Getting lost on the way to following fashion

And nope, my clothes didn’t match. They usually don’t when she’s not around to catch me sneaking out the door with my thrown-together combination of whatever I’m wearing.

“Mr. Stallard, is your wife out of town?”

An innocent enough question coming from a student, although it kind of threw me off track coming in the middle of class that way.  

“Well, yeah, but how did you know?” I asked, puzzled. 

“’Cause your clothes don’t match.”

Ah. Clarity. Yes, my wife was out of town, and yes, I’d dressed myself that morning.

And nope, my clothes didn’t match. They usually don’t when she’s not around to catch me sneaking out the door with my thrown-together combination of whatever I’m wearing. She’s even gone as far as to lay out my clothes for the next day before we hit the sack the night before, just to make sure I’m presentable to my students. 

I wanted to tell the student she should have known me before my wife came around. My classroom outfits usually included some strange-patterned Hawaiian shirt and jeans. Sometimes the jeans were clean. 

No one has ever used the word “fashion” and my name in the same sentence unless they inserted “escapes” between the two. Blame it on my time in the Marine Corps. I never wondered what I was going to wear in those days. I never stood in front of my closet wondering, “Hmm. What would match this camo? I know. More camo.”

Even now, I’m not much for buying clothes. If it fits and is comfortable, I’m good. I don’t even bother looking at the label. 

In fact, I could have lived my entire life hiding behind the bliss of fashion ignorance were it not for a couple of simple facts:

I got married. We have daughters. 

Dude. I know far more about designers than I ever wanted to know. I know Coach isn’t the guy calling plays on the sidelines, Coco doesn’t go in my milk and Kors doesn’t come in a can. 

I could have lived every one of my remaining days without knowing any of those. 

Women, however, are a different species when it comes to fashion. I might get confused trying to keep track of all the designer names, but women know those names like their own circle of friends, and they often call them by one name. Versace. Armani. Dior. Dolce and Gabbana. (Didn’t they play for the Cowboys?) I thought Kate Spade sounded like a female detective. Probably related to Sam. 

On the other hand, my daily attire almost always falls under the same few labels. Columbia and Nike. (I don’t know their first names.) Armour. (His first name is “Under.”) I don’t see much need to dress up save for the annual “Holiday, Hope and Honor” celebration with the Angelina College Chorale, at which I’ve served as host for the past two years. For that event — and that event only — I don a tuxedo. I look like a large, escaped penguin. Once the show is over and my duties complete, I shed that tux as quickly as possible. I’m pretty much half-nekked by the time I make my way through the parking lot. 

I don’t like wearing a tie, either. To me, it’s just a legal noose. 

Nope. Fashion just ain’t me.

But with the ladies in my life, it is ... to a point. Thankfully, they don’t get all crazy about it. Have you seen some of the price tags on some of those dresses? Lord have mercy. I’d have to hock my house to pay for it if any of my ladies wanted it.

My wife and daughters do, however, look for specific brands/designers when picking out their clothes. And I’ve learned it’s not about the name, but more about the way whatever they’re wearing fits. It’s more about the quality of the clothing, according to my wife. She’s bought knock-off lookalikes that didn’t fit right or last long. 

Our daughter Aimee agreed. 

“I go by what fits me best, and things I know are quality,” Aimee told me. “I guess some people like the name recognition, to be able to say they have a certain type of purse or something. But a lot of us go for brands that have proven themselves to last longer and fit better.”

Hey, I think I get it now. Sort of like the time I thought I was buying a pair of Levi’s jeans and ended up with Elvis jeans instead. Shoulda read that label a little closer — they have the same letters — and maybe I’d have had more room in the hips. 

So now that I’ve established the reason for women following specific brands, my next question was more direct. Why, I asked my lady, are you ladies so concerned with how you look? I mean, dang, women will do their hair, put on makeup or wear decent clothes just to run errands around town. Guys? Slap on a cap and a pair of flip-flops, and we’re good. 

From what I can grasp, it all boils down to a woman’s confidence. Lord knows they’re hard on themselves when it comes to their appearance. Blame it on the standards current culture sets, basically saying that only women of a certain body type, hair style or other superficial measures can be considered beautiful. 

For the average woman not pictured on a billboard or major magazine cover, trying to keep up can be daunting. That’s why they make the effort to look good. As Susie said, a compliment from one’s spouse or co-workers can provide a huge lift to one’s day. A confident lady exudes her own sort of beauty. We guys can think they look awesome no matter what they’re wearing, but for us to notice their effort is something special. 

I also know how many times my own wife has dressed up a certain way just for me. That’s my compliment: for her to think enough of me to want to look her best, knowing I’ll be the only one seeing her. 

Guys, believe me, you just can’t put a label on a feeling like that. 

That Gucci dude can play on my team any time.