Sunday, February 13, 2011

The First Great Secret

(Part One of the series "Dressing the Average Guy.")
Chapter 1
My Valentine's Day present for all of you, my newest, bestest Average Guy friends, is to share with you a Great Secret, the first of many such secrets you will learn. This "insider intel" (shh--don't tell anyone,) known to a select few, will among other things, unlock the secrets of male/female relationships to you forever, the intricacies of which are completely lost on the, well, average Average Guy. Here it is -- lean in close and I shall whisper it to you.

The purpose of clothing -- the very reason for the existence of raiment itself -- is to make you look better than you really do. 

It's not just to cover you up and make you warm. Imagine that! Short men can look taller -- Skinny men can look athletic -- Fat men can look thinner. Girls understand this concept inherently, and use it to their benefit.

It is important to know something, before we continue: Women do not dress to impress you. Women dress to impress each other, and could not care one whit what you think about the matter. This is because women know their dog has more fashion sense than you do. How do they come to this conclusion? By simple observation. Want proof? Take the opportunity to look around you this Valentine's Day, and pay close attention to the couples walking around, going about their business. (Don't be too obvious about this -- if you end up getting arrested, I'll deny everything.)

Notice that the womanly half of the equation is pretty well put together, by men's standards. Her hair is combed, for instance, and probably cut into a pleasing style. She wears clothes that are clean, pressed, match in color and pattern, fit without unsightly bags and wrinkles, and are appropriate to wherever she happens to be. She accessorizes with various shiny bits and baubles that add to the elegant effect of the ensemble. Her shoes, (even though they may look like medieval torture devices, with buckles, straps, and spikes,) are made with art and quality. Notice, too, that the total effect is to make the gal look somewhat attractive. That is, the overall goal of the exercise is not to make herself look short and dumpy and shapeless.

Now, (if you can pull yourself away from your ogling -- shame on you,) direct your gaze to a man that accompanies one of these beautiful visions. By comparison, he looks as if he just crawled out of a bog after a nap following a rugby tournament. His hair is unkempt, too long, disheveled, even greasy looking. Several days of stubble sprout from his chin. The extent of his upper attire is a tee-shirt, usually in black or grey, with a corporate logo or pithy witticism thereupon, unwashed, untucked. A baseball cap may sit upon his head, apparently serving no function other than to inadvertently spare the general public from having to see too much of his hair. Below the waist, he wears jeans of some shade of blue, or chinos, or shorts, tatty and ragged. His pants sit somewhere about his lower hips, the excess length pooling around his ankles, as if his trousers are trying desperately to somehow escape from the service it has been forced to do by hurling itself to the ground. His pants drag behind him on the floor, dirty and threadbare. And under the pants, some form of athletic shoe.

Notice, too, that this couple, side-by-side, look completely out of balance. The gal looks more mature, more put together, and older. The guy, despite his actual age, why, he looks like a child tagging along behind his mother, shuffling his feet in obstinance.

Now look at yourself in the mirror.

The problem starts in childhood: attention isn't
properly paid to boys' attire.

Boys don't learn proper dress, so as they grow,
they perpetuate the errors of their youth.
Everything a man wears, without correction,
becomes an extension of his childhood dress.
Even the most formalized event
becomes variation on a slovenly theme.
Girls, of course, know that left to yourself, you'd dress like this all the time, so they dress for their friends -- and when your presence would embarrass them in front of their friends, they try to dress you.

But now -- well, now, you know the Great Secret, don't you? Starting today, (and what better time than Valentine's Day,) start dressing for the opposite sex. You're not a slave to the unflattering tee-shirt, that emphasizes your skinny biceps and beer gut! You're not beholden to loose, flappy jeans that make you stubby legs and all torso!

But how do you start? I understand this may be all too much at first. The room spins, the world turns upside down, nothing is as it was! Sit down, breathe into a paper bag, and relax. I'm here for you.

Start out slow. For starters, get a haircut. Trust me on this. Cut it, wash it, comb it. Shave, shower, use a deodorant. Get your own body clean and in order.

Now, mimic the same techniques that women use to care for their own clothes. Don't worry about changing your wardrobe yet -- just use what you have. Wash it, press it, hang it. Wait -- press it? You got it, Sparky, learn to use an iron. Clean your shoes, really scrub 'em down. Now, take what you have, and the next time you get dressed, instead of just throwing it on, take some thought to pick out what goes together.

So what's the point of this exercise? Simply, before you can improve yourself, you have to have the positive intention to do so. In point of fact, how you wear your clothes is more important than what clothes you wear -- a theory to which we will give some attention next time. So give it a try, wear what you have with care and attention, and see if you don't notice an immediate difference between now and the next time we see each other.

Click here to go to the next essay chronologically, Part Two of Dressing the Average Guy.

Click here to go back to the beginning.


  1. To which one should certainly add Mark Twain's observation that "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society."

  2. I never did read anything else which was comparable good and true!