker, for instance, I might say, with reason, “Why aren’t those skinny men with four-day beards and their four top buttons open exposing their pathetic, bony chests, not wearing socks? Can I have their socks?”

Thank you.

This column is over.

(Courthouse News columnist Robert Kahn is resting comfortably at the Center for the Unfashionably Bewildered. If you, too, suffer from his ailment, please send him money. As much money as you can. Do not send socks.)

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