Thursday, 14 May 2009

fashion question

When did tucking in your shirt become a ridiculous gesture? I went to the Y with Imo a couple of days ago, and our squash game ran late. I huffed and puffed through the changeroom, meeting her at the front desk. Her eyes widened when she saw me, and she looked away hurriedly. She kept her head averted as we ran through the parking lot.
What? I demanded. What is wrong? Do I have a thing hanging from my nose? Is my fly undone?
She did that sighing headshake thing that teens use to show that their parents are lamer than lame. Your shirt's tucked in, she said in a low voice.
I looked down and there it was -- a clean flat expanse of black t shirt tucked into my jeans.
So pull it out. Now!
(Honestly, you'd think I had exposed myself at a Remembrance Day assembly.)
I rearranged my clothing and started to explain how the whole thing had happened, my hurry to get changed, pulling on my shirt and then pants without thinking, buttoning while I ran for the door ... and then stopped talking to think.
Whoa, I said. What's wrong with tucking in your shirt?
Everything, she said.
We were in the car now, on our way to pick up dinner.
Uncle Dave tucks in his shirt, I said.
He wears a fancy ass suit, she said. Of course you tuck in your shirt if you are wearing a fancy ass suit. Does he tuck in his shirt at home?
Well, no. (Mind you, Uncle Dave doesn't tuck in anything at home. For my brother, fashion is an on/off switch, not a rheostat. He has banker clothes and hobo clothes, and not much in between. His favorite sweat shirt and running shoes are older than Imo, and are both held together with duct tape.)
Grampa tucks in his shirt, I said.
She raised her eyebrows as if to say, Yes, go on.
Grampa's a styling dude, I said.
Her eyebrows stayed up. In fact my dad is a styling dude, though perhaps a little hidebound. His internal fashion compass hovers around 1978. Nothing wrong with that, and on him it looks good. But I did see Imo's point.
I spent yesterday checking out guys (not a statement I've ever made, now that I think on it) in my small town and the large city nearby. And, apart from one exquisitely dressed person of a sex I could not from a distance ascertain -- apart from (maybe) him, and a private school field trip getting off a bus, the only men in casual dress with their shirts tucked in were, well, old.
And scrolling though online images of guys, the only ones I can see with their shirts tucked in are avatars, like the ones in the picture here.
It doesn't sound right, does it. Surely there are some trendy youngsters out there bold and skinny enough to walk down the street with their shirts in. But I can't find 'em.
What has happened to all of us? Is our current fashion sense due simply to advancing waist size (untuck and cover)? Or is it an unconscious reaction to all the times we heard our parents and teachers tell us to neaten up?
Kipling says somewhere that the Russian is the most agreeable of companions until he tucks in his shirt. The idea being that as the most western of Easterners (the untucked hemisphere) the Russian is fine. But when he pretends to be a Westerner like us, and tucks in his shirt -- Look out. Kipling's politics are usually suspect, but it's an interesting point. Now a hundred years later, as the Chinese economy is supporting the rest of the world, are we Westerners trying to be Eastern?
All right, all right, I said to Imo, when we got out of the car. I promise henceforth to keep my shirt untucked at all times. Will that save you from embarrassment in my presence?
She did the headshake sigh again. Of course not, she said. But it'll help.


Marilyn said...

It's good you have teenagers to keep you in style.
Otherwise you'd be out there all on your own.
And tucking your shirt "in" has been "out" for years.
I'm so glad. I never liked doing it anyway. It was hard to get the back tucked in without twisting the shirt.
There was so much "tuck straightening" to do.

Mary Keenan said...

A friend tipped me off to this rule shortly after T-shirt lengths dropped from tummy-baring to near-minidress levels (I know I am now old, because it horrifies me to see people wearing them this way.) Her trick for remembering: "In is out, and out is in." I myself aim for comfortable.

Richard Scrimger said...

I am well aware of the inness of out t shirts. What I am surprised at is the vehemence of my daughter, and the hundred percentness of the fashionistas. Lapels go in and out, plaids stripes and paisley loom and disappear, the number of suit buttons changes, but the t shirt stays out. Also ,what is with these avatars? As fantasy life forms are they permitted to make forbidden fashion choices?

SplitRail said...

I remember that time you exposed yourself at a Remembrance Day assembly.

I suspect that's why I get wood every November 11th.

Richard Scrimger said...

I'm, um, honoured in your recollection. RS