You really call that stylin’? Let's talk about some real clothes!

Posted 12/3/17

Recently, I was watching a particular news channel  — I am a news junkie — and began noticing a strange phenomenon.It seemed the men were obsessed with their socks — yes, socks — socks …

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You really call that stylin’? Let's talk about some real clothes!

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Recently, I was watching a particular news channel  — I am a news junkie — and began noticing a strange phenomenon.

It seemed the men were obsessed with their socks — yes, socks — socks of fluorescent, bright colors.

Now, I believe in being fashionable and I know change makes the world go around, but it also makes the bank accounts of designers and retail shops larger.

Throughout the years, I remember being told to hang on to my old clothes because they will eventually come back in style.

I love ties. In my opinion, a new tie will make an old suit impressive. The more colorful the tie, the better I like them.

I began wearing a suit in high school. I kept my coat and tie in the car and when the last bell rang, I was off to work, placing fashionable shoes on the feet of the ladies who graced our store.

Buying clothes in those days was a pastime. What else was a young boy to spend his money on, but his car, girl and clothes?

My best friend, Barry, worked at the store with me. We always tried to outdress the other.  

When it came time for a break, we were usually in the clothing stores at the mall, checking out the threads, mostly on the tie rack.

It was not uncommon to come to work wearing a tie, then leave with a completely different one, due to a shopping spree at supper break.

Yes, fashion was on our mind constantly. 

Westgate Mall had two men's stores, Stags and Gents. Both were owned by the same man. 

Gents was the high end unit and carried up-to-date fashionable clothing, while Stags took the overflow from Gents with a little less pricey merchandise.

I remember one afternoon, I walked down the mall to Stags and began browsing the tie rack when I was greeted by the sales guy. 

Sammie was his name. We weren't best friends, but acquaintances. 

Stags was a one-man store and I knew him from working there.

This particular day, as I was browsing, Sammie politely asked if I needed a tie. I responded that I was just seeing what he had, to which he said, "Take as many as you want for $5."

No questions asked. I left the store with a new wardrobe of ties.

I was in a suit most of my adult life. I loved wearing a suit. A suit, as they say, makes a man.

People asked my wife if I cut grass in my suit because I was hardly ever seen in jeans.

As I think about the news commentators and their obsession with brightly colored socks, my memory takes me back to my school days.

The fad, as we called it, was brightly colored short-sleeve, button-down, collared, oxford shirts with a loop on the back. All the guys wore Levi’s and penny loafers, too.

My next statement is going to shock a few and bring back memories to others. I can remember being able to purchase a pair of Levi jeans for $7.99.

You read correctly: $7.99. Oh, the good old days!

Our oxford shirts were bright yellow, pink and baby blue, and you never wore those shirts without socks to match.

Spiffy we were, and the heads of the young girls turned as these fashionable dudes strolled through the hallways to class each day.

Now, there was one fad that applied to the girls in those early days of my childhood that I never quite understood. The girls wanted the loops from the shirts that the fashionable boys wore.

It seemed that they collected these loops and it didn’t matter whether you were a popular guy or some guy on a trip to make himself that way. They just wanted your loop.

A collection of sorts, they were building.

If the young female knew what she was doing, the loop was pulled, a snap was heard and the shirt stayed completely intact; however, there were occasions when a ripping sound came from your back as the tugging began.

At this point a small tear was now where the loop was originally attached and the shirt had a hole in it, warranting an explanation upon arrival at home to Mom.

The high-fashion days of the early 1960s, for the most part, took a downturn to the world of casual wear for the younger generation.

I have never liked the casual Friday look, which has turned into casual Monday-through-Friday now. And even when people dress up, the professional look, for the most part, is just not there.

Dark suits with tan shoes, suits where the coat is so short it looks as though you are wearing clothing from the children’s department.

Oh, how we succumb to fashion.

Change can start slowly, but let's begin by having Dress Professional Monday or Looking Good Tuesdays, and see if the trend catches on.

I never felt professional if I wasn’t dressed professionally. It simply made me feel good about myself.

Today I am retired and seldom wear a tie, unless it is to a funeral or wedding. 

At times, I walk through a men’s store simply to reminisce.

Oh, back to the socks. Come on, yellow socks with a dress suit? Who can trust a news commentator who wears yellow socks?

———

(About the writer:  Gary Matheny is retired after a long career in the pharmaceutical industry.  Now a Cleveland resident, he is the author of two books: "If The Shoe Fits" and "The Bullet." He also writes a popular blog, "Life Happens." Email him at gary.matheny@yahoo.com and follow him at his website www.garymatheny.net.)

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