Hey kids, it’s Fashion Friday!
Just kidding, that would be annoying. I intend to write about clothing on occasion to fulfill of my pronouncement to propagate dressing well among the game nerd set, but it’s not going to be a regular thing. Nor do I have any intention of passing myself off as some sort of expert or valuable resource or anything; I’m hardly that. I am a schlubby chump who spent decades of his life under the assumption that looking respectable was something that only happened to other people; I required years of patient guidance from a kind woman in order to figure out how not to look respectable. Not that appearances are all that matter, but I realized entirely too late in my life that people do judge you by the way you present yourself… whether you want them to or not. What you wear is, in essence, how you choose to brand yourself. Bearing that in mind, why not shape others’ perception by controlling the message, so to speak?
The first step to controlling that message is to get fit. Or rather, fitted. It doesn’t matter how physically fit you are or aren’t; you could be a sickly little stick who has to wear heavy shoes on blustery days to keep from blowing away in the wind, or you could be an enormous mass who travels accompanied by a penumbra. You can still look nice — “put-together,” if you prefer — so long as your clothes fit well.
This is the basic truth I resisted for years. I blame the ’90s; I grew up in an age when oversized clothing was the norm. I was a skinny stick in high school and draped myself in oversized clothes and never broke the habit. As I grew heavier later in life, I kept upgrading the sizes of my clothes, which had the unfortunate side effect of making me look even heavier. It wasn’t until I slimmed back down a few years ago that I realized wearing clothes that fit properly make all the difference; whether you’re trim or scrawny or hefty, you can look really good by simply selecting clothes that fit well.
By “fit well” I mean that the shoulder seams of your shirt should rest at the actual curve of your actual shoulders; the torso of your shirt should offer enough give that it doesn’t stretch or strain when you sit, but it shouldn’t bunch, either. Your sleeves should end at your wrist rather than covering part of your hands; if you’re wearing short sleeves, they should end mid-bicep rather than coming to your elbow. The waistline of your pants should sit across your actual waist, and the inseam of your legs shouldn’t drag on the ground.
I realize these sound pretty much like no-brainer tips, but I certainly didn’t put them into practice, and based on my experience at events like E3 and PAX they are downright esoteric. Honestly, finding clothes that fit is more easily said than done these days, because most American brands aren’t really sized accurately anymore. I’m pretty short, and I have a small build; even if I buy the smallest standard men’s dress shirt size available — 14.5″ collar, 32/33″ sleeves — it’s probably going to be too big for me unless I buy it in slim or European cut, or from one of a handful of brands that don’t inflate their sizing to make people feel better about their weight. I can’t actually shop at Gap, since they sell practically nothing in their men’s section that fits me. And even shopping elsewhere, I almost always have to take up the sleeves of a smallest jacket sizes I can buy, which adds a hidden $20 to the price tag. I’d imagine it’s the same for most people in different ways. You need to figure out what your fit is, whatever your shape and size, and which brands you can count on.
Summary: When clothes fit, they can make you seem to look a lot better than you actually do. This is the magic of clothing! It is a lie to trick people into thinking you’re beautiful.
Like I said before, I’m not suggesting you wear fancy clothes. And you don’t need to spend a lot on nice-looking clothing if you’re smart about it. And if T-shirts and jeans are your thing, that’s great! All I am saying is that you should be aware that you will come off as vastly more groomed if you buy Ts and jeans that fit you correctly. It doesn’t matter what your shape is, or whether you’re proud of your body or embarrassed of it; clothes that fit right simply make you look better.
The one down side to wearing properly fitting clothes is that you’ll need to spend more time trying them on, and you’ll end up putting back items that you really like. Don’t compromise on this. Don’t buy clothes that look awesome on the rack if they hang like a limp sack when you put them on. It’s worth being selective. Better to own a week’s worth of outfits that look good on you than a month’s worth that make you look like a kid playing in his dad’s closet.
Anyway, this is my five cents’ worth of free advice on this topic. Feel free to ignore it. But it’s been a big help for me.