IN THE FALL OF 1975 I BOUGHT A LEISURE SUIT in Rochelle, Illinois. It was a pumpkin rust color. My small-town clothier also found a striped polyester tie that had a repeating pattern. One of the colors matched the color of the suit. Boy, did I look sharp.
I basked in the salesman’s compliments. He reminded me that most people were wearing their leisure suits with open collar shirts. I put that thought in the back of my mind trying to wrestle with such a look for me.
I was on a mission to update my wardrobe. I had my first job after graduate school and finally had a monthly paycheck allowing me such luxuries. I thought I was at the cusp of this new fashion trend until a visit back home in Birmingham challenged this feeble notion.
As I came into my mother’s kitchen in my new outfit I saw her head turn and instantly one eyebrow moved up and a gentle whisper came forth. Something close to,“Where did you get that outfit?” My brother believes she would have been gentler, more tactful in her chosen words, but we’ll go with this to get the point across. My mom was most powerful when she said the least. The raised eye brow was her sign to her children about all topics. The leisure suit did not fare well.
That was a pivotal event for me. It may well have saved me thousands of dollars yearly in lifetime wardrobe purchases. It brought me back to my roots. I am 100% in that camp today, and in hindsight there is no rebellion here. I feel best in cotton and wool in traditional patterns that are considered classic. A navy-blue blazer with gray or khaki pants complemented by a 2-button polo golf shirt or a traditional plaid long-sleeve button-down shirt depending on the season. Cordovan loafers have been replaced by all-season Merrell hikers. It is simply the wardrobe I feel best in. Once I finally get down to either black or blue socks you will know that I took the final step in simplifying my life. It will happen before too long.
My daughter-in-law, who runs a successful fashion and life-style blog out of Chicago often recommends to her clients a weekly deal on such items as cashmere sweaters, “for less than $150.” Such a hot tip she advises to her thirty-something urban followers. It makes me smile, as honestly that is my quarterly allowance for my entire wardrobe. That is OK. It further reinforces my feeling of knowing my tastes in clothing, especially as I near my 70th birthday.
I used to love to wear blue jeans. I still have a half-a-dozen pairs folded in the back of my closet, but they no longer feel appropriate. I wore them when I had my farm when I still was wearing suits and blazers during the week for work. Blue jeans were my weekend choice. I never had a pair that fit my fanny, no matter what brand I chose and I had tried them all. I admit I have weird dimensions, I guess measurements is the more correct term.
My real dilemma today is my insistence on wearing a baseball cap with my classic outfits. I wear these hats on the golf course, at work, and in bars. It finishes my wardrobe, at least I think it does. I have had many comments from my lady friends that discourage my wearing theses caps offering comments such as, “why would you cover up that beautiful silver hair.” That is exactly my point that seems to go unnoticed. I want to look vibrant, athletic, and younger than I am.
My mother, if she were still amongst the living, would likely accept my hats, but only outdoors. Once you walk across a threshold heading indoors a gentleman removes his hat. If not, her raised eyebrow would let me know my obvious blunder.