June 20 • 03:30 PM

Making sense of fashion sense

April 23, 2008
For most of my academic life, which included high school, college and my teaching career, I wore a tie, sports coat and slacks. About as close as I came to making a fashion statement was in the 60s when, for a brief time, I actually wore a leisure suit. Until I retired from teaching though, I dressed in what my sons called "good clothes."

This began when I went away to school and students were required to wear a shirt and tie, a habit which I continued when I went away to college. I remember one morning coming down to breakfast so dressed and confused some of my dorm mates who apparently thought I had been out all night. Still, old habits are hard to break and I continued with the style throughout my teaching career, which at least helped to cement the distinction between teacher and student.

When I finally retired I quit wearing a tie and saved the dress shirt and sports coat for school board meetings and special occasions. The only time I ever wore a tux was for the sons' weddings and I really don't think I'll repeat the performance.

My older son Chris is a lawyer and works for the government, so he tends to wear clothing appropriate to the profession, whereas my younger son, a teacher, is a lot less formal in his dress.

When Chris attended Imlay City High School he did his best to make a fashion statement, although I don't recall him ever wearing anything as formal as his father. Nevertheless, when I was growing up I did pay some attention to what I wore and once in awhile this included whatever was popular at the time. Usually we consulted Playboy or Esquire for guidance.

I recall when I was in junior high that pink shirts were all the rage and for awhile my friend Bob and I wore ours, although like other fashions the pink shirt faded from the scene.

During this period Bob and I used to go out on Friday nights and for those nights on the town dressed up in our best clothes. One year Bob decided to cash in a savings bond and outfit himself and I remember spending one day visiting Ann Arbor's best clothing stores building his outfit. The bond money was being saved for college and I'm not sure Bob's mother ever found out that it has been used for clothes but if she did I'm sure Bob heard about it.

Now that I have retired I have gone to wool shirts, sweaters and string ties and unless confronting some special occasion have to be dragged kicking and screaming into more formal attire.

I don't usually follow the fashion magazines today and about the closest I get to keeping up is to check out the Lands End or Cabella's catalogues for advice. As for what other people wear I don't usually pay much attention, although when I visit Ann Arbor today and check out the student dress I am usually appalled at what the kids are wearing. Not only is it not possible to tell the boys from the girls but tattoos and nose rings seem to be popular.

Why anybody would want to wear a tattoo or some form of body piercing is beyond me. When I went to college girls wore sweaters and skirts and boys slacks and dress shirts. Today they seem to wear whatever falls out of the closet first.

They all wear jeans of course and actually spend a small fortune on ones which are ripped and have holes in them. Whatever else they add to their ragtag outfits the overall impression is one of total chaos.

The clothes I guess I can adjust to, but not the tattoos and the piercing. I remember when my sister had her ear lobes pierced my mother thought she had scarred herself for life but we got used to it and now it isn't such a big deal. But doing that to other parts of the body is too much, especially if I have to look at it and that especially includes tongues and other parts of the female anatomy which I won't go into since this is, after all, a family newspaper. I just hope by the time my granddaughter enters high school this trend toward self mutilation will have passed from the scene. Meantime I will stick to my string ties, wool shirts and sweaters, thank you.

Castle Creek
06 - 20 - 19
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