Clothing Mandatory, Style Optional


Corey Feldman in the 1980s wearing the uniform of the 1980s. In 1984 there was only one jacket and one band.

I have never owned distinctive clothes. I can recognize the use of such things but I never wanted anyone to look at me in public. I don’t want them to ignore me, but I am content if they don’t bother me. I can remember the times I have been chided for things I wore. I had a green sweatshirt, a Generra sweatshirt, where the fabric at the cuffs and collar turned lime in the wash machine. The sweatshirt itself retained a deep green, but the cuff and collar turned lime green. A girl in my class noted this … “your shirt,” she said, “clashes with itself.” The phrase blue and green will never be seen crosses my mind sometimes. I have still have green clothes.

When I dress, sometimes I’m afraid that I look like a park ranger.

I bought a checkered sweater, red and black, and when I was activated for the first Gulf War I packed up my apartment but my mother didn’t have room to take in all of my stuff. She rented the apartment after I left and my things were still there. The woman who moved in their stole my sweater. When I came back from the war, I saw her walking around in my sweater. My mother gave money for a new sweater, but by that time I thought the sweater was too much of something that I didn’t want to be: a woman could wear the sweater for one thing.

In the 1970s I wore hooded sweater shirts (this was before they were called hoodies), usually dark blue, a T-shirt, blue jeans, and brown shoes. My mother always bought a pair of shoes for me from Nordstrom’s. We would go there just to get shoes. It was downtown and sometimes we took the bus or we went there after coming back on the ferry from a trip to visit my grandmother in Bremerton. She double checked that I had on clean and matching socks. The salesman would align my shoe in the sizing contraption, pinching my foot between the calipers. And then he would return with several boxes. I put them on and they were stiff and smelled like new leather. I would walk up and down the plush carpet and stand then in front of the mirror. The distant tinkle of the person playing the piano suffused the floors with a kind dislocated timelessness. After I picked my shoe I wore them. The salesman places my old shoes like relics in the fresh tissue and interned them in the shoe box where they would be stored when we returned home at the back of the closet. Finally some months later thrown I might salvage the box and throw away the old shoes in a cleaning regime. By the time they were thrown out I had forgotten them and my new shoes would be just as worn.

In the 1980s I wore what people wore because, I didn’t want them paying any attention to me whatsoever. I wore a black Members Only jacket, a blue or pink Izod polo shirt, Levis blue jeans, and white Reeboks tennis shoes. I carried at various times cassette players modeled after the Sony Walkman. I never had an actual Walkman, and instead had various much cheaper versions that became misaligned or lost buttons after I dropped them. For the most part I was successfully camouflaged as a stock character of the 1980s, although I was referred to by my classmates as a brain, which was a poorly-coded euphemism for nerd. at the time, I was so removed and carefully concealed from them that I didn’t realize this was their way of opening calling me a nerd. Geek’s came into their own in the 1980s, but were still ridiculed. Geeks wore the same outfit I wore with the addition perhaps of a thick calculator wrist watch, and even on occasion, actual pocket protector in which to carry devices such as protractors and mechanical pencils.

I don’t remember the speed of my clothes wearing out being a problem in the 1980s. But I do not think I wore the same set of clothing for more than a few years at a time. I suppose they wore out. Although I didn’t get taller I changed body shape often enough that I had to change my clothes. In the mid-1980s I started jogging and I became smaller. But then in 1987 I started lifting weights and I became larger and oddly shaped.

In the 1990s, I wore blue jeans and often a white or blue oxford shirt and Keds. My shoes frequently became tattered and had holes in them. My shirts as well lost the thread around the color and sometimes had holes in them. I stopped wearing brand name blue jeans at this time because by the early 1990s I began to shop at CostCo, a warehouse store. I went to the University and then worked entry level jobs for the the entire decade. My wife and I bought a load of groceries from CostCo once a month, and this is also where I acquired my Oxfords and jeans. Occasionally I splurged and bought my Oxford and khakis at The Gap. Like the groceries in my house, I viewed clothes as something to put on my body and to conceal my presence in public, where as clothes I put in my body in order to conceal my hunger. I was not interested in wearing clothes, nor was I interested in culinary experiences.

In the 2000s, I wore Gap and then Old Navy khakis and various corporate casual shirts and brown shoes. I attempted on several occasions to wear Keds or Addidias but these attempts rapidly failed because I worked in offices. I once wore a pair of sandals in the summer to work and it was noted that I needed to have socks on my feet if I was at work. Toward the end of the decade, I stopped shopping at CostCo for clothes. I worked from home and would spend days wearing shorts and t-shirts.

I work at a clothing company eCommerce right now. I was riding in the elevator with tis mix of corporate drones in their carefully selected belts and blazers alongside the IT workers who were dressed. The IT works had put clothes from somewhere on their body.

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