Friday, June 15th, 2012

The Clothes I Have Known And Loved To Death That I Wish They Still Made

I like to look nice, but I'm also about the Comfort, so when I buy something comfortable, I wear it a lot. And then it wears out. And then I continue to wear it, and then I don’t look so nice, I look like a bum, and then I say, "jeez, I wish I could find a t-shirt like this AMERICA SPORT PERRY ELLIS t-shirt I bought a kabillion years ago, that little dart Mr. Perry put in the sleeve makes you look really sharp, seriously, plus the way he did the neck part, so it stands up a little, it makes you look like you are wearing a shirt from The Future, where they have no buttons. It’s totally the kinda t-shirt that Victor Newman, a character on 'The Young and the Restless' (my story) would wear with a blazer. But he probably rocks the Hugo Boss, which is outta my price range." Why can’t I find this shirt anywhere? I would buy ten of them! If you look close you can see that I wore this shirt so long, I blew out the pit-hole, and then put a safety pin in it, thinking that would help make the shirt more presentable.

Over the years, I have tossed a lotta clothes I really enjoyed because they looked good but I just plain wore them out. Worse still, some of these clothes I never got rid of. I can’t wear them out in public because they kinda don’t function as respectable clothing items anymore. You might call it “hoarding,” but I call it “archiving!” I kept them because I keep thinking maybe I will be able to show them to somebody and say, "hey, why don’t you make this anymore? How about making this again? I would buy it!" These are some excellent clothing experiences I had—join me, won’t you, as we take a tour of some of the obsolete and great items from my drawers and closet.

The number-one example would be my LEVI'S ACTION SUIT from when I was a shoe clerk (four years), and I wore that suit almost every day to work, because it was 100% POLYESTER, baby, yeah, never needed to be ironed, man, always had a crease in the trousers. Mine was a dark charcoal grey (darker than the one pictured here) and it had little flecks in it that made it look like wool, I’m not kidding. The jacket had elastic vents, which was the “Action” part, I think, but you could totally move freely in that suit, which was why I enjoyed it. Action! Plus, I could wash it in the washing machine. The problem was the trousers got these little pills on ‘em, and I didn’t know there was a device available which enabled you to shave the pills off, otherwise I’d still have the suit, for reals, and I would wear that shit.

In my opinion, the STRUCTURE company made a lot of good clothing at the mall, and the finest item they made was (were?) the best UNDERPANTS ever, but then they went out of business, or got bought by some company that changed up all their clothes. I bought like ten pairs of these underpants and I still have a few, but you can see the deal—the elastic waist is all messed up. I still use 'em as backups when I run out of regular underpants, and I have never found any as good as these. I don’t know why they have buttons on the front.

A lotta people rock the IZOD stuff, and this is a golf shirt that has an IZOD logo, except it is a non-alligator version, so that’s classy, I think, and it shows you are not like every fashion hog on the boulevard* when you rock such a non-flashy logo. Plus, look, IT IS MADE OUTTA GOLF CLUBS, the whole pattern of the shirt! And the logo! I don’t even play golf, but I wore this shirt a lot until you could see holes through it and the placket (I think that is what it is called, where the buttons are on the collar) gave way and then you could see into my shirt. Not classy. I can’t find this shirt anywhere. Why don’t they still make this? I would buy it!

Another totally awesome t-shirt is this J. CREW joint I got at the Outlet Mall. it is so soft and comfortable. I guess it is a high thread-count of fabric? I dunno, but I have been back to several J. CREWs and never found another one like it. Was it a mistake? Did they make a super soft, super comfortable t-shirt like this on accident? I can only conclude: I don’t know. I also look in the J. CREW catalog, but you can’t feel a shirt through the catalog, you know?

I also have a LONG SLEEVE J. CREW, and from the photo you would think it was a shirt that had arm-stirrups, but that is simply what happens when you love a nice-fitting and luxurious-feeling shirt too many times. If “Arm-Stirrups” turns out to be a Fashion Trend in Men’s Long-Sleeve t-shirts, remember I invented it here.

I am limiting the amount of STRUCTURE stuff in this presentation so you will not think it is “Paid Content” for extinct STRUCTURE stuff, but these shorts are my favorite shorts ever in the whole wide world because of two things: 1. VELCRO FLY, and 2. EMBROIDERED JUNGLE CAT on the back of the leg. I didn’t even notice the embroidery until I got the pants home, and then I thought about taking it off, but I didn’t want to screw up the pants. I wore these so hard that the original VELCRO fly stopped VELCRO'ing, and I took it to a tailor to get a replacement. It didn’t really work. The replacement is a buncha little VELCROs, and not a contiguous one like the original. I am gonna see if I can get reconstructive surgery on these, but for what it costs to get the tailoring I coulda bought another pair or two of these, if they existed anymore.

I got this bomb-ass GEOFFEREY BEENE leather jacket at an outlet mall for cheap and it is super nice but the pockets are blown out and while it still looks like a nice leather jacket, I feel dirty because the pockets are raggedy. How hard would it be to make the pockets as nice as the coat, huh Geofferey? I don't know what he is doing now, but if there is not a BEENE BAG fashion item, I just invented it and I would like a check for royalties on that.

Sometimes you find something you know you are never going to find again, and that’s the case with my WEEKENDER shorts-set I bought at TAFFY’S in Sarasota, FL. They specialize in the Big & Tall, and this was a not-so-big, not-so-tall item they put on clearance for their end-of-the-season sale. It is a fully terry-lined top with a matching mesh-lined swimsuit bottom. My pool at my house has chlorine in it, and sometimes it has too much chlorine, as you can see in the photo. I doubt I’m gonna find this set again the next time I roll into TAFFY’S, which I recommend for the hard-to-fit and the not-hard-to-fit gentleman.

I am a Graphic Artist by trade, and every once in awhile I get to design a t-shirt, so I am including an experiment I am conducting on a t-shirt I designed and had printed. It is a HANES BEEFY-T, which was what you printed t-shirts on before all this “American Apparel” crap started. The grey one is what happens after you wear the black one for ten-plus years.

Here is my EAGLES OF DEATH METAL t-shirt, which is not full of holes yet. I bought it at one of their shows. I didn’t hear any EAGLES OF DEATH METAL music before I went to the show, but I knew if they had merch, then I probably would be happy to own an EAGLES OF DEATH METAL shirt. I get a lot of compliments on this shirt, like “hey man, that’s a cool shirt,” but I hardly wear it BECAUSE I KEEP THINKING EVERY TIME I WEAR IT I AM WEARING IT OUT. They are still out there, the EAGLES OF DEATH METAL (which really they do not do Death Metal) and they still have lotsa fun t-shirts, but I don’t think exactly as nice as the one I bought. Just saying.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect SOCKS to last a long time, but these socks that (I think) I bought at a NIKE store are a good example of what happens to a good pair of socks. I wore these all the time because they are just cushy enough and they stay up, but the heels just couldn’t last. I ask people if they know anybody who darns socks and they look at me like I am from Ye Oldden Days. I would pay to get these darned socks repaired.

Another pair of socks is this crazy blue camo pair from THE GAP. They totally gave way on the TOP part, along the 'flage-lines.' It’s impossible to put these on now without sticking a toe through the rips. I can’t find these at THE GAP now because they change everything all the time, you know? Hey, THE GAP, why not do repros of this stuff?

SHOES are also an issue, and this is where I had my Moment of Clarity. I don’t have the patience to tie my shoes every day so when I find a pair of slip-ons, I wear those things until they are dead, you know? SKECHERS never made these slip-ons exactly like this ever again, and this was the pair that fit me perfectly. I still go into SKECHERS to see if they have anything close, but they never do. Also at the mall, I found a pair of these badass FRANKENCLYDES by PUMA at the local DSW “Shoe Warehouse,” and they are the spongiest, most cush rides I ever gave my feet. I wore the cushy-ness right out of these bad boys, and I always say "man, why didn’t I just buy ten pair of those?" I would apply that philosophy to all of the above items, and to future purchases.

* A term coined by the great Teller** of the great magicians and illusionists and mentalists*** Penn and Teller.
** He is the one who doesn’t talk, but he writes things.
*** Real mentalists, not like the guy on CBS.

Joe MacLeod bought two of the exact same jeans at OLD NAVY last week and would have bought three if he could have found another pair.

37 Comments / Post A Comment

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

"You might call it 'hoarding,' but I call it 'archiving!'”

We actually call it "curating" now.

deepomega (#1,720)

Good think Balk carved out an "embroidered jungle cat" exception to the no-shorts-and-especially-no-velcro-fly rule.

coffeeandinternets (#234,809)

As soon as I got to "outlet mall," I knew Florida had to be involved with this.

Thanks for bringing Structure into the conversation, too. It's about time someone tries to bring that back.

Moxie (#81,363)

This appears to be a departure from the usual sartorial advice on The Awl.

Bittersweet (#765)

@Moxie I'm surprised Choire even allowed publication, given that cargo shorts are involved.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

I'll be that guy: IZOD is not the same as Lacoste (although they were once under common ownership and called their brand "IZOD Lacoste" for a time); and the Lacoste logo is a crocodile, not an alligator, as it was fashioned after tennis great René Lacoste, who was known as "the Crocodile."

Jared (#1,227)

@SidAndFinancy I refuse to believe this, because would MC Paul Barman lie to me? "When I'm lost in the flotsam and jetsam I draw some Lacoste alligators chasing an opossum. I'm frickin' awesome."

@SidAndFinancy Thank you. It's like Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

C_Webb (#855)

I am going to spend the rest of this beer figuring out if I would date you or not. (Don't be scared; I'm old and taken. But what I see as the disjuncture — is that a word? — between your clothing style and your writing style is making my brain melt.)

jess (#234,813)

Structure was a mens' spin off brand of the Limited, which also owned Express. Then they decided to integrate Structure with the Express brand as Express Men, but it's still the same company, so if you like that stuff you should shop at Express Men.

I can't believe I created an account on the Awl just to tell you that.

@jess Welcome Jess. Glad you did, that's some damn fine commenting.

Chexmixitup (#234,819)

@jess I, too, registered just to comment on Structure! It actually began as Express Men, the The Limited brand decided to spin it off into a stand alone and renamed the line Structure. It eventually was reabsorbed into Express and the Structure name was sold off (you could find Structure clothes at Sears). I worked for The Limited and Structure in the late 80's/early 90's and have been waiting to share this useless knowledge for many, many years-thanks for the opportunity!

AndyPants (#234,895)

@jess Ha, I just did the same thing. Of all the articles I wanted to comment on, Express Men is what finally motivated me. I need to prioritize.

justdont (#12,986)

Yeah, that first thing is a mock-turtleneck, and it's not futuristic as much as a type of dentist's garb.

But more importantly: you could probably make a lot of money off of fetishists with your "archives." You could make some lonely sniffers very happy, I'm betting. Wear-holes are opportunities.

All this wrinkled clothes is driving me insane. Use your iron!

r0semarysays (#11,194)

@Reginal T. Squirge you want him to iron the t-shirts with holes that he doesn't wear out of the house?

katybee (#234,818)

That's some raggedy drawers.
I made a velcro fly for my husband some years ago, I thought it was the only one and for a reason.

TheDisengaged (#186,256)

ARM STIRRUPS! And so many random holes in places I didn't think holes would form. This piece really cracked me up. Love it!

TheEmbiggening (#234,829)

That long sleeve J. Crew looks familiar . . . because I have three of them folded neatly in a drawer. J. Crew called it "garment dyed"; I call it "the softness". Mmm, soft.

radar194 (#234,835)


carpetblogger (#306)

This article saddens me in so many (not good) ways.

Aggro-Pina (#234,841)

You must take that leather jacket to the tailors and get it relined, immediately. No fabric will last as long as leather does. That jacket has many years of wear in it yet, you can probably wear it (an look good) on your funeral.

#56 (#56)

I'll darn your darn socks. Mail them to me and I'll fix them right up. For a fee. CLEAN SOCKS ONLY!!

shaman (#228,307)

Aside from the socks and shoes, I'm pretty sure you can mail clothing to Indian tailors to have them make exact replicas. Without the wear, presumably. I remember reading about it in an article about virtual assistants.

smashrepairs01 (#234,863)

the best

Tretorns. Replaced my slip on nostalgia nicely.

r0semarysays (#11,194)

"i don't care how ugly i look! this _______ is so COMFORTABLE and SOFT!!!"
-same logic used to defend uggs

IT'S A SLIPPERY SLOPE y'all!!!! that is all i'm saying.

Titania (#8,471)

This clothing depresses me, but this article also made me miss my little brother who shares essentially the same fashion philosophy a lot, so I called him when I stepped out of the office and we had a nice chat, so thanks for that, Joe!

Also, the reason that J. Crew shirts are not as soft anymore is that J. Crew is now run by someone who has opted to make the company extremely profitable, i.e. they purchase cheaper cotton and charge more for it. Men and their ancient soft t-shirts are something I find somewhat endearing–good luck with the next generation you're currently breaking in.

awningwindows01 (#234,910)


worst_1_yet (#681)

That "trunks and top" combo was a big FUCK NO! Otherwise, nice writing!

smartastic (#2,437)

You can totally get the pockets of the jacket re-lined. Just take it to a tailor. Bam, good as new!

A great way to hold onto clothes you love but wore out is to make a quilt of them! I am thinking I should start a business doing it because I love my quilt so much that I've made out of clothes I've worn and loved all my life. I also make pillows out of t-shirts and other stuff. Hit me up if you want to see my work/are interested in working with me.

I have a part-time job at a clothing store, and men are always coming in and saying something like, "Hey… do you have this one shirt? It has… sleeves? And… a button?" And always, ALWAYS, it turns out that they bought it in the Precambrian era, or five years ago at least.

I guess the solution is to resign yourself to the transient nature of material possessions. Or buy multiples of everything, and hoard them, forever!

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