For my 40th birthday I dedicate this post to my parents. My father, the man who showed me how to wear a tie, and my mother, the woman who exclaimed “wait, you own a tie” when one showed up in my Facebook profile picture.
At 40 I’m still trying to figure out how to be an adult. I’ve mastered eating vegetables, cleaning up after myself and keeping a job long enough to own most of my stuff. But somedays I still can’t master dressing myself.
Don’t worry, I’m not going out of the house in torn pants and mismatched socks. When I read “no shirt, no shoes, no service” at a restaurant, I understand that “no pants” is omitted because pants are implied. My problem is convincing myself to occasionally spend a reasonable amount of money on good clothing.
Editor’s note: “Implied Pants” is the name of my “K.D. Lang” cover band.
My business trips often put me in situations where I need to dress better than “cubicle casual” but stay below the “Japanese business negotiations” level of decor. This is where men apply the magic of the blazer, the menswear staple that suddenly turns a t-shirt and jeans into business casual apparel.
Women own the simple black dress. Men have the blazer.
I’ve owned the same blazer since 1997. It’s one the first real piece of menswear I bought after retiring my crappy “blue college interview suit” (red tie sold separately). It fits me well, thanks to recent weight loss, but it’s not a perfect coat. It’s a bit too heavy for hot climates and has a rough lining that isn’t very comfortable when I wear short sleeves.
I did pick up a more casual (and cheaper) tan blazer last year … great over jeans but not right for wearing with slacks. So I made the decision to go to a real men’s store with by wife and spend a reasonable about of. Only on two new jackets.
That sound you hear in the background is the giggling of my female friends. This type of consideration for my clothing is a bit out of character. I live in nerdy t-shirts, warehouse store blue jeans, cargo shorts, casual kilts and free polo shirts bearing needlepoint renditions of computer company logos. The Brian that selects power ties and business suits from his closet when packing for Japan is a discount version of The Bourne Identity (except I keep the same passport and rarely take on entire embassies in unarmed combat).
When I do wander into this shopping realm I take on another unusual characteristic … I spend money on clothes. Not extravagant amounts of cash, but it’s one of those times where I won’t sacrifice lower quality for lower cost. This type of clothing is an investment, one I don’t want to make very often. Even if there is a cheaper jacket in the store, the one with a better cut or fabric is worth a few extra bucks to me.
Those Japanese-grade business suits I bought over ten years ago still hang in my closet. Those two garments have seen more miles than Marco Polo and are the staple of my formal wardrobe. When I need a suit on a business trip I’m not wearing it, I’m living in it all day. The same applies to the sport coat, which I am wearing as I type this odd fashion article.
Quick upgrade to my wardrobe … extra set of pockets when I travel … additional layer of clothing when the weather changes … the blazer wins on many levels. I have to respect any garment that turns my Costco jeans and free polo shirt into proper dinner attire.