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Make the Man

Your Humble Blogger has been meaning to write about You Don’t Have to Be Pretty, an Erin McKean note I came across recently (don’t remember who linked to it) and which has been on my mind. For those of you who don’t know Ms. McKean (or know her work—I think there are Gentle Readers who know her socially, but that’s not relevant at the moment) among other things she has written a Dress a Day blog for years and years. She cares about how she looks, and how other people look. And she has to remind people that they don’t have to be pretty.

Probably all the Gentle Readers of this Tohu Bohu are aware, on some level at least, of what a no-win situation appearance is. You can conform to social expectations and suffer contempt for your conformity. You can withstand the pressure to conform and suffer ostracization for your strangeness. You can be attractive and suffer jealousy and objectification. You can be unattractive and suffer discrimination and rejection. It’s all bad.

On the other hand, while everyone is bound to lose, alas, in our screwed up world, everyone is not bound to lose all the time with everyone. We manage, somehow, despite everything. We like each other, somehow. We overcome, somehow, the terrible stupidity of our fashions. Or some of us do, or we do some of the time, with some people. We are insulted and made to feel inferior, it’s true—but we aren’t always insulting each other. Nobody escapes, but some of us survive, and in fact, many of us only suffer intermittently, at longer and longer intervals. Thank goodness.

This whole thing has been worrying at me, or I’ve been worrying at it, because (a) I’m a guy, and not addressed specifically by Ms. McKean’s excellent note; and (2) I’m a bit of a dandy, and put a good deal of effort into my clothes. So I get an odd sideways buffet from our culture’s focus on attractiveness and fashion.

For those Gentle Readers who don’t know me, I am usually dressed in either a grey suit or grey slacks and a waistcoat, with a dress shirt and a tie, most often a bow tie. When I’m outdoors, I wear a hat—a fedora for three seasons, and a straw hat in the summer. A few years ago, I phased out most of my white shirts in favor of dark-colored or vertically striped shirts; I have since acquired a couple of white shirts, for occasions and outfits that demand them, but mostly not. Here’s a reasonably representative sample:


I am, as you can imagine, often asked by people who don’t know me well, why do you dress like that, to which I usually respond I think it looks good on me. …and they all move away from me on the bench. But, in fact, I think this style looks good on me, or at least, looks better on me than another style would. And I care about that—I want to have a Look, and I want it to look good. I could wear khakis and t-shirts when I’m not at work, and khakis and not-quite-t-shirts when I am at work, but I don’t think men in general look good like that, and I’m quite sure I don’t. And I prefer to look good.

Do I think I have to be pretty? Do I think, in Ms. McKean’s words about the pressure on women, that I owe it to onlookers to maintain a certain standard of decorativeness? No. I don’t really think people care, and if anything, people are put off by my daily adherence to My Look. But I would rather look good than look lousy.

And, honestly, I think that people ought to prefer looking good to looking lousy. I don’t think that people owe decorativeness to me, personally, and if they want to look lousy, or if they don’t want to take extra time to dress, or if it’s more important to them to support some thing (a cause or an alma mater or an idea) with a t-shirt, I don’t resent it. It’s their choice, their haircuts and spectacles and tans and even their tattoos and piercings. I keep in mind that don’t know anything about the lives of the people I see at my place of employment or at my child’s school that might lead me to have a sensible opinion about what informs their choices. I know that some people think they look good when I think they look lousy, and that other people for whatever reason think their comfort and their look are incompatible and they must have, for whatever section of the day I see them, have chosen one over the other.

And yet. I think that a lot of people have let their satisficing down to a level between invisibility and not-looking-hideous. I find this saddening. I want to advise the college kids and young parents to spend just a little time finding a Look that is both comfortable and attractive, and then spend just a little time more time in dressing to make that look happen. It doesn’t have to be expensive (the Divine knows I spend next to nothing on my clothes) (well, other than my hats, and my summer hat this year was less than $20) and it certainly doesn’t have to be uncomfortable (I do not wear anything uncomfortable) and it doesn’t have to be fashionable. You don’t have to lose weight or work out. You don’t have to expose any bits of you that you would rather not expose. You can still look good.

And yet, you know, you don’t have to be pretty. I know, I know. Wanting to look good is part of the whole problem. And yet, wanting to look good is so obviously better than wanting to look lousy. I’m conflicted about this. I can’t think that most young people wearing t-shirts and jeans most of the time is solving anything, making anyone feel happier and better about themselves. At the same time, the pressure on people to be pretty (or handsome or stylish or fashionable or thin or tall or curvy or buff) is terrible.

I don’t have any answers. All I have, really, is my own experience: I dress up because I think I look better when I am dressed up, and it makes me happier to look good than to look lousy. That may apply to other people, too. You don’t have to be pretty—but you may find that effort put in to your style pays off in your happiness.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


I love wearing a suit. I've been delighted the few times I've worn a tuxedo or a morning suit. I own a suit that I love, and an excellent jacket (the one I wore for my wedding, in fact), and several dress shirts, and too many ties.

But wearing a jacket makes my shoulders and back hurt. This has been true for many years, and has been true with any jacket at all. I don't know why. 20 minutes in a suit is fine. An hour is sometimes ok. Three hours, and I'm in pain afterwards for the next day or two. Six or eight hours, and I may have trouble walking for a week.

So I rarely wear the suit I love, and I don't shop for new suits, and I dread occasions when I have to wear a suit. And an occasion comes up, and I put on my suit, and I wish anew that I could dress like that all the time. I'm terribly jealous of those who can, and grateful that I live in a time when many men don't.

Man, if this was swapa I would write you a page of comments in response to this zine. But this is the internet so I will try to keep it brief.

A couple of years ago my mom told me I should go buy a skirt. Why, I said, I have skirts, I don't especially need another skirt right now. But, she said, long skirts are in right now, and I know you like long skirts, so if you shopped for one right now, you'd have lots of choices, which you won't, when they're not in.

You happen to favor a fairly "timeless" Look - the colors/stripes maybe a little less so than the white shirts, and I'm sure there are subtleties of lapel width to which I'm oblivious, but I suspect that you could walk into a men's clothing store at any point in the past century and find more or less the kind of thing you wear. Also you can buy your pants using numbers.

"Spend just a little more time" for some of us might mean "scour a dozen stores for something that doesn't exist this year". (Or this decade. I haven't found a pair of pants with a waist as high as I like in at least ten years. The SNL "mom jeans" sketch aired in 2003. Too bad if that was your Look, that Look has been deemed ineligible for purchase.) Sure, it would be great if comfortable, attractive, practical, affordable clothes existed! Made by workers paid a living wage, out of sustainably harvested materials, sold in small boutiques lit by non-fluorescent lights where polite sales assistants helped you find things! Free pony with every purchase.

Well, yeah, I'm a guy. I am aware of that. I am also aware that I'm of more or less average height, weight and figure. And I'm a guy. The shopping thing is much, much easier for me than for lots of other people. So there's that. And also I work in a library, so I'm not really wearing out clothes (other than shoes); I wear trousers and shirts for years, usually, before I have to give them up. It's a luxury I have, and that I make use of.

The "spend just a little more time" comment was not about shopping, though, but about preparing to go out. I don't have an answer to the shopping thing—fight the patriarchy, support labour, expose bad practices, but of course none of that is going to help in the short term. In the short term, I'm afraid, your mother is right—buy stuff when it's in fashion, and wear it when it's out of fashion. Straw hats this summer, which is awesome for me, even if they aren't exactly what I would choose.

I don't mean, at all, to be unsympathetic to people's difficulty with clothes. I do understand, and it really isn't easy. The problem is that while it isn't easy for a lot of people to dress really well, that doesn't mean that the remaining option is jeans and a t-shirt, or those pajama-bottom things that the kids were wearing last summer, either. From what I see, walking around, there's a lot than can be done with style that is really just about taking the time in the morning to do something a little more. A dress shirt. A broach. A waistcoat. A pendant. A nice pair of slacks (no easier to find than a nice pair of jeans, probably, but then possibly not more difficult, either). Mood lighteners.

And, as I say, this is mostly about guys. I suspect, now that I think about it, that most women, by the time they are twenty or so, have plenty of experience with dressing up and dressing down. But I would guess that most guys, or at any rate many, many guys, have the experience Michael has with jackets--they associate dressing well with discomfort, and have not been able to find a way to look good that is comfortable. The jacket-soreness is extreme (and I'm not sure I understand it), but there are lots of guys who are forced into ill-fitting shirts or whatnot. Or who never think of any other way to look good than a boring gruppish suit (or perhaps a muscle shirt, for those who (usually mistakenly) think of their bodies as looking better without adornment), and have nobody to tell them better.

Meanwhile--I hope nobody is taking this as an attack on your jeans and t-shirts, or whatever you wear as a default. You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe it to me. You should make your own choices. I'm just telling you my own experience, which is that making myself pretty pays off for me. So if any of you do decide, Gentle Readers, to dress up, do it for your happiness, not for me. I have my pretty. You can have yours.


I have this to say about that, which is that I am inordinately pleased that the sartorial brilliance you had in college has not diminished with age, that you didn't give up and start wearing what "everyone else" wears, and you are not a clone. :) You are always a notch up in my estimation for both having the courage to have that style, and having the je ne sais quoi to pull it off. Because it *does* look good on you. It works for you. I had a boyfriend in high school who was also a "snappy dresser", and it worked for him too. It would look silly on my husband or many other guys I know, but for you, it's you. If I ever saw you in jeans and a t-shirt I would think aliens had replaced you and not done their homework. :)

For me, however, a sense of my own style was a LONG time coming. Women's styles are notorious for being uncomfortable, and they deserve that reputation--some women can go all day in 4" heels, but many of us are in excruciating pain within the first hour that we wear anything over half an inch high. Waistlines are constricting, shirts catch in back or pop in front if you swing your arms, you live in deathly fear of showing your undies in skirts or shorts or your bra in a stylish blouse--that's why I lived in loose jeans and t-shirts and sneakers until I was 30. Somewhere in my late 20s I finally realized jeans look horrible on me, and figured out I could switch to trousers and flats instead of jeans and sneakers; and working in a medical setting throughout my 30s is what finally forced me to find out what I can wear that works in a more formal office setting. (Join the muggles, as it were.)

I'm now 44 (good gravy), and I was looking at a fashions book the other day that was talking about options for your 20s, 30s, 40s, etc., and in the section on the 40s they started by saying, "You've done the experimentation, and now have a sense of your own style, what works for you and what doesn't..." and I finally realized I could now agree with them. A few years ago, not so much. My style is still fairly severe, conservative, and dowdy (other than my face, which I do paint every morning) but it's mine and it's comfortable and it works. :) I'm just astounded that I ever got here at all--in my mid30s I despaired of ever feeling like I knew what I was looking for, in clothes. ;)

But, Amy, writing words in SWAPA costs money! Writing words on the internet is free! (I want to read all your unwritten comments...)

I think the point she makes about women's clothes is a good one. It's harder for women. We can't get away with just wearing the same thing every day the way men can, anyway. And women's fashion goes through trends of sheer stupidity — for instance, what was up with those years where everything had a waist at about boob-height? Classic clothes exist, but they're mostly to be found in (a) thrift stores, (b) very expensive stores, and (c) scattered throughout normal stores in little bits and pieces. And I think women have to deal with other women's judgment about their clothes in a way that men don't. (I am very self-conscious about this in teaching high-school kids, but while it would be great to have a Look that is untraditional but works, I feel like just being an adult who doesn't completely obsess about their appearance the way all their mothers do is also a useful kind of role-modeling.)

I also happen to think that t-shirts and jeans often look very good on young people, although we may be looking at people who wear differently cut t-shirts and jeans.

Also: once you have a wardrobe, you can spend next to nothing on your clothes, just upgrading or replacing a few things every so often. Getting there is more difficult.

I have not had to deal with other women's judgements about my clothes, so I can't really empathize with that aspect of it. (Other than my mother a few years ago audibly gasping in dismay at my "mom jeans" that I had pulled on, that admittedly did absolutely nothing for me. Generally speaking, she's always been very supportive of anything I choose to wear, as long as it's decent by the cultural standards of wherever we happen to be living.)

I have to wonder, actually, how much a mom's responses to a girl child's early dressing choices affects the girl child's anxiety about clothes. In retrospect, my mom let my sister and me choose our own clothes from a very early age, and I always grabbed whatever shorts and shirt were on top in my clothes drawer, regardless of color or anything else. And mom figured, if that's what I wanted to do, no harm done. She didn't reprimand me that I should pick matching colors, or explain cuts and styles. She didn't encourage me to learn to walk in high heels (which is apparently how it's done; no one takes to it naturally, according to a bunch of models I read an interview with). So I grew up figuring whatever I wanted to wear was ok (as long as nothing questionable was showing), which also played into the choice of jeans and t-shirts 'til I was 30. But I've had to learn about cuts and styles and seasonal variations and color dos and don'ts and all that from standing around Borders reading "How to dress yourself" books (I kid you not--I told you in my 30s that I had to come up with something that would work, and I wasn't exaggerating ;).

So here's a question - if dressing up is a thing you think people ought to do, is it something you're trying to teach your kids (or just your son, if this is mostly about men here), other than by example? I feel like my mom did several things when I was young that sent a message that my personal aesthetics were irrelevant to what I wore:

- I wasn't allowed to get rid of things just because I didn't like them. (And especially when I was younger my clothes were mostly handmedowns, gifts, and things my mom liked.) So they were there taking up drawer space, being candidates for "why haven't you worn x lately" pressure, being my only options. (At some point I did figure out that I could hide particularly itchy wool stuff at the back of my closet, and later on I became a Difficult Teenager and just refused to wear frilly crap, although I still wasn't allowed to actually get rid of the stuff I wouldn't wear.)

- When we had formal portraits taken, my mom often picked out something for me to wear that I felt particularly uncomfortable wearing.

- Sometimes when I did make an effort to pick out something that I thought looked really good, I was told that I was simply incorrect. One time I flew straight from Swat to my uncle's wedding, without consulting my mom when I packed, and was made to borrow a skirt from an aunt when it was discovered that I had planned to attend the wedding in a nice-pants-and-sweater outfit that I thought looked very sharp, because it was unthinkable and rude to attend a wedding in pants. (Family-only wedding. In, like, a hotel function room; this was not a "place of worship has weird rules" issue.)

- Or sometimes I was allowed to wear what I chose, but got needled about it all day. I wore a dress to my 9th-grade graduation that was my favorite thing I owned, I loved the way I looked in it, and hey I wasn't even *trying* to get out of wearing a dress for once, but my mom still made a lots of little comments about how it wasn't a *fancy* dress and was so much more casual than what other people were wearing.

It took me a long time after all this to start to figure out that dressing up could actually be fun, or that "dressy" and "my mom's taste" weren't the same thing. I'm trying to do things differently with Junie, like when we have pictures taken, I talk about how we're trying to pick out clothes that make us feel happy. And she picks out her own clothes for the day and I make a point of saying "good choice" to anything weather-suitable, which I know sort of bugs my mom, since she puts a lot of effort into making little "outfits" when she gives her clothes, and Junie pretty much never wears the things that "go together" together, but, I don't know, to me it seems more important that she believe in herself as a competent dresser, than whether I would personally mix those patterns (or whatever). But in fact I do pick out her clothes for special occasions, and have even let my mom dress her up in some hideous and ridiculous frilly dresses because it delights my mom and didn't seem to bother her too much, so, I don't know, I probably am sending the message that dressing up means dressing to someone else's taste.

I'm really enjoying this whole conversation. Awesome.

Amy, your question is really interesting—I hadn't really thought about it. The Youngest Member is currently five, and I have done very little in the way of teaching him to dress. I do comment if I think he looks particularly handsome (or cute) in an outfit, and he knows that I don't like stripes and patterns together. He knows I like to wear ties, and I have given him the opportunity to wear a necktie on a couple of occasions, but have allowed him to take it off when he wanted to. We don't have formal portraits taken (because it isn't 1975), but if we did, I would not require him to wear anything uncomfortable--I would put some effort, though, into finding him something nice-looking that was comfortable. Gotta say: a five year old in a good Hawaiian shirt is just devastating. Or a turtleneck and a blazer. Lots of options.

My Perfect Non-Reader has developed a style that is largely dependent on brightly colored stripes. I was extremely skeptical about the shirts when they came into her wardrobe, but in fact they look terrific on her. So that's all right. Now that I think of it, that's a winter thing (long sleeves and long pants), and I'm not sure how she'll want to dress in the summer. Skorts, alas. At least there are no shortalls anymore, right?

We also, as a family, frequently gather around the screen for red-carpet slideshows. Mostly this involves making fun of the celebrities' tragic, tragic choices, but my Best Reader and I do try to articulate the occasional positives as well as the negatives. I tend to be quite specific about the menfolk and their dress outfits, which are closer to things I would actually wear than the gowns are to something my wife and daughter might have occasion to wear. Still, it's clothes. Oh, and I think my Best Reader has been sharing the NYT street-fashion videos with my Perfect Non-Reader on occasion. There's some education going on. I think, in the next decade, there will be a lot of frustration about clothes and style, particularly with my son, but there could be some real enjoyment there, too. And with him, I will at least be able to give him my general advice on clothes, as long as I do it in my Polonius voice.


Way too sleepy to write everything I'd like to write, but I'll essay a few comments here:

* I certainly agree that your sartorial splendour (that word really deserves to have a U in it, don't you think?) looks good on you, and I agree with tj that it wouldn't work for every guy.

* But I feel like you're saying that there's such a thing as Objectively Looking Good, and I disagree about that. You say that you look good in your Look even though people around you think it's weird; doesn't that suggest that your ideas of Looking Good are at odds with those of people around you? And you say that you can't think that young people wearing jeans and T-shirts makes them feel happier or better about themselves, but I'm sure it does both for a lot of people, to whatever extent Looking Good (to oneself or others) can make one feel happier or better. Anyway, I feel like you're conflating several different things.

* To me, Looking Good is in the eye of the beholder. The beholder may be oneself; I can look in the mirror and say this clothing looks good on me. But the beholder is more often, at least for me, someone else. Almost all of my ideas about what Looks Good on me comes from other people telling me so:

* A friend/colleague, many years ago, told me "Black and white are your colors."

* In high school, I happily wore polo shirts until a friend mocked me for doing so.

* Friend tell me whether two given colors or patterns do or don't clash. I can't tell at all; it's a distinction that has no meaning to me.

* I had a great cashmere sweater a couple years ago that was a nice shade of brown/grey. Several people complimented me specifically on the color, which I had liked but hadn't had any sense that it looked unusually good on me. I tried to replace the sweater when it wore out, but it wasn't available in that color any more, so I bought several T-shirts in that color, and I wear them when I want to look nice in a T-shirt. Then again, I don't think anyone's ever complimented me on the color when I'm wearing one of those, so maybe it wasn't just the color after all.

* An airline clerk recently commented that my shirt matched my suitcase. Tonight, my niece commented that my shirt matched her Grover doll. I love this bright blue color, and I've been told it goes well with my eyes, but I have no sense at all of whether it Looks Good on me per se; I wear it (a lot) because I like the color.

* These days, I almost always wear a plain-colored T-shirt with a pocket, and black trousers, both from Lands' End. I stock up on these by mail-order so I don't have to shop for clothes, which I hate doing. (I also bought a couple dozen pairs of identical socks so I don't have to keep track of sock pairs.) It's a look that I think works reasonably well for me, but if friends were to start telling me "T-shirts are silly, you need to wear some other kind of shirt," I would probably shift.

* To put it another way: I have very little sense of what clothing styles or colors look good on me, and so I put an inordinate amount of weight on what others tell me looks good or doesn't. I keep it within my tastes, to the extent that I have them; I won't wear something I hate, no matter how stylish it is. But what I end up wearing is more or less the intersection of (things people tell me look good) with (things that I find aesthetically appealing regardless of what I think of them on me per se).

* One more example: a male friend my age told me a year or two ago that T-shirts must always be untucked. I disliked that idea intensely, but I started observing and gradually realized that at least around here, most guys who wear T-shirts (and have much clothing sense) do leave them untucked. I started trying that, and one day not long after, when I was still really uncomfortable with it, I had lunch with a 30-year-old new friend, who looked around at fellow lunchers and casually remarked on the ridiculousness of 40-something guys who wear tucked-in T-shirts. I was slightly smug, but mostly mortified, and a little resentful. (In a "Why doesn't anyone tell me what the rules are?" kind of way, and a "Where do these ridiculous arbitrary rules come from, anyway?" kind of way.)

* It bugs me when people say that other people ought to wear something else because that color/shape/style/genre of clothing isn't flattering on them. I think you're right that some people don't care, and that some people do care but have different tastes. But I also think that our clothing presentation says a lot about us to others (maybe different things to different others), and it's largely a language I don't speak so it scares and confuses me. But I also think we do a lot of policing of others' self-presentations, which bugs me. And I think that discussions of what does/doesn't look good on people tend to neglect to talk about differing tastes and about societal standards changing over time; they tend to suggest that there is one objective way to Look Good.

So ... I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I think that Looking Good In The Eyes Of Society and Looking Good In One's Own Eyes and Wearing Clothing That One Finds Aesthetically Appealing In The Abstract are three different things, though of course with overlap. (And that all of those things may change over time, and that Society isn't monolithic.)

I'm not awake enough to be sure this is coherent, and I think some of it is only tangentially a response to your post; I certainly don't mean all of it as disagreement. Thoughts sparked by your post, I guess. Too sleepy to go back over it for coherence, so just gonna post and then go to bed.

Lots in there to respond to, but first of all, when you say You say that you look good in your Look even though people around you think it's weird, I don't mean that people thing that I look strange, but that—OK, this is complicated by layers of perception. It's not that I perceive that {people perceive me as {strange-looking}}, it's that I perceive that {people perceive me as {strange-acting} (because they perceive me as {willing to wear clothes they perceive as {uncomfortable} in order to be perceived as {good-looking}}, despite {my perception of} them perceiving me as {looking good}. Whew. Talk about incoherent. Anyway, when I say that people are put off by it, I mean that people think I am vain, not that people think I look lousy. In my perception of their thinking.

Similarly, it is my perception, or perhaps it's more accurate to say that it's my interpretation of the young men (and women) I see around campus, or in the mall, or on the street, that many of them have satisfied themselves with simply not standing out. My perceptions could be wrong about all of them, and are certainly wrong about some of them, but I think—I think—that I am right about most of them. I don't think that guy that just walked by the desk slid on those particular jeans and thought man, I look tight. Or that other guy, with his jeans, which don't fit him at all. Or that third guy that just walked by, the middle-aged guy in the khaki shorts. I do think that fellow I saw earlier, with the purple shirt, thought he looked tight, and he did look tight—but the point isn't whether I thought he looked tight, or whether he looked tight by some Objective Standard of Tight-osity, but whether he perceived himself as looking tight, with the resultant swagger (or self-assurance, or even just pleasure) that entails. And my perception of that swagger, of that perception of himself as looking good, is part of my perception of how he looks as well. Part of that is what you call policing, sure, and part of it is an unavoidable and necessary process of perception.

Here's another take on it: you know that clothes are a language, that you are communicating with each choice of (visible) garment. When a person isn't fluent, he is confused and scared by those choices, not knowing what they represent. That makes sense. But the important thing is that you can't opt out of the conversation. You have to update your fashion status every time you leave the house (and sometimes when you are in it). So everyone needs to find that level of satisficing, that good-enough level. I think it's worth working a bit to increase your fluency to get that level up high enough that you can get the pleasure of knowing you look tight, and of course of perceiving that other people think you look tight. But not, of course, getting that level up unattainably high, which is a much worse problem.


P.S. I would like to point out that I am not using the word tight here in an attempt to look as if I know what Kids These Days are saying, but in an attempt to make the phrase utterly uncool by my usage, so that Kids These Days will cut it out.

Do you feel, V., as if you are pretty good at things like not dropping your pizza on your shirt, or not accidentally stepping in a puddle of oil such that your pants get stained? Because I'm terrible at those things, which is one reason I don't wear nice clothes most days. When I dress up for a party or a date or something, I'm more aware and thus more careful -- this is part of what people mean, I think, about not feeling comfortable when dressed up -- but I wouldn't want to do that all the time. Not sure how to address that other than not being a klutz.

I think I'm pretty good at laundry. Also, I switched to bowties in part because it's easier to keep them free from stains. But over the years I certainly have lost several shirts and trousers and waistcoats and even suits to stains. Fortunately, they are cheap, all of them, so I figure it's just what happens. I was very cross when I lost my “good” suit, that is, the one I purchased new for more than $100, to a drycleaner's vicious practices, but there wasn't anything I could do about that, except get more $8 thrift-store suits.


I keep considering getting a Look. It seems like it could come in handy. A couple of things stop me:

1. I am totally clueless and unobservant about clothing. I do not notice what people are wearing. Seriously: walking around town? Riding the subway? At work? Do not notice. I occasionally say to myself, "Gee, self, how about if we pay some attention to what people are wearing for awhile, to get some ideas about what we think looks good or bad, and such-like?" And then i respond, "Totally, self, that sounds like a great idea." So i do that for about 10 minutes, and then i forget again for many months. Lather, rinse, repeat. So the extra time commitment needed for thinking about what i might wear seems high, because i spend so little time thinking about it to begin with.

2. Jeans are such a benefit to the convenience of my lifestyle that it is almost difficult to articulate. Anything i can say would be an understatement. If i am wearing jeans, i can carry everything i always take when i go out (wallet, keys, phone) in my pockets, and can be comfortable doing so. (Side note: you're asking how i find women's jeans with deep enough pockets, aren't you? I don't. I cheat and wear men's jeans. Yes, i am totally grateful for my good fortune in that i am able to do this. But, well, i am able to, so it is a side note and not the main point.) If i am not wearing jeans, either the stuff doesn't fit in the pockets, or it feels uncomfortable, or it looks totally ridiculous.

Is it the best look in jeans either? Probably not. My mom has achieved some success trying to get me to feel self-conscious about it. Do i like the way i look in a suit or slacks with no things in my pockets? Sure, i totally do, and if i'm dressing up for an occasion, i try to make it work. But every day i go out, i don't need to keep track of an extra bag or hook things to my belt, and i have the things i need. I have never in my adult life forgotten my keys when leaving the house, because i can tell by weight whether i have all the things i'm supposed to have. Looking sharp has value too, but that's a benefit which is hard to give up.

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