Turn to the left
Turn to the right
~ David Bowie
When I was a kid, I owned a pair of blue and white dress shoes. Did I say, kid? I was in the vicinity of 6th grade, give or take, making me 13 years old, give or take. I was at an age when I was allowed to make my own choices. These shoes were not imposed upon me. Unlike some of the clothing I wore, these were not hand me downs from one of my neighbors. These were a conscious choice, my conscious choice.
I selected them from the store window of a shoe shop and told the salesman what size I wanted. Most dress shoes were sold with the aid of a salesman in the 1970s from shoe specific stores. The salesman disappeared into the back room and would hopefully emerge with a box containing both the style and the requested size. It was always a guessing game as to whether or not the shoe was in stock.
He returned, box in hand, and slipped the shoe on my feet with the aid of a shoe horn. My mom was somewhat fanatical about not breaking down the backs of our shoes so we had shoehorns in my home which were used when she was watching. Otherwise, boys will be boys.
Once on our feet, we walked a few steps and passed judgment on whether or not they fit. I knew these were winners the moment I put them on. My step was a bit more lively than typical for a sullen teenager. I liked the shoes. They were mine. They were my choice. They were different. They were a reflection of my personal taste.
Fast forward to the next day of school. I was outfitted in my school uniform, the same uniform I had worn every school day since 1st grade, light blue button down shirt, navy blue trousers, navy blue tie, this time with my styling new shoes. My different shoes. Different doesn’t go over very well in grammar school. I was teased about my new shoes. I caught flak from all directions when people threw verbal bombs in my direction. Even my race was questioned because shoes of the type I was wearing were not worn by white people.
I don’t recall in the four decades since ever making a nonstandard fashion choice. Nonstandard by suburban standards. I wore ‘normal’ black, gray, brown, blue, white clothing at home and work, ‘normal’ black or brown shoes in the office, had a ‘normal’ haircut except for a couple of times in the 80s. Nothing about me stuck out from those around me, from the typical suburban wardrobe. I lived a ‘normal’ suburban fashion life…until, that is, I moved to Chicago and took a job downtown six weeks ago.
Along with the new job, came a change in wardrobe. If I was going to work in the city, in the urban jungle where hip, trendy fashion is accepted as well as expected I decided I was going to choose clothing with more distinction, more pizazz, clothing that was more an expression of me, clothing not bounded by suburban drab.
Now, I shun suburban chic for a decidedly urban look, a look that allows me to express myself in a way I haven’t since 6th grade. I have finally grown the courage to ignore my long ago tormenters. I have molted the suburban feathers and donned feathers of a different hue, a more colorful hue. One of the great things about being a human bird is that I can change my plumage into completely different variants day after day after day.
One day this his week, for the office, I wore pants of a muted red rolled twice at the ankle, beige shoes with red laces and an almost matching beige belt, it’s very difficult finding belts that match shoes, multicolored socks depicting a famous art scene, and a styling blue banded watch with a red face. The pants are the biggest wardrobe stretch I have made to date. I like the look. I need to buy more colorful pants. I like many of the looks I put together these days. I dress to make a statement that says this is David.
The bold rim glasses are a recent addition and have replaced the narrow, black wire frames I wore for at minimum 20 years. And the hair style is evolving. Not sure where it’s going yet but urbanization is happening.
According to my wife, I have become a shoe whore. She bases this on the fact that I purchased a half dozen pair of hip, urban shoes, including a pointy pair and a saddle shoe, in the past few months and regularly check out the DSW sale racks in hopes of finding nonsuburban looking shoes at a decent price. I now separate clothing looks into urban versus suburban. If it smells of suburban I turn away.
I have recently caught myself matching my clothing to the shoes I want to wear on a particular day. Shoes drive my look instead of the look determining the shoes. Perhaps, there is some truth to her assessment. She has ten times the shoes I have so she is an expert in the show whore arena. She has even used the term metrosexual and my name in the same sentence. That’s something I’ve never previously heard.
I typically match my clothing to the shoes I want to wear on a particular day. Shoes drive the look instead of the look determining the shoes. Perhaps, there is some truth to her assessment. She has ten times the shoes I have so she is an expert in this arena. She has even used the term metrosexual and my name in the same sentence. That’s something I’ve never previously heard.
When I dress for work, I wear at least one article that adds an accent of color such as a pink dress shirt, such as my red pants, such as a turquoise leather bracelet, such as a couple of watches I own with colorful bands.
My news aggregator has grown to include men’s fashion magazines including GQ. I scan the pages for fashion ideas. I won’t pay the ridiculous prices for the items shown but discover looks that appeal to me. I don’t need to be cutting edge only cutting me. I foresee a continuing plumage evolution in my future.